GENESIS - CHAPTER 9
A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
Copyright 2000 James Melough
9:1. “ “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth.”
The redeemed of all ages are represented in Noah rest. Like him, they have passed beyond judgment, and the rest into which they have entered through faith will be enjoyed fully in the eternal state. The blessing pronounced upon him as he leaves the Ark points to the state of all the redeemed: they are blessed.
The eternal duration of that blessing is indicated in that it embraces his sons through whom Noah’s own life would be perpetuated. In addition to symbolizing the eternal duration of the believer’s new life, these sons point also to the character of that life. As sons represent the activity rather than the passivity of the will, they would teach us that the believer’s new life will express itself in an eternal happy activity in the service of God.
That man’s blessing cannot be divorced from obedience is clearly taught in that God’s blessing upon Noah and his sons is accompanied by a command. Since we have noticed in a previous study that Noah represents also the renewed man in the body here on the earth, the implication of all this is not difficult to discern. He who would be blessed must also be obedient.
The command given was, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth.” To those, who like Noah, stand upon the earth beyond reach of judgment, a similar command has been given. Multiply means to be many, and recalls the commission given by the risen Lord, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15). Believers will be multiplied only as that Gospel is preached.
To be fruitful, however, goes beyond mere multiplication, and includes also that fruitfulness that is manifested in spiritual growth. “... walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col 1:10).
“... and fill the earth.” Earth’s burgeoning millions are the answer to that command, but there can be little doubt that God was looking to that day when the new earth, typified in the renewed earth upon which Noah stood, would be filled with a race of men cleansed for ever from the corruption and death, which Noah, as a son of Adam, could only bequeath to his posterity. God had in view the new earth filled with the sons of the last Adam.
9:2. “And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fish of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.”
The dominion given to Adam is now given to Noah, and it is impossible not to see that this is only one of many parallels between the two.
The earth over which Adam reigned had been recovered from waters of judgment, as had that over which Noah was now to reign for God.
Adam, too, had been blessed, and given a command, “be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth,” and all creatures were placed under his dominion.
The green herb was appointed to be Adam’s food. It was also for Noah, but in addition he was permitted to eat flesh. There was a prohibition imposed in connection with Adam’s food: the fruit of one tree was forbidden. There was a prohibition also in connection with Noah’s food: flesh with the blood was forbidden.
It was in connection with food that Adam sinned. He ate what God had forbidden, and the result was that he discovered that he was naked. Noah, too, misusing to excess what was intended to be part of his food, became naked.
Two innocent substitutes died to provide a covering for Adam and Eve. Two innocent sons of Noah walked backward to place a covering upon his nakedness. (The significance of this will be examined when we deal with verse 23.)
The broad general lesson of this parallelism seems to be that man in the flesh, even though redeemed, and represented in Noah, is no better than man in the flesh, unredeemed, and represented in Adam. There is a difference, however. By his disobedience Adam forfeited his dominion, though it continued until almost the time of the flood. But all that had been associated with Adam had been swept away in judgment, and his forfeited sovereignty was given to Noah. Adam’s investiture occurred before he was redeemed; Noah’s, after his redemption (typical, in the Ark.) The redeemed man in the flesh may be no better than the unredeemed, but God looks upon him, not as he is in himself, but as he is in Christ. Noah’s sovereignty was not given to another, nor will ours. In spite of all the failure that is connected with the believer still in the flesh, he will one day reign, and that eternally, with Christ.
Since we are heirs and joint heirs with Christ, and will one day reign with Him, the extent of His dominion will be ours also. It is significant to note that the extent of that sovereignty is given in the very same Scripture which declares that Noah’s experience in the Ark is a figure of baptism, 1 Peter 3:21. Verse 22 of that same chapter, referring to the resurrected Christ, continues, “Who is gone into heaven ... angels and authorities and powers being made subject to Him.”
The universal extent of Noah’s sovereignty, while immediate, certainly points to a fuller and more complete fulfillment in the eternal state, not only for him, but for all, who like him, have been redeemed. It points also to Israel’s supremacy in the Millennium.
9:3. “Every moving thing that liveth shall be food for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.”
Noah, the redeemed man, in addition to eating herbs, is also now to eat flesh. This is the symbolic announcement of the fact that the redeemed man needs food for his soul as well as for his body, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4). But the flesh, which represents man’s spiritual food, is available only through death: an animal had to die to provide it. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Lamb Who willingly died that man might have “flesh” to eat, “The bread that I will give is my flesh ... my flesh is food ... he that eateth of this bread shall live forever” (Jn 6:51-58). The whole of John chapter 6 should be studied for a detailed exposition of this truth.
9:4. “But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.”
It should be noted that not only was this food to result from death, but those who were to eat it must also have come out of death. Noah had died symbolically in the Ark and stood symbolically on resurrection ground. The believer has died vicariously in Christ, and with Him stands also vicariously on resurrection ground. Christ is the food necessary to sustain that new life.
The prohibition against eating flesh with the blood teaches the truth that Christ had to die before He could become the food to nourish the new life of faith. Eating flesh with the blood is the symbolic equivalent of having a mere intellectual knowledge of Christ. He who would feed on Christ must first believe that Christ died to redeem men’s souls, His death being the redemption price, as it is written, “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold ... but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish, and without spot” (1 Pe 1:l8,19).
Before Noah could eat its flesh the animal’s blood (life) must be poured out. It was Noah who slew the animal, and the truth being taught is that salvation is a personal thing. Until the sinner sees Christ’s death as making atonement for his sin personally, he cannot feed upon that “flesh” which is the “living bread” presented in the written Word.
The passover lamb demonstrates this same truth. First its blood must be applied to the door posts to secure the life of the first-born; then it was roasted and became the food to sustain the redeemed life.
9:5. “And surely your blood of your lives will I require: at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.”
This verse declares the high value which God sets upon human life. His power to give life carries with it the exclusive right to take back that life. Man, having no power to give life, has no right to take it; and the man who will assume this power must give account to God. The presumption that would take life without having the power to give it is rebuked by the reminder that men are brothers, no one being superior to another. The One Who alone can give life, and Who alone has the right to take it, is infinitely higher than man. Knowing that man would be disobedient both in regard to taking life wrongfully, and in judicially taking the life of the man-slayer, God has appointed the wild animals as His agents. Rebel man who fears neither his fellowman nor God, must, however, fear the brute creation, even though he rules over it, for he knows that the beast, given the opportunity, will slay him.
9:6. “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God made He man.”
For the first time God invests man with the right to take life judicially, and that investiture is linked to man’s being in the image of God. The distinction between image and likeness is that image refers to man’s position governmentally as the God-appointed head over all other creatures, whereas likeness refers to man’s nature as a creature of intelligence, emotion and will.
It is significant that this investment is related to man’s being in the divine image, and that no antediluvian, not even Adam, received that authority.
We have considered already that Adam represents the natural man, but Noah represents the new man. In Adam the divine image was broken, but in Noah it is restored, for he stood typically on the resurrection side of judgment and death. And the evidence of the restoration of the divine image in the new man is that he has been invested with the highest judicial authority.
Man’s determination to commute the death penalty to a lesser punishment is an expression of the natural man’s rebellion against God, by which he would make himself more merciful than God. The pretext upon which God’s ordination is set aside is that this is the age of grace. The death penalty was ordained long before the law was given, and has never been abrogated.
The argument that the death penalty is cruel and unmerciful, is puerile, and simply advertises ignorance of the nature of divine mercy. The God who requires the blood of the natural life at the hand of him who sheds it is the One Who thus displays Himself as a God of justice. But that same God displays Himself as a God of mercy in that He has provided eternal salvation for the soul of even the murderer who will trust Christ as his Savior.
To make that salvation possible the Son of God had to pour out His life’s blood at Calvary.
Between the establishment of his guilt and the execution of the penalty, the murderer has time to accept God’s salvation and save his soul. The very fact that the moment of execution is known to him is incentive to accept God’s salvation. The commutation of that sentence to a period of imprisonment removes that incentive. In addition, failure to exact the divinely appointed penalty robs the victim’s family of justice, while at the same time condemning the family of the murderer to what is often a sharing of his punishment: while he languishes in prison, they languish at home with sorrow protracted far beyond that which would have followed his execution. The sorrow that results from death is healed by time, but the sorrow resulting from imprisonment has no chance to heal. Man is never more merciful than God.
9:7. “And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.”
This second command to be fruitful and multiply, coming as it does after man is invested with judicial authority, may perhaps be related more specifically to the believers of the millennial age, when men will live in subjection to God’s laws. The similar command in verse 1 may have specific reference to this present age of grace.
9:8. “And God spoke unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,”
A new section is introduced here in which God outlines the terms of a new covenant which is now to govern man’s relationship with his Creator.
One very noticeable difference between this covenant and the one made with Adam in Genesis 2:16,17 is that in this one there is neither condition nor threat. In the covenant with Adam there was a condition to be fulfilled, and the penalty was, “thou shalt surely die.”
The differences between the two covenants will be the more easily understood when we remember that Adam represents the natural man; and Noah, the new. The penalty pronounced, and in fact, incurred, is perfectly appropriate to man in his natural state. But the perfection of man’s state as a new creature in Christ is evidenced by the superiority of the Noahic covenant. The only condition needed for blessing is that man shall have had the experience of being in Christ as Noah had been in the Ark. The man who stands spiritually on resurrection ground, as Noah, emerged from the Ark, stood typologically, is unconditionally blessed with every blessing.
9:9. “And I, behold, I establish My covenant with you, and with your seed after you:”
The God, Who in Isaiah 45:22 said, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else,” is the same God Who now declares, “And I, behold, I establish My covenant....”
Having destroyed those who had refused His provided refuge, the Ark, God now prepares to bless those who had obeyed and entered into it.
It is obvious that this covenant relates to earth and earthly blessing, and is therefore imperfect; but there are in it elements which extend beyond time, and are clearly meant to point to the infinitely better blessings of the new covenant sealed with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“With your seed after you,” points to the duration of the covenant; it will be extended to generations beyond Noah. But those generations will end one day. The superiority of the new covenant of which this one is but a type, is that it is eternal.
9:10. “And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the Ark, to every beast of the earth.”
This confirms the earthly nature of the covenant, but even here glimpses of something better may be discerned. This covenant embraces animal as well as man, but since everything that emerged from the Ark was, in a sense, redeemed, we may perhaps be justified in taking the human as representative of the renewed man as now being a spiritual creature; and the animal as representative of the renewed man as a creature who is also still flesh. (As man was to govern the animal creation, so is the man who is now spirit also to govern his body.)
The blessings guaranteed to the animal creation, and to endure while the earth endures, would remind us that under the terms of the new covenant the redeemed man will be blessed, not only in soul and spirit, but also in body, for these bodies of clay will be, “fashioned like unto His glorious body” (Php 3:21).
9:11. “And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.”
Having regard to the fact that the earth is going to be destroyed by fire, “The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned with fire” (2 Pe 3:10), it may be asked why there is no reference to such a coming judgment in the annunciation of this Noahic covenant.
The omissions of Scripture speak just as clearly as its pronouncements, and the present instance is an example of that truth. This covenant was for those, who having been redeemed from the judgment of the flood, stood as representative of those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. That being so, God can rightfully omit any reference to another judgment, since, for the redeemed, there is no more judgment. At the Bema the fire will try the believer’s works, but not the believer himself, “Every man’s work ... shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work.... If any man’s work abide ... he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Co 3:13-15).
All the terms of this covenant - its omissions as well as its statements - will be better understood if it is remembered that it was for those who represent the redeemed of all ages. It foreshadows the better covenant sealed to the redeemed by the blood of Christ.
9:12. “And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations.”
It is stressed that it is God alone Who makes the covenant. Man and animal have no part but to receive and enjoy its blessings. It is emphasized also that it is for those who have life, “every living creature.” Only those who have life in Christ will enjoy the blessings of the new covenant.
“... for perpetual generations” points the eye of faith beyond time. The blessings of the new covenant are not simply for perpetual generations, they are for eternity.
9:13. “I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.”
This covenant, like the greater one it typified, had a token or sign by which man would be reminded of the blessings he enjoyed under it. The rainbow was the appointed token or sign, and its appropriateness is the more apparent when it is remembered that apparently the earth was not watered by rain until after the flood, “the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth ... but there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground” (Ge 2:5,6).
Having witnessed the terrible judgment and destruction brought by the first rain he had ever seen, man might well fear the appearance of even a cloud. God would allay his fears by causing the rainbow to appear in the cloud, reminding him of the divine promise, “Neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.”
That it is an earthly covenant is evidenced by the words, “... a covenant between me and the earth.” Like all the types and shadows of the OT, it lacked the perfection of that great covenant to which it pointed. It was bounded by time and confined to earth, but the covenant sealed at Calvary embraces eternity.
9:14. “And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud.”
Against the background of what were now ordained to be the ordinary phenomena of nature: clouds and rain, God would display the token of His promise that they would never again be used for the destruction of the earth. The dark cloud of divine wrath against sin is lustered with the brilliance of a better covenant. Those who trust Christ as Savior have the assurance that they have passed from death to eternal life, and will never be brought into judgment.
9:15. “And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.”
Important as it is that man should remember, it is infinitely more important that God should remember, and His gracious concern for His creature is revealed in the bow. He Himself has no need of a token. Unlike man, God will not forget, nor will He ever forfeit His promise. The vagrant mind of man, however, has long since forgotten, and he looks upon the bow today simply as one of nature’s wonders, while he relegates the record of the flood to the realm of mythology. But the bow, still appearing in the cloud, tells the man of faith that there was a flood, and reminds him that as those antediluvians who refused to enter the safety of the Ark, perished, so will men who refuse to take refuge in Christ, perish under a far more terrible judgment.
That knowledge, so far from begetting complacency in the heart of the believer, should impel a more energetic proclamation of the Gospel.
The emphasis continues to be upon the fact that it is, “My (God’s) covenant.” Man enjoys its benefits, but God is its Administrator.
9:16. “And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.”
As has been noticed already, the Noahic covenant was earthly, but its spiritual implications embrace eternity, and for that reason God refers to it as the “everlasting” covenant. That part of it which relates to earth, is everlasting in the sense that it will last as long as the earth shall last. (The word everlasting as found in Scripture, should be construed according to its context.)
9:17. “And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.”
The frequency with which God refers to the token, indicates the importance He attached to it. If he attached such importance to the token which was related to the death of creation, how much greater, then, must be the importance He attaches to the tokens which are related to the death of the Creator, His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ? In the very appointment of bread and wine as the tokens of the new and better covenant, God has chosen that which constitutes man’s food and drink. What he must eat and drink daily in order to live, is intended to teach man the importance of what is portrayed in broken bread and out-poured wine. It was the Lord Himself Who said, “This is my body which is given for you.... this cup is the new testament (covenant) in my blood, which is shed for you” (Lk 22:19,20).
Not only on the first day of the week when the Lord’s supper is to be eaten, but every time man eats and drinks, God would have him remember Calvary. There, waves and billows far more terrible than those literal waters that engulfed the antediluvian earth, swept over God’s Son when He willingly took man’s guilty place and submitted Himself to death that man might live.
9:18. “And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the Ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.”
A new section begins with this eighteenth verse. Having focused attention upon the token of the covenant, God would now have us look at the lives of those who are its beneficiaries.
Those who emerged from the Ark represent believers: they stood symbolically on resurrection ground. This truth is emphasized in that attention is directed to Noah’s sons rather than to Noah himself. There were three of them, and three, of course, is the number of resurrection. Another characteristic of resurrection portrayed in these three sons is that Noah’s life would be perpetuated through them.
They were, however, the sons of Noah rest; and springing themselves from one whose name means rest, point to the truth that those who have eternal life have it on the basis of a rest resulting from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and His finished work.
We have noticed that sons and daughters speak respectively of activity and passivity of the will. The mention of sons therefore, would teach us that another characteristic of the new life is that it is to be marked by activity in God’s service.
There were eight persons altogether who survived the flood, and eight, being the number of a new beginning, declares that the redeemed have a new beginning as new creatures in Christ.
Since it is generally accepted that the whole human race is descended from these three sons of Noah, and we have already considered this, it is unnecessary to elaborate further upon it here.
As to the significance of these three names, Shem means a name. Ham has been generally taken to mean tumult: he raged, but according to J.B. Jackson’s Dictionary of Proper Names of the Old and New Testament this meaning applies only in Ge 14:5 where it is used as the name of a place. In all other instances the correct meaning is hot: father-in-law. Japheth means let him spread out.
In regard to the races descended from these three sons of Noah, the opinions of the majority of competent Bible scholars are very succinctly given in the foot notes to the Scofield Reference Bible. We shall, therefore, quote them.
“A prophetic declaration is made that descendants of Canaan, one of Ham’s sons, will be servants to their brethren ... Shem will have a peculiar relation to the Lord. All divine revelation is through Semitic men, and Christ, after the flesh, descends from Shem. A prophetic declaration is made that from Japheth will descend the enlarged races. Government, science and art, speaking broadly, are and have been Japhetic, so that history is the indisputable record of the exact fulfillment of these declarations.”
We might add that in regard to the race descended from Shem a name, it is from it that He has come forth, “Whose name is above every other name.... Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”
The explanatory phrase, “and Ham is the father of Canaan” takes on a special significance when we remember that Ham means not only hot, but also father-in-law. The term father-in-law carries with it the thought of parental authority connected with law, and would, perhaps, indicate that Ham should be viewed as a type of the law itself, which without the love of a natural father, nevertheless rules over man with all the authority that is normally vested in a father. Authority, without love, is the hallmark of the law.
His son, Canaan, means a trafficker, which is indeed the only child the law can beget. The child of law is a spiritual “trafficker” who seeks to trade law-keeping for eternal life, and he is as much an abomination to God as was his literal counterpart.
9:19. “These are the three sons of Noah, and of them was the whole earth overspread.”
The overspreading of the whole earth by the descendants of these three sons points again to the character of the new life: it is abundant.
An obvious practical lesson for those who have this more abundant life in Christ is that we should be equally fruitful in populating the earth with a spiritual posterity - men and women led to Christ.
9:20. “And Noah began to be a husbandman; and he planted a vineyard.”
As it was with Adam so was it also with Noah: both became tillers of the soil, and we may learn from this that the redeemed man, while he is on the earth, is in this respect no different from others: all men in the body are under the same sentence, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread....”
The whole context of this section, however, is overshadowed by potential for evil, and that being the case, the lesson may be that the redeemed man is never free from the danger of becoming involved with earthly things to the neglect of spiritual. In this context, then, Noah’s becoming a farmer rather than a shepherd, may point to the believer’s turning to the things of the world to a greater extent than is necessary.
Since wine is the Biblical symbol of joy (spiritual or earthly), the lesson of his planting a vineyard may be that in addition to becoming over-involved in the world’s business, the believer may also turn again to the world’s pleasures.
9:21. “And he drank of the wine, and became drunk; and he was uncovered within his tent.”
In Eph 5:18 Paul cautions his readers, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” It is significant that the Apostle places in opposition spiritual joy, expressed in singing to the Lord, and that joy which has its source in wine consumed to excess. Experience teaches that as pleasure in earthly things increases, spiritual joy decreases.
There was nothing wrong with Noah’s drinking wine: the evil lay in his drinking to excess and becoming drunk. The obvious warning is that when the believer turns aside from the things of God for “just a little” of worldly pleasure it almost invariably happens that he keeps returning for more and eventually becomes spiritually what Noah became physically, “drunk”. He loses his capacity to make a proper evaluation between things earthly and things spiritual, and the end result is that he becomes “uncovered.” But clothing, we have learned, is symbolic of righteousness, either the “filthy rags” of our own self-righteousness, or the spotless righteousness of Christ. Adam, when he sinned, was uncovered. He had lost his righteousness, and now Noah is found in the same condition. The believer who turns to the world’s joys, becoming through them, insensible to spiritual things, soon becomes “uncovered” - he loses his righteousness.
9:22. “And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren outside.”
By continuing to view Ham as a type of the law, we can easily read the significance of his seeing Noah’s nakedness. The law can only look upon man’s unright-eous (uncovered) state, but can do nothing to remedy that state.
To understand the spiritual lesson of Ham’s telling his two brethren, it is necessary to note that the order of the list of Noah’s sons is not the order of their seniority. The list is always given as Shem, Ham and Japheth, yet we read in verse 24 that Ham was the younger; and in chapter 10:21, that Japheth was
God’s lists are never capriciously arranged, and this one is no exception to that rule. In the order given, Shem is first, and Japheth last, so that when Ham told his two brethren, he was literally telling the first and the last. This is the symbolic declaration of what is written in Gal 3:24, “The law is our school master to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Christ, and He alone, can say, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last” (Re 1:11).
9:23. “And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.”
It was Christ Who took the garment of His own righteousness and brought it to where we lay “uncovered.”
The fact that this was done by two of Noah’s sons, would point to the truth that He Who came to fulfill the type, combined in Himself two natures: He was perfect God even while He walked the earth as the perfect Man. Since two is the number of witness or testimony, these two sons would point to Him Who was the perfect Witness, not only to man’s ruin, but to God’s love.
Their taking the garment and laying it upon their shoulders, reminds us that before the Lord Jesus Christ could cover us with the garment of His own righteousness, He must first take upon His shoulders the filthy rags of our sinful self-righteousness, and go to Calvary to bear the judgment due to us, as it is written, “Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows ... and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53: 4,6).
Another spiritual truth is conveyed in the twofold reference to their walking backward. Christ, “was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification” (Ro 4:25). He must be raised from the dead before we could be justified or “covered” with the garment of His righteousness. But resurrection is simply a returning or going “backward” from death. Shem and Japheth had both been in the deluge, though preserved in the Ark. They had been symbolically in death, but their exodus from the Ark is typical of resurrection. Their going backward therefore, is the typical annunciation of the truth that we are covered with the righteousness of the One Who, “was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.”
“... and they saw not their father’s nakedness.” The Lord Jesus Christ declared, “And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not; for I came, not to judge the world but to save the world” (Jn 12:47). The law could only look upon man’s sinful “uncovered” state, but could not cover it. Christ came, not to judge, “look upon”, but to save, “cover”. The word atonement, in fact, means to cover.
To preserve the accuracy of the type, however, we must recognize that the foregoing is a secondary application of a type which relates primarily to a man already redeemed. Noah’s redemption occurred (typo-logically) when he entered the Ark, so that his drunkenness portrays the sin of a believer rather than an unbeliever. In this context, then, it is instruct-ive to note that bloodshed was involved in the provision of a covering for Adam, who represents the natural man; but bloodshed was not involved in the provision of Noah’s covering. The truth being taught is that the sinner, cleansed once for all by the blood of Christ at conversion, has had full atonement made for all his sin. Thereafter, his sins are the sins of one for whom atonement has been made, and whose sins are all covered by the righteousness of a resurrected Christ whose atoning work requires no repetition.
9:24. “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.”
It is not until he has been awakened and covered that man learns the true character of the law. It can only reveal his sin, but it cannot provide a remedy.
9:25. “And he said, Cursed be Canaan (a trafficker); a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
The curse does not fall upon Ham, for he represents the law which cannot be cursed because, “... the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Ro 7:l2). But it does fall, as it must always, upon “the trafficker,” Canaan, for he represents the natural man who seeks to be justified by the law, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them” (Gal 3:10).
“Trafficker” is just another name for trader, and the natural man is a spiritual Canaanite who expects to trade his imperfect law-keeping for the right to enter heaven. Man cannot “traffic” with God. Eternal life is a GIFT which can’t be bought. There is only one way to heaven, and that way is Jesus Christ, He Himself declaring, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Jn 14:6).
The assignment of Canaan to the place of a servant includes also Ham, for the life of the son is but the perpetuation of the life of the father. The law’s proper place is that of a servant, as it is written, “Wherefore, then serveth the law?” The law has done its work when, as a teacher, it brings us to Christ (Gal 3:19).
Genesis chapter sixteen also declares that the rightful place of the law is that of a servant. Galatians 4:19-31 teaches that Hagar is a type of the law, and in Genesis 16 we read that when she had fled from her mistress, Sarai (who represents grace,) the angel of the Lord commanded her, “Return to thy mistress and submit thyself under her hands” (Ge 16:9).
It is clear that this servitude is to be to his brethren, which implies that the law is as much servant to the saint as to the sinner, and raises the question as to how that service is rendered.
While the believer is not under law as a means of obtaining salvation, the law remains the expression of God’s holiness, and as such reveals to saint and sinner alike what that holiness requires from man. To the sinner it reveals his unholy state and his need of a Savior. To the believer it reveals the imperfection of his life, even as a redeemed man, and turns him, too, to God in worship for the sacrifice that covers his sins, not only when he was a sinner, but now also when he is a saint.
9:26. “And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.”
The gracious act of Shem and Japheth evokes the thanksgiving of the one whose nakedness they have covered. This praise called forth by the provision of a mere physical covering which cost nothing, would teach us that since it cost the Son of God His life to cover us with the garment of salvation, there is no praise we could ever offer that would adequately measure the extent of our indebtedness. Our inadequacy was grasped by the one who wrote, “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my heart, my life, my all.”
Nor is it just a casual repetition of an earlier statement when there is linked with Noah’s blessing, the words, “and Canaan shall be his servant.” Worship consists of more than words, as Samuel taught the disobedient Saul in 1 Samuel 15:22, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” The nature of worship is disclosed in the words of the converted Paul as he knelt on the Damascus Road and cried out, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” It was that same Apostle who exhorted the believers in Rome, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (spiritual worship).”
It is not just chance that links Canaan’s service with Noah’s worship. That which springs from law - service, is in its proper place when yielding service to Him Who is the First and the Last. Canaan, as a son, was under the dominion of Ham, just as the natural man is under the dominion of the law. But when grace takes the man out from under the law’s jurisdiction as a way to eternal life, and sets him in a new relationship as a son of God by adoption, the compelled obedience to law is transmuted into a willingly yielded service to the Lord Jesus Christ.
9:27. “God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.”
Japheth is a type of Christ, not only through his place in the list of Noah’s sons, but also in the meaning of his name let him spread out. This points to Christ as the “corn of wheat,” Who “fell into the ground” and died that He might not dwell alone, but that in resurrection He might bring forth much fruit. We are that “fruit” for we are among the children God has given Him (Heb 2:13); we are among the “many sons” He is bringing unto glory (Heb 2,10).
In Japheth let him spread out, God bids us see the One of Whom Japheth is but a type. The extent of His “spreading out” will be seen in the Millennium when He rules the earth, and every knee bows to acknowledge His Lordship.
“... and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem.” Since Shem is the first in the list of Noah’s sons, he represents Christ as “the First,” but Japheth, last on the list, represents Him as the One Who is also “the Last.” This statement, then, read literally, would be, “the Last shall dwell in the tents of the First.” It is the symbolic annunciation of the truth that when time is ended and the redemption of creation is complete, the One to Whom all the glory is due, will dwell in that eternal glory from which He came forth to accomplish redemption’s work. But it will be as “Japheth” that He dwells in that glory. When He dwelt in the eternal glory in the past it was as “the First,” but He was alone. When He dwells in that same eternal glory in the future it will be as “Japheth”, the One Who has “spread out,” for He will not be alone. His redeemed will dwell with Him in “the tents” which are His as the First, Shem, but which are His also as the Last, Japheth.
“... and Canaan shall be his servant.” Those who once trafficked in the law, yielding obedience reluctantly that they might have something to trade for eternal life, will, in their new relationship as sons of the First and the Last, serve Him willingly out of love, and forever.
9:28. “And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years.”
As we have noticed already, these years represent that part of a man’s life after he becomes a believer, and in that context the number 350 has instruction for every believer. The factors are 2 X 52 X 7. The two, which is the number of testimony or witness, would teach us that as believers we are to be witnesses for God on the earth. Five is the number of responsibility, and would teach us that as redeemed men we have a responsibility to live in a manner becoming our redeemed state. Its being raised to the second power would teach us that that responsibility is two-fold: it is man-ward as well as God-ward. And seven, the number of perfection or completeness, assures us that in spite of all the failure connected with us as still in the body, God sees us in all the perfection of His Son.
9:29. “And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.”
As in all the genealogies studied, as soon as we add on that part which represents man’s unsaved life, death comes in. The corruption of death infects everything that is related to Adam, and these natural bodies are Adamic. They must die. But association with the last Adam carries with it the assurance that beyond death is the resurrection of life in which we shall have bodies of glory, “fashioned like unto His glorious body.”
These nine hundred and fifty years which make up the whole of Noah’s life on earth, have also their lesson for us.
In attempting to factorize it we have 2 X 52 and a remainder of 19. As discussed in an earlier study, the rule then seems to be to remove 1, the number of God, which leaves 18, whose factors are 2 X 32. This gives a clearly marked dividing point. The factors of the first part, which represents the unsaved part of man’s life, are 2, the number of witness, and 5, the number of responsibility, raised to the second power, indicating that the responsibility is two-fold, man-ward and God-ward. The unsaved part of man’s life is witness to his failure to meet his responsibility. But then God, represented by the separated “one”, is brought in, and man has a new beginning marked by the 18. Its factors being 2 X 32, would teach us that his new life is the witness to his new state: he is now on resurrection ground, immediately as to his spirit, and, at the Lord’s return, as to his body also.
There is one final instruction in this part of Noah’s history, and it is a sad one. Nothing, apparently, that occurred in those three hundred and fifty years was worth recording. It is significant that this period begins with the statement that he became a farmer, indicative, spiritually, of occupation with earthly things; and of his drinking wine, indicative, spiritually, of joy in earthly things rather than spiritual.
There is the danger that the Bema will reveal similar worthlessness in regard to our lives - and for the same reason.