Into Your Hands
“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” (v. 2, Genesis 9:1–4).
While God first announced His covenant of grace in Genesis 3:15, the first major advancement of it occurs in Noah’s lifetime. The Lord could have eliminated all men, but He preserves Noah in order to remain true to His promise to provide a seed to defeat Satan (3:15). God, as it were, starts over with Noah and establishes a natural order in which His purposes for man can be achieved.
Such grace is evident in 8:22 where our Creator promises the cycle of seedtime aannd harvest, day and night, and summer and winter will not cease. We take this for granted so much that we forget how wonderful life’s regularity is. Consider what would happen if we could not predict seedtime and harvest. Food could not be grown and man would die. We could not plan for the future or mark off periods of rest if there was no interval of day and night to measure the passage of time. In His benevolence, God gave nature a constant structure so that we can exercise dominion over the earth (1:28).
As today’s passage teaches, the stipulation to subdue the earth given to our first parents remains in force. The Noahic covenant is by grace, but it does not abolish our responsibility to obey the creation mandate. Instead, as in all covenants, God’s mercy confirms the necessity of obedience. Sin impacts our ability to honor the Lord perfectly, but man is still obligated to make creation serve God’s glory. All people now living are sons of Noah and will be judged according to this mandate regardless of their faith. And since apart from Christ man fails to glorify the Father (1 John 2:23), all non-believers stand condemned.
Though we look to Jesus alone for salvation, we who have faith will be rewarded based on how we manage the Lord’s earth (Matt. 25:14–30). Christians who spend wastefully, do not work productively, or cause large-scale ecological damage can expect a smaller reward than those who are wiser stewards of their resources. Moreover, while the cycle of seasons will not end, reckless stewardship can affect the duration and intensity of such things, creating additional duress. God will preserve the overall natural order until the consummation, but He is free to use it to chasten sinners (Ex. 10:21–23).
Genesis 9:1–7, is one of the most important texts we have on stewardship in Scripture. Our Lord has given the resources of the earth into our hands for our benefit and His glory (vv. 2, 7). Yet we do not own the earth; God does (Ps. 50:10–11), and we must take care of His creation. Thus, believers should be the most concerned to preserve a healthy environment. How we care for creation reveals what we think about its Creator.
Passages for Further Study
Gen. 30:25–43; Lev. 25:1–7; Deut. 22:1–4; Luke 19:11–27