Genesis 9: Never Again Promises and Signs
“I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.” This covenantal statement is not simply about the rainbow. This is talking of God’s covenant with man to give life, to keep life, and to hold us responsible for the lives we share. This verse contains the sentence that the entire story of Genesis chapter 9 rests on.
God is not asking us to do what God doesn’t do himself. He promises not to take life again. Never again, is the key word in the whole chapter. Never again will I take life. Never again will I destroy. Never again will I take away the past, the present and the future of humanity. I will make everyone accountable for the life of the other.
We live in a divided world. In my opinion that comes from the misguided idea of freedom to live for self and not always honoring the life of others. True freedom, in the end, is about giving, respecting, honoring and preserving the lives of others. When we speak of life, there is only one choice left to humanity and that is to simply believe in one thing. “Whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person’s blood be shed; for in his own image God made humankind.”
I sometimes ask myself, am I a literalist or ‘metaphorialist’? (By the way I made up this word.) Do I have a right to take the life of the other at any time in my life regardless of the circumstances? I have to always go back to these words in the New International Version of the Bible. “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.”
I am not afraid of God and never will be. But hearing that I can feel in my bones the seriousness of human life. If there is any sentence where God will hold me responsible and accountable, it is about the life of the other. That’s what I hear loud and clear. If I agree with someone or disagree with another, if I approve or disapprove of another, if I hate or dislike another, no matter what the extend of that hard feeling is, I am left no option except to advance the cause of life.
Mother Theresa, one of my favorite saints, says, “If we have no peace, it’s because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” It is not about believing in the goodness of the other or believing in people and their gifts. But it is about knowing in our hearts that we belong to each other. I want to call this word, “Belong” as both imperative and operative word in spirituality. “To belong” has to become vitally important in mind and functional in our heart.
So, in the end, did Noah, his sons and family, and the rest of the world around them have a real choice? I believe they did not. Did they live accordingly? I believe they did not. So, we all have the potential to be like Noah and his sons. But we are also told never to forget that God will hold us accountable when it comes to the destruction of life. I am sure some will ask me, but then how about the criminals, the child abusers, the terrorists, the unborn in the womb, the murderers?. To all, I only have one thing to say “I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.” says the Lord.
I guess I am a literalist in this context. As much as I hate to admit that I am, this is one time I am happy to accept that I am. I truly believe God will demand an accounting for the life of the other. I don’t usually speak for God. But this is one time I know it could be very true because if it is not true, the entire creation of humankind in God’s image and likeness would be meaningless.
God’s solution #9
Human life is so precious. We struggle to understand and let our actions reflect it. We are given a direction that does not need an interpretation but a simple adherence to. The man on death row, the ill and infirmed, the hungry, the poor and displaced, the child in the womb, from day one to the day last, share the same DNA with God. Therefore, the solution is to simply believe that we truly are made in the image and likeness of God and act accordingly.