9 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. 2 The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. 4 “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. 5 And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being. 6 “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind. 7 As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.” 8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living 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. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
This first recorded covenant is extraordinary in so many ways.
Having restored his world after the disastrous destruction brought on it by sin, God begins with a blessing like the one that he first spoke over his creation in Genesis 1:22, 28. He again gives fruitfulness. He again gives us all plants as food. He extends this gift to include animals, but pairs it with a gift to the animals of fear of people. Like all his covenants, he gives far more than he asks.
It’s extraordinary for its breadth: it’s not just a covenant with Noah and his family – it covers all living things. All God’s covenants include the whole world but work through particular groups of people, including you and me. All living things are placed “into Noah’s hand” (translated here as “control”). This is a phrase that is used elsewhere to describe God’s care for his creation as well as his authority over it. We are given an extraordinary role caring for God’s world together with him.
Yet it also reaffirms our unique place in God’s world: uniquely made in God’s image. The word translated here as “likeness” also has includes his intention that we should represent him to his world. All the life he gives is to be respected, but God himself holds all living things accountable for the life he gives us.
Father, it’s so extraordinary that you establish relationship with us. It’s so extraordinary, Jesus, that you gave your life to save ours. It’s so extraordinary that you give us the role of working with you to care for your world, and to speak for you into your world.
Written by David Cornell