God interacted with Noah’s clan at the altar, blessing them, commissioning them and covenanting with them. Our prayer life is where God is going to interact with us too, where you and I are able to hear the Lord’s voice speaking to us, blessing us, giving us God’s instruction and commission, and reassuring us of the Lord’s promises as we study God’s word.
“Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.”
There is reason to believe that Adam and Eve’s descendants had so far failed to fill the earth, but had remained in the fertile crescent
“The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered.”
If there had been such harmony in the early days of creation, there was a question that had to be answered: why do animals now fear and dread people? Maybe God’s lesson here, is that humankind is not what it once was—lords of creation, made to have the animal world in loving, obedient subjection to benevolent human rulership. Love and trust would now be displaced by fear because of sin.
“Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.”
When you and I ask God to bless the food we are about to eat, and thank Him for His provision, maybe we can also thank Him for the lives that were given up in order for us to be nourished. This thought has often prevented me from wasting food and has drawn me into the world of sustainable agriculture and animal husbandry. Lives are being given so my life can be nourished and revived.
“Only, you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.”
God had a purpose for the blood of sacrifice, that it would be recognized as the life poured out for sin. Life is God’s domain. He alone has created life, and He alone has authority over life’s beginning and end. God has shared a limited authority over life with humankind, but there are boundaries and requirements.
Even if an animal’s life is taken, as permitted by God, you and I still must recognize the sovereignty and authority of God over life. The first time I studied Genesis God convicted me about how carelessly I killed little lives, ants, flies, spiders, and such. My eyes were opened to how each of these creatures is a beautiful little life, created by God for His pleasure.
The Lord has given me permission to have dominion over this little life, and so if I take the life of a creature, it must be with honor and respect to its Creator, and for a purpose I can defend with a clear conscience before our Sovereign.
“For your own lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning: from every animal I will require it and from human beings, each one for the blood of another, I will require a reckoning for human life.”
Initially you can read this as God giving to Noah and his descendants a way to govern human behavior and establish a barrier to the kind of murder and mayhem that Cain’s line had initiated in the pre-Flood days. But, it is not intended to be that alone, because an animal’s blood was also to be shed if it killed a person, even accidentally.
So, more importantly, this early commandment identified every person’s life as sacred to God; only God has the right to take it. If anyone violates God’s right in this, the Lord says He will require a reckoning, and it is a terrible price.
I’ve been told this is where our death sentence laws come from, and why the United States is the last western nation on earth to still use the death penalty. It is from this sentence, right here, in Genesis, spoken to an extended family who had just witnessed and survived the most horrendous loss of life the planet has ever experienced.
One would think Noah and his clan were, by now, so sickened and horrified by the loss of life, they would have readily agreed to this commandment. They might have thought to themselves, “Why would God ever need to say this? We are so tearfully grateful for life, life is so incredibly precious to us. How could we ever imagine the taking of a human life? We hate even the taking of animal life.”
Jesus would later teach that even hating one’s brother (or sister) is murder in God’s eyes. So, I will be held accountable for hating in the same way I would be held accountable for murder. Because I belong to God, I can trust the Holy Spirit will convict me, in order to draw me into confession of hating someone, repentance of letting go of that hatred, and the holiness of allowing God to cleanse me of all hatred through the pouring out of His love and forgiveness into me and through me to that other person.
This is such a hard teaching in our polarized culture, where our computers and iPads, tablets and phones burst into flames on a regular basis, where every one of us—whether knowingly or unwittingly—has acted as a troll in another’s story, and where each of us has also been wounded and torn down by another’s callousness, cruelty, or cutting sarcasm.
Somehow, hate and rage appears to have become our culture’s leading edge. As believers in Jesus, filled with His beautiful pure life by His Spirit, we are to become the revelation of His goodness and grace, of his compassion and love, when we respond to hate and rage with graciousness, empathy, and wise love.