Today’s Bible readings are from Genesis 9-10, Matthew 9, Ezra 9 and Acts 9.
Genesis 9-10 are about Noah’s sons and the “table of nations.” After the flood, Noah and his sons were blessed by God, told they could now eat meat (and I assume until then everyone, including animals, were vegetarians), and that they were to hold the blood precious. They should neither drink the blood of animals or shed the blood of man.
Verse 6 is where we get the idea for capital punishment…
“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image (Genesis 9:6)
God promises that He will never again bring a global flood upon the earth, testified to by the rainbow (Genesis 9:8-17).
An introduction to the nations is given in vv. 18-19
18 The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed.
and then the sin of Ham occurs (Genesis 9:20-29). Noah gets drunk, Ham sees his nakedness and told his brothers. They cover his nakedness without looking. Ham is cursed and Shem and Japheth are blessed. Then Noah dies.
Genesis 10 records the descendants of Japheth, Ham and Shem. Here is a genealogical table (genealogical table of the descendants of noah, lambert dolphin) and here is a map.
This map is from Martin Luther.
Here is another map from Bible History Online…
Significant to Genesis 11 and the tower of Babel is this description of one of the sons of Ham…
8 Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD. Therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD.” 10 The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.
Matthew 9 is a collection of miracles performed by Jesus, which often raised the ire of the Pharisees and they frequently challenged him. Does he have the authority to forgive sins? (9:1-8) Why do you associate with sinners? (9:9-13) Then a question from his own disciples (9:14-17), followed by three healing miracles (9:18-31) and casting out a demon (9:32-33), at which the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons” (9:34).
This chapter ends by noting Jesus’ compassion and His desire for His disciples to take notice of the potential harvest of souls…
36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
In Ezra 9 Ezra is confronted with the situation of Israelites intermarrying with Canaanites. The issue is not inter-racial marriage, but the reality that marrying Canaanites had historically proven to be deadly to one’s spiritual life and devotion to the one true God.
Ezra prays a prayer of confession, noting Israel’s guilt and God’s grace throughout their history, and even now. I love what he says in verse 13, that You “have punished us less than our iniquities deserved…” In the face of such mercy, dare we break Your commandments again???
Acts 9 recounts the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. Since chapters 1-12 are basically the story of Peter, this scene with Paul is merely an interlude. Peter’s story is resumed in 9:32-43, preparing us for chapters 10-11 and the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles.
The gospel to Saul was simply,
4b “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
Apparently Saul already knew enough about Jesus to put 2 and 2 together, for as soon as he regained his sight, he argued that Jesus was the Son of God everywhere he went!