The Sanctity of Human Life
So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man. And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth and multiply in it.” (Genesis 9:1-7)
How can Noah’s life possibly be described, after the flood and its destruction had ended? Every human being they had ever known was now dead. Many of the kinds of animals they had cared for on the Ark were now food for them. Much had changed for these eight souls … souls God had called to begin repopulating the earth.
Now their diet would include meat, but they were not to eat the blood with that meat. Because the blood is the life of the flesh, it was not to be eaten. This prohibition not only set the stage for laws given later to Israel, it also helped to attach future value to the blood of Christ. His life (blood) was shed that ours would not have to be.
After the flood, the sanctity of human life was permanently established. Human life is sacred; sacred above all other life. Human life is so valuable that if one human kills another the murderer forfeits his/her own life. Compare this penalty with an alternative: suppose the penalty for murder was a $500 fine. What that would tell us is that human life is worth about $500.00. But if the penalty for murder equals capital punishment, the value of human life is very great.
In our present day, due to our culture’s rejection of God, we have cheapened human life. At conception, there is no legal protection afforded the developing fetus. Near the end of life, there is decreasing protection for those living out their later years. Because human life has been devalued, murders are increasingly common.
The demand of God for a reckoning in capital offenses has not been rescinded by Him (cf. Romans 13:1-4). Would to God that we protected and valued human life from conception to the grave, as God intended we would.
For Further Review
1. Think about the statement “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11). What do you think this means? How does this statement connect with the sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary?
2. Where do you stand with regard to the sanctity of human life … from conception to the grave? Is this important to God? Why or why not?
3. List at least two things that you as a believer can do to protect the sanctity of human life.