Genesis 9

God’s grace can be seen in His infinite ability to grant humankind new beginnings. After the judgment of the flood, God gives Noah and his descendants the same charge He gave Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth“.

Some people have a hard time dealing with the fact that God is both life and just. God gives and loves life. We see it in the way He saves Noah, his family, and the living creatures in the ark, and by His command to Noah and his family mentioned in the previous paragraph. True life can only be found in Him. At the same time He is just. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, and chose to live their life their way instead of God’s way, they made the lesser choice of the two because God clearly said “you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die“. God’s way to live life was (and still is) the best way, but He wanted Adam and Eve to choose His way above their own way. The death God promised as a consequence to disobedience came into this world because of their bad choice. God is not a God of death like some people think. Please read Genesis 1 and 2 again. He is both life and just.

It is not possible for us to know how to live a fulfilling life without God’s guidance. We are created. As Isaiah the prophet says “Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?” You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “He did not make me”? Can the pot say of the potter, “He knows nothing”? This vivid image of how we relate to God size-wise is frighteningly beautiful. Frightening because we really are insignificant lumps of clay without the design that the Potter’s hands brings to our lives. Beautiful because we can be assured that when He is finished with us, each one of us will be a unique masterpiece – He is God after all. We must just be willing to submit to Him . . .

Other interesting points are that

  • God gives animals to humankind as food for the first time, and that changes our relationship with them: “The fear and dread of you [humankind] will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea“.
  • God gives humankind authority over all of the living creatures. If we have authority over all of the living creatures, why do some people worship them then? Just a random thought.
  • God emphasizes the sanctity of life. (1) They are not to eat meat with its lifeblood still in it. (2) He said that He will demand an accounting for the blood, i.e. life, of human beings shed by animals or by their fellowman. (3) He ends this section of narrative off by repeating the instruction that they should “be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it“. God is a God of life.
  • God promises that never again will all life on earth be wiped out by a watery flood, and God gives humankind the rainbow as a sign of His covenant (legal agreement).

As I have mentioned in a previous post, Noah was human after all. I always thought that his response to Ham’s indiscretion was a little harsh (read here). However, Bible scholars tell us that in ancient Biblical times it was a terrible sign of disrespect to see someone’s nakedness. Gossiping about it to his brothers’ was an even worse offense. The NETBible puts it as follows: “It is hard for modern people to appreciate why seeing another’s nakedness was such an abomination, because nakedness is so prevalent today. In the ancient world, especially in a patriarchal society, seeing another’s nakedness was a major offense. (See the account in Herodotus, Histories 1.8-13, where a general saw the nakedness of his master’s wife, and one of the two had to be put to death.) Besides, Ham was not a little boy wandering into his father’s bedroom; he was over a hundred years old by this time. For fuller discussion see A. P. Ross, “The Curse of Canaan,” BSac 137 (1980): 223-40.

Sometimes I lament how the mass media has desensitzed us to nakedness. We live in a media saturated world. May the Lord grant us wisdom in choosing what kind of media we expose ourselves to.

Perhaps parents can learn from this passage to teach their children proper respect, and that it is a lifelong process. Ham was most likely more than a 100 years old when he committed this offense. May God give parents wisdom on how to accomplish this task in an age in which so many people, ideas, and things are disrespected.