Friday, January 7, 2011

Genesis 9 - On Solid Ground

LINK: Genesis 9
BACKGROUND

Reviewing Genesis 8, we see Noah, his family, and all the living creatures step out of the boat on to solid ground and into a whole new beginning. What is the first thing Noah did? He built an altar to the LORD (thus why he took clean animals by sevens and unclean by two). This is the first mention of the word altar in Genesis. The aroma was pleasing to the LORD. The first act of this man who walked with God was an act of worship and sacrifice.

God responds with a promise (not to curse the ground or destroy every living thing), a blessing, and a command ("Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth"). He also says that animals will be afraid of them. Before the flood, they came to him. Now, they were running away because God said they could be food. So, those animals had a reason for running! He gave them food to eat but with one prohibition: "you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it." Again, we see foreshadowing of the "life in the blood" that points to Jesus. Also, we have another test of obedience just as Adam and Eve had in the garden! "You are free to eat this, but this one thing you cannot do."

Then, he related this to a prohibition against murder. From now on, murder was punishable by death (interesting that Cain's was not) because man was made in the "image of God." This is the biblical basis for proponents of capital punishment.

The centerpiece of Genesis 9 is covenant. The first mention of the word covenant is in 6:18, and we will be seeing this word used over and over again in the Old Testament. I would even suggest marking it as you read through your Bible. This was a "royal grant" or "suzerainty" covenant made between a superior (like a king) and a loyal servant. Noah was God's loyal servant, and God promised never to flood the earth again by giving Noah the sign of a rainbow. We will talk about covenant many more times in the future, but this is a brief introduction to that concept.

This chapter ends with Ham's sin. There are so many interpretations of the nature of his crime: homosexuality, trespassing, castration, and "blackmailing" in order to become head of the family are some of them. I prefer to think of it as an act of disrespect because he spoke about his father's condition. We already learned of the shame of nakedness in the case of Adam and Eve. Ham brought more shame on his father by talking about it. Canaan, the son of Ham, will be cursed with slavery as a result of Ham's actions. In contrast, God blessed Shem and extended the territory of Japheth for covering their father's nakedness. Here we have those two lines again: Ham on one side and Shem and Japheth on the other. Shem's line eventually leads to Abraham and Abraham's line leads to Jesus!

REFLECTION

I know this is from Genesis 8, but I am still mulling over the fact that Noah's first act when out of the boat was a sacrifice on the altar to the LORD. Noah could have complained. He could have been pretty ticked at God for holding him in that boat for so long. That might be my response to such a difficult circumstance. Noah worshiped and sacrificed. I want to give a sacrifice and commitment of everything I have to the LORD even when I am inconvenienced by something He calls me to do. I want to be like Noah!

APPLICATIONS

I am borrowing these from the Holman Bible Commentary by Kenneth O. Gangel and Stephen J. Bramer because I thought they were good. It includes possible applications from both Genesis 8 and 9:
  • Give sacrifices of praise (Heb. 13:15), good works (Heb. 13:16), financial giving (Phil. 4:18), and commitment of your body (Rom. 12:1).
  • Smell like a "pleasing aroma" to your Lord.
  • Live a life of love, "just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Ephesians 5:2).
  • Don't gossip. If you see something you shouldn't have observed, respect the people involved enough not to say anything to anyone.
  • Ask yourself this question, "Have I given or taken life today in the way I have treated my brother?" (Referring to Matthew 5:21-24 and anger being subject to judgment just as murder is subject.)
Ask God what His "I will" is for you today. These are just suggestions. 

PRAYER

Lord God, we give You a sacrifice of praise today. You are the faithful God who keeps Your covenant to those who love You. Help us not to forget this. In Jesus' name, Amen. 
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