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Genesis 9:18-29 - Beware of failure after great Victory

In the last couple messages we covered Covenants and rainbows. Now, In Genesis 9:18-29, the history of Noah and his family moves from rainbows to shadows.

One of the many reasons I am convinced the Bible is God’s Word is because its authors never cover up the sins of the saints, instead, they just flat out tell it is! Knowing this is huge and should encourage all of us. If great men and women of God committed sin and God still used them, He can use you and I as well. We need to be honest and acknowledge that we as Christians are far from perfect but God always uses us in spite of ourselves.

In the verses that follow, God gives us three warnings. The first warning is found in 9:18-21.

Beware of failure after great victory (9:18-21). In 9:18a, Moses again lists Noah’s three sons (“Shem and Ham and Japheth”) because the narrative is now especially concerned with them.

Then in 9:18b, Moses writes, “...and Ham was the father of Canaan.” This phrase was not randomly thrown in. It has great relevance because it anticipates the rest of the story.

Verse 19 states that the whole earth was populated from Noah’s three sons. [They are carrying out God’s commission to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth,” 9:1.]

Everything seems to be going along just fine when all of a sudden in 9:20-21, we read these tragic words: “Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.”

Sometime after leaving the ark, Noah took up farming like his father Lamech. Then he planted a vineyard and made some fine wine. Now this didn’t just happen overnight. After planting his vineyard, Noah had to wait until the grapes were ready for fruit bearing, which usually takes 3-5 years. Then he had to harvest a crop, gather it, and extract the juice from the grapes. Finally, he had to allow the grape juice time to ferment into wine.

The point that I’m trying to make is this: There were quite a few steps that led to Noah’s drunken stupor. (As it is most of the time when we take the steps and choices that lead to our sins).

Noah was a wise and discerning man. We can pretty much know that, before the flood, plenty of people got drunk. Noah was far from naïve. On the contrary, this great man of God sinned with his eyes wide open.

And this leads us right into the subject of alcohol. I think we all know how important the topic of alcohol is, and that most people have strong opinions about the use of it. But the real issue is not what WE think. The issue is what does God think? Ultimately, His opinion is the only one that matters. So I will limit this discussion to: what does the Bible have to say about alcohol?

Actually, the Bible speaks a whole lot about alcohol. The word “wine” occurs over 200 times in our English translations. Even more surprisingly to some of you is the fact that the Bible holds alcohol in high regard. The following list provides the biblical basis for alcohol.

  • Wine is viewed as one of God’s gifts to humankind (Ps 104:15).
  • Every burnt offering and peace offering was accompanied by a libation of wine (Num 15:5-10).
  • Moses implies that it is a good thing to drink wine and strong drink to the Lord (Deut 14:26).
  • Joy in the Lord is compared to the abundance of wine (Ps 4:7).
  • Honoring the Lord with one’s wealth is rewarded with the blessings of abundant stores of wine (Prov 3:9-10).
  • Love is compared to wine repeatedly in the Song of Songs, as though good wine were similarly sweet (1:2, 4; 4:10; 7:9).
  • One of the symbols for Israel was the vine (Isa 5:1-7; Mark 12:1-11).
  • Wine is symbolic of great blessing (Isa 25:6).
  • The lack of wine is viewed as a judgment from God (Jer 48:33; Lam 2:12; Hos 2:9; Joel 1:10; Hag 2:16); and, conversely, its provision is viewed as a blessing from the Lord (cf. Gen 27:28; Deut 7:13; 11:14; Joel 2:19, 24; 3:18; Amos 9:13-14).
  • Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine (John 2:9-10).
  • Jesus drank wine (Matthew 11:18-19; 15:11; Luke 7:33-35).
  • Jesus used wine in the Lord’s Supper (Matt 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18).
  • Paul tells Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach’s sake (1 Tim 5:23; cf. Prov 31:6).

But the Bible also warns us about the dangers of wine. The following list demonstrates this.

  • Nazirites were to abstain from all alcohol and wine (Num 6:3-4).
  • Priests were forbidden to drink prior to officiating in the sanctuary, lest they die (Lev 10:9).
  • In Proverbs 20:1 we are told that “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”
  • Drinking too much wine was dangerous to people and offensive to God (Prov 21:17; 23:20-21, 29-35; Isa 5:22).
  • Drunkenness was especially reprehensible when it led to self-exposure (Hab 2:15; Lam 4:21). The exposure of one’s nakedness was not only publicly demeaning but also
  • incompatible with the presence of the living God (Exod 20:26; Deut 23:12-14).
  • The Bible does speak very harshly about becoming enslaved to alcohol or allowing it to control a person, especially to the point of drunkenness (Eph 5:18; cf. Deut 21:20; Eccl 10:17; Luke 12:45; 21:34; Rom 13:13; 1 Cor 5:11; 1 Pet 4:3).
  • People, even youth, were stoned to death for drunkenness and the accompanying lifestyle (Deut. 21:18-21).

We must understand that alcohol is a problem in our culture, but we must also understand what the Bible teaches.

The Christian faith is about tension. Most of us would like for the world to be black and white. Clear-cut. No gray. But gray is a biblical color sometimes.

Let’s ask ourselves a few questions: Is money evil? Is food evil? Is riding motorcycles evil? Is exercise evil? Of course, the answer to all of these questions is, “NO!”

It’s all a matter of how these gifts from God are used. Nowhere in scripture does it say that drinking alcohol is a sin. With alcohol and all of these other areas, the Bible calls for moderation. If we do not use moderation, it is too easy for any good thing to gain control over us, which will be detrimental to our life, our family, and our ministry.

So what is the conclusion in this matter? Here’s 4 important principles to keep in mind.

  • Everything is a gift of God (1 Tim 4:4).
  • Obey government (Rom 13:1-7).
  • Allow differing opinions (Rom 14:1-23).
  • Not all things are beneficial to us. (1 Cor. 10:23).

Next week we continue with the story of Noah’s sin.


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