We’re going to continue our study of the book of Genesis tonight, and I confess to you that I’m going to come across more as a lecturer, more as a teacher than a preacher. This is going to be more teaching than preaching, but the facts that are here are potent and greatly informative to those of us who want to understand the world the way God views it.
We come to the ninth chapter of the book of Genesis. Genesis is the book of beginnings. We’ve been going through the book of Genesis very carefully, slowly. Slow is better - I’ve told you that many times - because slow allows us to dig into the depths of everything that is in the Word of God or most everything. We find ourselves in this discovery of origins now, in the ninth chapter, at verse 18. I’m going to read you verse 18 to the end of the chapter.
“Now the sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem and Ham and Japheth; and Ham was the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated.
“Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. And he drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent.
“And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away so that they did not see their father’s nakedness.
“When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. So he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brothers.’
“He also said, ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant.’
“Noah lived three hundred and fifty years after the Flood. So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years, and he died.” So ends the story of Noah.
With this passage, the life of the humanity on the earth begins post-Flood. The great Flood is over which drowned the whole human race except eight souls, which drowned all air-breathing animals on the planet except those that were in the ark. The Flood is over, the water has subsided, the ground is dry, and all the life has come out of the ark.
All God-rejecting sinners have been drowned or buried or destroyed in volcanic eruptions that were a part of the reshaping of the earth during the time of the Flood. All God-rejecting sinners have been swept into eternal judgment, and now there is a new beginning; a fresh, new day dawns for the eight people who make up the entire human race. Fresh on their minds and certainly visible around them is the knowledge of the devastating impact of sin. It literally changed the shape of the face of the earth. It changed life physically. It changed life materially. And also there must have been plenty of evidence around them of death.
And so, they come into a new world. Certainly if there’s anything in their minds, it is that they would do all they could to avoid the kind of devastation that they had just experienced. And there must have been a certain amount of hope and eagerness that perhaps they could approximate some kind of paradise. Maybe they could recover Eden, maybe there was a way that they could come to some kind of utopia. Well, it was not to be. If it were possible to restrain sin, they had every reason to do it. If it were possible to live a righteous life and to have everybody live a righteous life, hopefully those people who had been declared by God to be righteous and thus been spared the judgment, and were few in number – only eight – and were all in the same family, would have a good shot at pulling it off.
But one thing didn’t drown in the Flood and that was sin. Sin was riding in the ark, in the nature of Noah, his wife, Shem, Ham, and Japheth and their three wives. And sin survived the Flood in them. It was a new earth, but it was the same old humanity. And when they walked off the ark, sin walked off the ark; and when they stepped into the new world, sin stepped into the new world with them, in them.
The old man Noah, 600 years old when the Flood came, and that’s been a year plus ago. The old man in this passage sins. Age was no guarantee against sin. You might think that when you’re 60 years old or 70 years old or 80 years old you sort of get the plan about how to avoid sin. But here’s a man 600 years old, and the old man sins, and the young man sins – 100 or so, young by standards of that day. And youth, with all of its fervor and all of its freshness and all of its passion and all of its resolve cannot withstand the onslaught of human fallenness.
And so, you have a righteous old man, Noah; you have a righteous young man, Ham; and a sad story of their iniquity. And so we learn that what the Bible says is true: sin reigned from Adam, that once Adam sinned, sin became the sovereign of human life; it became the monarch of humanity and carries its potent poison into all peoples and families of the world. And the judgment that God brought about on the face of the earth when He drowned all humanity didn’t drown sin.
You will also notice in the passage that the son of Ham, named Canaan, is mentioned a number of times – four times to be exact. We are introduced here to Canaan. Now, Ham had four such-and-such, and it’s a curiosity, I suppose, to anybody who reads this passage as to why it is that Canaan all of a sudden is such a significant person. According to chapter 10 and verse 6, Ham had sons named Cush, Mizraim, Put – or Phut – and Canaan. But why is Canaan singled out? In fact, why is there this singular cursing of Canaan?
Well, perhaps it would help you to know that the author of Genesis, along with the other four books of the Torah, the Pentateuch, was Moses. And it would also help you to know that Genesis was written after the exodus from Egypt, which occurred in about 1445 B.C. It was after the children of Israel came out of Egypt and went through the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness of Kadesh Barnea. Sometime at the end of that exodus wandering and before Moses died – and Moses died – the best assumption is 1405 – so, sometime in the 1445 to 1405 – sometime during the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness Genesis was written.
And the first time it was read appears to be just upon the time when God was telling the children of Israel that the wanderings were over and they were to now to enter the Promised Land. And the land that had been promised to them was the land of Canaan, the land occupied by the Canaanites. It had been promised hundreds of years before they were standing on the edge of the Jordan River ready to take the land. They had endured 400 years of captivity in Egypt after the promise was made to Abraham, and there were many other years intervening, maybe as many as 600 altogether between the promise of the land to Abraham and their actually going into take it.
But at the point at which Genesis was first read, authored by Moses under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they were on the edge of crossing the Jordan River and going in to take the land. And it was very important to the children of Israel who by that time were sort of getting their spiritual act together. They had reached a point of obedience to God where He was willing to lead them into the land to take possession of the land that he had promised to give them. And the Lord had told them, you remember, “When you go in to take the land, I want you to destroy the Canaanites.” To any normal person, the thought of genocide, going in and massacring an entire population of people, was a frightening thing. Natural human affections would cause some revulsion against such a command. When you add to that that this was a people of God who had been taught the things about God and who, to one degree or another, were putting themself in obedience to God and therefore endeavoring to live according to the Law of God which had been delivered to them through Moses on Mount Sinai, it must have been a very, very severe challenge to their righteousness thinking to see themselves going into a land and committing genocide. It’s massacring the Canaanites. Taking their land, taking their homes, and taking their lives.
And surely it would be very natural to ask the question “Is this right? Should we be doing this?” This helps a lot, because we find out in this passage that Canaan and his progeny was cursed. This provides the posture of Canaan as an object of God’s wrath and an understanding that Israel then becomes the instrument of God’s wrath to carry out His judgment.
It was water that drowned the world of sinners. It was to be Israel to destroy the wicked Canaanites. In either case, it was the judgment of God. The Promised Land had been pledged to Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel. But it was, at that time, in the control of a wicked and cursed people: the Canaanites from whom Israel had to liberate it. And so, it’s very important that Canaan be introduced here. And I’m just giving you some of the overview.
You also see a sort of a bizarre incident here that on the surface doesn’t seem so severe as to produce the kind of curse that could end up in a divine verdict of genocide on an entire nation. I mean a son walks in, sees his father naked, walks out, tells his brothers and is cursed. And his line is cursed. So much so that the judgment of God, the execution of God is to fall upon them.
It seems like a minor sin to see your father naked. Of all the imaginable sins, that doesn’t seem to be at the top of the list. And it seems almost incredible that a relatively minor event would have such major repercussions. But consistently, in Genesis, you will find that the fate of people and the fate of nations is determined by occurrences with the ancestors of those people and nations that seem trivial, and this is one of those. On the surface it looks trivial. When we dig a little deeper into it, it isn’t trivial. And we’ll see the connection of the evil Canaanites to Canaan the son of Ham.
No sin, furthermore, is minor. The sin of Noah wasn’t minor, and the sin of Ham wasn’t minor because no sin is minor. The fact of the matter is, though, that God, in demonstrating to us that sin had survived the Flood, He could have picked a thousand sins. Because Noah was a sinner, and his wife was a sinner, and the sons and their wives were sinners, God could have picked any number of sins to illustrate their fallenness. But He picks what appears to us to be somewhat of a minor sin to demonstrate to us that there doesn’t have to be some kind of severe heinousness connected to a sin to make it a sin. The smallest iniquity – the smallest iniquity – can have disastrous repercussions. The sooner men learn that the better for them.
I think some people think that if you can just avoid the big ones, you’ll make it, when it’s the little ones that in the Scripture God chronicles as those sins that devastated families and devastated nations. And I think He purposely chose this sin; He could have chosen many out of their lives, but He chose this one to make the point that is not just murder and pillage and fornication and adultery that damn humanity; it’s even the lack of self-control and disrespect which are demonstrated here.
So, these are some of the things that we’re going to see as we look at this fascinating text. Here we are in the new world. We’ve sort of come off the boat with Noah, and we’re standing there, as observers from afar, in the new world.
In this particular section, three things pop up as inevitable realities: propagation, pollution, and polarization. I worked on those for a little while. I want you to remember them. Propagation, pollution, and polarization. And I think if you listen carefully to what we say, you’ll understand how those words sum up life in the new world. And then in the end, the inevitable death that is identified for us in verses 28 and 29 in the case of Noah, who was an illustration of what happens to everybody.
Well, let’s start with propagation. Propagation. When God made Adam, He said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” And essentially that is exactly what He told Noah’s family to do back in chapter 9, verse 7, “As for you, be fruitful and multiply, populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it. This is, in a sense, the new Adam, and this is the humanity, and this is the new opportunity to multiply, to populate the world.
So, because of that emphasis, there’s a strong repetition of the role of Shem, Ham, and Japheth and their wives. The Flood story actually begins with Noah’s sons back in chapter 6, verses 9 and 10, and it ends with Noah’s sons here in chapter 9. They are responsible to propagate. They are responsible – those three couples – to repopulate the planet. All three were born after Noah was 500. He had no children until he was 500. According to chapter 5, verse 32, his three sons were born when he was 500 years old. Now, that is an adjustment after 500 years with no kids, which would make the sons about 100 years old when the Flood came. And they were married but childless.
But now he is 600 or 601; they’re at least 100. The Flood is over; it is time for them to propagate. And so, we look at verse 18. “Now the sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem and Ham and Japheth; and Ham was the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated.” There’s one final note here: they came out of the ark. That’s the final note on the catastrophic Flood that drowned the entire world. One last mention. And the sons are introduced again to us as the propagators of life, and only one child of those sons is named, and that is Canaan. The rest of their propagation, of course, unfolds in chapter 10 where you have the sons of Japheth, the sons of Ham, the sons of Shem all laid out and listed there in that amazing chapter.
But only Ham is introduced to us here as having a child named Canaan. That Ham had a son is the fulfillment of chapter 9, verse 1, “God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” And as I said, in chapter 10, verse 6, it tells us he actually had four sons, but Canaan is identified – let me say it again – because of the subsequent curse which is so critical for the Jews to understand as they are on the brink of crossing the Jordan to take the land of the Canaanites that has been promised to them by God.
And by the way, that land, that Promised Land called the land of Canaan, is referred to 35 times in Genesis: the land of Canaan. From chapter 11, verse 31 clear to the thirteenth verses of chapter 50, references are made to the land of Canaan. The act of taking the land of Canaan was a just judgment of God on a cursed and wicked people. First nation to be identified as having been cursed by God.
And so, when Israel heard this read, they knew they had a cursed ancestry, and that they were acting on the basis of divine judgment which had already been determined, giving them historical justification for being the instrument of judgment on Canaan.
Well, more about that later. The point here is propagation. And it says in verse 19 that they populated the whole planet. And as I said, something of the births of these sons and a flow of life coming from them is laid out in chapter 10, which we’ll consider later. They populated the whole earth. There was no other source of human life. It’s important to say that – no other source of human life. All life on this planet came originally from – whom? – Adam and Eve. Acts 17:26, “And He made from one every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth.” All humanity came from Adam and Eve. People get very confused about that. And, of course, they all came from Adam and Eve, were narrowed down to eight, and then the rest of the civilization of this planet, the rest of the human life on this planet came out of the three families of Noah. There are no other sources of humans in this world.
You say, “Why are you making a point of that?”
Because some people are so confused about that. Hugh Ross has a ministry called “Reasons to Believe.” And he is what’s called an old-earth quote-unquote evangelical. He believes that Genesis is not a literal six-day creation, but millions of years are occurring there and it doesn’t actually mean what it says.
For example, he says, “Starting about two to four million years ago God began creating man-like mammals or hominids. These creatures stood on two feet, had large brains, and used tools. Some even buried their dead and painted on cave walls. However, they were very different from us; they had no spirit.” That is they had – they were like animals; they had no eternal spirit. “They didn’t have a conscience like we do, s they were without morality. They didn’t worship God or establish religious practices.” They just painted on cave walls and used their tools and so forth.
He says, “In time, all these man-like creatures” – starting two to four million years ago – “went extinct.” Then he says, “About 10,000 to 25,000 years ago, God replaced them with Adam and Eve.” Got a problem with that. Acts 17:26 says that all of us came from one.
You say, “Where did he get that idea that two to four million years ago God created hominids?”
He made it up; it’s not in the Bible. It’s not in the Bible. There aren’t any spiritless, soulless hominids in the Bible. This is a concession to evolutionists who extrapolate backwards as if there never was a catastrophe or a speeding up of any natural process. And by the application of their uniformity principles, they extrapolate back and back and back and back, and man has to be two to four million years old. And so, in accommodating them he comes up with the fact that some man-like creature was that old.
Interestingly enough, he says that 10,000 to 25,000 years ago they all died off and God made Adam and Eve. If this is true, it has some serious implications. According to the same types of dating methods that get you to two to four million years, the evolutionists tell us that Australian aborigines and American Indians date back to 40,000 to 60,000 years ago. If that’s true, then aborigines and Indians don’t have a spirit either. They must be leftover hominids. Well, that’s just an illustration of some of the silliness that gets thrown around. The fact of the matter is that all human beings came from Adam through Noah, which means that all there is in the genetic code for all human races was in Adam and Eve, and all that there is of genetic coding that is in all the races that exist today was in the family of Noah. That has all kinds of interesting implications because in the world you have so much diversity: you have very dark-skinned people, very light-skinned people. You have various features of certain kinds of people that are identifiable: Caucasoid, Negroid, Austrailoid, etcetera – Mongoloid – particular descriptions of physical features. And you have all these difference in skin color, and all these differences in facial look and body design. And the question is often asked, “Where did this diversity come from?”
And the answer is the genetic code for all of that was in Adam and Eve. And the genetic code for all of the humanity in all of its diversity today was in the family of Noah. Everyone from pygmies and dwarves and aborigines to seven-foot-two Zulus and basketball players came from Noah and his wife. All physical features, all skin colors, all physical characteristics, all eye shapes, noses, eye colors, hair colors, etcetera - all the necessary genetic coding was in Adam and Eve, and all of it was in those eight people. In fact, all of it was in those three couples. The combinations multiplied by each new union almost without limit.
To give you an illustration of that, the scientists have estimated that in theory if just two human parents – just two -could produce more children than there are atoms in the universe, no two would be exactly alike.
You say, “How can that be?”
Because of the staggering variability in genetics. So as people mated, repeatedly variations began to occur - because there is almost an infinite number of variables possible with just two people - and eventually produced the various shades of skin and features. All this coming out of the original gene pool of Adam and Eve and the second gene pool of the family of Noah. You can add to that defective genes causing mutations downward, never upward. But there really, in the end, is only one race: man. I want to emphasize that - just one race: man.
I told you, when I was going through Genesis 3, the difference in genetics between any two people in the world – just pick two; any two no matter how diverse they are, any two – the difference in genetics between any two people in the world, even if they’re from the same group, is .2 – 0.2, that’s the difference.
What we call racial characteristics – skin color, facial features, eye shape – is 6 percent of the .2 variation or 0.012. Not much difference. We really are of one blood. We have been all made of one. One race, one father, one mother – Adam and Eve – and one second family, Mr. and Mrs. Noah and the kids. The differences come from culture and adaptation, not creation. Dark skin has more melanin because those who were darker survived in some climates better than fair-skinned people; and so, they reproduced and became dominant. DNA, genetic information has been lost along the way in the second law of thermodynamics. Things tend toward disorder; so disease has distorted and deformed. Now we’re into gene therapy – aren’t we? – trying to get into the genetic code and fix it. But we really all come from Adam and Eve and Noah and his family.
Further along the line, thinking this through, for a few centuries after the Flood, everybody was one big family – one language, one family, one culture. And so, everybody intermarried. No barriers to marriage. And many believe that that tended to keep the skin color and the physical features generally away from extremes. Right? You have the whole of humanity all sort of living together. There are no barriers; there’s one culture.
And so, it tends to keep features and skin color away from extremes because all are exposed constantly the full gene pool. Very light skin sometimes appears, very dark skin sometimes appears. Features vary, but because the people intermarry, the average stays generally similar. And biologists will tell you that to obtain distinct separation of color and distinct separation of features, it is necessary to break a large breeding group into smaller groups and keep them completely separated so they don’t interbreed.
So, you’d have to pull people off and isolate them, and then they would begin to be dominated by the genetic features that are within that people group. That’s exactly what happened at the Tower of Babel. It wasn’t just the changing of languages; it stopped intermarriage because you weren’t going to marry a girl you couldn’t propose to. I mean you get the picture. No one’s going to marry somebody they can’t speak to. It’s only after you marry them that you can’t speak to them. Or won’t.
Anthropologists will tell you that in order to see isolated features and characteristics you have to have a smaller inbreeding group. And so, the Tower of Babel did that. God separated the languages, scattered the people all over the planet, and they were isolated. And whatever the features were that God designed, in His sovereignty, in those genetic groups then became normalized in those groups. And so, various characteristics began to appear. Each of the language groups had dominate and limited genetic features that, inbred, became normalized. One group might have been – one writer puts it, “One group might have been more dark – have more dark genes on average, while another might have had light genes. The same thing would happen to characteristics such as nose shape, eye shape. Since they would only interbreed within their own language group, this tendency would no longer be averaged out as before.
So, what happened was it was God – Acts 17 – who determined the boundaries of the nations. Right? So, God sorted the people out, and He sorted the gene pool out exactly the way that He wanted to sort it out so that He could produce exactly what He wanted to produce, and all of us have that unique identity and our national identity is a matter of the purposes and the design of God from the beginning, but we all really have a very small difference – 0.2 – because we’ve all come from the same father and mother.
As these groups migrated away from Babel, they encountered new and different climate zones. This would also have affected the balance of inherited factors in the population, although the effects of the environment are not nearly important as the genetic mix.
As an example, let us look at people who move to cold areas with little sunlight. In those areas, the dark-skinned members of any group would not be able to produce enough vitamin D and thus would be less healthy and have fewer children. And there are things like that that cause some amount of selection to go on. And that would allow, in that case, light-skinned members to predominate, and there are a number of illustrations like that.
What I’m trying to say to you is we really are one family. There should be any racism; there shouldn’t be any animosity. We are really one blood. We’ve come from the same family. The Bible makes it clear that any newly discovered tribe is not a group of people who never had the same beginning that we had.
You say, “Are you telling me that the pygmies in Africa – you’re telling me the Hottentots in South Africa from the past – you’re telling me aboriginal people in Australia – you’re telling me the people in Irian Jaya, up in the jungle – you’re telling me these primitive people that I see on the National Geographic program and read in the magazine these people that have painted their faces with some kind of plant – these people that run around stabbing pigs in the jungle naked – you mean to tell me those people came from the same beginnings that I came from?”
You say, “Why are you telling me this?”
Because I’m trying to explain to you the meaning of Romans 1; they all came from an origin in which they not only had the knowledge of God, but they had the brainpower to build an ocean liner.
You say, “Isn’t it wonderful? We went into the jungle and we found a tribe that could carve a canoe.”
That’s degeneration. Once they could build an ocean liner and float two of every kind of animal in it across the top of the judgment of God. The whole of humanity has declined. And Romans 1 says that the length that we all have takes us back to the time when we knew God and men glorified Him not as God.
And so, verse 19 says, “From this family the whole earth was populated.” It’s sad to think about, isn’t it? How it went bad. Reading about David Livingston, he said, “I thought I would go to Africa and preach the gospel and people would believe, and I found it very difficult to preach the gospel to a tribe of people who believed that the Creator of the world was an alligator. How do I get from here to there? They’re so far gone.” But once their ancestors knew the true God and build an ocean liner. We are one family; it’s only a question of the particular kind of degradation that we have experienced.
So, first thing we have, after the Flood, is propagation. Second thing we have, after the Flood – and by the way, propagation is still going on, as you well know who are participating in it.
And we’re also watching, I might add as a footnote, the decline. Look at us. Once you could look at a Western civilization, and you could see it moving up; and now it’s absolutely clear – isn’t it? – which way it’s going. Right? I mean give us enough time and we’re going to be stark naked, running around with a spear, stabbing people.
Well, second thing is pollution. That, too, is characteristic, and that’s really the title of the lesson tonight, “Sin in the New World.” We picked that up in verse 20. Here is the record of the inevitable. As I said, the Lord could have chosen from thousands of sins, but he chose this. “Noah began farming.” Actually, there’s probably more in that statement than that rendering in the NAS. Some say Noah was a man of the soil. Some say he was a man of the ground. Some translations say he was a tiller. Well, he was a farmer. I mean we can go that far, but I think there’s a better way to translate this; I think you could actually be fair in saying, “Noah, lord of the earth, planted a vineyard.” He was king of the world. He was the second Adam. Adam also was a tiller of the soil, as we remember, after his fall. Noah’s identified, I think, not just as a tiller of the soil but the lord of the earth. The post-Flood earth had been given back its ability to produce life. The plants, of course, had been destroyed, but the seeds had not. And so, he became farming and planted a vineyard, telling us that the earth is fruitful again.
And there must have been rain, but not like the devastating kind of rain that came the first time Noah saw it rain and, before it was over, inexplicable judgment and devastation had fallen on the earth. There was a different kind of rain. This was the kind of rain connected with the Word of the Lord at the end of chapter 8, “Seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer, winter, etcetera.” This was the cyclical rain of seasons that causes the earth to produce.
And not only was there rain, but there were rainbows. Right? And when it rained and there was a rainbow, that was a reminder to the family that God had made a pledge and a promise that He would never destroy the world by water again. They didn’t have to fear next time they felt drops; it wasn’t going to be like the first time. And that’s why I think, because I’ve told you before, it’s been 4,500 years since the Flood. And the Flood came 1,656 years after the creation – 1,656 years and God drowned the world. Here we are 4,500 years later, and he hasn’t yet destroyed the world. Next time He will by fire, but His patience is a part of that rainbow covenant. It’s not that we’re any better; we’re not. It’s that this is the day of grace and the age of mercy.
So, here Noah is a farmer. He’s like Adam. They were both farmers. Like Adam, they both understood curses; they both understood blessings; they both understood and expressed the shame of their nakedness. They both sinned with the result that there was family disaster and negative effects that were far-reaching.
So, Noah – the study of Noah and Adam as parallels is very interesting. Noah, on the one hand, is a righteous man, very clearly the Lord identifies him as such in chapter 7, verse 1. He was a righteous man. He was the righteous man of the old world, and here he is the father of sin in the new world so that both blessing and cursing are a part of his life. This is a reminder of what Paul said – I think in Romans 7 – “The things I want to do I don’t do, the things I don’t want to do I find myself doing. There is a law within me that loves God and honors His Word, and there’s a principle in me that drags me down.” So it was with Noah. The man declared righteous by God forensically because of his faith in God, who at the same time was a sinner. He survived the judgment because he was righteous, and he introduced sin into the new world.
It started when he planted a vineyard. In itself that’s not wrong. God made grapes. It could be he planted an orchard; it could have been some other kind of fruit. But there’s a principle operative in the world since the fall; it’s the principle of fermentation. Right? In the case of bread, it’s the principle - of what? – of leaven. There is in this fallen world, then, a potential for God’s good gifts to become dangerous. Very dangerous.
God doesn’t make a moral judgment on his planting an orchard; God gave us fruit. But any kind of juice – some more than others – but any kind of juice has the capacity for fermentation.
When God gave us vineyards, He gave us something to delight us. Judges 9:13 says, “Wine cheers God and men.” Psalm 104:15 says, “Wine makes man’s heart glad.” Even in the glory of the millennial kingdom, it says, “The wine will yield” – “The vine” – rather – “will yield its fruit” – Zechariah 8:12. And, “The Lord will provide a feast of aged wine” – Isaiah 25:6.
So, God has given us juice, let’s put it that way. Fruit of the vine and fruit of the tree to produce something we can drink that is healthy, enjoyable, and safe. In fact, in Deuteronomy 14:26 he says, “Whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine” – do whatever your heart desires. There’s even a place for strong drink for those who suffer, as Proverbs tells us. The fruit of any vine or any tree was a gift from God.
It was a blessing potentially, a nourishment. But it also had the capacity to ferment and to pose a terrible danger if not consumed moderately and, as the Jews usually did it, mixed with water. Even when it was fermented and then mixed with water it acted as a purging agent, purifying the water. There was so much danger in drinking that it was forbidden for those who served in the temple, Leviticus 10:9. It was forbidden for those who were in leadership in the nation, Proverbs 31:5 and 6. It was forbidden for those who took the highest vow of devotion called the Nazarite vow. If you wanted to live at the highest level as a Jew and take the highest position of devotion to God, according to Numbers chapter 6, you didn’t participate in the drinking the others were doing. And in the New Testament, elders are not to linger long beside wine.
Wine has a potential to bless, it has a potential to curse, to bring cheer or to bring disaster. Proverbs says wine is a mocker. Proverbs says wine is destructive - Proverbs 20, Proverbs 23. It causes people to lose their inhibition. In fact – and we’re going to stop in just a moment at this point – but in Habakkuk 2, verse 15, “Woe to you who make your neighbors drink, who mix in your venom even to make them drunk so as to look on their nakedness!” What an interesting comment. “You will be filled with disgrace rather than honor. Now you yourself drink and expose your won nakedness.” The prophet Habakkuk is speaking metaphorically, but he’s speaking in language everybody understands. When you get drunk, you tend to be naked because drunkenness causes people to lose their inhibitions. Their normal sense of decency, their normal sense of dignity, their normal sense of shame somehow is washed away by the drink.
Lamentations 4:21, the prophet Jeremiah, “Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, who dwells in the land of Uz; but the cup will come around to you as well; you will become drunk and make yourself naked.” What is it about being drunk that makes people expose themselves, lose their inhibitions, act in shameful exposure? It happens even today.
There was a little bit on the news the other day, and they were interviewing some young people who were at a certain club somewhere – I don’t even know where it was; I just caught a glimpse – and they said to the young people, “What goes on?”
“Well, there’s a lot of drinking. A lot of drinking. It’s a happy place and the booze is flowing.”
“And then what happens?”
“Then the clothes begin to come off.” That’s nothing new.
Well, that’s exactly what happened to old Noah. You ought to know better when you’re 601.
You say, “Well, maybe he didn’t know about fermentation.”
Sure he did. His whole life had been lived after the fall. Verse 21, “He drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent.” Here are a couple of these kinds of incidents in the book of Genesis. This one’s bad; this leads to really a tragic situation. The one in chapter 19 is even worse. Lot went up from Zoar, stayed in the mountains, and his two daughters with him; he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He stayed in a cave, he and his two daughters.” Here’s Lot and his two girls in a cave. “And the firstborn said to the younger, ‘Our father is old, and there’s not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of the earth.’” Our father is old, and we aren’t married.
They were living in such a wretched, vile, rotten place – Sodom – that was no place to find a husband. Now they’re concerned that they’re never going to find a husband. So, they have a plan, verse 32, “‘Come, let us make our father drink wine; let us lie with him that we may preserve our family through our father.’” This is a sick, perverted act of incest that they’re plotting. “So, they made their father drink wine that night, and the firstborn went in and lay with her father; he didn’t know when she lay down or when she arose” – he was in such a stupor. “It came about on the morrow that the firstborn said to the younger, ‘Behold, I lay last night with my father; let us make him drink wine tonight also; then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve our family through our father.’
“So, they made their father drink wine that night also, and the younger arose and lay with him; and he didn’t know when she lay down or when she arose. Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. And the firstborn bore a son, and called his name Moab; and he’s the father of the Moabites to this day.” And they are cursed people. Remember that? They were a cursed people not to participate in the covenant of Israel. The exception to that is the wonderful story of Ruth. “And the younger bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi; he’s the father of the sons of” – oh, boy – “Ammon” – Ammonites, two archenemies of Israel. What an ugly, sordid story that is. Worse by far than Noah. So much for drinking wine and getting drunk.
In Noah’s case, he became drunk and uncovered himself in the tent. What does that mean? I can only take you where the Bible takes me, folks; I’m not here to speculate. I will venture to say I read 50 pages of speculation on what that means. He uncovered himself. And I could give you some very exotic speculation, but the fact of the matter is it’s speculation. All we know is he lost his sense of shame; he lost his dignity; he lost his sense of decency. Immodesty took over. And I’m sure he was a modest man as a righteous man. I’m sure he was a decent man. But sin had floated over the waters of the Flood and landed in the new world, and it was in him. And he uncovered himself.
Cassuto, the great Hebrew – the great Jewish Hebrew commentator says, “The Old Testament tempers this sin in guarded language. He got intoxicated and he disgraced himself by taking off his clothes. Anything else is purely speculation. We don’t need to take the immodesty of Noah and turn it into some act of fornication.”
There is in Leviticus 18 – and I would just suggest that for your further reading, although you’re going to find it very depressing – in the eighteenth chapter of Leviticus, there is a long, long reference to sins of sexual nature that are identified by the phrase “uncover their nakedness.” Uncover their nakedness as a way of describing sexual sin. It may be that there was some act on the part of Noah, but we don’t know. And the language of Leviticus chapter 18 is a little different, and we would wonder if Moses meant the same here why he wouldn’t have used the exact same language. It enough to say that he dishonored himself, disgraced himself, embarrassed himself by losing his control – losing control of his normal inhibitions so that he passed out stark naked in his tent. He didn’t become naked after he passed out. It was when he was still conscious enough to take off his clothes that he took them off for no good purpose other than exposure. Drunkenness disgraced him.
Adam knew the shame of nakedness. As soon as he sinned it hit him that he was naked, and Eve was naked. Genesis 3:7, they quickly sewed leaves together to cover themselves. Why? Because all of a sudden, when they saw their nakedness, they had thoughts they never had before. Perverse, perverted, twisted. Strange sexual thoughts and feelings they had never felt. And the purity was immediately replaced by impurity, and beauty was replaced by ugliness.
And so, they made clothes to cover up those things that were stimulating those ugly thoughts, and civilized people have continued doing it. Civilized people have always, always worn clothes to safeguard, as much as possible, what is a pure relationship. Clothes cover shame, and they protect purity. Nakedness leads to wickedness. Nakedness leads to vice, every imaginable and unimaginable kind. Nudists, primitive people, exhibitionists, pornographers – they all advocate nakedness as if it was a virtue. They would like us to believe that it’s the truest and purest expression of humanness, but it’s not. There is a shame in a fallen creature that wants to protect himself from impure thoughts, to protect others from impure thoughts. And from Adam on, everybody has known who understands shame, the value of a covering.
In Exodus chapter 20, the Lord gave the commandments – in the twentieth chapter of Exodus – and He said, “You tell the Israelites to worship me. Tell them to make an altar. Tell them to build an altar. Cut the stones, bring the burnt offerings.” In verse 26 – really interesting – He says, “You shall up by steps to My altar.”
Why? Why can’t we go up steps to Your altar?
“That your nakedness may not be exposed on it.” Don’t you put yourself in a position whereby going up steps someone may see your nakedness. His is unacceptable to God.
In the twenty-eighth chapter and the forty-second verse of Exodus, “You shall make for the priests linen breeches, linen pants to cover their bare flesh; they have to reach from the loins” – the waist – “down to the thighs.” That area has to be covered because it elicits thoughts that are impure. That’s why pornography exploits nakedness because that’s how you stimulate iniquity.
When we study this in Genesis 3:7, I made a statement that should be repeated here because it helps us grasp this kind of behavior. This is what I said, “The embarrassed nudity of primitive tribes, or the flaunted nudity of warped naturalists, or the perverted nudity of pornographers or rock singers or movie actors may be called freedom and a return to nature and innocence, but in reality, it does not – cannot recover innocence. Rather it parades the victory of the flagrant sinner over reasonable shame.”
Noah lost control of his senses, and he acted in impure fashion, and he exposed himself. And whatever he was doing didn’t honor God, but it got worse. Verse 22, “And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness” – and we’re going to stop there.
Deliver us, our Father, from shame, from those things that dishonor and displease You. We thank You for Your grace in Noah’s life and in our lives. We thank You that You loved us while we were yet sinners and sent Your Son to die for us that we might be redeemed.
We grieve over the continuing reality of sin in our lives and we ask that You would move us ever in a holy path that we might always honor You. Thank You for what we’ve learned tonight, in our Savior’s name, amen.
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