We have been reading about Noah for the last several days. Yesterday we read about how Noah and his family came off the ark and began living a new life under the promises of God. Let’s continue today. Verses 18-20 read,
The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed.
20 Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard.
Years had passed and Shem, Ham, and Japheth had sons and daughters. Not only had they begun to be fruitful with reproduction but they were also fruitful in production, they worked at the various vocations necessary to continue life. Noah worked the soil. He planted a vineyard.
Vineyards, wine are an element important to life. Wine represents joy and celebration. But it is so much more. It is a symbol of sustaining life. Wherever Noah and his family settled it was probably not far from Mount Ararat where the ark landed. There is not an abundance of water there, so wine is necessary to sustaining life. It signifies the covenants of God (Matthew26:27-29). So a vineyard was an essential crop.
But of course Noah was still human, he wasn’t perfect. he enjoyed the wine, his vineyard produced and on at least one occasion he indulged in wine too much. Verses 21-22 read,
He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside.
Noah’s shame was not in drinking the wine. But he became drunk and so uninhibited he lay naked in his tent. It is not that our bodies are something to be ashamed of, it is that nakedness represents the shame of sin. Our naked bodies are for our spouses only in a representation of our transparent relationship with The Lord. But Noah was drunk, he wasn’t using wisdom and discretion. His inhibitions were gone and he was naked where anyone could see him.
And Ham did. Ham saw his father lying in shame and unable to cover himself. He had choices. But what did he do? He went straight out and told his brothers. You and I are often faced with similar choices if we’re living in communities and relationships. Someone confides in us or we discover some sin or shame about a person. We have choices. We can be like Ham and go tell our small group we need to pray for Sister Mary because she really needs help to overcome her drinking problem. Or we can be like Shem and Japheth. Verse 23 records what they chose to do.
Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father's nakedness.
These two brothers did a beautiful and prophetic act for their father. They didn’t look on his nakedness. Their love led them to refuse to shame him. He was unconscious, he would not have known if they came in seeing his shame or not. They walked in backwards with the garment blocking their view. They intentionally did not look at his shame or judge it. Then they covered his nakedness with the garment.
This is what Jesus does for us. He chooses not to look at our sin. Isaiah 43:25 reads,
“I, I am he
who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
and I will not remember your sins.”
That doesn’t mean God doesn’t know about our sins anymore, it doesn’t mean He forgot our sins like we might forget the capitals of each of the states. It means He chooses not to think of them, look at them or acknowledge them. But more than choose not to remember our sins in forgiveness, He covers us. He gives us new clothes to cover our shame. Zechariah 3:3-5 reads,
Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” 5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by.
God doesn’t shame us nor exhibit our shame to the world. He doesn’t flaunt our sin in the disguise of prayer circles. He does something about it. There is no condemnation in Christ. Romans 8:1-5 in The Living Bible describes it this way,
So there is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 For the power of the life-giving Spirit—and this power is mine through Christ Jesus—has freed me from the vicious circle of sin and death. 3 We aren’t saved from sin’s grasp by knowing the commandments of God because we can’t and don’t keep them, but God put into effect a different plan to save us. He sent his own Son in a human body like ours—except that ours are sinful—and destroyed sin’s control over us by giving himself as a sacrifice for our sins. 4 So now we can obey God’s laws if we follow after the Holy Spirit and no longer obey the old evil nature within us.
5 Those who let themselves be controlled by their lower natures live only to please themselves, but those who follow after the Holy Spirit find themselves doing those things that please God.
Focusing on sin doesn’t lead to salvation, focusing on The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit leads to salvation.
Let’s return to the narrative. Verse 24 reads,
When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him,
How did Noah know? It doesn’t say, but I believe it was a revelation from The Lord. The Lord gave Noah some prophecy and I have no doubt He gave him the entire picture. Verses 25-27 read,
“Cursed be Canaan;
a servant of servants shall he 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.”
Shem was Abraham’s 9 times great grandfather (Luke 3:34-37). His descendants would one day become Israel. Canaan’s descendants would be conquered by Joshua and Israel, becoming their slaves when Israel took the Promised Land, the land of Canaan. Shem was blessed by being the people by whom God would reveal Himself to and save the world. He fathered Abraham, Israel, David, and Jesus.
Japheth was enlarged. In the picture of this prophecy, his descendants became the gentile nations. He became all those who would benefit from Israel’s rejection of Jesus as Christ and so dwell in the places the Jewish and Muslim nations could have. Japheth’s heirs inherited all Shem’s heirs could have.
This chapter closes with verse 28.
After the flood Noah lived 350 years.
Consider that, Noah lived 950 years, even in those times when lifespans were centuries long 950 years was nothing to be sneezed at. Methuselah lived 969 years and he lived longer than any other person recorded in the Bible (Genesis 5:27).
Believer, whatever shame you are holding onto, remember this, between you and God there is no reason to hide. He chooses not to remember your sins, He forgave them and gave you new clothes. Remember this too when you consider the people in your family, community, and world. If God chooses not to focus on sin, what right do we have to do so?