Should Christians be Vegetarians? Is the Death Penalty a Just Practice Today? Gen. 9:1-17

Posted on February 21, 2009. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Redeemer Church Sunday School: Genesis Class

Sunday, February 22, 2009

God’s Pro-Life Statement cont.

Crucial Questions: Should Christians Be Vegetarian?-and-

Is the Death Penalty a Just Practice Today?

Genesis 9:1-17


Read Genesis 9:1-17


Introduction: Last week we looked at this passage and saw that God is making a very strong Pro-Life statement here- Be Fruitful and Multiply. We sought to apply this teaching to our day by looking at how anti-life the Pro-choice, or, Pro-death, crowd is, and how we can not just proclaim a pro-life message but live a pro-life message. This text goes into specifics in two areas that are related to this strongly pro-life message. Moses writes about man’s relationship to the animals and he writes about homicide and its punishment. In both cases the Word of God goes counter to modern day liberal thought that is dominating our culture. This morning then, we will attempt to examine two crucial questions: (1) Should Christians be Vegetarian? And (2) Is the Death Penalty a Just Practice Today?


I.                   The Literary Structure of the Text

A.     Moses relates this Noahic Covenant to the Creation Account in Gen. 1-4

9:1 Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth

                                    Relates to:

1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth


9:2 The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast…every bird…everything that creeps on the ground…and all the fish of the sea.

                                    Relates to:

1:28 and subdue it and have dominion over the fish…birds…and every living thing that moves on the earth.


9:3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

                                    Relates to:

1:29 Behold I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit, You shall have them for food. 2:16 You may surely eat of every tree of the garden


9:4 But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood

                                    Relates to:

2:17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat


9:5-6 From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed

                                    Relates to:

2:17 for in the day you eat of it you shall surely die. –And- all of ch.4.


9:6 for God made man in his own image

                                    Relates to:

1:27 So God created man in his own image-and-5:1 When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.


Furthermore, within verse 6 you have one of Moses’ favorite chiastic structures:








II.                What is the text saying?

A.     Fear and Dread

1.      Victor Hamilton, in the NICOT The Book of Genesis Chapters 1-17, basically says that the relationship between man and the animals changes with the Flood and that man and the animals prior to the Flood were not carnivorous. Prior to the Flood man did not exploit the animals. “Human exploitation of animal life is here set within the context of a post Flood, deteriorated situation. It is radically different from the ideal of Genesis 1.” (p.313).


But this seems to mean that he thinks that the nature of animals and the eating habits of man and the animals did not change until the Flood. Yet in ch.3 of Genesis God kills a couple of animals to make skin clothes for Adam and Eve. Presumably they learned from that and also killed animals for skin. In ch.4 Abel was a shepherd and sacrificed from his flock to the LORD. Is it reasonable to assume that men would kill animals for their skins and to make sacrifices yet not eat them? Is it reasonable to assume that after the Fall of Man, and all nature began to groan (Rom.8:22) that the animals all remained herbivores?


If Hamilton means to draw the comparison strictly with ch.1-2 of Genesis, comparing the situation Noah faces with the situation Adam faced in the Garden Pre-Fall, then I can understand it. Especially if you consider that Noah witnessed a miraculous transformation of the nature of the animals as God brought them all to the Ark. For that journey the lions and gazelle were at peace.


Kenneth Mathews, NAC, Genesis 1-11:26, B&H, 1996, writes, “It is saying too much of the narrative to suppose that before the Noahic covenant there were no carnivorous animals. Rather, the LORD is formally announcing that this new enmity against humans cannot win out because the animal order is given into your hands.”


This phrasing also points forward to the future:

 Ex.23:31 And I will set your border from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates, for I will give the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you.

Num.22:3 And Moab was in great dread of the people, because they were many. Moab was overcome with fear of the people of Israel.

Deut. 2:25 This day I will begin to put the dread and fear of you on the peoples who are under the whole heaven, who shall hear the report of you and shall tremble and be in anguish because of you.’

Deut. 11:25 No one shall be able to stand against you. The Lord your God will lay the fear of you and the dread of you on all the land that you shall tread, as he promised you.

Deut. 20:3 and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them,


B.     Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.

1.      John H. Walton, NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 2001, says that domesticated animals were eaten for food after the Fall, but now, after the Flood, God is approving the hunting of wild animals for food (p.343).

2.      Is this passage talking about eating unclean animals? It is pretty all inclusive sounding, but…the word used for “everything that creeps on the ground” is remes and can be translated as wild herd animals, which are usually clean animals that chew the cud and have cloven hooves. Plus, the language of clean and unclean animals has already been used in 7:2 and 8:20, so Moses may be showing that the division between clean and unclean animals goes all the way back to Noah.

C.     Should Christians be Vegetarian?

1.      We can be pretty certain that Adam and Eve, while in the Garden of Eden, were vegetarian. However, it is clear in Gen. 9 that the LORD has given us the animals for food and it likely goes all the way back to immediately after the Fall in Gen.3. What God allows, we should not prohibit. There is no command in Scripture to eat meat, nor is there a prohibition against being a vegan, therefore, a vegetarian diet is permissible. Rom.14:1-23 is appropriate:

      14:1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master  that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess
  to God.”

12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.  22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. 

                          And in 1Cor. 10:23-33 also speaks to the issue:

23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.



D.    You shall not eat flesh with its…blood

1.      We are not to eat the flesh of animals with its blood still pumping through its veins like the carnivorous animals do. This separates us, marks us as above the animals and being created in the image of God. To refrain from that action shows a respect for life according to God. See Lev.3:17; 7:26f; 17:10-14; Deut.12:15f, 20-24; Acts 15:29.

2.      This sounds so primitive to us, where is the point of application and relevance to us today? This prohibition paved the way for the sacrificial system that Moses would establish and ultimately points us to the shed blood of Christ who died for our sins, whose blood was an atoning sacrifice that turned the wrath of God away from us. Heb.9:22 “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins”. Because most of us today are not hunters or farmers/ranchers we lose an understanding about the shedding of blood. We buy our meat at the grocery store or already cooked at a restaurant and do not appreciate the value of blood. This has affected our theology in a very subtle way. Our sanitized society has had the same effect as what God has prohibited in Noah’s day, we have lost the value of life and the blood and take Christ’s sacrifice lightly.


E.     “for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast…”

1.      Briefly, this verse points us forward to the Mosaic law that prescribes death for an animal that kills a human. Ex.21:28f.


III.             Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed

A.     Is this passage talking of murder only?

1.      Since it requires the execution of the one who sheds human blood it necessarily speaks only of the one who unjustly sheds blood. The execution of the murderer is a just shedding of blood. Likewise, the warrior who kills in war is not held guilty of murder. The Law of Moses makes allowance for the accidental killing of someone with the cities of refuge. But there was no mercy for those who lie in wait and kill.

                B.  Does this passage require the death penalty?

1.       Notice that this is a universal law applying to all men throughout the world for all time since this is given in the Noahic covenant. R. Kent Hughes in the Preaching the Word series, Genesis, 2004, writes, “to argue against the death penalty on humane grounds is to argue against God’s Word. It exists precisely because of God’s humane concern. To ignore it is to despise life. This was, and is, God’s word to a violent world. This was meant and is meant to protect human life. To ignore God’s teaching is to descend ever more into a society of violence.” (p.146).

2.      This passage does require the death penalty for murderers and links it directly to man being created in the image of God. Ex.20:13; 21:12-14; Lev.24:17; Num.35:30-34. And in the NT Matt.5:21-24; Mark 12:28-33.

A.     Capital Punishment Statistics


2.      In 2008, 37 inmates were executed, 5 fewer than in 2007.

II.                In 2008, 37 persons in nine states were executed — 18 in Texas; 4 in Virginia; 3 each in Georgia and South Carolina; 2 each in Florida, Mississippi, Ohio, and Oklahoma, and 1 in Kentucky.

III.               Of persons executed in 2008:
— 20 were white
— 17 were black

IV.               All 37 inmates executed in 2008 were men.

V.                  Lethal injection was used in 36 executions in 2008; 1 execution was by electrocution.

VI.               Thirty-seven states and the federal government had capital statutes at yearend 2007.

The number of prisoners under sentence of death decreased for the seventh consecutive year in 2007.

Prisoners on death row, 1953-2007


  • At yearend 2007, 35 states and the federal prison system held 3,220 prisoners under sentence of death, 13 fewer than at yearend 2006.

Since the death penalty was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1976, white inmates have made up more than half of the number under sentence of death.

Prisoners on death row by race, 1968-2007


  • Of persons under sentence of death in 2007:
       — 1,804 were white
       — 1,345 were black
       — 26 were American Indian
       — 35 were Asian
       — 10 were of unknown race.
  • Fifty-six women were under a sentence of death at yearend 2007.
  • The 362 Hispanic inmates under sentence of death at yearend 2007 accounted for 13% of inmates with a known ethnicity.
  • Among inmates under sentence of death and with available criminal histories at yearend 2007:
    — nearly 2 in 3 had a prior felony conviction
    — 1 in 12 had a prior homicide conviction.
  • Among persons for whom arrest information was available, the average age at time of arrest was 29; nearly 1 in 9 inmates were age 19 or younger at the time of arrest.
  • At yearend 2007, the youngest inmate under sentence of death was 19; the oldest was 92.

Pa. boy, 11, charged with killing pregnant woman


The Associated Press

WAMPUM, Pa. – An 11-year-old boy has been charged in the shotgun death of his father’s pregnant girlfriend, who was found slain in a bedroom of her western Pennsylvania farmhouse, authorities said Saturday.

Jordan Brown was charged as an adult in the shooting death of Kenzie Marie Houk, who was 8 months pregnant, Lawrence County District Attorney John Bongivengo said at a news conference.

Brown, the son of Houk’s live-in boyfriend, was charged with criminal homicide and criminal homicide of an unborn child, Bongivengo said.

Police said Houk’s 4-year-old daughter found her mother’s body Friday morning in a bedroom of their home in a wooded area in the community of Wampum. Houk’s other daughter, who is 7 years old, later told police that Brown killed her mother, Bongivengo said.

Police said the boy had been arraigned in district court and placed in the county jail.

The home, located at the end of a half-mile-long driveway along a road scattered with abandoned and burned-out trailers, was cordoned off with yellow police tape and a Pennsylvania State Police vehicle was parked out front early Saturday afternoon. Next to the house was farm equipment and a barn filled with hay.

A neighbor, Cameron Tucker, said Houk was engaged and had been renting the house for no more than a year. Tucker said he had never met Houk’s fiance, but that both of them had children.

“She was very protective of her kids,” he said, adding that she seemed very excited about her pregnancy.

Tucker’s wife sometimes drove Houk’s daughter to the bus stop because she went to preschool with the Tuckers’ 5-year-old.

WPXI-TV identified the dead woman’s father as Jack Houk. There was no immediate response Saturday to a call by The Associated Press seeking comment from a Jack Houk of New Castle, a town next to Wampum.

A preliminary hearing is set for Thursday.

The rural community is about 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

Although slightly less true now than before, most murders are intraracial

From 1976 to 2005 —

  • 86% of white victims were killed by whites
  • 94% of black victims were killed by blacks

While African Americans comprise 12% of the U.S. population, 45% of all murder victims in 2002 were African American, 91% of whom were killed by African Americans. Nationally, homicide is the leading cause of death for black men and second leading cause of death for black women ages 15-24. There have been over 250 homicides reported over the last 5-6 years in Pulaski County. United States spends an average of over $4.5 billion on emergency and physical/occupational therapy associated with crime-related injuries/deaths.


A.     Common Objection- But Jesus would never execute somebody!

1.      Jesus did stop the stoning of the adulterous woman in John 8 and stoning was called for in the Law. However, Jesus will ultimately exercise extreme coercion in his second coming and will judge the nations. Sinners will be cast into the Lake of Fire, the second death. If this is not execution I don’t know what it.

2.      We understand the OT Joshua to be a type of Christ and he did command Joshua to kill everyone in Jericho, etc.

B.     Liberal Confusion Today

1.      Confused Liberals today want to spare the animals, rehabilitate murderers, and kill innocent, unwanted babies. The world has the exact opposite values that we see in Scripture.

2.      Some of those in Dominion Theology who want to restore the OT Law as the Law of the Land today would have us execute adulterers and homosexuals perhaps as per Lev.20:10ff.

3.      Granted that there have been a lot of people executed who were innocent as has been proven by the high number of death row cases being overturned by DNA evidence. Our system has been flawed but remains the best system on earth and it is getting better thanks to improvements in forensic science and diminishing racism.

C.     Does this passage set up human government?

1.      Yes, in order for there to be just executions of murderers there must be some kind of an orderly government involved. Even a tribal society has a government of some sort.

2.      Paul in Rom 13 acknowledges the role of government in exercising the sword.

D.    Application

1.      To be consistently Pro-life we must also support the death penalty and treat animals with respect.

2.      Can a Christian today be a Law Enforcement Officer? Soldier? Possess a CHL and weapons?

3.      Can a Christian be a hunter? Wear a fur coat?

4.      How do we respond to those who, like PETA, oppose eating meat, wearing furs, or even having pets compete in shows?





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