God Offers New Opportunities

Explore the Bible Series

December 30, 2007


Background Passage: Genesis 8:15-9:29

Lesson Passage: Genesis 8:15-17, 20; 9:1-3, 8-13


Introduction:In the wake of the catastrophic deluge, Noah and his family emerged, at Godís bidding, from the ark.The words of Genesis Eight and Nine recall the creation narrative:

††††††††††† ďbe fruitful and multiplyĒ (8:17)

††††††††††† ďfill the earthĒ (9:1)

Noah, in a sense, served as a new Adam. God had washed the world clean, and the family of Noah began anew.As Adam rebelled against God by eating the forbidden fruit, so Noah sinned by the shameful misuse of the vine.After the Fall of Man, God covered the nakedness of our first parentsí; just so, this text reveals the shameful nudity of Noah in his drunken stupor.Societal advancements followed the Fall, as did pride, false religion, hatred, lust, polygamy, violence and murder.The history of mankind followed a similar pattern in the wake of the Flood.


Genesis Eight and Nine record a new beginning for the human race, and God introduced the concept of covenant to Noah and his family.From this point onward, the Bible-story centers on formal covenants God established with his people: Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and, finally, the New Covenant, through Jesus Christ.A covenant is a binding agreement between two or more persons, and the biblical covenants follow a similar pattern.

  1. Each covenant originated in the redemptive prerogative of God; that is, men did not initiate these covenants.
  2. Each covenant, by Godís design, had a mediator, a person through whom the Lord instituted the agreement.In this case, the Lord established his covenant through his servant Noah.
  3. Each covenant rested on the inviolable purpose of God.Though men did not live up to the conditions of the agreement, God still accomplished his perfect design and remained faithful to his promises.
  4. Each covenant built on the previous agreements, building to Godís ultimate redemptive purpose in Christ.

(a). In the Noahic Covenant God displayed his ultimate dissatisfaction with and judgment on sin; yet, in his mercy, the Lord provided a means of escape and a pledge that he would never again destroy the earth by flood.

(b). Some time after the Flood, God set a covenant with Abraham.This agreement revealed more clearly the essential relationship of faith to justification before God.

(c). The Mosaic Covenant revealed, with greater detail, the principle of Law and the necessity of sacrifice to atone for manís sin.

(d). The Davidic Covenant foreshadowed Godís sovereign government over his people through the Son of David.

(e). The New Covenant, established through Christ, served as the capstone for all of the Old Testament covenants. All the other agreements found their fulfillment in the person and work of Christ.

†††† 5.God established a token or symbol for each covenant. In Noahís case, the rainbow served as an everlasting token of Godís faithfulness to his promise to Noah and his descendants.



Outline of Background Passage:


I.                   Disembarkment from the Ark (8:15-22)

A.    Godís command to leave the ark (vv. 15-19): Noah did not leave the ark until God gave command; then, according to the Lordís directive, Noah, his family, and the animals disembarked and spread out over the face of the earth.

B.     Godís covenant with Noah (vv. 20-22): Based on the story of Cain and Abel, we conclude that some kind of sacrificial beliefs characterized the people of God from a very early date.Based, therefore, on centuries of religious practice, Noah erected an altar and sacrificed clean animals to the Lord.The text does not reveal if Noah regarded this offering as redemptive or as an offering of thanksgiving. Nevertheless, the sacrifice pleased the Lord, and he pledged he would never again curse the ground or destroy the wildlife of the planet.Furthermore, the Lord promised the consistent cycle of the seasons for the remainder of history.


II.                The Aftermath of the Flood (9:1-29)

A.    Godís blessings on Noah and his family (9:1-6)

1.      fruitfulness (vv. 1 and 6): Like Adam before him, Noah was commanded, along with his sons, to multiply and fill the earth.

2.      dominion (v. 2): All the beasts, according to Godís decree, would fear man.Perhaps this dread relates to Godís permission for man to eat meat. (See v. 3).

3.      consumption of meat (vv. 3-7): Apparently mankind ate, up to this time, a vegetarian diet; now, however, God allowed man to eat his fellow creatures.Blood, nonetheless, was expressly forbidden as a part of manís diet.The ancient Hebrews believed blood was sacred, and this prohibition foreshadowed the ceremonial practices of the Mosaic Covenant and the symbolism of the shed blood of the Savior for manís redemption. This sacred regard for blood, as a symbol of life, issued in an explicit command against murder.

B.     A restatement and expansion of the Noahic Covenant (vv. 7-17): God established this covenant with Noah, his descendents, and very living creature (See vv. 8-10), and, in this agreement, the Lord pledged never to destroy the world by water (See v. 11).The Lord placed the bow in the sky as a symbol of his pledge to the earth.

C.     The multiplication of Noahís family (vv. 18-19): This text seems to reinforce the assertion of a universal flood that killed the entire human race (as opposed to the local flood theories of some scholars). Genesis traces the lineage of the whole human population to these four men: Noah, Ham, Shem, and Japheth.

D.    Noahís sin and the curse on Canaan (vv. 20-29)

1.      Noahís vocation after the Flood (v. 20): God commanded Adam to tend the Garden of Eden, and Cain was a ďworker of the groundĒ; so, mankind had practiced agriculture for generations.Noah, so far as we know, became the first man to grow a vineyard.In time, Noahís crops fermented, and the poor man became drunk with wine.

2.      Noahís drunkenness (v. 21): In his besotted stupor Noah disgracefully uncovered himself in his tent.Later, the ancient Hebrews regarded nudity as shameful, and Noahís drunkenness had reduced the righteous patriarch to this humiliating condition.

3.      The sin of Ham (vv. 22-23): Ham, having discovered his naked father, reported the situation to Shem and Japheth.Bible scholars have speculated about the nature of Hamís sin.Some ancient Jewish rabbis (and some Christian scholars) thought Ham committed a homosexual act, and others speculated that he castrated his father!The text doesnít indicate the exact nature of the transgression, but it certainly involved disrespect toward Noah.Probably, the disrespectful son delighted in or made light of his fatherís drunken nakedness as he related the information to Shem and Japheth.Whatever the case, Noah cursed Hamís son Canaan. Another interpretive problem revolves around the curse on Canaan.Why, in other words, did Noah curse Canaan for the transgression Ham?Some surmise that Canaan participated in the ridicule of Noah.Kenneth Matthews argues persuasively that Noah cursed Canaan because of the ancient concept of corporate personality; that is, a fatherís character is anticipated in the deeds of the sons (See Matthewsí The New American Commentary: Genesis 1-11:26).