And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
1. The first is the new condition of the earth itself, which immediately appears in the freedom allowed and practised in regard to the external worship of God. This was no longer confined to any single region, as seems to have been the case in the age subsequent to the Fall. The cherubim were located in a particular spot, on the east of the garden of Eden; and as the symbols of God's presence were there, it was only natural that the celebration of Divine worship should there also have found its common centre. But with the Flood the reason for any such restriction vanished. Noah, therefore, reared his altar, and presented his sacrifice to the Lord where the ark rested. There immediately he got the blessing, and entered into covenant with God — proving that, in a sense, old things had passed away, and all had become new. But this again indicated that, in the estimation of Heaven, the earth had now assumed a new position; that by the action of God's judgment upon it, it had become hallowed in His sight, and was in a condition to receive tokens of the Divine favour, which had formerly been withheld from it.
2. The second point to be noticed here is the heirship given of this new world to Noah and his seed — given to them expressly as the children of faith. A change, however, appears in the relative position of things, when the flood had swept with its purifying waters over the earth. Here, then, the righteousness of faith received direct from the grace of God the dowry that had been originally bestowed upon the righteousness of nature — not a blessing merely, but a blessing coupled with the heirship and dominion of the world. There was nothing strange or arbitrary in such a proceeding; it was in perfect accordance with the great principles of the Divine administration. Adam was too closely connected with the sin that destroyed the world, to be reinvested, even when he had through faith become a partaker of grace, with the restored heirship of the world. Nor had the world itself passed through such an ordeal of purification, as to fit it, in the personal lifetime of Adam, or of his more immediate offspring, for being at all represented in the light of an inheritance of blessing.
3. The remaining point to be noticed in respect to this new order of things is the pledge of continuance, notwithstanding all appearances or threatenings to the contrary, given in the covenant made with Noah, and confirmed by a fixed sign in the heavens. There can be no doubt that the natural impression produced by this passage in respect to the sign of the covenant is, that it nowfor the first time appeared in the lower heavens. The Lord might, no doubt, then, or at any future time, have taken an existing phenomenon in nature, and by a special appointment made it the instrument of conveying some new and higher meaning to the subjects of His revelation. But in a matter like the present, when the specific object contemplated was to allay men's fears of the possible recurrence of the deluge, and give them a kind of visible pledge in nature for the permanence of her existing order and constitution, one cannot perceive how a natural phenomenon, common alike to the antediluvian and the postdiluvian world, could have fitly served the purpose. In that case, so far as the external sign was concerned, matters stood precisely where they were; and it was not properly the sign, but the covenant itself, which formed the guarantee of safety for the future. We incline, therefore, to the opinion that, in the announcement here made, intimation is given of a change in the physical relations or temperature of at least that portion of the earth where the original inhabitants had their abode; by reason of which the descent of moisture in showers of rain came to take the place of distillation by dew, or other modes of operation different from the present. The supposition is favoured by the mention only of dew before in connection with the moistening of the ground (Genesis 2:6); and when rain does come to be mentioned, it is rain in such flowing torrents as seems rather to betoken the outpouring of a continuous stream, than the gentle dropping which we are wont to understand by the term, and to associate with the rainbow.
(P. Fairbairn, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.