And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.Genesis 9:1-7
Have you ever wanted a do-over? You meet someone for the first time and unwittingly insult her. Time for a do-over. You are in a bad mood when you wake up and offend your wife right off the bat. Time for a do-over! You buy a car way beyond your means and can’t make the payments. Time for a do-over!
I’ve done all those things. Sadly, I’ve done even worse. Perhaps you have too. And in the case of all the above, we rely on the grace of God and others to start over. It’s a good thing when people around us reflect the grace of God to us. We must be ready to do the same for them.
God has a do-over with Noah. But in this case, he needs no grace. In fact his do-over itself is an act of grace. God would not have had to save Noah and his family from the flood. But he did. God would not have had to save the animals from the flood. But he did. God would not have had to make the promise never to destroy the world again by flood. But he did. God would not have had to give us the reminder of his covenant by way of the rainbow. But he did. God’s do-over is an act of grace on his part.
Notice here two facets of this do-over. It echoes, first of all, the command given to Adam and Eve at the dawn of creation: “Be fruitful and multiply.” God’s do-over on this occasion is a replay of the earliest command from God.
Notice, also, the issue of eating. Here is the difference. There is no longer the prohibition against eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That has been done. The fruit of that eating has been seen all too clearly in the evil the world had seen prior to the flood. Now, however, the prohibition against eating that fruit is replaced by a provision of plants and animals for food. The one prohibition? But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.
Against the backdrop of provision for all kinds of food is the reminder of God’s value for life. In fact, there is a further declaration: Made in God’s image, man’s life is sacred. So sacred that God sentences those who take another’s life to having his life taken from him.
And herein lies the difference. This do-over is not so that God can finally get it right with his world and all that is in it. Sin has entered the world. There will be murder. There will be other failures.
God has something else in mind. And it starts with our daily do-over with him. I love Martin Luther’s first of his 95 thesis: “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ (Matthew 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” If we’re serious about our relationship with God, we will repent daily, because we sin daily in thought, word, and deed.
God knew this. And his do-over was part of a greater story of redemption than even Noah and the flood. Many more will be saved. The salvation is eternal. When it is finally complete, it will be fully complete. There will be no more need for repentance. All results and consequences of sin will be banished. The only do-over will be the kind a daughter says, to her daddy as he lifts her into the air: “Do it again, Daddy! Do it again!”
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