In Genesis chapter 9, we read of God’s covenant with Noah and his sons, the seal of the covenant - the rainbow, a somewhat scandalous story about Noah and his sons, and then, at the close, the chapter concludes with the death of Noah.
There are so many facets of this chapter in which we could dive deeper. We could talk about the rainbow and its significance. We could even talk quite a bit about how Noah ended up drunk, passed out, and naked in his tent. However, today I am going to take the next few minutes to focus in on two somewhat obscure, often glossed over verses here in Genesis Chapter 9.
“Every moving thing that lives will be food for you….BUT you shall not eat fresh with its life, that is, its blood.” Genesis 9:3-4.
I’m sure at this point you all think I’m crazy to be focusing on these two verses but I promise you it will all make sense! So let’s dive right in!
Now, I’m sure most, if not all of us have heard the Carl Marx quote, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” But this week I came across this quote from an American journalist, Sydney J. Harris, which struck me a bit differently. He said:
“History repeats itself but in such a cunning disguise that we never detect the resemblance until the damage is done.”
Anyone else been there? You slipped up…again. You lost your temper at work…again. You let that word slip when you stubbed your toe on the sofa…again…but this time it’s worse because the kids heard you! You found yourself staring at the bottom of a bottle…again… and this time it hits harder because this “fall from grace” comes after months of sobriety.
It’s in these moments, the moments with my fallen, imperfect, prone to screw up, humanness shines through in glaring proportions that my mind immediately reverberates with the Apostle Paul when he wrote in Romans 7, verse 15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
This sentiment has run true for every single generation since the very beginning when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and were expelled from the Garden. An act that caused a ripple affect that reverberates all throughout history! A “repeating of history” if you will - over and over and over again.
We begin to see this right here in Genesis when we see the way that Genesis 1 and Genesis 9 parallel one another so perfectly.
#1 - In both passages dominion is given to man over all creation. However now where man once, in innocence, ruled by love, now fallen, rules by fear.
“The fear…and dread of you will be upon every beast…” (Genesis 9:2)
#2 - In both passages man is given abundant food choices for their nourishment, while also being given parameters, which were put in place for their individual safety and well being. In the garden they were told not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and here they are told not to eat meat “with its blood” or, in other words, that is still raw. The Lord is basically saying - Here’s your dinner, now don’t forget to cook it first! A phrase I have almost stated word for word on more than one occasion to my almost 12 year old son!
At first that almost seems like ridiculous and unnecessary advice! Why in the world would anyone NOT cook their dinner before eating it? For most of us that answer can be summed up in one word - HURRY!
In my son's case, in his desire to HURRY and get back to playing his video game he will happily eat any form of left over cold and right from the container even though stopping to heat it up would be much more enjoyable and satisfying.
I so desperately want to blame this tendency on him being a pre teen boy but then again, how many times have I been guilty of attempting to operate a new appliance without reading the instructions because I am in a HURRY to try it out? How many times has my husband attempted to assemble a piece of furniture without reading the instructions because he is in a HURRY to get the job done?
In a bit more serious of a sense - how many times have we foregone our morning time in the word and prayer because we were in a HURRY to get out the door and to the day's appointments. How many of us have ever jumped ship too quickly at our job because we were in a HURRY to receive that promotion that we didn’t feel was coming to us quickly enough. How many of us have ever ignored that prompting from the holy spirit to talk to that neighbor, or co worker, or even family member or friend because we were in a HURRY to get home, into our sweatpants and hibernate for those remaining moments of our evening.
So many moments of blessing and provision are missed in the midst of our hurry. And the Lord, knowing our tendencies from the beginning, set into motion a plan to help us learn to slow the hurry in our lives. A lesson that we see, oddly enough, here in his instruction to Noah to cook the meat before he eats it.
Now, part of this instruction is for the reason we all likely readily think - for the physical health and well-being of Noah and his family. After all, we all know that disease can live in uncooked meat; a fact known widely by us today but one that would have been a brand new revelation to Noah and his family as this is the first time we are seeing animals being used as a form of sustenance.
However, I believe there is another layer to this instruction. A layer that speaks not just to our physical well being but also our spiritual well being. That being the importance of patient endurance - or you could say, the importance of slowing the hurry!
In this seemingly almost insignificant instruction the Lord is saying “Don’t be so eager for what you desire (in Noah’s case food for him and his family) that you skip over or rush through the preparation process. Yes, it’s going to take time for you to break down the animal, to build and stoke the fire, and to cook that steak to perfection but I PROMISE you, it’s going to be worth every delicious, juicy, and tender bite in the end!
And the Lord says the same thing to us! He’s saying don’t be so eager for that next promotion that you miss out on the preparation that I desire to do in you in the waiting. Don’t be so eager to achieve those goals that you allow desire to over run my perfect timing, plan, and wisdom. Don’t be so quick to resign to your sinful nature and say, when you slip up once again, “Clearly I am just an angry person” or “I am just an addict” or “I am just a screw up”, that you miss out on the sanctification process that I am doing in you - right here, right now, in the middle of the mess ups and the messy!
So Lord, today we surrender to You our struggles. We recognize that they don’t define us, for it is in you that we find our identity and our hope. Today, we don’t set another goal, or make another resolution. Today we put aside our own dreams, desires, and ambitions - we choose to slow down, to stop the hurry. Today we choose to wait - patiently enduring until the end - allowing you to do in us a work that only you can do - taking me, a fallen and broken person, and making me whole and new one day, one moment, one moment of prayerful surrender at a time. Knowing with confidence that you have something amazing in store for my future. A future that you are refining in me in the present!