And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.
I. UNLIMITED POSSESSION OF THE EARTH, and use of its inhabitants and products, whether for food or otherwise; thus supplying -
1. The scope of life.
2. The enjoy-meat of life.
3. The development of life.
II. Absolute RESPECT FOR HUMAN LIFE, and preservation of the gentler feelings (the blood being forbidden as injurious to man in this case), promoting -
1. The supremacy of the higher nature over the lower.
2. The revelation of the ethical law.
3. The preparation of the heart for Divine communications.
III. Man living in BROTHERHOOD,
(1) revealing the image of God,
(2) observing God's law,
(3) rejoicing in his blessing, he shall multiply and fill the earth.
The earth waits for such inhabitants; already by Divine judgments prepared for them. - R.
1. The first is the new condition of the earth itself, which immediately appears in the freedom allowed and practised in regard to the external worship of God. This was no longer confined to any single region, as seems to have been the case in the age subsequent to the Fall. The cherubim were located in a particular spot, on the east of the garden of Eden; and as the symbols of God's presence were there, it was only natural that the celebration of Divine worship should there also have found its common centre. But with the Flood the reason for any such restriction vanished. Noah, therefore, reared his altar, and presented his sacrifice to the Lord where the ark rested. There immediately he got the blessing, and entered into covenant with God — proving that, in a sense, old things had passed away, and all had become new. But this again indicated that, in the estimation of Heaven, the earth had now assumed a new position; that by the action of God's judgment upon it, it had become hallowed in His sight, and was in a condition to receive tokens of the Divine favour, which had formerly been withheld from it.
1. In the earliest fauna and flora of the earth, one class stood for many. The earliest families combined the character of several families afterwards separately introduced. This is true, for instance, of ferns, which belong to the oldest races of vegetation. Of them it has been well said that there is hardly a single feature or quality possessed by flowering plants of which we do not find a hint or prefiguration in ferns. It is thus most interesting to notice in the earliest productions of our earth the same laws and processes which we observe in the latest and most highly-developed flowers and trees.
God blessed Noah and his sons.I. PROVISION FOR THE CONTINUANCE OF ITS PHYSICAL LIFE. This divinely appointed provision for the continuance of man upon the earth —
1. Raises the relation between the sexes above all degrading associations.
2. Tends to promote the stability of society.
3. Promotes the tender charities of life.
II. PROVISION FOR ITS SUSTENANCE. The physical life of man must be preserved by the ministry of other lives — animal, vegetable. For this end God has given man dominion over the earth, and especially over all other lives in it. We may regard this sustenance which God has provided for man's lower wants —
1. As a reason for gratitude. Our physical necessities are the most immediate, the most intimate to us. We should acknowledge the hand that provides for them. We may regard God's provision herein —
2. As an example of the law of mediation. Man's life is preserved by the instrumentality of others. God's natural government of the world is carried on by means of mediation, from which we may infer that such is the principle of His moral government. That "bread of life" by which our souls are sustained comes to us through a Mediator. Thus God's provisions for our common wants may be made a means of educating us in higher things. Nature has the symbols and suggestions of spiritual truths.
3. As a ground for expecting greater blessings. If God made so rich and varied a provision to supply the necessities of the body, it was reasonable to expect that He would care and provide for the deeper necessities of the soul.
III. PROVISION FOR ITS PROTECTION.
1. From the ferocity of animals.
2. From the violence of evil men.
IV. PROVISION FOR ITS MORALITY.
V. PROVISION FOR ITS RELIGION.
1. Mankind were to be educated to the idea of sacrifice.
2. Mankind were to be impressed with the true dignity of human nature.
3. Mankind must be taught to refer all authority and rule ultimately to God.
(T. H. Leale.)
2. At the successive periods of the unfolding of God's great promise, we find one individual representing the history of the race, and foreshadowing in brief the essential character of large phases and long periods of human development. Hence it is that here Noah becomes the representative of the patriarchal families in covenant with God. He is the individual with whom God enters into covenant, in relation to the successive generations of the human race.
3. And in this respect Noah is a retrospective type of Him who, in the eternal ages, consented to be the representative of redeemed humanity, and with whom the Father made an everlasting covenant; and a prospective type of that same Representative who, in the fulness of time, received the Divine assurance that in Him should all nations of the earth be blessed.
2. The second point to be noticed here is the heirship given of this new world to Noah and his seed — given to them expressly as the children of faith. A change, however, appears in the relative position of things, when the flood had swept with its purifying waters over the earth. Here, then, the righteousness of faith received direct from the grace of God the dowry that had been originally bestowed upon the righteousness of nature — not a blessing merely, but a blessing coupled with the heirship and dominion of the world. There was nothing strange or arbitrary in such a proceeding; it was in perfect accordance with the great principles of the Divine administration. Adam was too closely connected with the sin that destroyed the world, to be reinvested, even when he had through faith become a partaker of grace, with the restored heirship of the world. Nor had the world itself passed through such an ordeal of purification, as to fit it, in the personal lifetime of Adam, or of his more immediate offspring, for being at all represented in the light of an inheritance of blessing.
3. The remaining point to be noticed in respect to this new order of things is the pledge of continuance, notwithstanding all appearances or threatenings to the contrary, given in the covenant made with Noah, and confirmed by a fixed sign in the heavens. There can be no doubt that the natural impression produced by this passage in respect to the sign of the covenant is, that it nowfor the first time appeared in the lower heavens. The Lord might, no doubt, then, or at any future time, have taken an existing phenomenon in nature, and by a special appointment made it the instrument of conveying some new and higher meaning to the subjects of His revelation. But in a matter like the present, when the specific object contemplated was to allay men's fears of the possible recurrence of the deluge, and give them a kind of visible pledge in nature for the permanence of her existing order and constitution, one cannot perceive how a natural phenomenon, common alike to the antediluvian and the postdiluvian world, could have fitly served the purpose. In that case, so far as the external sign was concerned, matters stood precisely where they were; and it was not properly the sign, but the covenant itself, which formed the guarantee of safety for the future. We incline, therefore, to the opinion that, in the announcement here made, intimation is given of a change in the physical relations or temperature of at least that portion of the earth where the original inhabitants had their abode; by reason of which the descent of moisture in showers of rain came to take the place of distillation by dew, or other modes of operation different from the present. The supposition is favoured by the mention only of dew before in connection with the moistening of the ground (Genesis 2:6); and when rain does come to be mentioned, it is rain in such flowing torrents as seems rather to betoken the outpouring of a continuous stream, than the gentle dropping which we are wont to understand by the term, and to associate with the rainbow.
(P. Fairbairn, D. D.)
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