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Bible Commentaries

Sermon Bible Commentary

Genesis 9

 

 

Verse 3

Genesis 9:3

How are we to use the creation of God so that it may help towards our own supreme object? (1) We can study created things; we can see God Himself through them. (2) We may use God's creation for our necessity, for our advantage, and for our delight. (3) We are to abstain from it in obedience to temperance and to the rules of discipline. Of these three ways of using the creation, the first is the most noble; the second is the most common; the third is the most necessary. To some the means of serving God have grown so all-important that they have forgotten altogether that it was to serve God that they set out. The source of error lies in placing the means before us, as if they were the end, and leaving out the thought of the end in our lives and conversation. When we go wrong in our work or our leisure, our words or our silence, we do it because we forget the end of everything; because we dethrone from its rightful, its eternal seat, the strong, the bright, the radiant remembrance that we are of God, that we are in God, and that we are on our way to God.

Archbishop Benson, Boy Life: Sundays in Wellington College, p. 26.


References: Genesis 9:1-20.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 82. Genesis 9:5, Genesis 9:6.—G. Calthrop, Words Spoken to my Friends, p. 320.


Verse 8-9

Genesis 9:8-9

To understand this covenant, consider what thoughts would have been likely to grow up in the minds of Noah's children after the flood. Would they not have been something of this kind? "God does not love men. He has drowned all but us, and we are men of like passions with the world that perished; may we not expect the like ruin at any moment? Then what use to plough and sow, and build and plant, and work for those who shall come after us? Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die."

I. The covenant God made with Noah was intended to remedy every one of the temptations into which Noah's children's children would have been certain to fall, and into which so many of them did fall. They might have become reckless from fear of a flood at any moment. God promises them, and confirms it with the sign of the rainbow, never again to destroy the earth by water. They would have been likely to take to praying to the rain and thunder, the sun and the stars. God declares in this covenant that it is He alone who sends the rain and thunder, that He brings the clouds over the earth, that He rules the great awful world; that men are to look up and believe in God as a loving and thinking Person, who has a will of His own, and that a faithful and true and loving and merciful will; that their lives and safety depend not on blind chance or the stern necessity of certain laws of nature, but on the covenant of an almighty and all-loving Person.

II. This covenant tells us that we are made in God's likeness, and therefore that all sin is unworthy of us and unnatural to us. It tells us that God means us bravely and industriously to subdue the earth and the living things upon it; that we are to be the masters of the pleasant things about us, and not their slaves, as sots and idlers are; that we are stewards or tenants of this world for the great God who made it, to whom we are to look up in confidence for help and protection.

C. Kingsley, Village Sermons, p. 82.


References: Genesis 9:8-17.—R. S. Candlish, The Book of Genesis, vol 1., p. 151. Genesis 9:11.—Bishop Armstrong, Parochial Sermons, p. 163. Genesis 9:11-17.—J. Cumming, Church before the Flood p. 388.


Verses 12-15

Genesis 9:12-15

I. Among the many deep truths which the early chapters of Genesis enforce, there is none which strikes the thoughtful inquirer more forcibly than the connection between the disorder occasioned by man's sin and the remedy ordained by the wisdom and mercy of God. This connection may be traced in a very remarkable manner in the appointment of the rainbow as a sign and pledge of the covenant.

II. Not only is the rainbow, as an offspring equally of storm and sunshine, a fitting emblem of the covenant of grace; it is also a type of the equally distinctive peculiarity of Christ's Gospel—that sorrow and suffering have their appointed sphere of exercise, both generally in the providential administration of the world and individually in the growth and development of personal holiness.

III. For the full comprehension of the bow we must turn to the New Testament. In the Person and work of the atoning Mediator we find the only solution of that marvellous combination of judgment and mercy which is the distinctive characteristic of the whole of the Divine economy.

IV. There is a necessary imperfection in all earthly types of heavenly things. In nature the continued appearance of the rainbow is dependent on the continued existence of the cloud. In heaven the rainbow will continue to point backward to man's fall, onward to the perpetuity of a covenant which is ordered in all things and sure. But the work of judgment will then be accomplished, and therefore the cloud will have no more place in heaven.

E. B. Elliott, Contemporary Pulpit, vol. v., p. 151 (also Good Words, 1876, p. 341). Reference: Genesis 9:12-16.—S. Leathes, Truth and Life, p. 27.





Verse 13

Genesis 9:13

I. God sent a flood on the earth; God set the rainbow in the cloud for a token. The important thing is to know that the flood did not come of itself, that the rainbow did not come of itself, and therefore that no flood comes of itself, no rainbow comes of itself, but all comes straight and immediately from one living Lord God. The flood and the rainbow were sent for a moral purpose: to punish sinners; to preserve the righteous; to teach Noah and his children after him a moral lesson concerning righteousness and sin, concerning the wrath of God against sin,—concerning God, that He governs the world and all in it, and does not leave the world or mankind to go on of themselves and by themselves.

II. The flood and the rainbow tell us that it is God's will to love, to bless, to make His creatures happy, if they will allow Him. They tell us that His anger is not a capricious, revengeful, proud, selfish anger, such as that of the heathen gods; but that it is an orderly anger, and therefore an anger which in its wrath can remember mercy. Out of God's wrath shines love, as the rainbow out of the storm. If it repenteth Him that He hath made man, it is only because man is spoiling and ruining himself, and wasting the gifts of the good world by his wickedness. If God sends a flood to destroy all living things, He will show, by putting the rainbow in the cloud, that floods and destruction and anger are not His rule; that His rule is sunshine and peace and order.

III. The Bible account of the flood will teach us how to look at the many accidents which still happen upon the earth. These disasters do not come of themselves, do not come by accident or chance or blind necessity; God sends them, and they fulfil His will and word. He may send them in anger, but in His anger He remembers mercy, and His very wrath to some is part and parcel of His love to the rest. Therefore these disasters must be meant to do good, and will do good, to mankind.

C. Kingsley, The Gospel of the Pentateuch, p. 47.


I. Consider the record of the flood as a history: a history having a twofold aspect—an aspect of judgment, and an aspect of mercy. (1) "God," St. Peter says, "spared not the old world," He "brought in a flood upon the world of the ungodly." He who made can destroy. Long trifled with, God is not mocked; and he who will not have Him for his Father must at last know Him as his Judge. (2) The record of judgment passes on into a record of mercy. Mercy was shown: (a) in preservation; (b) in reconstruction.

II. Consider the flood in its uses: as a type, as a prophecy, and as a warning. (1) The water through which Noah and his family passed into their ark was like the water of holy baptism, through which a Christian, penitent and believing, finds his way into the Church of the living God. (2) St. Peter exhibits the flood to us also as a prophecy. The flood of waters becomes in its turn the prediction of a last flood of fire. He who foretold the one—and notwithstanding long delay the word was fulfilled—may be believed when He threatens the other; and no pause or respite can defeat the certainty of the performance. (3) There is one special warning appended by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself to the Scriptural record of the great deluge: "As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."

C. J. Vaughan, Christ the Light of the World, p. 133 (also Good Words, 1865, p. 520).


References: Genesis 9:13.—Parker, vol. i., p. 168; C. Kingsley, National Sermons, p. 423; Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvii., p. 97; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. vii., p. 241.


Verse 14

Genesis 9:14

How often after that terrible flood must Noah and his sons have felt anxious when a time of heavy rain set in, and the rivers Euphrates and Tigris rose over their banks and submerged the low level land! But if for a while their hearts misgave them, they had a cheering sign to reassure them, for in the heaviest purple storm-cloud stood the rainbow, recalling to their minds the promise of God.

I. If it be true that God's rainbow stands as a pledge to the earth that it shall never again be overwhelmed, is it not also true that He has set His bow in every cloud that rises and troubles man's mental sky? Beautiful prismatic colours in the rainbow that shines in every cloud—in the cloud of sorrow, in the cloud of spiritual famine, in the cloud of wrong-doing.

II. We are too apt in troubles to settle down into sullen despair, to look to the worst, instead of waiting for the bow. There are many strange-shaped clouds that rise above man's horizon and make his heavens black with wind and rain. But each has its bow shining on it. Only wait, endure God's time, and the sun will look out on the rolling masses of vapour, on the rain, and paint thereon its token of God's love.

S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year, vol. ii., p. 28.


References: Genesis 9:14.—Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 227. Genesis 9:15.—Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 228. 9:15-11:26.—J. Monro Gibson, The Ages before Moses, p. 138. Genesis 9:16.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ix., p. 517; Christian World Pulpit, vol. iv., p. 132. Genesis 9:17.—J. A. Sellar, Church Doctrine and Practice, p. 297; H. Thompson, ConcionaliaSermons for Parochial Use, vol. i., p. 85. Genesis 9:18-29.—R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. i., p. 157. Genesis 9:24-27.—J. Cumming, Church before the Flood, p. 412.



 


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Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Genesis 9:4". "Sermon Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/genesis-9.html.

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