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Genesis 9:1-11 God’s initiative

To end the Flood story, Genesis returned to “narrative two.” It was an inspired choice. While repeating God’s command to be fruitful and multiply, this story said it was God’s (Heb. Elohim) idea, unprompted, to make a “covenant” with Noah and all his descendants. This was the first explicit use of the language of covenant, which became a vital theme about how God relates to humans throughout the rest of the Bible.

  • Verses 5-6 seemed to look back to conditions before the Flood, when human violence broke God’s heart so badly that he regretted creating the race. God firmly warned that having survived the Flood did not imply permission to go back to harming one another. In what ways do these verses speak to God’s desire for how we behave today? In what ways do they bear on the complex ethical issues involved in “just war,” “pre-emptive strikes” and similar subjects?
  • Humanly, a covenant is “an agreement between two or more persons to do or not do something specified.” God’s covenant with Noah (and later ones) were not between equal partners. God promised to do what only God could do: ensure that “floodwaters” never wiped out the whole earth again. What did this covenant say about God’s heart, and his hope for the world?

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