We find our first glimpse of ordinary life after the flood in the second portion of Genesis 9.
Noah has been hard at work tending the ground. We’re told that he has planted grapes, cultivating a vineyard. One day, he drinks too much of the wine made from those grapes and he becomes drunk. This intoxication leaves him fully exposed to anyone who enters his tent.
We aren’t told if Noah intends to get drunk. We’re shown the state of his physical actions, but not the state of his heart. What we do know is that he has lost control of himself in this moment, allowing the wine to overtake him…this was sin and it does, of course, show us the danger of allowing wine – or anything that undermines the authority of God in our actions – to take control of us.
But, at this moment, my attention is drawn less to Noah’s mistake and more to the reaction of his sons in this moment of disgrace.
Ham finds his father in this vulnerable position and leaves him there, going outside to tell his brothers exactly what he had seen.
Shem and Japheth take great care to enter the tent without seeing their father’s shame, covering him with a robe.
All three of Noah’s sons had a choice in how to deal with this scene that Ham discovered.
Ham chose to further expose his father to shame. Immediately telling his brothers was not an act of respect, but a move to embarrass Noah. This was not a choice of love, but of derision. This tells us a lot about Ham’s own heart — although we don’t have specifics, there must have been some seed of contention, pride, bitterness, or anger in his heart to see this harvest of cruelty.
Shem and Japheth, however, choose to immediately help their father. They did not find pleasure in catching him in this sinful moment. In total respect, they enter into this place of Noah’s shame and cover him. This act, to me, reflects the heart of the Father who had once covered the exposed shame of their long-ago ancestors in the garden of Eden. Instead of joining Ham in pointing out Noah’s wrong, they met their father in love.
In the resulting curse and blessing on the sons of Noah, we can see how serious God is about the way we treat one another.
Always, we must keep in mind how He has treated us — this is the pattern we are to follow…His heart toward His children is the model for our own hearts.
So far, we have seen justice, yes, and consequences for sin. But His discipline flows from His love…it is meant to draw His people back to Him, to show the way of restoration and redemption. We have seen grace. We have seen mercy. We have seen compassion.
When we look ahead, we see this love in God’s own Son – Jesus comes to us, meets us in the place of our sin and shame, and covers us with His righteousness. He does not leave us helpless, but becomes our rescue. John 3:17 tells us that He does not come into the world to condemn, but to save.
It will never fail to fill me with awe – while I was still in sin…while I was still under the control of my pride and fear…Jesus died for me.
It’s the same for you – for all of us who has been brought near to God again through the blood of our Savior.
Knowing this, how do we react to others in their sin? How do we choose to respond when someone stumbles? How do we choose to treat our brothers and sisters – or those who don’t know God – when we see their shame?
Proverbs tell us that we shouldn’t rejoice even when our enemy falls. We should be a people of compassion — knowing the pain and bondage of sin, it is our joy to help others to find the same freedom we have been given. James tells us to turn sinners from the error of their ways if they have wandered from the truth…not to gloat over their sin or to spread word of their failure. Paul says to speak the truth to our brothers and sisters – in love.
God did not abandon us to our stupor of sin. He redeemed us from it.
Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. (1 John 4:11)
Let us pray that we will be transformed by the Holy Spirit until we are like Him…let us see others in the fullness of His truth and grace. Let us love as we have been loved. Let us meet others in their hardest places, in their moments of disgrace, and show the grace that Jesus has shown to us. Let the harvest of our hearts overflow in what the Spirit plants: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Let us keep in step with Your Spirit and Your way, Father.
The sons of Noah who came out of the boat with their father were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham is the father of Canaan.) From these three sons of Noah came all the people who now populate the earth.
After the flood, Noah began to cultivate the ground, and he planted a vineyard. One day he drank some wine he had made, and he became drunk and lay naked inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw that his father was naked and went outside and told his brothers. Then Shem and Japheth took a robe, held it over their shoulders, and backed into the tent to cover their father. As they did this, they looked the other way so they would not see him naked.
When Noah woke up from his stupor, he learned what Ham, his youngest son, had done. Then he cursed Canaan, the son of Ham: “May Canaan be cursed! May he be the lowest of servants to his relatives.”
Then Noah said, “May the Lord, the God of Shem, be blessed, and may Canaan be his servant! May God expand the territory of Japheth! May Japheth share the prosperity of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant.”
Noah lived another 350 years after the great flood. He lived 950 years, and then he died.