Sketching HIStory #15

Gen 9 – God took a hand

After releasing the animals back into the wild, Noah and his family (all 8 of them) evacuated the ark on the mount of Ararat believed to be in the ranges of modern day Turkey. The Lord God said to them…

“Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.” [Gen 9:1]

God also told them that, “The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea.” I was asked once, how did Noah manage such vast variety of wild animals especially the predators? Well, by what was implied in verse 2 above, the animals while in the ark was divinely controlled.

The blessing of God is the cause of our doing well. On him we depend, to him we should be thankful. Let us not forget the advantage and pleasure we have from the labour of beasts, and which their flesh affords. Nor ought we to be less thankful for the security we enjoy from the savage and hurtful beasts, through the fear of man which God has fixed deep in them. We see the fulfillment of this promise every day, and on every side. This grant of the animals for food fully warrants the use of them, but not the abuse of them by gluttony, still less by cruelty. We ought not to pain them needlessly whilst they live, nor when we take away their lives. [Matthew Henry Commentary]

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Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you…

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.” [Gen 9:8-17]

Even as a child, when ever I see a rainbow especially after a rainfall, the Lord’s promise always brought me comfort. Today, people are afraid that as the world’s climate gets hotter, the Arctic ice packs and glaciers will melt and cover the entire earth, like that Kevin Costner movie, Waterworld. My counsel is to look at a rainbow and believe.

After the blessing, the Lord then had set a precedent for them to remember and pass down to generations after.

“But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.

“Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.

As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.” [Gen 9:4-7]

The main reason of forbidding the eating of blood, doubtless was because the shedding of blood in sacrifices was to keep the worshipers in mind of the great atonement; yet it seems intended also to check cruelty, lest men, being used to shed and feed upon the blood of animals, should grow unfeeling to them, and be less shocked at the idea of shedding human blood. Man must not take away his own life. Our lives are God’s, and we must only give them up when he pleases. If we in any way hasten our own death, we are accountable to God for it. When God requires the life of a man from him that took it away unjustly, the murderer cannot render that, and therefore must render his own instead. One time or other, in this world or in the next, God will discover murders, and punish those murders which are beyond man’s power to punish. But there are those who are ministers of God to protect the innocent, by being a terror to evil-doers, and they must not bear the sword in vain, Ro 13:4. Willful murder ought always to be punished with death. To this law there is a reason added. Such remains of God’s image are still upon fallen man, that he who unjustly kills a man, defaces the image of God, and does dishonour to him. [Matthew Henry Commentary]

So, Noah and his family moved east (more or less) and they steadily multiplied. Since, they were the only human beings in the world, they stayed close to each other. Two generations later, humanity’s heart became cold and distant. Enter Nimrod, the grandson of Ham (one of the 3 sons of Noah).

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Nimrod… became a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord.” The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Uruk, Akkad and Kalneh, in Shinar. [Gen 10:8-10]

Nimrod was a great man in his day; he began to be mighty in the earth, Those before him were content to be upon the same level with their neighbors, and though every man bare rule in his own house, yet no man pretended any further. Nimrod was resolved to lord it over his neighbors. The spirit of the giants before the flood, who became mighty men, and men of renown, Ge 6:4, revived in him. Nimrod was a great hunter. Hunting then was the method of preventing the hurtful increase of wild beasts. This required great courage and address, and thus gave an opportunity for Nimrod to command others, and gradually attached a number of men to one leader. [Matthew Henry Commentary]

It sounds like the makings of another ‘heroes of old’ or those ‘men of renown’ just like in Genesis 6.

From such a beginning, it is likely, that Nimrod began to rule, and to force others to submit. He invaded his neighbours’ rights and properties, and persecuted innocent men; endeavouring to make all his own by force and violence. He carried on his oppressions and violence in defiance of God himself. Nimrod was a great ruler. Some way or other, by arts or arms, he got into power, and so founded a monarchy, which was the terror of the mighty, and bid fair to rule all the world.

Nimrod was a great builder. Observe in Nimrod the nature of ambition. It is boundless; much would have more, and still cries, Give, give. It is restless; Nimrod, when he had four cities under his command, could not be content till he had four more. It is expensive; Nimrod will rather be at the charge of rearing cities, than not have the honour of ruling them. It is daring, and will stick at nothing. Nimrod’s name signifies rebellion; tyrants to men are rebels to God. The days are coming, when conquerors will no longer be spoken of with praise, as in man’s partial histories, but be branded with infamy, as in the impartial records of the Bible. [Matthew Henry Commentary]

It was Nimrod whom scholars believed was the one to build an ambitious construction of a ‘tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth’ (Gen 11:4).

How soon men forget the most tremendous judgments, and go back to their former crimes! Though the desolations of the deluge were before their eyes, though they sprang from the stock of righteous Noah, yet even during his life-time, wickedness increases exceedingly.

God’s purpose was, that mankind should form many nations, and people all lands. In contempt of the Divine will, and against the counsel of Noah, the bulk of mankind united to build a city and a tower to prevent their separating. Idolatry was thus begun, and Babel became one of its chief seats. They made one another more daring and resolute; as sinners stir up and encourage one another to wicked works. [Matthew Henry Commentary]

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel —because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. [Gen 11:5-9]

The tendency of men, as the result of a growing diversity of language, was to separate, each tribe holding intercourse only with those who spake their own dialect; and so the Divine purpose of occupying the world was carried into effect, while the project of this ambitious knot of men to hold mankind together was frustrated, and the building of their tower ceased. [Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers]

With mankind scattered through out the earth, we have to wonder ‘Why’? I believe it was part of God’s overall plan for mankind’s salvation. Of course, if I tried to impart what His plan entailed here now, this article would end up into at least a 20 chapter book. So, let me say in a nutshell, that by the scattering of humanity into different tribes and cultures actually was to benefit the spreading of God’s good news (gospel) by those of us who believe. I will reveal this more in much later blog posts.

Meanwhile, let us look at Genesis 11:10-26. To be honest, when reading Scripture and I come upon a long genealogy, my eyes tend to glaze over a little. As a sketch artist, though, it does help when I chart it out, which I did.

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In this next drawing, I laid it out on a timeline spanning about 470 years. Notice the ‘Crimson Thread’ wounding its way through Shem’s family line; he being the youngest son of Noah. This specific family line can be traced to the future descendent, Jesus Christ himself (Luke 3:34-36).

Timeline Events

Right about the second generation of Shem’s line, Noah’s family settled in the plains of Shinar. Archaeologists and scholars believed Shinar was a level plain with immensely rich soil of ancient Chaldea (Assyria). Today, this plain is not so green and can be found in modern day Iraq.

By the time of Shelah, Shem’s third generation, Nimrod built the great tower of Babel. Some believe it was the tower of Borsippa. This tower was the observatory of the Chaldean astronomers, and its name means “the tower of languages.”

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As humanity spread through out the earth a great catastrophy changed the surface of the earth. At around Shem’s fifth generation, Peleg was born. He was so named because in his time the earth was divided (Gen 10:25). After God cracked the earth causing the floodwaters to overflow and cover the land, those same tectonic fissures eventually pushed the continents to what the earth look like today.

Then 470 years later, God spoke to Shem’s tenth generation descendant, Abram and gave him an incredible promise which we will take up in our next post.

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