And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth… 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. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein. (Genesis 9:1-9)
Noah stepped out of the Ark with His family, into an entirely new world. The Cataclysm had radically transformed earth’s geography in ways that are still manifestly obvious to anyone . Even the atmosphere was altered; new weather, seasonal changes, fluctuating temperatures, violent storms and direct exposure to sunlight created an entirely new environment for the 8 survivors of the flood.
The Lord also ordained new ordinances governing the natural order, and man’s relationship to animal life. Now there would be distinct seasons till the end of the world. Fear of man, would be instilled into the hearts of the wild animals, as a protection to man. Men were now permitted to use animals for food also, but the sanctity of life as a principle would be upheld, for eating or drinking blood was forbidden.
An altar was the first structure erected on the new earth, and a special kind of animal sacrifice was the first act of the first family of the new world. The word used for the offering is different from the one used previously. Abel offered a minchah, that is a ”gift” to God from the altar.
But the word for the sacrifice Noah offered is Olah, that is, “ascending”. The whole burnt offering of clean animals as a substitute, ascended unto God, with the prayers and worship of the pious, for God is above, and prayer is ever the upward look and the baring of the soul to Him who dwells on High.
The text notes that the Lord reponded to this “sweet smelling savor” and from thence decreed the whole new order, natural and human, that the world might be preserved. All of the ordained sacrifices ultimately point to the one sufficient and saving sacrifice, that of the God appointed Lamb, slain from the beginning, for the sins of all men.
Out of the primacy of worship, and salvation by substitution, did the original civil order for mankind arise. The only legitimate order which consists of the priorities of God first, man second.
The Divine decree commandng capital punishment of murderers , “He who sheds mans blood, by man shall his blood be shed”, contains the seed germ of all true human civil order. It implies the idea of delegated governmental authority. It implies human courts, judges, agreed upon legal sanctions, investigation into crimes, and eventually becomes embodied in the legitimate State.
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.(Romans 13:1-4)
Government has a legitimate God assigned function, which is the restraint of evil. There had not up to this time ever been a human government. Man was given the chance to see what would happen should there be no human restraints, nor time restraints on human nature, in the centuries leading to the flood. From this time forth, in mercy God appointed human government, and has given it a sword to restrain evil.
The basis for the imposition of the death penalty for murderers is contained in a simple decree of God, with implications that could fill encyclopedias. “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. ..”
As Sauer put it, in “The Dawn of World Redemption”, ”But since the death penalty upon the murderer is based upon the likeness to God of the murdered (Genesis 9:6) this indicates that the excercise of justice must be practiced upon the principle of acknowledgement of man in the Image of God, and by consequence of the mental and spiritual nobility of man.Therefore must the authority must depend not upon brute force,but on the aknowledgment of the Divinely granted natural rigt in human society…”(Erich Sauer, Dawn of World Redemption, Baker)
What happens to society when the idea of man made in the Image of God, is repudiated, forgotten, or lost? We are beginning to see, and the picture isn’t pretty, oppression, injustice, abortion, two tiered justice, arbritrary and changing standards of justice.
What happens when a society believes itself too compassionate for the death penalty? When they think they can improve upon God in the area of compassion? We are living the nightmare, as life is cheapened, murderers are let off after a few years, and the street s of our cities become nightmare war zones such as Detroit or Chicago.
Ironically, often the same people who think capital punishment for murderers, kidnappers and rapists, is too barbaric, have no problem with the practice of abortion. Thus they impose a death penalty upon the most innocent, and mercy on the blood guilty. True is the Proverb which declares “…the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel…”.