As it was in the Days of Noah
In commenting on the end times Jesus specifically mentions Noah and the Flood as an example of the conditions there will be at the end of the age:
For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (Matt. 24:37-39)
Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. (Luke 17:27).
While Jesus’ main emphasis seems to be on the unconcerned and self-serving lifestyle of the antediluvians, it is interesting to note that their excessive desire for food and drink also appears to be chastised. Paul denounces something similar in Philippians 3:19: ‘Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things’. When read in light of God’s denunciation of violence as being the core sin behind the Flood, and the concession to eat meat after it, it is not entirely impossible to believe that the antediluvians’ violent and self-serving food choices were one of the reasons for their condemnation. Likewise, Jesus’ mention of marriage seems to fit perfectly God’s condemnation of the mixing of the sons of God and the daughters of men which we analysed earlier. It appears that sex and food may have become such idols for the pre-Flood generation that they were willing to break God’s laws in order to reach them; this may have meant, on the one hand, violating God’s original food law, which was still in place, and on the other intermarrying with the evil and unbelieving women of the line of Cain. Paul in his last letter also alluded to the conditions which will characterise the last days and therefore — according to Jesus — resembled to a certain degree the generation before the Flood:
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power (2 Tim. 3:1-5, ESV).
We are told how these people, like the antediluvians of old, are ‘brutal’ or fierce, ἀνήμερος anemeros, perhaps in reference to their violent nature, and how they put pleasure above God. Paul, likewise, spoke about how he had been freed from his former ‘violent’ way of life which had been in opposition to God: ‘Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief’ (1 Tim. 1:13, NIV).
In this essay I attempted to analyse the Flood narrative and in particular the concession to eat meat given in Genesis 9 within its greater context. I sought to show how the permission for meat-eating in Genesis 9 is given as a reluctant concession after the Flood and only after God’s underlining of the deep sinfulness of the human heart. I also sought to show how the violence in Genesis 6 which led to the judgment of the world is linked to God’s later attempt to limit and regulate violence. It is not casual that immediately after the Flood God proceeds to regulate both murder and meat-eating, which reflect two of the different forms of violence that had infected the antediluvian world. God is forced to lower his standards if he desires to continue to dwell with his creation and not terminate it permanently; the outcome is what Bauckham defines a ‘holding operation’ which takes into account the particularly low level humanity had sunken to before the Flood. It is only because of God’s grace and mercy that creation is allowed to continue. Furthermore, I sought to show how meat-eating within later biblical texts, and within Israel, must be interpreted through the Flood story and the rationale behind God’s initial concession. It is the hermeneutical key to understanding how God’s original food law was, at least temporarily, abandoned.
While a superficial reading of the text creates profound contradictions in the character of God, a more in-depth analysis helps to shed light on its meaning. In conclusion, far from being a proof-text for violence against animals, Genesis chapters 6-9 highlight the amazing depths of God’s love, grace, and patience in the face of human violence, rebellion, and hardheartedness; a love which would be fully brought to the light only hundreds of years later, in the event of the cross.
Diagram of Genesis 6-9
A Corrupt Earth
‘The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth’
‘The earth was filled with violence’.
Judgment of the Earth
‘For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth’.
Recognition of the Continued Evil in the Human Heart
‘even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood’.
Regulation/Limitation of Violence
Violence Against Humans
‘Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans shall their blood be shed’.
Violence Against Animals
Gen. 9:3-4 ‘Just as I gave you the
green plants, I now give you everything.
But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood’.
Noahic Covenant of Grace
‘This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth’.
Thank you for reading our work and following our blog; we appreciate you very much! We hope you are blessed by this article and will share it with others. Please stay tuned for next weeks publication of Part Four of Noah, Meat Eating, And The Flood –Genesis 9 within the Greater Bible Story. Many Blessings ~ Marcello
For those who would like to read the entire article: Noah, Meat-Eating, And The Flood.
 Delitszche and Keil also underline the violation of God’s original food law: “Delitszche and Keil OT Commentary,” Genesis 9:3.
“D. Cohen, ed., Rabbi Abraham Kook: A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace.” Accessed 17 October, 2018. https://www.jewishveg.org/AVisionofVegetarianismandPeace.pdf.
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Myjewishlearning.com. “The Noahide Laws.” Accessed 25 October, 2018. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-noahide-laws/.
Wright, Nicholas T. Evil and the Justice of God. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2006.