To some, Genesis 9:5-6 seems unduly harsh (and most certainly politically incorrect). Yet, the deeper meaning of this text could warm the coldest heart.
The context: Noah and his family had just exited the boat after the world-wide flood. God gave Noah permission to add to his culinary repertoire. Adding to his vegetarian diet, he could now have meat and thus the animals around him would, from that point on, have one eye on what they were doing and one eye on Noah. But, while mankind was allowed to take the life of an animal for food, taking the life of another human was an act of murder that bore a serious consequence.
In Genesis 9:5-6, the New Living Translation quotes God as saying: “And I will require the blood of anyone who takes another person’s life. If a wild animal kills a person, it must die. And anyone who murders a fellow human must die. If anyone takes a human life, that person’s life will also be taken by human hands. For God made human beings in his own image.”
Capital punishment was prescribed if a murder took place. Capital punishment was not perceived as murder since the one demanding the life was God and not another human. But the basis for which God would require such a thing is fascinating – the reason God took murder so seriously was because of the value of each human life. “God made human beings in his own image.”
Did you know that this is true of you? You have infinite worth because God made you in His image. To some extent, limited as it may be, you and I bear the likeness of God and thus have great intrinsic value.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to a theme park with my son’s 4th grade class. We hopped onto a ride that dramatically illustrated how a big explosion was the beginning of all that we now see. As we left, I commented to the adult chaperone I was spending the day with that the clear reference to evolution was troubling. He politely commented that he knew with my background that I would have been offended by its message.
Polite conversation ensued as I talked of the implication of an evolutionistic worldview. I mentioned that mankind has a longing, in fact a desperate need 1) to be valued and 2) to know that each individual life has purpose. These two cravings are the very substance from which “hope” springs. Without hope, mankind easily and quickly spirals into depression and meaninglessness.

Very clearly, evolution is completely silent on anything constructive regarding mankind’s value or purpose. Concerning “value,” with “survival of the fittest” as its motto, the men and women who have made something of themselves may have a reason for feeling personal value. But their value is solely based upon performance. Those who for one reason or another cannot perform have no basis upon which they are to be valued. In fact, evolution predicts that one way or another, they will cease to exist or be exterminated (remember “survival of the fittest”?). Regarding the second need for “purpose,” evolution leaves people with nothing but emptiness. We’re here by accident. A big bang created all we see and our very existence  is only by happenchance. There’s no rhyme or reason. No destination. We’re just here for a little while and then we will cease to exist. How depressing is that?!?
But in Genesis 9:6-7, we see that God places a harsh punishment upon someone who took a human’s life because “God made human beings in his own image.” Does this passage say anything about human value? Of course it does! Just as you could look at one of my boys and see a striking resemblance to Kim or me, so too can we look at each other and see enough of God’s image. That’s why God placed such a high value on human life and it’s protection in Genesis 9. It’s because He places high value upon you and me and He wants us to place the same value upon each other.
Further, because there is a God who has made us in His image, we can read in the Book He has written that we also have a purpose. Ultimately, we are to glorify him and to enjoy Him forever. If we have given our lives to Him, then we become His children with the task of pursuing personal holiness and encouraging others to come into relationship with Him. And all of this will culminate in the time in which we will spend eternity with Him (see Revelation 21-22).
Most certainly, in Genesis 9 alone, we can see that each individual (no matter the color of their skin, the content of their character, the competence of their abilities, etc.) has great worth. However, there’s one more thought I’ll leave you with concerning your potential worth:
My car is 11 years old and I know that eventually, I’m going to have to replace it. Just suppose that I go into a car dealership and spend some time going back and forth on a price with the saleperson. When we finally settle on the price I am willing to pay, something happens in that moment. At that moment, I have solidified my personal assessment of the car’s value. Whatever the amount I settle upon is the value that I place upon that car. I wouldn’t pay more than I think it’s worth and the saleperson won’t let me pay less. What I am willing to pay shows the value I place upon the car. Got it? Follow me on this next thought…
What price did God pay to cover your sin debt and adopt you into His family? He paid the price of Jesus. Listen to what 1 Peter 1:18-19 says: “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” We’ve already agreed that something is worth what someone is willing to pay, right? Carrying that same line of logic into this truth in 1 Peter, we realize that you and I weren’t worth anything to God until, by His own compassion and grace, He chose to place value upon us and sent His Only Son to pay your sin debt and mine. He was willing to pay “Jesus” for you and me. What does that say about the value of those who have the gift of eternal life?

If you’ve never received God’s amazing gift of eternal life, go to http://www.wayofthemaster.com/about_kirk.shtml and click on “Listen to Kirk’s Testimony.” (It’s only about 5 minutes long.) Feel free to contact me! I’d love to help you along in this decision.