Genesis 9:1-17

In Genesis 9 we are going to consider what God’s first priorities were for the new world after the flood. God spoke directly with Noah and revealed His heart for these survivors of the deluge. Whenever you have direct communication like this from God to men, it is quite a revelation of God’s thinking and the intent of His heart. The Scripture records, “So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man. And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth and multiply in it.’” (Gen. 9:1-7).

God blessed Noah and his sons.  Vs. 1

The first thing that is recorded for us in this chapter is the declaration that, “God blessed Noah and his sons.” There is no coincidence that right after the greatest judgment the world has ever experienced up to this point, the first statement made by God is to bless the remaining people on the earth. This reveals the heart of God, because this is what He wants to do with anyone who will hear His voice and obey Him as Noah did. Believe that He wants to bless you, and all mankind! But some will say, “But if He wants to bless the world then why did He just judge the world by bringing the flood?” The answer to this question is revealed by answering another question. Why did God have to bring such a catastrophic judgment? It is because of the sin of man, and the fact that the thoughts and imaginations of all men were only continuously evil (Gen. 6:5). God cannot bless the wickedness of men! David declared, “For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You” (Ps. 5:4). He will only bless the man of faith who fears the Lord as Noah did. David again declares, “He will bless those who fear the LORD, both small and great” (Ps. 115:13). This verse refers to you and me! So, for God to be able to bless Noah and his sons it required the extreme evil be removed from the world.

To find God’s blessing for your life should be something that every believer should seek. If you know He wants to bless you, begin to ask the Lord what would enable you to experience these blessings. When you read the Bible, you will find over 500 times God refers to blessing His people, or telling them how they can be blessed in their lives. I can’t quote all 500 references here in this study, but I can give you a few of these verses, which will hopefully encourage you to study this topic more fully.

How does God bless your life? Previously I gave you the first way for God to bless you, which is by fearing Him, which simply means to respect God and put Him first in your life (Ps. 115:13). In addition, in Psalm 112:1 it declares, “Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who delights greatly in His commandments.” The reasoning is simple. If you truly respect and reverence God you will delight in obeying His commandments, which results in His blessings upon your life. In Psalm 24:4-5 David taught that, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully, he shall receive blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” If you delight in His commandments, you will naturally ask God to forgive you and to purify your heart, which also keeps you from all idolatry. This is why David rejoiced in the fact that, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, who sin is covered” (Ps. 32:1). All of these actions prove that you have put your trust in the Lord, and you fear His name. This is also why David declared, “Blessed is that man who makes the LORD his trust, and does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies” (Ps. 40:4). These verses and many more clearly instruct you on how you can be blessed (Ps. 94:12).

When you come to the New Testament, Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount by pronouncing His prescription of how a man or woman can be blessed (Matt. 5:3-12). This passage is one of the most profound in the entire Bible, encouraging you to humble yourself before Him, mourn for your sin, walk in meekness and mercy, hunger for righteousness, purity, and peacemaking. You would be wise to truly seek understanding in these truths. Also, all of the apostles explain how you can be blessed in their epistles. This message of blessing continues all the way through the Bible to the book of Revelation, where God pronounced blessing upon everyone who reads and keeps the message revealed in its pages (Rev. 1:3). May His blessing be upon you!

Be fruitful and multiply.  Vs. 1

Notice in verse 1, the second priority of God for Noah and his family was to multiply and have many children. God commanded that they should, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” With only these eight people who were left on the earth, God wanted them to begin multiplying in order to refill the earth’s population. That is exactly what they did. The word “fill” used in this verse is a very descriptive word, because it means to fill full. This is the same word God used in His original command to Adam in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 1:28). God was telling them to have as many children as they could.

With our population growth today, even with the short life spans that occurred after the flood, Noah and his children could have easily produced the population we have today. Population scientists who have studied this issue declare that it is basic arithmetic. If you take 5,000 years of recorded history and start with four couples, each having just 2 to 3 children, you can easily come to the 7 billion people we have today. So, when people mock you over the fact that you believe it has been only 5,000 years since the flood, and declare that this is not enough time to produce the population we have today, explain to them that they need to go back and look at the research on this topic. Encourage those who mock you to go read this article.  

God gives animals a fear of man.  Vs. 2

God also declared in verse 2, “And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and all of the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand.” Now you may be wondering why this was necessary for God to put this fear of men within animals. You have to remember that there were a whole lot of carnivores, such as lions, tigers, leopards, and many others roaming about the earth at this time, and there were only 8 people. These animals would definitely reproduce much faster than the eight people would, which would have put Noah’s family at a clear disadvantage. In addition, there was probably not a lot of food on the earth at this point either. And still another reason was because men were to have dominion over all animal life in God’s original plan (Gen. 1:26).

All animals will be food for you.  Vs. 3-4

In addition, God also declared, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things even as the green herbs. Notice that God makes it clear that all animal life would now be food for all mankind. It is important to also note there is no designation of clean or unclean animals given, or that certain animals were not good for food. Clean and unclean animals would come later under the Law of Moses. I bring this point up because there are Seventh Adventist and Messianic groups today that want to bring Christians back under the Jewish dietary laws of the Old Covenant, and this should not be allowed. Jesus, referring to these commands said, “Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man” (Matt. 15:10-11). Paul also declared, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Col. 2:16-17). The point is that the foods we eat don’t make us more or less spiritual before God. Paul explained this truth to the Corinthian church when he warned, “But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse” (1 Cor. 8:8). The important thing to remember is that, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.” Don’t put yourself under the law concerning the foods that you eat.

The only restriction concerning their eating is made in verse 4 when God commands, “But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” This warning is also made under the Law of Moses in Leviticus 17:11-12 where he commands, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘No one among you shall eat blood, nor shall any stranger who dwells among you eat blood.’ Why is this command given? Blood is a sacred thing, because it contains the life of the flesh. Blood is to only be used for sacrifice, because blood is to be an atonement for our souls. Read this statement again, “The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls.” The sacrificial nature of blood also points us forward to the blood of Jesus Christ, which became an atonement for the sins of the whole world. He poured out His blood, or His life, to redeem all mankind. In Acts 20:28, Paul told the Ephesian elders, “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He has purchased with His own blood.” This is why blood is a sacred thing.  

This concept of not eating blood is also carried into the New Testament. In Acts 15:19-20 James declared to the church, “Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.” However, no command is given in the New Testament concerning what foods we are allowed to eat. In fact, Paul warns Timothy about false teachers in his day that were, “Forbidding to marry and were commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim. 4:3-4). Again, note that no designation of clean or unclean foods are given for us today.  

One last thought on the sacredness of blood. Do you realize that the blood of Christ is going to be the subject of our praise in heaven? In Revelation 5:9 John wrote, “They sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” In other words, we will worship and thank the Lord for the blood of Jesus Christ when we get to heaven! Forever we will remember the sacrifice of “the precious blood of Christ” that has redeemed our soul for eternity (1 Peter 1:19)

God’s law concerning murder.  Vs. 5-7

God now demands a reckoning when the life blood of a person is destroyed because of murder. He declared, “Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother, I will require the life of man.  Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man. And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth and multiply in it” (Gen. 9:5-7). Why does God require capital punishment now in this new world? He explained His reasoning when He declared, “For in the image of God He made man” (Vs. 6). Why is this point important? To answer this question, you have to go back to the time before the flood. At that time the earth was filled with violence and murder. What you had at that time before the flood, was an anarchist mentality among men. Cain’s murder of his brother, and Lamech who killed a man because he wanted revenge are the two best examples of this time in history. People took other people’s lives, because they simply chose to do so, with no retribution for these murders. This indiscriminate murder was what God was trying to stop. God wanted to keep the earth from becoming filled with violence again.

Today there are many people who do not agree with capital punishment, but it is clearly taught here in the Word of God. Many people have told me that they believe capital punishment to be barbaric. Personally, I do not believe it is barbaric. I believe it is a just response for a man taking another person’s life, except in the case of self-defense, or the accidental killing of another person. If someone takes another person’s life who is made in the image of God, he should forfeit his own life.

However, many people have said to me, “Capital punishment is just an Old Testament thing.” But this is not true! Paul teaches in Romans 13:1-4 these truths. “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” What judgment do they bring on themselves? Note Paul goes on to say, “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.  Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.  For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” Clearly the governing authority is God’s minister to execute wrath on him who practices evil. The judicial system is not committing murder when it executes someone for premeditated murder; it is executing justice for the person whose life has been taken. This form of punishment would also keep this individual from ever committing a similar crime. Many times, on the news we hear of people who commit murder and then commit murder again. This should not be!

In addition, note that capital punishment is also to be meted out to animals that kill people. In Exodus 21:28 it declared, “If an ox gores a man or woman to death, then the ox shall surely be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be acquitted.” I’m sure that you have heard when a dog kills a person, what do they do to the dog? They euthanize the animal so they can never do it again.

There are also exceptions to this concept of capital punishment for those who shed another person’s blood. In the Old Testament God instructed the judges to give an exception for manslaughter and self-defense to protect your life or another’s life. In Numbers 35:22-24 it is stated, “However, if he pushes him suddenly without enmity, or throws anything at him without lying in wait, or uses a stone, by which a man could die, throwing it at him without seeing him, so that he dies, while he was not his enemy or seeking his harm, then the congregation shall judge between the manslayer and the avenger of blood according to these judgments.” If a person pushed someone with no enmity or hatred between them, and they are not lying in wait for a person to harm them, or they have not premeditated the killing, then it is seen as an accident. Also, self-defense is given as an exception. In Exodus 22:2 God instructs again, “If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed.” These laws are still on the books today under our legal system.

Is capital punishment a real deterrent to someone thinking of murder?

The real question that is hotly debated today is the topic of deterrents. Is capital punishment a deterrent for the crime of murder? Yes, capital punishment is absolutely a deterrent! However, others say there is absolutely no deterrent. Who is right? I will take the opinion of the Word of God on this question. It teaches that capital punishment is only a deterrent to a normal person, but is not a deterrent to the hardened criminal, which is another reason why capital punishment should be used today, especially for the hardened criminal or a serial murderer. The Bible declares that there is no deterrent to a scoffer or a fool, but there is a deterrent for an open-minded person. In Proverbs 17:10-11 God declared, “Rebuke is more effective for a wise man than a hundred blows on a fool. An evil man seeks only rebellion; therefore a cruel messenger will be sent against him.” Solomon also writes, “Strike a scoffer, and the simple will become wary” (Prov. 19:25). In the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, it declares that the Hebrew word for simple means open-minded. Only then is the open-minded person willing to be instructed in regards to a deterrent. This is also why wicked people need to be punished to the fullest extent of the law, because in Proverbs 21:11 it says, “When the scoffer is punished, the simple is made wise; but when the wise is instructed, he receives knowledge.” Notice that only the simple is made wise, because he receives knowledge. This is why a scoffer needs to be punished, because it gives knowledge to the wise man, and becomes the deterrent for him so that he will not to do the same thing.

When the topic of the death penalty comes up at Moses’ second giving of the law, notice what is said. In Deuteronomy 17:11-13 Moses writes, “According to the sentence of the law in which they instruct you, according to the judgment which they tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left from the sentence which they pronounce upon you. Now the man who acts presumptuously and will not heed the priest who stands to minister there before the LORD your God, or the judge, that man shall die. So you shall put away the evil from Israel. And all the people shall hear and fear, and no longer act presumptuously.” Notice that when the death penalty is meted out God declares that, “All the people shall hear and fear, and no longer act presumptuously.” That sounds like a deterrent to me! Personally, I have talked with people in counseling who have confessed that they wanted to kill another person. They have told me that they thought about it, even planned out how they would do it, but then decided not to do the murder because of their fear of the death penalty. That knowledge of what could happen to them was a deterrent to their committing murder. I have seen this deterrent factor actually work in a person’s life several times. This is why I believe that if God states that people will hear and fear, then He is correct. This means there is a deterrent! 

God’s government over His people.

For capital punishment or any enforcement of any law to ever be meted out to any individual requires that you have some form of government set up in the land. This is why even in the New Testament human government is taught as I have already discussed in Romans 13. This human government should be comprised of an overseeing leadership, a military, and police departments to make sure the laws enacted in a country are kept. Capital punishment was the first law set up by God to curb the violence of men.

How then did God establish this government? God made a covenant with Noah, his descendants that would come after him, and even with every living creature (Gen. 9:9). Now I know that probably when I say the word government, you don’t have a good feeling inside, because of the corruption you see in our government, and the governments around the world. But if there is no government, a military, or a police force, you would have total anarchy, and I would guarantee you that you would not like to live in a country like that. There would be no formal way of protecting all citizens, punishing crime, or protecting us from foreign invasion. Therefore, here in Genesis 9 God states this covenant with Noah and his sons. “God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: ‘And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth. Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’ And God said: ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ And God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth’” (Gen. 9:8-17). Notice the essence of this covenant is that God promised to never again flood the earth as He had just done. Remember, in our previous study I explained that this promise did not mean that God would not destroy the earth by fire, as He promised to do later in the Bible (2 Peter 3:7; 10). He only promised not to destroy the earth again with a flood. The sign of the covenant would be the rainbow in the cloud that they would see when it rained on the earth. This rainbow was probably a great comfort to Noah and his sons every time they saw a rain cloud. Why? Because without this promise they would probably always wonder if there was another flood coming every time it began to rain. God’s promise still abides today in our rain clouds, and gives us great assurance because we know the faithfulness of our God. The sad thing is that many today who see rainbows have no idea what they mean, nor do they know anything of the God who made this promise. God’s complete and more detailed government over His people would come under the next covenant through Moses. However, the ultimate covenant God would make with His people, would put His laws in their hearts and minds by the Holy Spirit (Jer. 31:31-34).

The many covenants of God.

Did you know that there are many covenants initiated by God in the Scripture to declare how God would govern His people? This is a whole study in and of itself, but I would encourage you to consider these covenants of God.

1. The Edenic Covenant covers Genesis 2:15-17 also described in Hosea 6:7

2. The Adamic Covenant in Genesis 3:14-21.

3. The Noahic Covenant which is found here in our text. 

4. Then the Abrahamic Covenant found in Genesis 12:1-3; 7.

5. Then the Mosaic Covenant found in Exodus 19:5-8 and throughout the book of Exodus where all of 613 commandments were given to His people. Deuteronomy 11 is probably one of the best chapters that describe this covenant.

6. Then the Davidic Covenant given in 2 Samuel 7:8-16.

7. Then the New Covenant given by Jesus Christ which is predicted to come in Jeremiah 31:31-34. Jesus spoke of the New Covenant initiated through His blood whereby anyone could come and find forgiveness of their sins, and a new relationship with the Father (Matt. 26:28). Every believer is also to be a herald of this New Covenant to the lost of this world, declaring that Jesus is the Mediator of this covenant (2 Cor. 3:6; Heb. 9:15). Some of the promises given in these covenants are conditional upon men obeying God’s Word, and other promises are unconditional such as when God promised to send the Messiah.

Good government.

The reason why governments tend to end up becoming corrupt and tyrannical, is because all governments are run by selfish and sinful men. All you have to do is study the history of any government that has ever existed to see this is the case. Governments begin with a great president, and then you have a lousy president, and then the next president is a good one. Then the next leader is corrupt. When you study the history of Israel you see the same thing occurred in their history. You have a good king such as David, and then you have an evil king like Manasseh.  This is the history of every government. This is why the founding fathers of the United States declared that this was one of their greatest worries they had for our nation. Do you know what they declared was their only hope for keeping our nation from corruption and tyranny? It was morality and a religious belief in God. Listen to Benjamin Rush who was the first chief justice of the Supreme Court and signer of the Declaration of Independence. He said, “The only foundation for a useful education in a republic, is to be the aid of religion. Without this there will be no virtue, and without virtue, there can be no liberty. And liberty is the object and the life of all republican governments which we have. Without religion, I believe that learning does real mischief to the morals and principles of mankind.” John Adams the second president of the United States said, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.” He knew the only thing that could ever bridle the passions of men was morality and religion. He went on to say, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Also, Benjamin Franklin said, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.” These are powerful statements. He went on to say, “As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” George Washington our first president said, “Do not let anyone claim to be a true American, if they ever attempt to remove religion from politics.” Joseph Story, who was a US Congressman and Supreme Court Justice in 1811 said, “There is not a truth to be gathered from history more certain than this, that civil liberty cannot long be separated from religious liberty without danger, and ultimately without destruction to both.” Government has been given to protect people from the evil of other people, and to protect us from a foreign power that would want to subjugate us. Thomas Jefferson who was our third president said, “The purpose of government is to enable the people of the nation to live in safety and happiness.  Government exists for the interests of the governed, not for the governors.” Please consider these statements from very wise men who understood the sinful passions of men.  

The Bible also warns us of the same. God wanted to be the ruler of the Jewish people, but instead they wanted a king to rule over them. God then warned the people what would happen if they got the king that they wanted. He told them in 1 Samuel 8:10-19, “So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who asked him for a king. And he said, ‘This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day.’ Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, ‘No, but we will have a king over us.’” God told them that if they had a king he would take their sons and appoint them as leaders over his military. He would take their daughters to be cooks and bakers. He would take the best of their fields, their vineyards, and their olive orchards, and he would give them to his servants. He would take a tenth of their sheep and their produce, and they would become the servants of their king. Then He told them that they would cry out in desperation because of the heavy taxation and usurping of their property, but God said He would not hear their prayer, because they had chosen a king instead of Him. God knew the tendency of man’s nature and was trying to warn them, but they would not listen. Those who wrote the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence also knew this about men, and that is why they tried to warn us too. This is the reason why we must stand up for righteousness and vote for moral and godly men and women in our government. At the same time, we must remember that there will never be a perfect government here on this earth. This is why we must stand up for righteousness and fix our attention and hope on the One who will carry the truly righteous government on His shoulders, Jesus Christ! The Prophet Isaiah gave us this hope when he said, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (Is. 9:6-7). Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!