Friday, August 17, 2018

Genesis 9 – The Noahic Covenant

This article is part of a series of articles that resulted from my time preaching through the book of Genesis. The commentary on the passage is my own, resulting from hours of research and exegetical study. It is my intent to draw a biblical theology chapter by chapter through the book of Genesis that places the events of the narratives into the broad picture of the entire Bible, demonstrating the progressiveness of theology and the sufficiency of every Word of Scripture. It is my prayer that these articles are helpful to those seeking a better understanding of the book of Genesis and of the Bible as a whole. The sermon series and other resources can be found at

Noah and his family and all the animals stepped out of the ark into a world that had been cleansed of sin. However, all eight people that had been saved from the Flood by God’s grace were still sinners. And all their descendants would be sinners. God had promised to deal with the sin problem by sending the seed of the woman to crush the serpent’s head (Gen 3:15), but this was still far in the future. The Flood had been a massive judgment upon a world of sinners, but it did not deal with the root of the problem: the human heart. Nevertheless, in His mercy and grace, God made a covenant with the world that they could expect life to continue uninterrupted upon the earth.
1 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2 The fear of you and the terror of you will 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. 3 Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. 4 Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.

This blessing is similar to that which God gave to Adam and Eve on the day they were created. God commanded Noah and his sons (and all who would descend from them) to fill up the earth. Since the curse of sin was still in effect, there would not be harmony, but every animal would inherently have a fear of man. Mankind would still rule over them, but now the animals were included in the provision for food. The only restriction was to abstain from eating the blood of any animal.

5 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.

6 “Whoever sheds man’s blood,
By man his blood shall be shed,
For in the image of God
He made man.

Any man or animal that slaughters a human being answers to God. Murder is an offense that God commanded to be punished by death, because mankind is made in the image of God.

7 “As for you, be fruitful and multiply;
Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.”

God again commanded Noah and his sons to repopulate the earth.

8 Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, 9 “Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; 10 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. 11 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.”

rainbow near green grass rangesGod made a covenant with Noah and his sons and their descendants (every human being who has lived since the Flood) and with the animals. This is the first covenant recorded in Scripture. God promised that He would never again destroy the earth by a flood. As the history of the Flood was transmitted from one generation to another, people may have feared that such a thing would happen again. To keep people from living in fear of another flood that would destroy everything world-wide, God made this covenant with every living thing upon the earth.

God also gave a sign in the sky as a reminder and confirmation of the covenant:

12 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; 13 I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. 14 It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, 15 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. 16 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.” 17 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.”

The Noahic covenant is still in effect. There will never again be a world-wide Flood. This does not negate another world-wide judgment, for one day every person who has ever lived will be resurrected and stand before God to be judged.

18 Now the sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem and Ham and Japheth; and Ham was the father of Canaan. 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated.

20 Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23 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.

This strange incident begins with Noah getting drunk, uncovering himself inside his tent, and apparently passing out. Noah’s son Ham saw his father’s nakedness and made fun of it. But the other two sons covered their father’s nakedness without looking upon it.

24 When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. 25 So he said,

“Cursed be Canaan;
A servant of servants
He shall be to his brothers.”

Noah cursed Ham’s son, Canaan, that he and his descendants would be a lowly servant to the descendants of Shem and Ham.

26 He also said,

“Blessed be the Lord,
The God of Shem;
And let Canaan be his servant.

Knowing biblical history, we should see how this is going to play out. God will one day give the land of the Canaanites to the descendants of Shem, Israel.

27 “May God enlarge Japheth,
And let him dwell in the tents of Shem;
And let Canaan be his servant.”

Noah also blessed the Japhetites that they would partake of the blessings with the Shemites and be served by Canaan.

28 Noah lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood. 29 So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years, and he died.

Noah lived long enough to see the world again multiply in sin and violence. How difficult it must have been for him to watch his descendants turn away from God and lead godless lives.


We are all descendants of Noah, and we are all partakers of the covenant that God made with Noah and his sons. Though the world will never again be destroyed by water, we know that one day it will be destroyed by fire (2 Pet 2:10). And just as Peter continues, “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!” (2 Pet 2:11-12).

Noah was not sinless. He was not the long-awaited seed of the woman who would deal with the sin problem (cf. Gen 3:15). Even after Noah, the curse of sin reigned. But Noah was a type of the seed to come, for that One would preserve His people from judgment, being Himself the ark of salvation. Whoever calls upon Him will be saved, and will never fear judgment. Who is this one? It is Jesus Christ, the Lord, the Son of God. He stepped into history in order to live a righteous life and die as the perfect sacrifice for sins. He took away sins on that cross for all those who believe in Him, and He will rescue them from the wrath that is to come.

Read Chapter 8
(Chapter 9)
Read Chapter 10

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