Bite Into A Chiastic Sandwich (Genesis 8:15-9:7)

In my last post, Chiastic Structures, I shared my discovery of Chiasms in the Bible.

A quick review of a chiasm: Repetition of similar ideas in the reverse sequence, put together much like a sandwich with the meat (main idea) in the middle.

2ec030e9692958b3b3fd8d0ff77da859The Chiastic Sandwich of Genesis 8:15-9:7

You may view this chiasm in a Word document here: Chiastic Structure of Gen. 8:15-9:7.

Okay, I’m reverting back to the American linear approach with the main idea first (meat of the sandwich); the bread second, and the condiments last.

The Meat/Main Idea:

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God keeps His promises (Nehemiah 1:5).

God smelled the soothing aroma of Noah’s sacrifice and declared three promises (8:21-22). In response to Noah’s obedience and grateful sacrifice, God speaks openly to Noah (9:1-17), which includes the great Noahic covenant for post-flood mankind.

Covenant—a binding promise—is a common theme throughout Scripture, initiated by God with His people. The first covenant mentioned in the Bible is found in Gen. 6:17-18.

What are the three promises God declares?

  1. “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.”
  2. “Never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.”
  3. “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

The Bread/First and Last Points

(1a, 2a) “Be fruitful and multiply” (8:15-19; 9:7).

God renews the mandate given to Adam with Noah: Repopulate the earth (Gen. 1:26-28). In this sense, we are all related.

The Mayo & Mustard/Second and Second to Last Points

  • (1b) Noah blessed God by offering the lifeblood of an animal sacrifice (8:20).
  • (2b) God blessed Noah; instructions of lifeblood concerning animals and men (9:1-6).

God instructs Noah on setting up a government system, emphasizing justice and the regard of the sacredness of God’s divine image stamped on man. Because we are made in God’s image, He considers man’s blood—representing life—even more sacred than animals.

God also gives Noah the okay to eat animals for food with the restriction of draining the animal’s blood first (9:4-5).

What is so significant about lifeblood?

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17:11).

The Old Testament sacrifices were temporary and figurative, pointing towards God’s ultimate sacrifice of His beloved Son: Jesus Christ, the Lamb who “now once in the end of the world hath appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself,” (Heb. 9:26).

Homework

Yes, I know. School’s out for the summer. Yes, I know. Most of you believe you’re no longer in school. But we’re all in this school of life together. And besides, this homework is fun!

Your assignment:

  1. Make a sandwich. So you’ve already eaten lunch or dinner, how about a dessert sandwich like S’mores?
  2. In the process, recall the themes in this chiastic structure (Genesis 8:15-9:7): the bread (first and last points), the condiments (the second and second to last points), and the meat (central point).
  3. Eat and enjoy your real sandwich (or S’more).
  4. Digest . . . . How are you going to apply these truths to your life this week?
  5. Have a terrific week! 🙂

Chiastic Structures (Genesis 8:15-9:17)

The Bible is more than just great stories with wonderful prose and poetry – it is personal instructions from our loving God who sometimes speaks in unexpected ways.” – Thomas B. Clarke
(Author of Joshua’s Spiritual Warfare: Understanding the Chiasms of Joshua)

I’ll be honest. This section in Genesis has thrown me for a loop.

It’s not the comprehension, but the structure of this passage that feels scattered to me: similar themes repeated, but in random order, kind of like a math pattern. (Math has always been a challenge for me.)

How Lord, I asked, can I organize this section without messing up the order. . . . Is there an order?

And then my husband told me about the chiastic structure of Matthew that our pastor taught one Sunday when I was gone. After looking up chiastic structure, I realized, there is an order to this passage! But it’s nonlinear, not in the kind of sequence I’m used to. And, I learned, the Bible is full of chiastic structures.

What is a Chiasm?

A quick definition: A chiasm is a repetition of similar ideas in the reverse sequence.

Chiastic structure is a literary structure used in the Torah, the Bible, and some other works. Concepts or ideas are placed in a pattern for special emphasis, such as ABC….CBA, with the main point in the middle, (much like a sandwich). This structure often places the same concept at the first and at the last, the second concept also appears second to last, etc.

Chiasm Structure in Gen. 6:10-9:19 (Source: michaeljloomis.wordpress.com)

Chiasm Structure in Gen. 6:10-9:19
(Source: michaeljloomis.wordpress.com)

So now you’ve been forewarned. This post strays from my usual linear approach. But I thought this was a neat discovery, another proof of the power and beauty of God’s inspired Word.

You may open the following Word Documents to see more chiasms in this Genesis section: 

Chiastic Structure of Gen. 8:15-9:7

Chiastic Structure of Gen. 9:8-17

For more on chiasms in the Bible see: What is a Chiasm?

Next week I’ll pick apart these chiasm sandwiches. 🙂 Have a great Fourth of July weekend!