I made a small mistake yesterday. I referred to God’s promise at the end of chapter 8 as the first covenant. The first covenant is actually in chapter 9 and it is pretty much the same as the promise at the end of chapter 8 that God will not use water to snuff out all life on earth ever again. That God will place a bow in the sky and when he sees this bow, possibly a rainbow, he will remember his covenant with Noah and won’t destroy all life.
God commands Noah and his sons to be fruitful and multiply because now all humanity will descend from them. He also tells them that all the animals of the earth and sky are for their use, but not to eat the blood because lifeblood is sacred and that no human shall draw the blood of another human because man is made in God’s image and doing harm to another human does harm and dishonor to God.
This is a sentiment that I wish was more prevalent within the modern incarnation of the Christian church. I was thinking today about Jesus and my favorite Jesus. My favorite Jesus isn’t Jesus the savior or Jesus the redeemer or Jesus of the Judgment Day. My favorite Jesus is Jesus the teacher. The Jesus that leads people on a journey of self discovery and understanding.
For you see Jesus is a carpenter and what a carpenter does is takes something natural and carves it to bring a shape out of it. Jesus the carpenter is like Jesus the teacher. He is taking what already exists and bringing it to a new purpose. We are the blocks of wood that Jesus carves and through this Jesus brings us to ourselves.
Part of this is this dishonor and disrespect to God we do when we harm another human being. When we draw blood from another human we might as well be drawing blood from God. For God made all humankind. He did not distinguish one person from another and didn’t make one better than another. We are all equal in the eyes of God and when God commanded that whomever draws lifeblood from another person dishonors God he doesn’t separate people into any category. He doesn’t set aside people that can be harmed.
Which is why I think Chapter 9 ends the way it does. Noah creates the first vineyard and then has a little too much fun sampling his own product. His son Ham finds him passed out drunk and naked on the floor. Ham doesn’t turn away from his nakedness but tells his brothers and they cover Noah while averting their gaze. Noah then curses Canaan the son of Ham to be the lowliest of slaves.
Here we have the contrast between an act of God, creating the first covenant promising no more world ending floods and commanding that no human harm another, and the act of man, cursing his own grandchild and all his descendants to a life of slavery. And keep in mind Noah was the best human that God could find before the flood.
What is important here is that God makes the covenant and he gives the command that no human should harm another human. The mercy of God to no longer wipe out all life even when it has evil in its heart and his command of do no harm are important moral lessons. We should do no harm to other people and we should reflect on the grace and mercy God shows even the most undeserving. Which again seems to answer the question of why is there evil in the world. Because God withholds his wrath even from those that fully deserve it.