In our study of Genesis chapter nine, we will look at the new beginning that was given to mankind when Noah and his family left the ark. We will see how it was a new start for man but there was still the old problem of sin that had entered the world.
Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.'
At the end of chapter 8, we saw that Noah had built an altar and presented offerings to God. Now, we see that God blessed him and his sons for that. The word "blessed" actually means something like "no worries" and God reassured them that He would be with them and so they did not have to worry.
'The fear and dread of you 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; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.'
Have you ever wondered how we got from animals just walking up to get into the ark to where we are today with animals being afraid and avoiding man? We see the answer here in that they were now given to man as food. Animals can sense many things and so they knew that it was dangerous to be around men after this.
'But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.'
With this new start, God gave the animals to man for food but we were told that the blood could not be in it when it was eaten. The blood contains life and God is the only one that can create life and so it is reserved for Him.
'And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.'
God created every drop of blood and He knows all of the life on this earth. This passage speaks of the fact that He is the owner of His creation and nobody has the right to take the blood (life) of their fellow man.
'As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.'
Once again, God's instruction for Noah and his family is for them to repopulate the earth.
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 'I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every creature that was with you - the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you - every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.'
God promised everything on the earth that there would never be a flood like what they had been through. What a wonderful God! Imagine what it would be like to live through this flood and then to wonder every time it rained whether it was going to happen again. Everything would be living in a constant state of fear and that is not God's desire.
And God said, 'This is the sign of the covenant I am making between you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.'
God even gave us a sign in the sky to help us to remember His promise. God knew that, over time, the covenant would be forgotten by man and so He puts a rainbow in the sky to remind us of the promise when the rain comes.
'Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.' So God said to Noah, 'This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.'
We cannot understand the mind of God and so we sometimes fear that God will forget things but He does not want us to live in fear of a worldwide flood. This promise is repeated again (twice) and the number two is associated with the number of legal witnesses that was required to establish something as truth.
The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the earth.
Every one of us is really related as we could all trace our ancestry back to one of these four men (Noah or his three sons). Racial prejudice is so ridiculous because of this fact.
Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.
Noah had been a farmer and so, after the flood, he planted a vineyard. Whether he knew about the effects of fermented grape juice or not, we do not know but he drank fermented wine and became intoxicated. As happens with many a drunk, he basically passed out naked on his bed.
Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father's nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father's nakedness.
We see, here, two very different reactions to the situation. Ham brought shame and embarrassment to his father by going and telling the other boys. The other boys showed proper respect and covered their father. These different reactions would have lasting consequences for their children even down to the people of today. Ham was a picture of the way that the devil reacts to our sin as he wants to tell it to everyone. Shem and Japheth are a picture of Christ covering our sin with His blood.
When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said, 'Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.'
When Noah sobered up and found out what Ham had done, he pronounced a curse on his youngest son (Canaan). Cursed is not some type of hex or other witchcraft but is, in fact, the opposite of blessed which is the state of being worry free because you are under the protection of God. Noah knew God's desire for children was that they would honor their mother and father. Because of the fact that Ham had dishonored his father, Noah is saying that God's protection will be removed from Ham's youngest son. This should be a reminder to all of us who have children that our actions have a direct impact on the future of those children.
He also said, 'Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem.'
We notice that Noah said "the God of Shem" as he was the oldest and so, through him, would come Abraham (the father of Israel). The removal of God's protection from Canaan was fulfilled when Israel (descendants of Shem) left Egypt and took possession of the land of Canaan. This is also a picture of the millennial reign where God's people will reign on the earth for a thousand years (see Revelation 20).
'May God extend the territory of Japheth; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave.'
Now, we see the future of Japheth whose name, in Hebrew, means "extend". In him, we see a picture of the Gentiles united to live with the Jews and rule the world (which will happen during the millennial reign).
After the flood Noah lived 350 years. Altogether, Noah lived 950 years, and then he died.
We see that there was a period of 350 years where Noah and his sons increased in number on the earth as they were told. Although we do not know how many people there were on the earth after this, we know that we are all descendants of Noah through one of these sons.