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[Read Part 1 HERE]
Genesis 9:18-29 - Beware of failure after great Victory – Part 2
Now back to our story.
After Noah became drunk, he “uncovered himself inside his tent.” The Hebrew word translated “uncovered” (galah) means “to be disgracefully exposed.”
Noah evidently felt warm because of the effect of the alcohol, took off his clothes, and then passed out in his tent. Alcohol is a depressant. It “loosens” people up because it depresses their self- control, their wisdom, their balance, and their judgment. Noah became drunk and careless. He did the normal pass-out routine for drunkenness and in the process discarded his robe. So, he’s lying in his own room sprawled out naked on the floor or maybe on his sleeping area.
I think Moses is drawing our attention back to the first few chapters of Genesis. In 2:8, God planted a garden for man to enjoy. Here, Noah plants a vineyard (9:20). Moses also establishes parallels between Noah’s disgrace (he took of the fruit of his orchard and became naked) and that of Adam and Eve (who took of the fruit of the garden and saw that they were naked).
Noah, like Adam, sinned, and the effects of that sin were to be felt in the generations of sons and daughters to follow. As in Genesis 3, the effect of Noah’s sin is seen in his “nakedness.” When Noah and his family were introduced for the first time, Moses wrote, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God” (Gen 6:9). In the New Testament, Noah was called a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet 2:5). He is also included in the hall of faith of Hebrews 11. He was obedient to God and trusted God through some difficult times!
Noah was a great man of God. So, If Noah can sin, anyone can sin. This includes you and me. But the point of this story and the whole of Genesis is not merely that anyone can fall but that everybody does (Rom 3:10-12). And The time when most Christians fall is after a great victory. I think our tendency is to ease up when the conflict lessens. If it happened to Noah, it could happen to us. Whenever we feel like things are going especially well, beware. Stay humble.
The apostle Paul says, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall” (1 Cor 10:12). We are very vulnerable people. Every Christian is capable of committing even the most heinous of sins. This is why we so desperately require the accountability of a local church and a small group of believers, as well as being Discipled by someone.
This is also a great reminder that it is possible for seasoned saints to stumble even in the latter years of their life. Moses sinned late in his life by striking a rock and taking some of God’s glory to Himself; as a result, he was not permitted to enter to Promised Land.
David sinned with Bathsheeba when he was in his fifties. Solomon departed from the will of God when he was old. Past successes do not provide power for future victory.
This means we must recognize that the greatest of all believers have weaknesses. The Christian is not a super saint. He is an ordinary person saved by grace. The people of God are upheld by God’s grace. If we are different it is because of the powerful support of God. If we are not upheld we can fall away at any moment. The only thing that makes us different is that we are sustained by God’s mercy. If God should let us go we could slip badly. Who can say what we would do if God lets us go? (Right Bob??!!)
[God warns us to beware of failure after great victory. Now he warns us to...]
2. Beware of gloating over the misfortune of others (9:22-23). In 9:22, we read that “Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.”
Apparently, Ham’s gaze was not a mere harmless notice or an accidental glance. The verb “saw” has such force that some say it means “he gazed with satisfaction.” After observing his father’s nakedness, Ham told his brothers outside. The word “told” means “to boldly announce with delight.” Ham gloated over his father’s shame. Maybe he saw some satisfaction in seeing this “Preacher of Righteousness” in such a state? Ham’s heart was intent on mocking his father and undermining his authority as a man of God. He did nothing to preserve his father’s dignity.
A warning speaks to what Ham has done. Prov. 30:17 - “The eye that mocks a father, that scorns obedience to a mother, will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley, will be eaten by vultures.”
How do we respond to the sins and failings of others? With delight? With a sense of superiority? By spreading the story? Sadly, most of us are far-sighted when it comes to sin—they see others’, not their own! Many of us love to hear about the demise of others. Now we would never be so bold to admit it, but it’s true. Our flesh loves to hear about the latest scandal (e.g., a marriage on the rocks, an affair, a fallen Christian...).
Dr. Warren Wiersbe makes this statement: “Yet, the Lord wants us to grieve when other believers fall into sin. How people respond to the sin and embarrassment of others is an indication of their own character.”
In 9:23, we read of a contrast: “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.” Contrary to Ham, Shem and Japheth covered Noah’s nakedness. They laid “a garment” across their shoulders. They walked in backward and covered Noah. They turned their faces from his nakedness. They honored their father and won the approval and blessing of God.
How did Noah feel when he awoke from his drunken stupor and realized what he had done? Did he sit on the edge of his bed, head in his hands, retching with nausea and guilt? As his mind raced back over the last few hours and how he could have gotten into such a condition, did the words of God’s covenant come back to his mind (9:9)?
What else could he do but just trust in the compassion of a gracious and merciful God?