Noah’s flood is the Bible’s first example of severe judgment, which is the final judgment upon a rebellious people who simply refuse to respond to God’s corrective judgments (Gen. 6:11–13, 17). The imagery of the flood account echoes the creation account, conveying a sense that God’s heart in this judgment was to restore the goodness of His creation. Tim Mackie, founder of the Bible Project, explains:
Genesis describes the flood as the de-creation of the world—the earth sinks back into the chaotic waters that God cleared away on page one of the Bible (Genesis 1:6–10). In the ark, God carries Noah’s family through the flood unharmed to start afresh in a world returned to innocence. It is a new beginning and a chance to have a different end. … God was acting to restore the goodness of his creation. God preserves one family through the flood and elevates Noah as a new Adam, placed once again in a garden on a high mountain paradise with the commission to be fruitful and multiply.
As Noah and his family entered this restored creation, God renewed his charge to humanity by reiterating the dominion mandate—except this time it was slightly different. This time it was tailored for stewarding a world governed by death:
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. ‘Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image’” (Gen. 9:1–6 emphasis added).
For the first time, God granted humanity limited authority to take life—even human life. By conferring such authority, God also implicitly charged humanity with the responsibility to preserve human life. In order to protect life in a creation corrupted by sin, humanity would need to focus not only on the cultural disciplines needed to control animals and the environment, but also on the administrative disciplines necessary to control the types of human behavior that could lead to murder. These include behaviors like robbery, extortion, adultery, rape, slander, assault and battery, etc. Henry Morris, author of God of the Nations, concludes:
Some kind of government would be necessary, and this would imply that many new types of vocations were now called for. Not only government bureaucrats, but also policemen, judges, lawyers, legislators, and others necessary for a functioning government are implied. Some kind of military establishment is also warranted. Thus, the dominion mandate not only authorizes but anticipates every form of human activity that is honorable and useful in the service of God and man.
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1. Patton, Andy. “Why Did God Flood the World?” Bible Project, 2020. https://bibleproject.com/blog/why-did-god-flood-the-world/.
2. Morris, Henry. God and the Nations, 35. Green Forest: Master Books, 2005.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. Biblegateway.com.