Through the Whole Bible: Genesis 9
I know, I’m rapidly becoming the “evening edition” around here. Sorry.
Genesis 9: (LINK) Rainbows and Ruins. At least that ought to be the subheading here. The Flood ends. Noah and family come out of the Ark, animals come out of the Ark, and life starts afresh in a very different environment.
Oh, and God sees that man will be so violent that instituting the death penalty for murder is necessary and Noah gets drunk and passes out unclothed in his tent. There’s that, too.
What do we do with this?
Let’s work the opposite question first: what do we not do with this?
1: We do NOT take Genesis 9:25-27 as justifying slavery, racism, or any other ethnocentric nonsense. Seriously, I have respect for many of Baptist forbears and men and women of other branches of Christianity that went before me, but that part was dumb. I do wonder what part of mine will be counted just plain dumb by my great grandchildren, but I digress. That Canaan was cursed by Noah does not mean you get to curse someone you think is descended from Canaan.
Good. Keep in mind, there’s really only two kinds of people in the world: those who need the Gospel and those who need the Gospel. Well, the difference is those who have responded to the Gospel and those who have not. So,you’re not better than anyone because of your skin color and you’re not worse. Your culture may be different and there may be points of difference to discuss but we’re all the same before God: sinners in need of the Savior.
2: We do NOT simply write off the rainbow portion as mythic nonsense. Of all the reasons man would invent for the rainbow, we’d make up that it’s God’s sign there won’t be a worldwide flood? For that to be the invented reason, mankind must have a common memory of a worldwide flood. So…
3. We do NOT take the provision of capital punishment as the right to take our own revenge. There’s more here than just a simple vengeance principle and it’s also not a definite command to execute murderers. I think it is a Biblically acceptable practice when guilt is exceedingly clear, but that’s another discussion. The purpose of the statement in Genesis 9:6 is to establish the value of human life: we are higher than the animals and are not to be killed just for hunting. (Hear that, Slitheen? Good.)
4. We do NOT get drunk and pass out unclothed in our homes. Or elsewhere.
Now, what DO we do?
1. Trust God: imagine the terror of storms. It’s easy, really, when you have seen tornadoes and hurricanes. Now, amplify that terror by adding some big survivor guilt. Yet the reassurance of seeing rainbows as a sign that God will preserve a remnant. When you see stress coming, trust God. Seek His Word.
2. Value human life: all human life. From the moment of conception through death, all human life is precious. That means seeking the good of all people—not just the convenient ones. So, what can we do about that? Lots, and we need to work on it.
3. Take care of the earth: we’re suppose to fill it (and we haven’t, you neo-Malthusian folks) and populate it. That means live here. Your house may be your house, but you don’t just fill it with trash and leave the heat blasting, do you? Seriously, I like the term “Creation Care” better than “Environmentalism” but many of the goals are the same: keep this place fit to live on.
And I think we should do it because God told us to, not because we’ll miss the whales and polar bears.
4. Consider the effects of our actions when we respond to sin: do we desire only to embarrass the sinner or do we seek redemption? Want to be Ham or Shem?
That’s that, then.