The Beginning: a new genesis

Cover to Cover

Reading: Genesis 5:1-9:17

Focus: Genesis 9:1-7

The story of Noah marks a milestone in God’s story of Creation because, metaphorically speaking, it is a new creation. We know the story, humankind sins escalated and God’s anger was roused; God decided to wipe out humankind and called Noah to build the Ark and save a remnant from utter destruction. After almost a year of the beginning of the Flood, Noah walked on dry ground. It is here on a new day that God makes a covenant with Noah (and all humankind) with words which ring back to the Creation—but with a few changes.

“Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.”

What’s changed (cf. 1:28-30)? The command to be fruitful and increase has not changed but what follows is dramatically different to the original mandate. Where, originally, Adam and Eve were told to subdue the earth and rule over Creation; here, with Noah, the command is no longer to subdue but rather God has given Creation over in fear of humankind. For humankind’s inability to fulfil the original mandate, God fills in the gaps; instilling fear into Creation and handing it over to humankind’s “rule”. (For all you vegetarians, you can blame your fellow humankind for our carnal passions for meat; for all you carnivores, here is your claim to your rights…take your pick!)

However, it doesn’t end there, for just as God gave Adam and Eve a command regarding food, God does likewise with the introduction of new food options: “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.” (cf. 2:16-17) God’s command, originally, in the Garden of Eden was to preserve the life of Adam and Eve; however, here God’s command is to preserve the life of His Creation. Even though God has permitted animals as food, He has not taken away the sanctity that is life. The original mandate of stewardship over Creation still very much applies in this renewed mandate.

So what do we learn from seeing God’s renewal of the Creation mandate? Personally, I think it is an emphasis and challenge for humankind to do their job. We are called to be God’s caretakers, God’s stewards, in this world. Yes, God has made some concessions, but the expectation has not changed. The original mandate as being annulled, but only renewed, God still desires that humankind fulfil His intention of ruling over Creation.

One of my biggest grievances is that non-Christians are doing more for God’s Creation than those who “believe” in Him. The environmentalist, the animal welfare activists, etc. how many of them are outstanding Christians? Not many. On the same note, I don’t completely agree with the activists as I find myself with a different understanding of stewardship; but nonetheless, humankind’s mandate is to still to be carers and stewards of what God has given over to us. Take some time out to think about your habits and how you are contributing to the bigger picture.

Next Reading: Genesis 9:18-13:18