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Bible Commentaries

Mackintosh's Notes on the Pentateuch

Genesis 9

Verses 1-29

Genesis 9

But I have already extended this section far beyond the limit which I had prescribed for it. I shall, therefore, close it with a hasty glance at the contents of Gen. 9 . In it we have the new covenant, under which creation was set, after the deluge, together with the token of that covenant. "And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth." Observe, God's command to man, on his entrance into the restored earth, was to refill that earth; not parts of the earth, but the earth. He desired to have men dispersed abroad, over the face of the world, and not relying upon their own concentrated energies. We shall see, in Gen. 11 , how man neglected all this.

The fear of man is now lodged in the heart of every other creature. Henceforth the service, rendered by the inferior orders of creation to man, must be the constrained result of "fear and dread." In life, and in death, the lower animals were to be at the service of man. ALL creation is delivered, by God's everlasting covenant, from the fear of a second deluge. Judgement is never again to take that shape. "The world that then was, being overflowed with water , perished: but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgement and perdition of ungodly men." The earth was once purged with water; and it will be again purged by fire; and in this second purgation none will escape, save those, who have fled for refuge to Him, who has passed through the deep waters of death, and met the fire of divine judgement.

"And God said, This is the token of the covenant ..I do set my bow in the cloud.....and I will remember my covenant," The whole creation rests, as to its exemption from a second deluge, on the eternal stability of God's covenant, of which the bow is the token; and it is happy to bear in mind, that when the bow appears, the eye of God rests upon it; and man is cast not upon his own imperfect and most uncertain memory, but upon God's. "I" says God, "Will remember." "How sweet to think of what God will, and what He will not remember! He will remember His own covenant, but He will not remember His people's sins. The cross, which ratifies the former, puts away the latter. The belief of this gives peace to the troubled and uneasy conscience.

"And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud." Beautiful and most expressive emblem! The beams of the sun, reflected from that which threatens judgement, tranquillise the heart, as telling of God's covenant, God's salvation, and God's remembrance. Precious, most precious sunbeams, deriving additional beauty from the very cloud which reflects them! How forcibly does this bow in the cloud remind us of Calvary. There a cloud indeed - a dark, thick, heavy cloud of judgement discharging itself upon the sacred head of the Lamb of God - a cloud so dark, that even at mid-day "there was darkness over all the earth." But, blessed be God, faith discerns, in that heaviest cloud that ever gathered, the most brilliant and beauteous bow that ever appeared, for it sees the bright beams of God's eternal love darting through the awful gloom, and reflected in the cloud. It hears, too, the words, "it is finished," issuing from amid the darkness, and in those words it recognises the perfect ratification of God's everlasting counsels, not only as to creation, but the tribes of Israel and the Church of God.

The last paragraph of this chapter presents a humiliating spectacle. The lord of creation fails to govern himself: "And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard; and he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent." What a condition for Noah, the only righteous man, the preacher of righteousness, to be found in. Alas! what is man? Look at him where you will, and you see only failure. In Eden, he fails; in the restored earth, he fails; in Canaan, he fails; in the Church, he fails; in the presence of millennial bliss and glory, he fails. He fails everywhere, and in all things: there is no good thing in him. Let his advantages be ever so great, his privileges ever so vast, his position ever so desirable, he can only exhibit failure and sin.

We must, however, look at Noah in two ways, namely, as a type , and as a man ; and while the type is full of beauty and meaning, the man is full of sin and folly; yet the Holy Ghost has written these words, "Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generation; and Noah walked with God." Divine grace had covered all his sins, and clothed his person with a spotless robe of righteousness. Though Noah exposed his nakedness, God did not see it, for He looked not at him, in the weakness of his own condition, but in the full power of divine and everlasting righteousness. Hence we may see how entirely astray - how totally alienated from God and His thoughts, Ham was, in the course he adopted; he evidently knew nothing of the blessedness of the man, whose iniquity is forgiven, and his sin covered; on the contrary, Shem and Jepheth exhibit, in their conduct, a fine specimen of the divine method of dealing with human nakedness; wherefore they inherit a blessing, whereas Ham inherits a curse.

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Bibliographical Information
Mackintosh, Charles Henry. "Commentary on Genesis 9". Mackintosh's Notes on the Pentateuch. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/nfp/genesis-9.html.