Good morning Church, as we continue on in our series through Genesis, I invite you to open your Bibles to Genesis 9, where we’ll be digging into v1-17. Since we’ll be beginning our Advent series in 2 weeks through the book of Ruth, and since next week we’ll be privileged to have one our missionaries from Canada join us, today is our last Sunday in Genesis for 2022. Because of this, allow me to let me remind you where we’ve been.

We witnessed creation in Genesis 1-2, God making all things from nothing, resting on the seventh day, ordering all creation as He sees fit, and declaring it all to be good and very good.

We then witnessed the fall in Genesis 3, where sin entered into God’s good world, through the serpent deceiving our first parents, which corrupted all things, bringing ruin and death in its wake. The fall is why there is so much disorder and suffering in this world, both inside of us and outside of us. Yet, the fall brings us great hope, for in the midst of such darkness we saw light in God’s promise in Gen. 3:15 of a coming Snake Crusher who would save us from the curse of sin.

We witnessed the contrast between the seed of the serpent in the line of Cain throughout chapter 4 and the seed of the woman in the line of Seth throughout chapter 5. And through some mysterious events we then witnessed evil greatly increase in the earth, so much so that God was grieved for having made man, which led to God’s judgment to all on the earth, except Noah and his family, in the flood of chapters 6-7.

And finally in chapter 8 we witnessed the flood waters recede, Noah and his family exit the ark, and Noah worshiping God for bringing him and his family safely through the waters of judgment.

What are Noah and his family to do now? Enter Genesis 9:1-17, where God instructs Noah and enters into covenant with Noah.

God’s Instructions (v1-7)

“And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in His own image. And you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it.”

v1 is the third time God has now blessed humanity in these opening chapters of Genesis. And immediately the words of v1 remind us of the words in Genesis 1. In the old world before the flood God’s words to Adam in Gen. 1:28 were, “And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Now, in the new world after the flood God’s words to Noah, in Gen. 9:1-3, sound almost identical. From this we should conclude that Noah is a new kind of Adam, see that? More so, I think we’re supposed to see Noah as a kind of second Adam in the midst of a remade world.[1] As God instructed the first Adam after the first world emerged from a watery chaos, now God instructs Noah as the cleansed and remade world emerges from this watery chaos. And just as before with Adam so it is now with Noah, he is to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.

But as much similarity as there is here between Adam and Noah and what God said to them, there is also a great deal of dissimilarity too.[2] Genesis 9 is not an exact copy or repeat of Genesis 1. What’s the big difference? Sin. The world of Genesis 1 had no sin, the world of Genesis 9, though it was remade by the flood, is still plagued by sin. We will see this in the end of chapter 9 but we even see it here in v2. Every beast of the earth, every bird of the heavens, everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea…now have a fear, a dread, a terror of man. This was not present in animals until this point, which might show us why the animals so easily came to Noah to board the ark. Now it’s entirely different. And praise God it’s different, for while man still has dominion over animals, the world is now fallen, so what would stop animals from rising up and attacking us if it weren’t for this fear God put into them to restrain them?[3] And more so this fear is extended in v3 where God gives Noah the green light to enjoy a carnivorous diet.[4] Just as He gave them the green plants for food before, it says here God now gives them every moving thing to eat.

But there is a condition. We see it in v4, “But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” This means if we choose to eat animals, which is just as godly an diet option as choosing not to eat meat, we must not eat animals like animals do. Meaning, we must not tear into them right after we hunt them down, like an animal does. In other words, man isn’t an animal, and in our eating we must not act like animals.[5] As the verse continues we see this is about far more than mere eating habits and table manners, it’s about life. Blood is identified with life because a beating heart and a strong pulse are the surest signs of life.[6] So to respect the sacred nature of life, man, though he can eat animals, is not to eat an animal with its life remaining in it. This command, as strange as it might seem to Noah (and perhaps to us), would’ve prepared God’s people for the use of blood later on in sacrifice as well as prepared them to understand that it was through the shedding of blood in sacrifice that brings forgiveness (life) to sinful man.[7]

v5-6 expand on this making the argument that if the blood of an animal is to be respected, how much should the blood of man, being that male and female are image bearers of God.[8] Animal blood may be shed for food, yes, but for the shedding of human blood, God will require a reckoning as v5 says. See the logic in view here? Life in the new world after the flood is to be so respected that the only shedding of man’s blood that ought to occur is when the blood of man is shed, whether it be animal or man doing the deed. Or as v6 puts it, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in His own image.”

That last phrase is key, “…for God made man in His own image.” The value of human life is rooted in the reality of man, male and female, being made in God’s image. We talked at length on what this means back in Genesis 1, that this is not getting at a structural idea (man having a soul, conscience, etc.), but rather getting at a functional idea (man being God’s kingly representatives on earth). So, since man is made in God’s image, to kill a man would be destroying one who has a lordly authoritative mold to them, which brings great wound and offense to God the Maker of man. Notice though what is now to happen when man kills man? “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed…” Though it’s not entirely in view here, this passage is foundational for the beginning and operating of any government. It reminds us not only of the sanctity of human life from the womb to the tomb, it reminds us that capital punishment (which is God’s idea, not man’s) is clearly bound up with the sanctity of life. One leads to the other. Many push back against capital punishment as if it were God doing Himself what He forbids man to do, no. Capital punishment is God holding high the value and respect for all human life, so high that to kill man is now seen as the worst of all offenses which brings the most severe of sentences. This was to be normal in Noah’s new world, this was reaffirmed in Israel’s day, and this was reaffirmed in Romans 13. So, it is good and godly to continue to affirm this still today.

v7 ends the first portion of our passage with the words it began with. “And you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it.” We’ve seen God’s instruction to Noah here, now see God’s covenant with Noah and his family in v8-17.

God’s Covenant (v8-17)

Covenant is a word all Christians ought to love. Why? Because it is through covenant that God always relates to and interacts with His creatures. Simply put, a covenant is a bond. A bond made between two parties, with certain obligations to each party, resulting in reward/blessing for obedience or penalty/curse for disobedience. There are many covenants we make in life. The paper we sign off on we you’re employed at a job is a kind of covenant, when you take out a loan to buy a home or a car you sign a kind of covenant, marriage is a massive covenant bond, we sign a covenant of church membership here at SonRise, some of us even call our children, covenant children, and on and on. In the Bible, covenants take many forms and shapes. Many of you know the big covenants in the Bible: the covenant God makes with Adam, with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and the New Covenant. There are more, but the glorious reality of all these covenants is that they build on one another as they unfold throughout the history of God’s dealings with His people, and when you stand back and look to see them all together you can see the grand story of God’s redemption in Christ from creation to consummation. Covenants are special to every Christian, but covenant theology is something specifically distinctive to reformed or reformation minded churches, simply because of how much these covenants highlight the sovereign grace of God in the need and sin of man. Well, I could say more about covenant, but we’ll see much of it for ourselves in this text about God’s covenant with Noah.

See three things about covenant in v8-17.[9]

First, see the covenant members in v8-10.

“Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “Behold, I establish My covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth.”

Right away we see God is the One who establishes this covenant. This is important. Some covenants in the Bible are a two way street, where both the parties making the covenant must keep their end of the bargain in order for the covenant to be kept and unbroken. This is not that kind of covenant. That God establishes this covenant means this covenant is a one way street, that God is the initiator, the sustainer of it, and the keeper of this covenant to the end.[10] And that on God alone this covenant rests. This is why God calls the covenant “My covenant.” It belongs to Him and He now graciously brings all creation into it. Which is what we see next. The recipients of this covenant include Noah, Noah’s family, all their descendants, and see it, every living thing. Everything that is alive, man or animal, is brought into this covenant.

Second, see the covenant promise in v11.

“I establish My covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

Now we see the content of the promise made in v11, that God will never again cut off, or destroy, any living thing by a global flood. God is not saying He will no longer bring any kind of judgment for sin, but that there will never again be a judgment for sin in a flood.[11] This means this is a covenant of common grace, not saving grace. Do you know that distinction? Common grace, means this covenant is made to all living things rather than a special group of people who must do this or that to enter the covenant. Common grace meaning there is no redemption or salvation promised in it, no forgiveness of sins promised, no eternal life in view, and no mediator to bring all of that to pass. No, this covenant is made to all living things, throughout all time, whether they realize it or not.[12] In this way it is common to all living things. How kind, how gracious of God to make such a promise to all living things.

Third, see the covenant sign in v12-17.

“And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember My covenant that is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

God is not only kind and gracious to establish such a covenant with all living things, He goes further and provides a sign of this covenant. God does this with covenants. He provides signs that are to the eye what the promise made is to the ear. The signs of the New covenant are baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the sign of the Abrahamic covenant is circumcision, and here, the sign of the covenant with Noah is the rainbow, or, God’s war bow hung in the sky. What is this? It was a common thing among the nations surrounding Israel to describe pagan gods and goddesses as those who wield a war bow with full quiver ready to vanquish their enemies. Yet here, see what’s going on, the picture is that the true God is no longer hostile but has hung His war bow in the sky, from horizon to horizon, as a token of peace, signifying to all living things that He will never again flood the earth.[13] So each time it rains and we see a rainbow, all living things can look up and be reminded of God’s gracious promise. But notice more so, each time it rains and produces a rainbow, it says here God Himself is reminded of this covenant. God says it in v16, “When the bow is in the clouds I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 

Church, this is why the rainbow exists. God created it here to be a sign of His peace. How wicked of man to use it now as a symbol celebrating sin. Do not be duped, before the rainbow was a proud chest thumping symbol of all things LGBTQ+, it was God’s sign of His common grace to all living things. 


This is where we end today. With God’s war bow in the sky.

(See the Jesus Storybook Bible, pg. 47)

[1] John D. Currid, Genesis 1:1-25:18, EP Study Commentary (Holywell, UK: Evangelical Press, 2015), 215.

[2] Victor P. Hamilton, Genesis 1-17, NICOT (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1990), 313.

[3] John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, notes on Gen. 9:2, accessed via Accordance Bible software, 11.17.22.

[4] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15, WBC (Waco, Texas: Word Books, 1987), 192.

[5] Kevin DeYoung, New Covenant for a New World, sermon – Christ Covenant Church (11.29.20) accessed 11.17.22.

[6] Wenham, Genesis 1-15, 193.

[7] Derek Kidner, Genesis (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2008), 108.

[8] Bruce K. Waltke, Genesis (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Academic, 2001), 145.

[9] Miles V. Van Pelt, The Noahic Covenant of the Covenant of Grace, in Covenant Theology, ed. Waters, Reid, Muether (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2020) 127-128.

[10] Kenneth A. Mathews, Genesis 1-11:26, NAC (Nashville, Tennessee: B&H, 1996), 408.

[11] Hamilton, Genesis 1-17, 316.

[12] DeYoung, New Covenant for a New World.

[13] Waltke, Genesis, 146.

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