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GENESIS 9

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GENESIS 9

 

Gen 9:1-3

When Noah came out of the ark, he was like a “second Adam” about to usher in a new beginning on earth for the human race.

God uttered a new blessing upon Noah and his sons; a new decree, and a new covenant with every living thing to re-inaugurate the “new earth”; and we need to observe the difference between these divine pronouncements and what was originally spoken in the garden of Eden to Adam and Eve.

“Be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the earth” still remains, but something is different; instead of “have dominion”, we have “the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, upon every fowl of the air, on every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; into your hands they are delivered”.

So man is here made a hunter of animals, and is permitted by God to include meat in to his diet in addition to the green herbs.And one may rightly enquire on the difference between the dominion that Adam had versus the subjugation in which the animal kingdom was delivered to Noah and his sons.

It is our postulation that Adam had total mastery and control, but Noah only commands the fear and dread of the animal kingdom. It is true that a savage and ravenous beast can overpower and make a meal out of a man, but the animal kingdom for the most part seem to know enough not to venture in on a community of men.

For mankind, although not equipped with toughened claws and razor sharp teeth has the advantage of genius and innovation, and will always forge weapons and strategic approaches to subdue the animal kingdom.

All of these are the prevailing rules and dynamics within which we live in this Noahic era of the earth. So it is important for us to keep in mind the difference between the dominion that Adam had before sin in the garden, against what Noah and his sons now have.

Gen 9:4-6

In this section, although meat has been included in mankind’s diet, he has been prohibited by God from consuming flesh with life blood in it. Man is more than a savage beast which mercilessly feeds on its prey with its lifeblood still in it; and so God instructs man towards decency, merciful consideration and tempered force even while making a meal out of the animals.

This said, there is an even greater reason than the divine requirement for man to not inflict prolonged and unnecessary suffering upon the animal kingdom, and that is because the life of the flesh is in the blood.

This life, whether of beast or of man belongs to God, and should not be taken at a trifle, other wise men would lose all value for the sacredness and sanctity of life, and even eventually mistaking fellow man’s blood to be equivalent to that of beasts, resulting in a savage and carnivorous society.

God now moves on to the main point of this passage, “whoever sheds human blood (whether animal or fellow human), by human shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind”. Here God institutes the dispensation of human government with divine warrant to execute capital punishment (the taking of human life) should the cause be justifiable.

First of all in Eden, man was in the dispensation of innocence; then after his fall in the matter of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, he entered into the dispensation of conscience. And although he knew what was good from evil, he still chose evil over good, and brought such corruption and violence upon the earth that God had to send the great universal flood in Noah’s day.

And so now with human society re-starting on a clean slate in the earth, God instituted the dispensation of human government. Although imperfect and sinful men will rule over other men and enact laws, order and decency will be preserved in human society because of the fear of punishment and repercussions for law-breaking and disorderly conduct.

Paul the apostle elaborated on this in Roman 13 when he said that rulers are God’s ministers who bear the sword for the punishment of law breakers, and the restraint of lawless terrorists.

Human government is not perfect because of sin even in the hearts of those charged with the responsibility to maintain justice, law, and order in society; but human government has served so much good in human societies, and it is both to be appreciated and supported.

It has served mankind far more than anarchy which would result if the institution of government were taken away. Human society would not survive the utter chaos from mischievous persons, tyrants, anarchists, murderers, thieves, and insurrectionists.

Thank God for imperfect human government which has a way even of purging itself and recovering from its imbalances with the ascension to power of every new ruler.

Genesis 9:7-11

Again God declares to Noah and his sons, “be fruitful and increase in number, multiply on the earth and increase upon it”. So having wiped out the old corrupt world, and having put checks and balances in place (firstly mankind’s shortened lifespan, and secondly human government to curtail and check anarchy), God now grants His divine blessings for mankind to multiply and repopulate the earth.

God then declared His covenant with Noah and his sons, and with every living creature; wild beasts, livestock, birds, and humans, {whom, as an aside, we also see figuratively represented in Ezekiel’s visions of God’s throne (Ezek 1:10; Ezek 10:14) and John the revelator’s vision (Rev 4:7)}. “I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth”.

And again in verse 15, “Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life”. We see these 3 times how God had to emphasize and assure mankind and all living creatures in an unconditional covenant that the earth will not be destroyed by a flood, otherwise imagine what either the sons of Noah or their descendants would conclude whenever they observed the gathering of clouds for a coming rainstorm.

Perpetual fear would have been the natural response of any human heart especially being very well acquainted with our sinful, corrupt, and deceitful hearts both individually and corporately as human communities.

But today instead of fear and trembling of coming judgment, mankind has acclimatized to God’s covenant mercies, and instead of doing justly, and loving mercy and walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8), mankind has taken that covenant mercy for granted and is by his continuing rebellion daring the God who once flooded the whole earth.

In his lustful craving for sin and the things in this world, mankind has also forgotten that this same God has decreed this present world to be destroyed by fire (2Peter 3:5-10) for the sins and abominations that men have committed in rebellion against His holiness and majesty.

Gen 9:12-17

Here God gives the sign or token of the unconditional covenant to Noah and his descendants; it is the rainbow in the sky that occurs and is visible when the light rays from the sun is refracted by droplets of water vapor in the atmosphere.

The rainbow is a natural phenomenon that occurs in the sky and is normally taken for granted except of course for its aesthetic value and beauty. The truth is that, for us, most times we do not attach any seriousness to the appearance of the rainbow in the sky. Nothing strikes us that it is a representative token of God’s covenant mercies.

We here agree with several bible commentators who state that the appearance of the rainbow in the sky was no new phenomenon to Noah, but that God employed it as the token of His covenant to all of humanity (the descendants of Noah) from every culture, region, and geography of the earth, so that mankind would remember that there was once a worldwide flood occasioned by human sin and corruption, and that although now every generation after that has been ever more sinful, we are preserved by the covenantal preservation and self-restraint of the almighty who has promised not to bring down another worldwide flood to destroy the earth.

Next time we see the rainbow, may we look up and see covenant mercies that preserves the fruitful seasons of the world in which we live. According to the Almighty, the rainbow is not just a beautiful phenomenon in the clouds for us to observe, but “My bow (verse 13)” which is set in the sky, and of which most men are ignorant, because by His bow the Lord of Hosts communicates that the water vapor and thus the clouds and the heavens are part of His armory which He deployed against the pre-flood world.

But let us observe that God’s bow points upward, not downwards towards men to bring about terror, since He took upon Himself the sentence and punishment that is rightfully ours because of His loving redemption presented to us by the cross of Christ; the just One suffered for the unjust ones (1Peter 3:18); He bore the blows and stripes that our transgressions brought about (Isaiah 53:5).

And even though men see the rainbow in the cloud and ignore to make much of it, God said “whenever I bring the clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and creatures of every kind” never again to destroy all life with a flood. {As an aside, We also see the rainbow featured in both Ezekiel’s vision of the throne of God (Ezekiel 1:28), and that John in the book of revelation (Rev 4:3; Rev 10:1)}.

Gen 9:18-23

Noah’s sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth are the ancestors and progenitors of the human race as we have it today, of every people, culture, race, tribe and tongue. Until now no much details has been given to us about their character disposition or the dramatic events of their lives.

In this passage we see that although Noah was a righteous man, he was not a perfect man. All of mankind has been born into sin, and conceived in a state of iniquity (Psalms 51:5). Let us see here how Pastor Matthew Henry describes this scene for us in his concise commentary: “The drunkenness of Noah is recorded in the Bible, with that fairness which is found only in the Scripture, as a case and proof of human weakness and imperfection, even though he may have been surprised into the sin; and to show that the best of men cannot stand upright, unless they depend upon Divine grace, and are upheld thereby.

Ham appears to have been a bad man, and probably rejoiced to find his father in an unbecoming situation. It was said of Noah, that he was perfect in his generations, Gen 6:9; but this is meant of sincerity, not of a sinless perfection. Noah, who had kept sober in drunken company, is now drunk in sober company. Let him that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall.

We have need to be very careful when we use God’s good creatures plentifully, lest we use them to excess, Luke 21:34. The consequence of Noah’s sin was shame. Observe here the great evil of the sin of drunkenness. It discovers men; what infirmities they have, they betray when they are drunk; and secrets are then easily got out of them. Drunken porters keep open gates. It disgraces men, and exposes them to contempt.

As it shows them, so it shames them. Men say and do that when drunken, which, when sober, they would blush to think of. Notice the care of Shem and Japheth to cover their father’s shame. There is a mantle of love to be thrown over the faults of all, 1Pet. 4:8. Beside that, there is a robe of reverence to be thrown over the faults of parents and other superiors. The blessing of God attends on those who honour their parents, and his curse lights especially on those who dishonour them – (Pastor Matthew Henry).”

The preceding verses do not explain to us what Ham’s intent was in the conscious and deliberate act of mocking his father’s nakedness in his drunken state within his tent. First why did he bring himself into his father’s tent uninvited? And if he had unintentionally stumbled into an error or offense, was it not his place to dignify and cover his father’s naked body (Prov 10:12)? Well, some have claimed that Ham must have taken advantage of his father’s situation and abused him sexually, but that is stretching the text too far.

But one thing is clear looking again at this sad and confusing twist of events; old sinful habits die hard. Could it be that the righteous Noah, prior to the flood, had a weakness for wine, and used to help himself to some of it so much so that now after the flood he missed what had been easily available to him in a wicked world, and sported with a wine gardening profession to distill his fermented beverage.

We have already seen the result of this. Yes we know our exposition here is no more than conjecture, but there is some remote plausibility. Secondly Ham must have also been a scoffer, one who used vulgarity, a slanderous, an indecent and irreverent person who would jest over an abomination; or was it that Ham mocked and belittled his father’s fall into sin, as one who rejoices when the righteous slip and fall (Psalm 17:5)? This passage keeps us guessing, but there is still more within it to warn us of the danger of unforsaken sin in our lives as followers of Christ (James 4:8).

Gen 9:24-27

Was it by divine revelation that Noah got to know what Ham had done, or was it by the reports of Shem and Japheth his other sons? We are not told. But Noah gets to find out the despicable insult that Ham had rained upon him, and his reaction gives us another head-scratching extrapolation exercise.

Why did Noah curse Canaan, the last son of Ham, instead of Ham who committed the grave indiscretion? Again we theologians have been scratching our heads; and some have gone this way while some have gone the other in trying and find answers. Some have claimed Canaan was with Ham and participating with him while he was committing the abomination against his father’s nakedness, but the biblical text does not in any way support this view.

Some also suggest that Canaan was Ham’s first son and most prominent son, and that Noah cursing Canaan was cursing Ham’s pioneering and entire generation. But our reading of Ham’s descendants in Gen 10:6 leaves us to believe that Canaan was Ham’s last son, and not his first. So why did Noah curse Canaan and not Ham the perpetrator of the crime? Could it be that in cursing Ham’s own last son, Noah was saying to Ham that as you my last son have mocked and abused me, so your last son is now an accursed son that will become a mockery and slander to you as you have been to me? This is our best guess, and we have shown our own line of thinking.

And before we will deliberate upon the next issue, we need to point out something stark, true, and sad about the sin-ridden human family; just as Adam’s sin had spilled over to his descendants, causing ripple effects, so Noah’s sin resulted in the sin of his son Ham which further brought down a curse upon his descendants still. This is the character of sin which contaminates, deceives, corrupts and defiles the entire family of humanity (Rom 7:11-13). So here is the tragic inheritance that sinners bequeath to their posterity, sin, sin, and more sin leading to death and corruption; but thanks be to God who delivers us and gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 7:25).

Now to the content of Noah’s curse upon Ham, which has stimulated very heated conversation among theologians and historians. The popular view is that Ham through Canaan is the progenitor of the black race of Africa, and hence the black race is accursed to be the “servant of servants” both to the Shemites (Gen 9:26) and Japhethites (Gen 9:27).

We in the strongest terms refute this notion as an unbiblical teaching, not even supported by the succeeding genealogical records, and is historically undemonstrable. Genesis 10:6 list the names of Ham’s sons: Cush (progenitor of the Ethiopians), Mizraim (progenitor of the Egyptians), Put (progenitor of the Libyans), and Canaan (progenitor of the Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, Hivites – Gen 10:15). So Canaan and his descendants are those (Amorites tribes) people whom God makes promise to Abram in Genesis 15:18-20 that his descendants would dispossess off their land for their own inheritance.

Read what Joshua had to say about these people upon whom this curse of Noah was fulfilled in the Israelite occupation of the lands of Canaanites (Josh 3:10; Joshua 9:21-27).

But the history of the past centuries have shown black Africans to be an enslaved and subjected people to both Europeans and Asians. What shall we make of all these glaring facts? Well, first of all, we need not adjust biblical doctrine to accommodate a demographic situation where it is not warranted. Secondly we need not shy away from this sad and arguable fact; why has Africa been backward in every developmental indices in the world till date? We have to assemble several scriptural viewpoints to be able to address this issue.

 

Our first response to this is that any society or people that persistently continue in abhorrent or detestable traditional/cultural practices such as mindless idolatry, witch-craft, sorcery, necromancy, consultation of the spirits of the dead, wanton bloodshed of the innocent, grave injustice and oppression, spiritism, magic, meddling with totems and spirits of the land, human sacrifices in so many variety of ways.

Any people group that persist in conjuring and consulting ancestral spirits of the dead, and live with a world view of unbiblical superstitions and taboos with ceremonial ritualistic worship; such a people by their own practices will bring a curse on their own selves and land. Find our scriptural leads here provided to support our viewpoint; Deut 7:25-26, Deut 12:31, Deut 18:9-12, Deut 20:18, Deut 27:15, Deut 29:17, 1King 11:5-7, 2Chron 28:3, 2Chron 33:2.

These are not all of the scriptures that are related to this subject, but this should be adequate for us to back up our argument on this issue. And since there is no part of the world so astute, steeped, or prominent in such superstitious and traditional practices like Africa, therefore it is Africa’s ancestors that have cursed Africa with spiritual darkness and backwardness by the idolatry that they have bequeathed to their posterity, and not Noah God’s righteous man.

Finally, to address this issue from a New Testament perspective, we quote Paul the apostle, “There is therefore no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the (Holy) Spirit, for the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death (Rom 8:1-2)”. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; the old has gone, and the new is here (2Cor 5:17 NIV)”.

And Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole”. And one more, still Galatians 3:29, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise”. So the black man cannot be cursed when he has embraced the free provision of the grace and redemption that is in Christ Jesus. He too is created in God’s image and he too can be recreated in Christ Jesus through salvation (as God’s workmanship – Eph 2:10) to be more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:27).

Shem is the progenitor of the Hebrew people; that is why in Gen 9:26 God is described as “the Lord God of Shem”. Japheth is the progenitor of the European and Asiatic race who have been “enlarged by God” (Verse 27) which many take to be both economic and technological advancement of these Caucasian nations. And thus if Black Africa had unintentionally come into any bondage by the resultant fruit of its traditional practices throughout its generations, then we can take hope from the example of Isaac pronouncing a remedial blessing on Esau his first born after Jacob had outwitted him and taken the blessings, “You will live by your sword and you will serve your brother.

But when you have become restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck (Gen 27:40 NIV)”. If Esau could turn around the disadvantaged situation and throw off Jacob’s yoke from his neck, so can Africa who have grown restless with backwardness and underdevelopment, and have begun to apply the redemptive knowledge of Christ’s sacrifice upon their life. After all the Proverbs says “through knowledge shall the just be delivered (Prov 11:9)”.

Gen 9:28-29

Noah was of the pre-flood strain and lived up to be 950 years in total. No other man after Noah is able to attain this great age. Some have alleged that the flood had altered some environmental condition of the earth which left the present earth’s elements accelerating mankind’s aging process. And from Noah’s sons to their succeeding descendants the stalking monster, death, was able to swallow up much earlier than it had consumed their father Noah.



LIFE APPLICATIONS OF GENESIS 9

1) Sin altered the original paradise condition of the Edenic creation, and now we live in a world where man’s lifespan has been drastically shortened, and we are exposed and susceptible to diseases and terrifying plaques, accidents, natural disasters, pain, suffering, alongside toilsome labours, exposure to hazards, and risk taking to be able to fend for ourselves and our families.

Therefore wisdom, caution, and safety should be of prime importance as we navigate the dangerous minefield of life.

2) God is the One who has established the institution of human governments in every society of the world. Although human governments are nowhere near 100%, they still have God’s approval to maintain law and order in society, and to punish law-breakers according to the degree of crimes even up to capital punishment should the crimes committed warrant such. Governments that strive to obey God’s mandate of dispensing justice, and promoting honesty in society will be blessed by God.

We must carry out our civic duties of respecting and supporting our governments as God ordained institutions. But we must never place our governments and their laws higher than God and His laws and commands. Government is an institution that is both subject to and accountable to God.

3) Whenever we see the rainbow in the sky, let us remember to reflect on God’s faithfulness to His covenant never to destroy the earth with another flood. God, in His longsuffering and patience towards all of creation is not willing that any should perish despite our sinful disposition as people.

God sustains the fruitful seasons of the earth to provide for our needs. Our part is to recognize and acknowledge His awesome and majestic grace towards us. May the heavenly display of the rainbow in the sky remind us that God had once destroyed the world with a flood because of human sin, and that He has promised in His Word to bring another judgment of fire upon the earth.

4) Sin is a highly contagious cancer in human society. It was Noah’s sin that triggered the sin of Ham his son, and which further resulted in the cursing of Canaan his grandson. Sin quickly spreads in the family and in the society.

Hebrews 12:15 is concerned about sin that results in the contamination and defilement of other people. So we must watch out for the epidemic of sin on both individual and societal level.

We need to heed the warnings of 1Timothy 6:11 and Ephesians 5:7 to flee all kinds of sinful temptations, and not to be partakers of other peoples’ sins. God will judge human sin at last with burning anger and fiery rage.

5) Proverbs 20:1 – “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” It will even make a wise man foolish.

6) The Black race was not in view when Noah pronounced a curse upon Canaan. It was because of the curse that Canaan was dispossessed of their land by Israel when they came out of Egypt led by Moses, and then Joshua. Also the sins of the Canaanites also played a role in their being destroyed by Israel (Gen 15:16; Lev 18:24-28).

This said, the Black race (demographically) have struggled with under-development and backwardness more than any other race on the face of the earth because of the accumulated effects of abhorrent traditional cultures and practices.

Proverbs 14:34 states that righteousness exalts a nation (people group), but sin brings a reproach upon any people. Africa needs to consciously pursue the decision to come out of ancestral and traditional darkness into the light of the truth of God’s eternal Word and Love.

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