And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea.” ~ Genesis 9:1-2
Genesis 9 records a new beginning for humanity in a way that echoes chapter 1 but is also much different. In Genesis 1&2, God created two people: a man and a woman, Adam and Eve, to be husband and wife. He created them in his image to rule over earth as its caretakers and to fill the earth with people. Chapters 3-6, however, tell the tragedy of their rebellion and corruption in place of obedience.
Humanity chose to walk away from God, and they brought his judgment and curse upon themselves and the world. Their rebellion (sin) resulted in the blights of hardship, decay, pain, and death. The firstborn son, Cain, murdered his brother Abel. Corruption spread, and humanity became so infected with sin that God judged with a flood and wiped out humanity and the world, with the exception of a family of 8 manning a floating zoo until the waters receded and dry land returned.
When Noah and his family stepped off the ark, God spoke to Noah with an opening line we have heard before: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” But then something changed.
The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast. These are words not spoken the first time around. Likewise, in Genesis 1&2, God gave humans and animals the freedom to eat from a vast variety of plants. In Genesis 9, animals became part of humanity’s food chain as well.
We still find the fact of God’s image as an aspect of humanity’s nature, but 9:6 mentions it in reference to the immorality of murder.
Genesis 9 provides a new beginning for humanity, new opportunities after the flood; but it is a marred beginning. The goodness of creation is now stained by sin. Fear and death become part of the normal rhythm of life.
When pronouncing judgment upon sin, God told the serpent, Satan, in 3:15 that a son would be born to the woman who would crush the enemy’s head. Many generations later, Lamech held high hopes for his son, Noah, saying, “Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and the painful toil of our hands” (5:29). Yet though he built the boat on God’s command, Noah proved to be no savior who restored but rather a man still under the curse of sin (9:19-29).
Even with the new beginning of Genesis 9, we still must keep looking forward and keep looking for the one who will stand above the curse, brokenness, and sin. The Savior, Jesus, who would truly say no to the voice of the serpent (Matthew 4:1-11) and himself be the ark who will bring his people through to a new, unmarred beginning where fear and death are things long past…