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Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Forgotten Story of Noah

Have you ever stumbled across someone else's sin, only to turn around and tell your friends about it? Honestly, it could have been a complete accident that you found out. But how did you react once you gained that new information about that someone?

This question is so important, because it's not about mere gossip. It's about building up and tearing down the body of Christ.



Amazingly, there's a story in the Old Testament that touches on this subject. So let's dive right in together and read Genesis 9:18-27:
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. 19) These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated. 20) Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. 21) He drank the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. 22) Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23) 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 they did not see their father's nakedness. 24) When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. 25) So he said, "cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brothers." 26) He also said, "blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. 27) May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant." (NASB)
Ham Mocking God, Bernardino Luini
Understand that Noah was human. He might have been a righteous man who walked with God (Genesis 6:9), but he still sinned. And believe me, his drunkenness mentioned above is not the only time he ever sinned. It's merely the only specific recording we have from the Bible.

More importantly, though, are his sons' reactions.

Ham dishonored Noah by looking on his nakedness. In this particular passage, the Hebrew meaning of the word "saw" literally means Ham "gazed with satisfaction." So, not only did Ham see Noah uncovered, he enjoyed the humiliated state of his father and could not wait to tell others about it. 

Also, when Ham told Japheth and Shem what he saw, it brought division between his entire family. Noah specifically cursed Canaan, Ham's son, instead of Ham himself. Noah's shame of Ham would be reciprocated onto Ham because of Canaan's curse. If you continue throughout Scripture, you'll see that Ham's descendants, the Canaanites, literally became the servants of Shem's descendants, the Semites. Eventually the Canaanites became extinct. The curse Noah spoke over Canaan came true. Fortunately, that also means the curse no longer haunts our generation. It died with Ham's lineage.

Notice, too, that the blessing Noah placed on Shem and Japheth came true. Instead of pointing and laughing at their father's weakness, they honored him by covering his nakedness. Because of this, their descendants spread across the world, and are still present to this day.

Noah's Wine
In the New Testament, Christians are considered part of the Body of Christ. Today, it still rings true. We've been adopted into the family of God. And when we spread the stories of another Christian's downfall, we are only bringing division to the Body of Believers.

When we see our fellow Brothers and Sisters in Christ stumble in sin, we too must cover them with the blankets of love, mercy, and honor. Because truthfully, we're all sinners (Romans 3:23). If it weren't for Jesus Christ's death on the cross and His resurrection, we would all wander still in the mire that is our wickedness. Yet, God covered us in love by sending His Son to take on our sin (John 3:16). He covered us in mercy by offering us the free gift of eternal life with Him (Romans 6:23). He covered us in honor by adopting us into His heavenly family (Romans 8:14-17).

According to Galatians 6:1-2, we must "bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ." Are you carrying the burdens of your fellow Brothers and Sisters? Are you fulfilling Christ's law? Or do you burden the Church by eagerly spreading stories of your fallen Siblings in Christ? May the latter never be.

I charge you, my dear Brothers and Sisters, to love one another, even in our weakest moments. We all have them. You are no less guilty than me, and I you. Unfortunately, it's what makes us human. I charge you to build one another up. When one of us falls (because it will happen), may we be there to lift up, encourage, and pray for the Body of Christ. Only then will we be able to work as one for the Kingdom of God!