(Rainbow, Badlands National Park)
In the fifth chapter, Kuyper addresses the “blessings” of the Noahic covenant. He notes that the “covenant” comes to use a promise from God. The covenant is similar to an ordinance, but it binds God:
Genesis 9:8–17 (ESV)
8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him,
9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”
17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
God establishes and performs the covenant. It concerns what God will do: there is no obligation within the scope of the covenant per se which places a burden upon humanity.
But the narrow text of the covenant does not exhaust the words of God. Immediately prior to the enactment of the covenant, God pronounces a blessing upon humanity. Verse one explicitly states that God “blessed”. Verse 7 repeats the content of verse 1 without the express word “blessing”.
Genesis 9:1–7 (ESV)
And 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. 4 But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5 And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.
6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.
7 And you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it.”
This blessing contains instruction which helps establish a means of protecting humanity from nature from other humans. First there is a change of relationship with the animals. Humanity is given a “moral supremacy” over the animals which includes the animal’s fear of man, and man’s right to eat animals (excepting their blood). Second, the instruction includes the basic element of human government: the power of capital punishment for murder – which is an element of governmental power explicitly recounted by Paul in Romans 13.
And this provision has created a state of affairs which remains until this day.