Monday, October 31, 2011

Select Quotes From Martin Luther's 95 Theses - 1517 AD - Church History


It was the eve of All Saints Day— October 31st. The year was 1517, and a man named Martin Luther was about to release something that would light the world on fire.

What was it? The 95 Theses.

Martin Luther, on that October 31st night, was unaware of exactly how great a fire he had lit. In fact, at the time, Martin Luther did not yet seem to have a desire to break with the Roman Catholic Church, stating the following:
I offer it with a most faithful heart, and one most devoted to your [Lord Albert] most reverend Fatherhood, since I too am part of your flock. May the Lord Jesus keep your most reverend Fatherhood for ever and ever. Amen. (Introductory Letter To The 95 Theses, emphasis added)
However, that's not to say that Martin Luther's 95 Theses were uncritical— because they were. Luther writes midway through his Introductory Letter To The 95 Theses:
Lastly, works of piety and charity are infinitely better than indulgences, and yet they do not preach these with such display or so much zeal; nay, they keep silence about them for the sake of preaching pardons. And yet it is the first and sole duty of all bishops, that the people should learn the Gospel and Christian charity: for Christ nowhere commands that indulgences should be preached. What a dreadful thing it is then, what peril to a bishop, if, while the Gospel is passed over in silence, he permits nothing but the noisy outcry of indulgences to be spread among his people, and bestows more care on these than on the Gospel! (Introductory Letter To The 95 Theses)
If you know anything about Martin Luther and his boldness in preaching justification "by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone", but have never read the Ninety-Five Theses, you will probably be a little surprised when you read through them for the first time. Why? Because that famous doctrine is not even mentioned in them.

It is important to remember that Martin Luther did not instantly become "reformed" when he wrote the 95 Theses. For the most part, the 95 Theses primarily consisted of objections concerning the sale of indulgences in the church. Luther states:
32. Those who believe that, through letters of pardon [indulgences], they are made sure of their own salvation, will be eternally damned along with their teachers. (95 Theses)
The sale of indulgences was was a source of funds for the Roman Catholic Church. Those funds were being used to build a lavish new church building: Saint Peter's Basilica. Luther boldly writes concerning this pricey construction project:
51. Christians should be taught that, as it would be the duty, so it would be the wish of the Pope, even to sell, if necessary, the Basilica of St. Peter, and to give of his own money to very many of those from whom the preachers of pardons [indulgences] extract money. (95 Theses)
Luther later states:
86. Again; why does not the Pope, whose riches are at this day more ample than those of the wealthiest of the wealthy, build the one Basilica of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with that of poor believers? (95 Theses)
Such critical objections directly pointed at the Pope did not go unnoticed. Martin Luther was sure to make clear how indulgences were to be considered:
62. The true treasure of the Church is the Holy Gospel of the glory and grace of God.

63. This treasure, however, is deservedly most hateful, because it makes the first to be last.

64. While the treasure of indulgences is deservedly most acceptable, because it makes the last to be first. (95 Theses)
If you have never read through Martin Luther's 95 Theses, I would encourage you to do so. It is important to be aware of your spiritual ancestors for a few reasons: (1) You can learn from their successes. (2) You can learn from their errors. (3) You can come to a greater understanding of why you believe what you believe today.

To read Martin Luther's 95 Theses online for free, click here.

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The Beginning of the Reformation: Luther - James White
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Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Beginning of the Reformation: Luther - James White - Sermon Sunday

This is a sermon/lecture from James White on Martin Luther and his contributions to the Reformation. Don't know who Martin Luther is? Then this is a great way to find out!

If you do know a few things about Martin Luther, then you will find this lecture quite enlightening.

Click here to go to the sermon/lecture.

For more sermons click here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Quote of the Day #178 - J. C. Ryle


A quote from J. C. Ryle on how the victories of Christianity are won:
Mark what I say. If you want to do good in these times, you must throw aside indecision, and take up a distinct, sharply cut, doctrinal religion. If you believe little, those to whom you try to do good will believe nothing. The victories of Christianity, wherever they have been won, have been won by distinct doctrinal theology, by telling men roundly of Christ’s vicarious death and sacrifice, by showing them Christ’s substitution on the cross and His precious blood, by teaching them justification by faith and bidding them believe on a crucified Savior, by preaching ruin by sin, redemption by Christ, regeneration by the Spirit, by lifting up the bronze serpent, by telling men to look and live, to believe, repent and be converted.
~J. C. Ryle (Holiness, Chapter: Need Of The Times)


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Quote of the Day #175 - Augustine
Quote of the Day #176 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote of the Day #177 - William Gurnall
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

God's Covenant With Noah: Fulfilled - Genesis 9:8-11 Bible Commentary


Over 121 years had passed since Noah had heard God say: "Everything... shall perish... but I will establish My covenant with you" (Genesis 6:17-18).

The first part— that everything would perish— had already been fulfilled. Everything really had perished! In fact, the entire earth— everything with the breath of life— had drowned in God's judgment.

The second part— that God would establish His covenant— had not yet been fulfilled. Whether Noah, over those 121 years, thought often about the coming covenant that would eventually be established is hard to tell. Yet when God finally did establish His covenant with Noah, Noah's mind must have raced back to that distant memory when God had first spoken of it.

When God made His covenant with Noah, He not only spoke to Noah, but also to Noah's sons. In doing this, God made it clear that the covenant did not merely apply to Noah, but to all of his descendants— to everyone living on the earth, from the flood to this very day.
Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, "Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth. I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth." (Genesis 9:8-11)
Stop for a moment. Think. Think deeply about this simple fact: God made a covenant with man.

God. The eternal one. The always present One. God who is all powerful, who is all knowing. God who is without the stain of sin. God who is spotless, unblemished. And above all, God who is holy, holy, holy...

That holy God made a covenant with man. Such an event would have been spectacular enough even if man had not been in a fallen state— but man is in a fallen state. God did not merely make a covenant with man, but He made a covenant with fallen man. Think about that! God made a promise to fallen man.

The God of all truth made a promise to sin-loving people who twist the truth and break their promises! He promised that He would never again send an all-consuming flood. Never again would He use a flood to destroy all flesh!

Related Posts:
What Is The Noahic Covenant? - Genesis 9:12-17
God's Covenant With Noah: Promised - Genesis 6:18
The Coming Flood of the Pre-Flood World - Genesis 6:17
The Origin Of The Death Penalty - Genesis 9:5-7
Noah's Name: Its Meaning and Significance - Genesis 5:29

Monday, October 24, 2011

Quote of the Day #177 - William Gurnall


A quote from William Gurnall on eternally explorable truths:
If your heart were humble and your palate spiritual, old truths would be new to you every time you heard them. In heaven the saints draw all their wine of joy at one tap— Christ. Yet it never tastes flat. God is the one object that fills their souls, and they never weary of Him. It shall be so for all eternity.
~William Gurnall (The Christian In Complete Armor Volume One, Chapter 4, Part 1)

This quote was taken from the book The Christian In Complete Armor Volume One - A modernized abridgement of the Puritan Classic by William Gurnall, published by Banner Of Truth.

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Quote of the Day #178 - J. C. Ryle
Quote of the Day #174 - William Gurnall
Quote of the Day #175 - Augustine
Quote of the Day #176 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote Index

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Quote of the Day #176 - Charles Spurgeon


A quote from Charles Spurgeon on the unmatched-supremacy of the gospel of Jesus Christ:
Oh! down, down, down, with everything else, but up, up, up, with the cross of Christ! Down with your baptism, and your masses, and your sacraments! Down with your priestcraft, and your rituals, and your liturgies! Down with your fine music, and your pomp, and your robes, and your garments, and all your ceremonials. But up, up, up, with the doctrine of the naked cross, and the expiring Saviour. Let the voice ring throughout the whole world, "Look unto Me and live!" There is life in a look at the Crucified One!
~Charles Spurgeon (Christ, The Glory Of His People 826.464)

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Quote of the Day #173 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote of the Day #174 - William Gurnall
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Origin Of The Death Penalty - Genesis 9:5-7 Bible Commentary


Murder has been wrong since the beginning of creation.

When Cain murdered his brother Abel,
murdering was wrong. (Genesis 4:8)

When violence filled the entire pre-flood world,
murdering was wrong. (Genesis 6:11)

When the flood was finally over
God made clear to Noah that
murdering was still wrong.

However, it was not until after the Flood that Scripture explicitly states (for the first time) what penalty should be imposed upon murderers. God said to Noah:
Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man.
Whoever sheds man’s blood,
By man his blood shall be shed
(Genesis 9:5-6)
Murder is such a disgusting sin that most unconverted people even recognize it as a crime. When one person murders another person, most people naturally conclude that the murderer deserves to be punished. According to Scripture, the punishment that a murderer deserves is death. Why does a murderer deserve death? Genesis 9:6-7 provides an answer. God said to Noah:
For in the image of God
He made man.
As for you, be fruitful and multiply;
Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.
(Genesis 9:6-7)
At creation, man was given a certain purpose: to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it (Genesis 1:28). Whenever anyone murders another person, they are going directly against this purpose.

People are also made in the image of God, which means that all people have inherent worth. People are not animals; people have souls. They have thoughts and emotions. Therefore, if you kill another person, you have taken away the life of something higher than a mere creature. You have taken the life of a being made in the image of God!

The penalty that should be imposed upon any person who murders another person is death. For anyone who might question the "legality" giving a person the death penalty for murdering, God (once and for all) settled the issue in Genesis 9:6, Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed.

Related Posts:
God's Covenant With Noah: Fulfilled - Genesis 9:8-11
How Man's Diet Changed After The Flood - Genesis 9:3-4
Cain and Abel: Murder - Genesis 4:8
The Pre-Flood World: Filled With Violence - Genesis 6:11-13

Monday, October 17, 2011

Quote of the Day #175 - Augustine


A quote from Augustine's Confessions, translated by Edward Pusey:
Great art Thou, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is Thy power, and Thy wisdom infinite. And Thee would man praise; man, but a particle of Thy creation; man, that bears about him his mortality, the witness of his sin, the witness that Thou resistest the proud: yet would man praise Thee; he, but a particle of Thy creation. Thou awakest us to delight in Thy praise; for Thou madest us for Thyself, and our heart is restless, until it repose [rest] in Thee.
~Augustine (The Confessions, Book 1, Chapter 1)

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Quote of the Day #172 - J. C. Ryle
Quote of the Day #173 - Charles Spurgeon
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Quote Index

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Biography Of The Apostle Peter (Part 3) - 30-67 AD - Church History


This is the third part in a three part series, click here to go to part one.

Peter is one of the most well-known apostles for many reasons. Not only is he the apostle that speaks the most in the gospels, but he also dominates the content in the first half of Acts. He is the one who visited Cornelius, spreading the good news even to the Gentles (Acts 10:25). He is the one who miraculously escaped prison (Acts 12:7), delaying the death sentence that he knew he would face for the sake of the gospel—the death sentence that he had known he would eventually face ever since that morning when he had eaten breakfast with the risen Christ (John 21:18-19).

As the years passed, Peter, as had happened so many times earlier in his life, almost completely fell again. He became so caught up in hypocrisy that the Apostle Paul had to condemn him to his face (Galatians 2:11-14).

We would be left wondering at this awkward conclusion to the life of one of the central figures of the New Testament if it were not for the two books that Peter wrote later in his life: 1 Peter and 2 Peter. Both books mention little about the author himself, but they do assure us of this fact: after hearing Paul’s rebuke, Peter must have repented—for he still proclaims himself as an apostle and slave of Jesus Christ his Lord (2 Peter 1:1).

In 1 Peter, Peter writes about trials, a topic which he had dealt with extensively first-hand (that stare that he saw after denying Jesus three times must have still been etched in his memory). In 2 Peter, Peter writes of his quickly approaching death (2 Peter 1:14). Yet, even knowing that the end was near, he had not lost his passion—he had not lost his boldness. After so many trials and temptations, after so many prideful moments, he was still a believer in Jesus Christ—he was still eager to minister to fellow believers.

The exact age that Peter lived to is unknown. He probably met Jesus in 30 AD (about three years before the crucifixion in 33 AD). James Ussher puts the date of Peter's martyrdom in 67 AD. According to Origen, Peter was crucified upside down in Rome (for more information on the persecutions in Rome at this time click here).

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Biography Of The Apostle Peter (Part 2) - 30-67 AD - Church History


This is the second part in a three part series, click here to go to part one.

Peter passed the next few days in sorrow, unsure of what to do. He still remembered the day that he first met Jesus. He remembered those first few words that he spoke to Him, "Go away from me, for I am a sinful man!" (Luke 5:8) Oh how those words rang true now! What could he ever do? How could he, with all his sinfulness, ever hope to stand before his Lord of infinite holiness?

How could he ever hope to stand by his Lord whom he had seen in all His glory alongside Moses and Elijah? But not even that moment had been unstained by his rashness—oh how many times had he misspoken! Build a tabernacle for Moses, Elijah, and the Christ?! Oh how many times his words had nearly cost him his soul!

Those few days that he spent in such deep grief and guilt soon passed. Soon, the dawn of a new day arose— the day when he realized that his Lord had risen! All his weeping had not led to death. His repentance had led him to life! Praise God that he had not repented unto death as Judas had! And even more so, praise God that out of all the apostles, he was the first one to see the risen Christ! (1 Corinthians 15:5) Why was it that he was granted such a privilege?

In fact, he was so joyful that one morning, while fishing out in the lake, he saw his Lord on the shore— and wasting no time he jumped out of the boat and swam straight to the risen Christ.

The breakfast that he had with the risen Christ that morning was splendid, but it was nothing in comparison to what happened next. Jesus questioned him, saying, "Do you love me?" (John 21:15) And then again, "Do you love me?" (John 21:16) And then, yet a third time, "Do you love me?" (John 21:16) It was on the final time that he fully understood. He really was forgiven! There was grace to be found even for a wretch like him!

Not too long after that incident (after Jesus had ascended to heaven), he spoke as the leading apostle on the day of Pentecost. He urged the Jews, preaching to them, "Be saved from this perverse generation" (Acts 2:40). As the church began to grow, he, along with the rest of the apostles, performed many miraculous signs: healing the sick, making the lame well, and even raising the dead.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Biography Of The Apostle Peter (Part 1) - 30-67 AD - Church History


This is the first part in a three part series on the life of the Apostle Peter.

It was early Friday morning in the city of Jerusalem. The sky had long ago turned black. The flickering flames of a charcoal fire crackled in one of the city's courtyards, illuminating an illegal nighttime trial. Pharisees, scribes, Sadducees, slaves, and various other people roamed about the courtyard. But the scene was dominated by the man at the center of it all— the man on trial.

The night was cold, and a young man near the fire was warming himself, trembling so violently as he watched the trial that he could not hold still. A dark male figure, probably a slave, approached the young man. The young man soon found himself replying in defense, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about!” (Luke 22:60). Suddenly, while he was still replying, he heard a shrill cry coming from somewhere in the distance— it was the cry of a rooster.

Trembling even more, the young man looked at the man on trial, and to his alarm, their eyes met. It was a fearsome stare that the young man would never forget. And as he fled into the darkness weeping, the image of the stare was etched deeper and deeper into his mind.

Why was it that the most exciting and bold moments in his life were always followed with pride and despair? One time, he had said of the man whose trial he had just been watching, You are the Christ!" (Matthew 16:16) The Christ had responded to him with praise, but moments later, his pride got ahold of him and the Christ rebuked him with the strongest of words, “Get behind me Satan!” (Matthew 16:23)

Tonight, it had happened again. Once more, his excitement and confidence had led him to pride. Had not his Lord, the Messiah, just a few hours ago, declared Himself to be equal with the Father and the fulfillment of the New Covenant? (Luke 22:20) But now, just hours later, he had denied Him! He was a coward, afraid even to reveal his own identity. What sacrifice! What service! He was probably no better than Judas… what could he ever do in return for his Lord?

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Quote of the Day #174 - William Gurnall


A quote from William Gurnall:
If you long to grow in the likeness of Christ, do not pray for a preacher who will entertain you with a clever new topic each Sunday. Plead instead for a man of principle who will preach against sin and for truth without compromise, until his people repent and turn from their evil ways.
~William Gurnall (The Christian In Complete Armor Volume One, Chapter 4, Part 1)

This quote was taken from the book The Christian In Complete Armor Volume One - A modernized abridgement of the Puritan Classic by William Gurnall, published by Banner Of Truth.

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Sunday, October 09, 2011

Saturate Your Life In Christ - The Gospel (Part 7 of ∞)


Jesus Christ our Lord. Do you have a passion— an all-consuming passion— for Him? A passion which is so pristine that you simply cannot describe it?

Sadly, it can be all too easy to let that passion fade. Are you in such a situation? If so, do not delay any longer. Run to Him! He is the perfect Saviour. Have nothing to do with stupid excuses. If you are too busy to commune with Him in prayer, you are doing something wrong.

As Christians, we are to do everything for Him. When you lay your head down at night, you are to sleep for him! When you awake in the morning, you are to get up for Him! When you sit down at the table, when you talk to a friend, when you go about the course of your day— all of it should be for Him! Saturate your life in Him!

In Revelation, one of the letters to the churches states this, "But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first" (Revelation 2:4-5). Are you in need of repentance? Then run to Christ at once! Run to His grace! He is able to sustain you!

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The Gospel (5 of ∞)
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Friday, October 07, 2011

Quote of the Day #173 - Charles Spurgeon


A quote from Charles Spurgeon:
I have heard of some good old woman in a cottage, who had nothing but a piece of bread and a little water, and lifting up her hands, she said, as a blessing, "What! All this, and Christ too?"
~Charles Spurgeon (The Peculiar Sleep of the Beloved 12.89)

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Thursday, October 06, 2011

How Man's Diet Changed After The Flood - Genesis 9:3-4 Bible Commentary


Man's diet before the flood was simple:
Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. (Genesis 1:29-30, bold emphasis added)
People and animals were vegetarians right after creation— in fact, death itself was nonexistent until the Fall— but when Adam and Eve sinned, their eyes were opened and they became ashamed of their nakedness. In order to hide their nakedness, God Himself slaughtered the first animal in history and used it to cover them.

After that first animal was slaughtered, men also began to slaughter animals. However, Scripture does not indicate that people in the Post-Eden world began slaughtering animals for food. Rather, people began slaughtering animals in the Post-Eden world for the same reason that Abel did: in order to offer up an offering to God (Genesis 4:4).

Perhaps people also slaughtered animals for other non-sacrificial reasons, but the bottom line is this: Scripture does not indicate anywhere that man's diet changed after the Fall. In fact, the evidence is very strong that man's diet did not change at all until after the Flood, when for the first time, God permitted man to kill to eat. God said to Noah:
Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. (Genesis 9:3)
Why did God permit this change? One possibility is that as people continued devolving over successive generations (and as people began to live shorter and shorter lives), the nutrition that came from meat must have become necessary. It might be helpful to compare this dramatic change in diet to the dramatic change that happened in Moses' time, when God forbid the marrying of close relatives. Why? Because man was continuing to devolve— and marrying close relatives did not produce enough genetic variation (for more information see Who Was Cain's Wife).

God tacked on only one exception for anyone who chooses to eat meat. God said to Noah:
Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. (Genesis 9:4)
The reasoning for this seems quite clear (and simple): eating bloody meat is not the most healthy of decisions. Blood also serves an interesting role in forgiveness: without the shedding of it, there is no forgiveness. Since blood plays this crucial role in redemption, the idea of consuming it is all the more disgusting.

The Post-Flood Era ushered in many changes, including a change in man's diet. Indeed, man's diet (or, at least, the diet of believers) would undergo two more major changes in the Post-Flood World: God would limit the type of meat man could eat (Leviticus 11:1-12), and then once again allow all meat to be eaten (Acts 10:9-16).

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The Origin Of The Death Penalty - Genesis 9:5-7
How The Relationship Between Man And Animal Changed After The Flood
Did Noah Gather "Vegetarian" Food? - Genesis 6:21
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The Cycle Of The Seasons - Genesis 8:22

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Quote of the Day #172 - J. C. Ryle


A quote from J. C. Ryle on being too serious:
Yes! I must mourn. I cannot help it. Others may think it enough to mourn over dead bodies. For my part, I think there is far more cause to mourn over dead souls. The children of this world find fault with us sometimes for being so serious and grave. Truly, when I look at the world, I marvel we can ever smile at all.
~J. C. Ryle (Alive Or Dead?)

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Monday, October 03, 2011

Quote of the Day #171 - William Gurnall


William Gurnall includes many analogies in The Christian In Complete Armor. Some of his analogies can be a little strange, and this is certainly one of the strangest:
The possessions God allows us to have are intended for our use, not our enjoyment. Trying to squeeze something out of them that was never in them in the first place is a futile endeavor. A cow's udders, gently pressed, will yield sweet milk, nourishing and refreshing. Applying more and more pressure will not produce greater quantities of milk. We lose the good of material things by expecting too much from them. Those who try hardest to please themselves with earthly goods find the least satisfaction in them.
~William Gurnall (The Christian In Complete Armor Volume One, Chapter 3, Part 2)

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Sunday, October 02, 2011

Quote of the Day #170 - Charles Spurgeon


A quote from Charles Spurgeon that makes use of Julius Caesar's famous quote:
"I came, I saw, I conquered," is a line which will be quoted to the end of time. Such is the life of our Lord Jesus, from the cross onward.
~Charles Spurgeon (Our Ascended Lord 1928.602)

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Saturday, October 01, 2011

How The Relationship Between Man And Animal Changed After The Flood (Part 2) - Genesis 9:1-3 Bible Commentary


This is part two in a two part series on Genesis 9:1-3, to go to part one click here.

There had once been thousands, millions, and perhaps billions of people on the planet. However, these people reached such a level of corruption that God had decided to stop striving with them. And so, he unleashed his wrath on them in a flooding judgment.

Only Noah and his family survived the flood, and when they left the ark over a year later, God issued a familiar command:
And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. (Genesis 9:1)
This command is identical to the one God gave to Adam and Eve. However, the next words that God spoke are quite different from the words He spoke to Adam and Eve:
The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. (Genesis 9:2)
Man's relationship with animals underwent a massive change. The animals would now be filled with fear; they would be filled with the terror of man— and man, through that terror, would rule over the animals. This ruling would no longer be as harmonious and peaceful as it once was.

But what caused this change? Why were the animals filled with terror? Because God issued a change in man's diet:
Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. (Genesis 9:3)
Before the flood, man's diet consisted of plants, fruit, vegetables, nuts... but not meat. After the flood, man's diet became plants and meat. Before the flood, animals were only killed as offerings to God. After the flood, animals were killed as offerings and food.

Perhaps the most important thing to notice about Genesis 9:1-3 is this: the contrast and the clear departure from what it had been like in the garden. Genesis 9:1-3 is not light reading, and I am convinced that the more you meditate upon these three verses, the darker your picture of this present post-flood era will become. The rainbow is rightly regarded as the main symbol of Genesis 9. However, we would be wise to remember the storm clouds which often accompany the rainbow.

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