Monday, August 01, 2011

Genesis Chapter 9 ~ Noah: Covenant, Sin, Children, Death

Genesis Chapter 9

God re-established the command with mankind to be fruitful and multiply and to rule the creation through Noah’s family. They could eat anything but blood, because it is the “life of the flesh”. God reaffirms that men killing men is a sin against Him because He has put His image in mankind, and He institutes capital punishment (Gen. 9:5-6).

Then God established a covenant with Noah, mankind, the animals, and the earth. A flood will never come to kill all flesh again and destroy the earth, and the sign of the covenant is a rainbow in the sky.

This chapter then lists the generations that follow Noah that are the fathers of all mankind:
(1) Shem, (2) Ham, and (3) Japheth.
Ham was the father of (1) Canaan.
Then Noah became a farmer, planted a vineyard and became drunk and lay naked in his tent. Ham came in and saw him naked and told his brothers. Shem and Japheth took a garment and walked backwards into the tent to cover him and they didn’t see him naked. When Noah woke up, he knew what Ham had done and he cursed his son. Here is what Noah said:
Ham: Cursed be Canaan, a servant to his brothers servants.
Shem: Blessed be the Lord of Shem, let Canaan be his servant.
Japheth: May God enlarge Japheth and let him dwell in tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.
Noah lived to be 950 years and he died.

Here again we see that God is establishing a covenant with Noah, and we see also that Noah is not the the messiah that would come in Eve's line that would save mankind from Satan, sin, and death. Here we see the covenant sign, the bow/rainbow that God set in the sky as a reminder that until the end of time He will not inflict His wrath to destroy all men all over the earth. We still see natural calamity in floods, famines, earthquakes, cyclones, and tsunamis. We still see terrible loss of life in plane accidents, lost pregnancies, the collapse of bridges, unexpected/untimely death, etc. Yet, in the face of all these things God still will not wipe every man from the earth until the very end. How should we think about these things in this life? First, we should be humbled and repent from our sin, because we may lose our life at any moment, and we must be prepared to meet God and give an account for how we are living. We also see the sacrifice that Noah offered (in Gen. 8:21) as a foreshadow of the sacrificial system to come. We know here that Noah is not God's final promised messiah. He is an instrument of saving, but not the one who would come to finally save us. However, in God's preservation of Noah we see that the beat goes on, and there is still hope because the covenant is also extended to Noah's children.

One question this passage raises in my mind is, "What did Ham do that was so bad?" It seems that he accidentally walked in and saw his dad naked, after he passed out from drunkenness. It seems that if anyone was in the wrong it was Noah for getting drunk on wine. Scripture looks favorably on wine (Deut. 14:26 and Psalm 104:15) but warns of it's danger, and drunkenness is definitely a danger and is warned against (Eph. 5:18). So what of Ham's seeing his father's nakedness? Well, the Hebrew word for this is ra'a meaning, "to look at (searchingly)." (See Bruce Waltke, 149) Some liken this to Habakkuk 2:15, "Woe to him who makes his neighbors drink - you pour out your wrath and make them drunk, in order to gaze at their nakedness!" This is more of a perverted voyeurism, then he went about and told his brothers as if inviting them to join in. This is a foreshadow of the sin of the people who would come from Ham, Canaan. This seems to be an incestual homosexual tendency that is being shown to be wicked in the cursing of Canaan. Obviously, the sins of Canaan will be more than incest and homosexuality, but Scripture here doesn't seem to make it any less. This is the first time that we've seen God's intolerance of homosexual sin (albeit this includes incest and as we'll see the second includes intent to rape). The fact that this instance (and as we'll see of the second in Gen. 19) of a homosexual desire includes something else that doesn't mean that consensual homosexuality is endorsed by God, we just haven't arrived at passages that clearly state this yet (Lev. 18:22; Rom. 126-27: ;1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10; etc.). Also, this is the first time that we have seen the sinful effects of drunkenness.

This leads to another question in my mind, "So was Ham a beneficiary of the covenant?" Well, he may have been, notice that Noah cursed Canaan. It's hard to know for certain without more information though. The giving of the covenant to Noah and his children here is not nearly as precise as the beneficiaries of the new covenant. Further, every human being after came from Noah, just as before they all came from Adam. This doesn't mean God's covenant of election was for all people who would come from Noah, the rest of Scripture will make that clear as we move along. As I mentioned yesterday, this is primarily a covenant of common grace whereby God is making public His relenting of his final wrath until the very end. In a sense this is a covenant with all people in the earth, but at the same time a special elective covenant of a chosen people will come from Noah, but that is yet to be seen. God is going to continue to bear with the human race and He is still going to bring a messiah to rescue mankind, He hasn't forgotten His promise. This aspect of the covenant of redemption is being sustained even in God's covenant with Noah and his family.

The lingering question, then, is, "Who's next? Will the next generation have the messiah?," and, "Who's life will God continue to display His plan of redemption to and through?"

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