Human Failure but Divine Faithfulness — Gen. 9

Our text this morning will teach us precious truths about both human failure and divine faithfulness.

Illustration: Computer infected with malware; needs to be cleansed; you need a complete reboot so you can function productively

Illustration: Canby Motors – “Your car can be new again”

Theme of Renewal

Piper: God is prepared to start over with a new “Adam.” But this time the beginning is not in paradise. So the new “Adam” must reckon with three real threats against him and his mission to fill the earth: a threat from animals, a threat from man, and threat from God. So God makes three special provisions to protect the life of man in the new world where sin and corruption will again soon abound.

  • God Gives New Rights over Animals
  • God Makes Provision to Restrain Murder
  • God Makes a Covenant with Noah

THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD LIFTS US ABOVE THE HARSH REALITY OF HUMAN FAILURE

I.  (:1-7) FAITHFULNESS OF GOD IN THE RENEWAL OF MANKIND’S COMMISSION

Chiastic Structure: A B C B A

A1.  (:1)  Command: Prosper / Propagate / Populate

And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them,

       ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.’

The world has just witnessed God’s catastrophic, global judgment because of the harsh reality of man’s wickedness and depravity;  despite God creating a world that was perfect in the Garden of Eden; it had degenerated into such a state of corruption that God had to wipe it out with a flood;

But what about God’s promises of the seed of a woman who would crush the head of the serpent and deliver man from his sinfulness?

God remained faithful to His promises and brought the righteous family of Noah safely through the judgment waters – the ark of salvation lifting them securely above the harsh reality of human sin and failure

Now it is time for Renewal – and we start with the renewal of Mankind’s commission – echoing the command given to Adam and Eve at the start of human history

What an optimistic prospect for new beginnings – Noah could look forward to:

  • Prosperity
  • Propagation and the multiplication of his family
  • Populating the earth as they spread throughout the world and establish new communities

God remembered Noah and his family – acting on His previous commitments to His covenant people in demonstration of His faithfulness

    B1.  (:2-3)  Provision: Killing of Animals for Food Prescribed as Gift from God

“And the fear of you and the terror of you shall be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.

fear of you” – Dominion now based more on fear than on any type of harmonious existence – although in the Millennial Kingdom there will be another dramatic Renewal of the world order and the lion will peacefully lie down with the lamb – not so in this dispensation

Expansion of the human menu to now include steak on the diet

No longer restricted to a vegetarian diet …  Why would we want to reject God’s good gift to us??   Obviously gluttony is the abuse of God’s good gifts … we must eat in moderation –

But God has demonstrated His faithfulness in how He has provided food for our sustenance

  1. (:4)  Prohibition: Don’t Eat the Blood

Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.

We know that this prohibition is important because it lies at the heart of the chiastic structure

Parunak: Note that this is one of the four “Jewish” commands explicitly enjoined on the

Gentile believers in Acts 15:29. In fact, it probably lies behind two of them: explicit eating of

blood, and eating of strangled things, which would not have been properly drained of blood. . .

Lev 17:11 goes further: the blood is reserved as a mechanism for atonement. Only

bloody sacrifices could deal with sin, because they show the pouring out of life

that God requires as punishment for sin.

Hughes: Humans are not to devour animals the way animals devour one another, while the blood is pulsing in the flesh.  The reason for this is respect for life and beyond that the respect for the giver of life.

This prohibition extends until today

    B2.  (:5-6)  Protection: Killing of Mankind Penalized Made in Image of God

 “And surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from 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.

Cf. how the world before the Flood was characterized by violence – probably a lot of human bloodshed; it is a sad commentary on our present society to see how many murders take place each year; the city of Baltimore has become known throughout the world as one that is especially prone to such violence; much of it is associated in one form or another with drug trafficking … but that does not lessen the sting – it only intensifies the fact that the harsh reality of human depravity is always present with us

Distinction between man and the animal kingdom is consistently maintained throughout Scripture – huge distinction between legitimately shooting a deer for venison and murdering a human being made in the image of God – despite what some PETA members would have us believe – I am certainly against cruelty to animals and inhumane treatment – but that doesn’t extend to killing animals for food – I also react against some of the Rescue ads that want to direct our compassion more towards animals than towards aborted infants or orphans who need our support and care – it is a matter of priority for me

Should be no debate about Capital Punishment as justly administered by governmental officials – God’s Word has spoken; case closed; no room for discussion or debate

Many things in Scripture are clearly spelled out (like homosexuality being a sin or church leaders being male) – if you contest these, it shows a low regard for the Word of God

Hughes: to argue against the death penalty on humane grounds is to argue against God’s Word.  It exists precisely because of God’s humane concerns.  To ignore it is to despise life.

A2.  (:7)  Command: Prosper / Propagate / Populate

And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.

Repetition is such an important technique in these early chapters of Genesis; here we have the closing refrain of the chiastic structure

II.  (:8-17) FAITHFULNESS OF GOD IN THE RENEWAL OF THE NOAHIC COVENANT

A.  (:8-11) Provisions of the Covenant Promise Confirmed

Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, ‘Now behold, I Myself do 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 comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth.   And I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.’

  1. Initiator of the Covenant – — God identified with emphasis – “I Myself

Describes it as “My Covenant

God is the one who establishes it; this is more of a renewal than an inauguration of something new; the common language for cutting of a covenant is not used here; hearkens back to Gen. 6:18

Def. of a Covenant = solemn commitment of oneself to undertake certain obligations

This is a unilateral covenant because all of the obligations are on one side of the relationship

God is pledging His faithfulness to carry out the obligations he details here

  1. Parties of the Covenant – we call it the Noahic Covenant – but much more expansive than that; includes all of his family; includes all of creation
  2. Content of the Covenant – God is concerned to preserve this world that He has created until the time of the coming of Christ at the end of the world in final judgment – that will be by fire instead of by flood

So when clouds come over the face of the earth, Noah and his family are not to have some type of fear of “Here we go again” as if the heavens are about to open up for a 40 day deluge

B.  (:12-17) Sign of the Covenant Promise Displayed

And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. And it shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow 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; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.  When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon 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.’

bow” – same word used for the military bow used in warfare —

Borgman:  when it is applied to God it is a symbol of His wrath; the Lord makes His bow of wrath into a 7 colored rainbow – peace now instead of wrath;

Usage of rainbow:

Ezek. 1:28 – appearance of rainbow compared to appearance of likeness of glory of YHWH;

Rev. 4:3; reminder of His promise; that promise is undergirded by His presence which guarantees preservation of the earth;

14-16 Bow is sign of remembrance –

Blood of Jesus is ultimate sign of the New Covenant so that God the Father does not destroy us;

Remembering = God acting on a previous commitment to a covenant party;

Parunak: Application: God’s use of signs reminds us not to fall into either of two errors.

  • He condescends to our weakness by giving us tangible signs of intangible truths. Perhaps the

most precious of these are the elements at the Lord’s Supper. We ought not to despise such

symbols, but treasure them and take advantage of them.

  • At the same time, the sign has no power in itself, but points us back to the underlying word

(see Calvin on 9:15). Some people treat signs as almost magical, a mistake that leads to the

Catholic concept of sacrament. In fact, the bow doesn’t keep the world from flood; God’s

covenant does, and the bow is there only to remind us that he remembers his covenant.

Amazing that the LGBT community has taken to themselves this rainbow sign; Satan is always in the business of trying to hijack God’s signs and corrupt them and obscure their true significance

When we see the rainbow … think of the faithfulness of the covenant-keeping God

III.  (:18-27)  FAITHFULNESS OF GOD DESPITE THE RENEWAL OF HUMAN DEPRAVITY

A.  (:18-19) Roots of New World Order

  1. (:18)  3 Sons of Noah

Now the sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem and Ham and Japheth; and Ham was the father of Canaan.

  1. (:19)  Repopulation of the World

These three were the sons of Noah; and from these the whole earth was populated.

B.  (:20-23) Rebellion in Dishonoring One’s Father 

  1. (:20-21)  Indiscretion of Noah

Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard.

               And he drank of the wine and became drunk,

               and uncovered himself inside his tent.

Flood did not solve the problem of human depravity and sinfulness

Same sinners came out of the ark as went into the ark

Sad record of how otherwise faithful servants of God can not finish well

Let me get home before dark” =  poem written by Robert McQuilkin (1981)

It’s sundown, Lord. The shadows of my life stretch back into the dimness of the years long spent. I fear not death, for that grim foe betrays himself at last, thrusting me forever into life: Life with you, unsoiled and free. But I do fear. I fear the Dark Spectre may come too soon — or do I mean, too late? That I should end before I finish or finish, but not well. That I should stain your honor, shame your name, grieve your loving heart. Few, they tell me, finish well… Lord, let me get home before dark.

Hughes: Noah was not ignorant [of fermentation effects of wine] . . . it takes years for a vineyard to produce … He was no helpless victim.  He passed out because his drinking had gone out of control.  Noah had wrought his own degradation.  The Hebrew “lay uncovered” is reflexive, which emphasizes that he “uncovered himself.”  He was so utterly inebriated that he stripped himself naked and passed out.  Having uncovered himself, he therefore had covered himself with shame and disgrace (cf. Habakkuk 2:15; Lamentations 4:21).

Borgman: Gospel is not God coming and cleaning you up and saying, Let’s see how you do now;

God’s promise is to make us a new creation and to sustain us in that newness and deliver us completely; not a do-over

  1. (:22)  Salacious Behavior of Ham

And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father,

               and told his two brothers outside.

[Sermon on Peer Pressure]

Borgman: He dishonors his father – looks on his father’s disgrace with sense of perversity; goes out and tells his brothers; delighting in his father’s shameful and disgraceful position = the focal point;

Warranted the death penalty – Ex. 20:12 – honoring father and mother very important; Ex. 21:15ff; Deut. 21:18-21; we don’t understand significance of this in our culture;

Cf. God covering Adam and Eve

  1. (:23)  Circumspect Behavior of Shem and Japheth

But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and  walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father;

               and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness.

C.  (:24-27) Recompense / Retribution

  1. (:24)  Accountability

When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him.

Faithfulness of God in area of both cursing and blessing

  1. (:25-27)  Cursing and Blessing

a.  Curse on Canaan

                           “So he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants He shall be to his brothers.’

Hughes: Canaan was the father of the Canaanites, the depraved nemesis of Israel.  Therefore, the curse fell on Israel’s future enemies.  The Canaanites were a sensually depraved people.  Everything the pagan Canaanites did was an extrapolation of Ham’s lurid sensuality.  From the moment Abram entered the land, the Canaanites were there spreading corruption (cf. Genesis 13, 15, 18, 19, 38).  Leviticus 18 describes the degenerate practices of the Canaanites with a litany of euphemisms so as not to offend the reader, employing “nakedness” twenty-four times “

Drew Conley:

  • the sins of a father do influence his children;
  • the seed we sow will produce a harvest;
  • children make their own choices; not all of Noah’s sons responded the same way; not all of Ham’s sons are cursed; the way of sin is the way of slavery –

we think we are exercising freedom when we reject the dominion of God – actually bondage

b.  Blessing on Shem

                                    “He also said, ‘Blessed be the LORD, The God of Shem; And let Canaan be his servant.’

Parunak: Note the shift from YHWH in v.26 to “God” in v.27. It is in the line of Shem that the Lord makes himself known as the covenant-keeping God. Japheth knows him only in his character as creator.

c.  Blessing on Japheth

                                    “May God enlarge Japheth, And let him dwell in the tents of Shem;

                                    And let Canaan be his servant.

Parunak: As we shall see in more detail in chapter 10,

  • Ham’s descendants moved south to populate Africa. From them come the Egyptians and the tribes Israel found in Palestine.

  • Japheth’s descendants moved north to populate Europe and Asia. We are all mainly Japhethites.

  • Shem’s descendants (the “shemitic” or “semitic” people) remained near the center, in Mesopotamia and the Arabian peninsula. From them God chose Abraham and his descendants.

(:28-29)  EPILOGUE – COMPLETION OF NOAH’S LIFE

And Noah lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood.

       So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years, and he died.

CONCLUSION:

THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD LIFTS US ABOVE THE HARSH REALITY OF HUMAN FAILURE

Not just a reboot – but a new operating system

Parunak: In light of this, consider how remarkable it is that at the Lord’s Table, we are invited to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the sacrifice! We can now enter much more fully into fellowship with the Lord, partaking of his life, no longer an atonement but now the source of our life.