Sunday School Material 9-22-13: An Everlasting Covenant

(Genesis 9:1, 3-6, 8-17; 9/22/13)

Introduction::A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is Noah and his descendants are commissioned to replenish the Earth with the assurance that God will not destroy the Earth again with a flood. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to obey God and trust His promises.

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Read Genesis 9:1, 3-6

I. Commands. In our Sunday School material Noah and his sons are commissioned to be fruitful and increase in number. The diet of God’s people is expanded.

However, eating meat that still has blood in it is prohibited. And whoever kills a person will have to give an account, whether it be another human or an animal who causes the murder.

Applications -

- Increasing. Notice in vs. 1 of the Sunday School material that there is a divine command for Noah and his sons to be fruitful and increase in number.

First, it made good sense for those who were the new and only inhabitants of the Earth to have large numbers of children and urge their children to do the same. How else would there be a global re-population?

Second, in our time, we are approaching what some call a population explosion or over population (i.e., more so in areas like New York City, as opposed to rural areas in Montana). Thus, the context of the command is not the same as our context.

Consequently, especially young couples need to be prayerful about how they apply this text to them having multiple children, especially if they don’t have money to take care of five, six, and seven children.

Third, as for cousins having to have children among one another, since the eight on the ark are the only ones on the post flood Earth, there are some things we will simply have to ask God about when we get up there (smile, how is that for a cop out).

Let’s exercise wisdom in how we strive to live by this text that calls for increasing.  

- Godly eating. Notice in vss. 3-6 of the Sunday School material that there are less dietary restrictions after the flood. First, people are allowed to expand beyond fruits and vegetables to meat. 

Thus, being a vegetarian is not necessarily an evidence of holiness, since God has allowed for the eating of meat.

Second, blood is still prohibited. A theological reason is given - blood is connected to the image of God. But there are also health issues. Bloody meat can have diseases that are harmful to the body. Let’s work on eating in a way that brings glory to God.

Such eating should be concerned with not only avoiding bloody meat, but it should be concerned with portion sizes, a balanced diet, a thankfulness for God’s provision, and the like.

- Capital punishment. Notice in vss. 5-6 of the Sunday School materiel that the murder of a person calls for accountability and the death of the murder. Humans are unique and precious to God. Even animals have to pay for killing a human. This pushes us to discuss capital punishment.

First, the text supports capital punishment on a theological ground - humans are carriers of God’s image. Thus, to murder an image carrier is to insult God, the source of the image.

Second, the text clearly condemns murder, but the issues of manslaughter and less intentional ways of taking life (e.g., smoking, excessive drinking, and failure to take your medicine) seem to be beyond this text.

Third, as African American believers reflect on the matter of capital punishment, we have the added issue of the injustice in our “justice” system.

For us to advocate capital punishment would be for us to advocate a disproportionate amount of African American men being killed who may be found not guilty, after we have executed them. Let’s seek God’s wisdom and courage to deal with the issues of capital punishment today.

Read Genesis 9:8-11

II. Covenant. In our Sunday School material God establishes a covenant with Noah and his descendants. The covenant even includes the animals and all living creatures on Earth. The term of the covenant is that God would never destroy the Earth by way of a flood again.

Applications -

- Covenant keeping. Notice in vss. 8-11 that God is a covenant keeper. First, it is good to know that we can trust the promises of God. Second, the promise is not to destroy the Earth with a flood. The promise is not that there will be no type of punishment of sin.

It seems to be shaky ground to suggest that all natural catastrophes are God’s punishments. However, if they are not God’s punishment but are within God’s ability to stop, why doesn’t God stop them?

This seems like a great question to ask the Lord, when we see Him (yes, another cop out - smile).

Third, we should strive to be like God - covenant keepers. In too many cases, our wedding vows and church covenants mean very little. When people see the people of God not keeping their covenants and promises, it makes them wonder about God.

Let’s work on showing our appreciation for God being a covenant keeper, by being covenant keepers.

Read Genesis 9:12-17

III. Confirmation. God establishes a reminder in this section of the Sunday School material. The reminder is the rainbow. When clouds cover the Earth, God will see the rainbow and be reminded to avoid destroying the Earth by way of a flood again.

Applications -

- Interpretations. Notice in vs. 13 that God’s interpretation of the rainbow has to do with a sign of God being a covenant keeper. It has nothing to do with coalitions and surely nothing to do with homosexuality.

Easter and Christmas could be added to this discussion. Easter, for believers, is about resurrection, not Peter Cotton Tail.  Christmas is about Jesus’ birth, not about Santa Claus. Let’s strive to lift God’s interpretations, instead of being distracted by the other interpretations.

- Restatement of our commitments. Notice in vss. 12-17 of the Sunday School material that the text talks about God’s memory device. As strong as God’s memory is, it is unlikely that He needs to be reminded to avoid destroying the world with another flood.

It is more likely that we are to see the rainbow and be reminded that God is a covenant keeper. If this is a solid way of seeing this text, the application may be to reassure others that we are covenant keepers.

This is the spirit of wedding vow renewals and the monthly reading of the church covenant. Let’s work on reaffirming our covenants and promises. It is hard to trust a person who doesn’t want to clearly restate his/her commitment.

Conclusion: Let’s work on obeying God and trusting His promises. God has much for those who obey His will.

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