Genesis 9:1-4

1And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. 2 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. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. 4But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.

God establishes His covenant with Noah. It is remarkable both for its similarities with the covenant He made with Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28, and its differences. “Be fruitful and multiply” is repeated from Genesis 1. Dominion over the beasts is repeated but the word “dominion” is replaced with “fear” (Verse 2). And carnivorousness is now introduced as sanctioned by God. This is the result of the fall.

There is something cataclysmic that happened as a result of the fall. It is an event whose consequences are more far reaching than anyone truly knows. The very presence of sin in the world makes meat eating legitimate. Now that death has entered the world, killing animals for food is approved by the LORD. The prohibition against eating blood is maintained and this must be related to the work of Christ. “The life is in the blood” is not just a biological statement. It is a statement that we need blood shed to save us from our sins and their consequences.

Dominion over the earth is not, as some maintain, a license to kill and destroy whole species. It is a reminder that God has placed the world in the hands of humanity as stewards to care for. God has not given a mandate to any other set of creatures to rule over the world as His representatives. Mankind, and nothing else, is created in the image of God with a Godlike mandate to rule and care for.

The growing belief that we are no different from other species with no more right to life than they have is a denial of the truth that we are God’s pinnacle of creation, created in the image of God. Every human being is intrinsically more valuable than any non human creature. Dominion over the earth, however, is not carte blanche to do whatever we please to the other creatures God has made. The fact that the world is in the environmental mess it is in, with whole species gone or threatened, is testimony to our sinfulness.

Today, remember that everyone you bump into is made in the image of God, no matter how badly marred that image is. And treat them with respect.

And treat the small portion of God’s planet that he has put you on with the knowledge that you have the responsibility to care for it in the way that God would if He hadn’t given the mandate to us. Cruelty to animals is a sin that denies God’s rule over us.