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(Genesis 9:20-11:25) Lessons From Sinning Saints

(Genesis 9:20-11:25) Lessons From Sinning Saints

by Stephen Davey Ref: Genesis 9–11

Is there really such a thing as a secret sin? No! Even the sins that are never discovered keep us from being the Christians God intends us to be. The person we fool most when we keep our sins buried in the closet is ourselves.

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(Genesis 9:20-11:25)

The rest of the book of Genesis, which we will continue after the holiday season, will only cover 350 years, and yet it’s the majority of the book, where it deals primarily with Abraham and Joseph.  I am looking forward to studying the lives of these patriarchs.  We come in chapter 9 to an unfortunate passage of scripture.  We studied last Sunday the ingredients of integrity and this morning a lesson from a sinning saint.  Unfortunately it revolves around the same individual.  It gives us the point that anybody can sin.  In fact, no one is above sin or temptation, not even one of these, like Noah.  Genesis chapter 9:20:  “Then Noah began farming (this is after the flood, they’ve embarked from the ark) and he planted a vineyard, and he drank of the wine and became drunk.  And he 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 stupor, he knew what his youngest son had done to him.  (So he prophetically declared) Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants he shall be to his brothers.  And 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.  And Noah lived 350 years after the flood.  So all the days of Noah were 950 years, and he died.”  It’s interesting the parallel between Noah and Adam.  The first man to ever live, Adam, sinned by taking or partaking of the fruit of the vine.  Noah, the first man after the flood, would also sin by drinking the fruit of the vine, Adam, the literal fruit.  Both men would fall and, as a result, one would recognize his nakedness, the other would become naked.  Both would receive a covering from someone else, and, as a result of that sin, both would receive a curse.  And yet in that curse there would be the promise of blessing.

Now the sins of Noah were two-fold.  First of all, he became drunk, and drunkenness was against or a violation of God’s command, especially as you read later in the Old Testament.  But, not only did he become drunk, he became naked, that is he in his lewdness, we dare not even imagine, and yet in his tent perhaps he shed his clothing in drunkenness.  This man of God, the preacher of righteousness, now drunken and naked.  Shamefully exposing himself, in fact, I found at least different interpretations to this passage of Scripture, which doesn’t make it very fun for me.  And yet the view that I normally will or the interpretation that I will follow is that which literally follows the meaning of the Hebrew words, because I know there’s safety in discovering what the literal text means.  The word uncovered himself is that same Hebrew word or words used in Scripture for shameful exposure.  There’s nothing particularly sensational here.  He became drunk and took off his clothing--perhaps lewdly dancing about.  The confusion is in what Ham did.  Some would suggest at least six different things here.  Perhaps he had an incestuous  relationship with Noah, that is he uncovered his nakedness, being a Hebrew idiom of lying with his wife, and yet the text does not indicate that.  Some have even suggested that there is a homosexual violation here, and yet the text does not say that Ham uncovered the nakedness of Noah, but that Noah uncovered his own nakedness.  So what did Ham then do?  It says, “When Noah awoke, he knew what Ham had done to him.”

Two things, first of all, he saw.  The Hebrew meaning of the word is that he gazed, he observed, he watched.  He perhaps is behind some covering of the tent, and he is watching his father.  Not only that, I think the real sin was in what follows.  Would you notice again it says in verse 22:  “And he told his brothers outside (the Hebrew word told means literally with delight).”  He was really enjoying this.  Why?  This was not only dishonoring the honor of his father, but perhaps even revealing in his heart that he had repudiated the faith of his father.  Ha!  This is the preacher of righteousness.  Look at what he’s doing, and he was delighted in his father’s fall.  The only thing that’s worse than committing a specific sin perhaps is the devilish delight in absorbing that sin in someone else and sharing it with others.  Why do you think the tabloids make millions of dollars every year, why, because they pander to the fallen nature of man that delights in the sorry side, the seedy side of humanity.  So their stories are of the fights, the break ups, the divorces, the lawsuits, and all of the seedy things that happen, the tragic things that happen to mankind.  So Noah awakens from this stupor and makes  a prophetic curse.  Look at verse 24 again:  “When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done, that is he had mocked him.”  He makes a prophetic curse, that is, he is saying what will happen.  It isn’t like okay Canaan or Ham, you are now going to do this.  It’s I perceive by revelation that this will be your future, and so he gives the curse.  In the curse is the promise.  Verse 26:  “ He says  blessed be the Lord, the god of Shem.”  Shem would be the father of the Semites.  You  can see in Shem the word Sem.  Semite nations from which Israel would come.  So here is the blessing of the or the promise of the coming Messiah.  Japheth is the father of the Indo-European nations from which the majority if not all of us have come.  Ham will become the father of the African, the Egyptian and the Arabian nations.  This is easily documented not only by the Biblical accounts but by secular anthropologists.  By the way, nations, the idea of nationality, is God’s idea.  Take your Bible and turn to the book of Acts.  In chapter 17:  It’s interesting here and it has given me great comfort in discovering this, Acts chapter 17.  Look at verses 24 and on.  Paul is speaking in Areopagus to the philosophers.  He is referring to the unknown god.  In Acts chapter 17 verse 24 he says:  “The God who made the world and all things in it since he is the Lord of heaven and earth does not dwell in temples like you’ve made with your hands.  Neither is he served by human hands as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all life and breath and all things.”  Now note this, verse 26:  “And he made from one every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times (that is how long they will last as a nation.  And he also determined the boundaries of their habitation, that is how large they will grow, how much land or territory they will crumble or they will conquer before crumbling.  Now note this next verse.)  That they should see God (verse 27) if perhaps they might grope for him and find him.”  What is the purpose of the nations today?  They are visual lessons that you and I as part of a nation need to search God out.  We need to follow God.  What did great Rome teach us?  What did Babylon teach us?  When you reject God, he rejects you.  What will the historian write one day of America?  That we as a nation began to reject God, and in that he would then reject us.  Absolutely.  He will allow us to bear the consequences of our own immorality and like Rome, crumble from within.

Now there are some people back in Genesis chapter 9 here that believe the Africans or the black peoples are consigned to slavery and that God even ordained it as such in this curse.  I’ve even heard that from evangelical lips.  There’s one very clear way of discovering whether that is true or not.  Read what the text says.  I don’t mean to be facetious or caustic, yet this is tragic that this view among others comes by a simple if not ignorance of what the text says.  Would you note verse 25:  Who is cursed, Ham and all his descendants?  Who?  Tell me.  Let me hear you.  Canaan is cursed, one branch of the descendants of Ham, not all of the descendants of Ham.  Just one, and that is Caanan.  Canaan would be the forefather of all the Canaanites.  You remember them?  They were inhabiting the land which God had promised to Israel.  When Joshua led the people in to Canaan, they had to do what?  Subjugate and overthrow, bring into or into their authority who?  The Canaanites.  From the Canaanites we get the Hittites and Perizites, and the Amorites and the Jebusites and all the other Zites.  These are all those who came from Canaan, and now in fact they cease to exist as a nation.  The curse has been fulfilled.  If anyone had some claim to this curse in the 20th Century, by the way, it would not be the African, it would be the Arab who lives in Palestine.

So I’ve mentioned the descendants of Ham and Shem, but what about Japheth?  I want to give you some interesting features about his descendants.  It’s told here in this curse that God would enlarge verse 27 Japheth.  Enlarging means that he would conquer, he would enlarge his borders.  This is exactly what happened.  Let me share a few thoughts with you.  Gomer, who is mentioned here is the forefather of the Germans, that’s where we get that nation.  One of Gomer’s sons, Togarmah, established Turkey.  They always named their nations after themselves, being modest as they were.  In fact, the Armenians came to be called the house of Targam.  Especially interesting to me in this passage is the mention of three sons.  Would you look at chapter 10, verse 2:  “The sons of Japheth were Gomer and Magog and Madai and Javan and Tubal and Mesheck and Tiras.”  Now these three underlined Magog, Tubal and Mesheck  have given us the northern people or the Russians.  In fact, Ezekiel mentions Magog, and the Hebrew word for chief prince is the Hebrew word rosh or rush from which we get our English word Russia.  Now, by the way, we’re not talking about millions of years ago, we’re talking about 4,000 years ago, and this is so clearly seen in the histories kept by man and especially this table of nations.  Now the two tribes Tubal and Mesheck is find in the writings of Herodutus who indicated that by his time the names had developed into Mesken and Theobelian.  These two tribes would push north and east of the Black Sea into what is now Russia.  In fact, these two tribes are now used as the dividing marks of the modern state of Russia.  Tubal is now Tobol on the Tobolsk River.  Mesken is now Moscow on the Moskva River.  It’s fascinating to me when I think of that, that here is the beginning of that which one day rose up against Israel is the writings of Paul that  God made every nation, and that he appointed not only their times that is how long they will exist, but their boundaries.  God is in total control.  He is not only the creator of nations.  He is the controller of nations.  I don’t mean to imply by that that America is safe from the Russians.  I don’t find American in here, but what I do find is the sovereign God who has mapped out even the nations and their boundaries.

Chapter 11, if you would turn there, introduces to us the story of the Tower of Babel.  This is a story of great mystery.  It’s pretty well documented that astrology and even the zodiak and idolatry ultimately trace their roots back to Nimrod and his kingdom of Babylon.  Note where Babylon got its start.  Turn back to chapter 10 and let me read a few verses here.  Chapter 10:8-12:  “Now Cush became the father of Nimrod.  He became a mighty one on the earth, and he was a mighty hunter before the Lord (in the face of the Lord it should say) therefore it is said like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the face of the Lord.”  This is a spite.  This is a hunting in spite of the face of the Lord.  Nimrod is the first man to be called mighty and this refers to his prowess in hunting, not animals, but the souls of men that he will use in building his kingdom of Babylon.  In fact, his name, Nimrod, means let us rebel.  His father Cush had heard the curse and said I am not going to abide by that.  My little boy will grow up one day to be the rebuilder, the rebuilder of a nation.  Thus we have Nimrod.

Now turn back to chapter 11, let’s look at the first few verses:  “Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words, and it came about as they journeyed east that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.  And they said to one another, come let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly and they used brick for stone and they used tar for mortar and they said come (here’s a violation of God’s command in chapter 9 to replenish or fill the entire earth)  they said come let us build for ourselves a city and a tower whose top will reach into heaven.”  You notice those words are italicized.  It could be translated atop, into heaven.  This is their religious system.  This is replacing God.  This tower will reach the heavens.  That was their declaration.  Notice what they said, “And let us make for ourselves a name lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”  This tower was a monument erected to symbolize the rebellion against the command of God.  I want to read you something simply because archeologists have discovered these towers like the ziggurats, and they have found that at the top of these towers were altars and rooms dedicated to the worship of signs of the zodiak.  In fact, they have found those symbols painted and drawn on the walls.  You see, what we have today in modern astrology, it is not modern, it is going back in its roots to the ultimate rebellion that God would one day in this chapter come to stop.

Let me read you something rather interesting from a man who has done a lot of study.  Note this, I apologize for reading a paragraph, but hang with me here.  He says, the text speaks of the top of the tower as being that which was dedicated to the heavens as a place of worship.  This is the meaning for the reason that astrology which focuses on the study of the zodiac originated in Babylon.  Turn to any book on astrology, secular, and you will find that it was the Chaldeans, another name for the inhabitants of Babylon, who first developed the zodiac by dividing the sky into sections and giving meanings to each on the basis of the start that are found there.  A person’s destiny is said to be determined by whatever section or sign he is under.  By the way, do you know what yours is?  I think most of us have stumbled into that knowledge which points its finger back to rebellion against God.  From Babylon astrology passed to the empire of ancient Egypt where it mingled with animism (?) and polytheism.  The pyramids were constructed with certain mathematical relationships to the start.  The sphinx, you know that huge monument still in Egypt today.  If you have ever toured there, you’ve seen that.  That has astrological significance.  It has the head of a woman, symbolizing Virgo, the virgin, and the body of a lion, symbolizing Leo.  Virgo is the first sign of the Zodiak, Leo is the last.  So the sphinx, which actually means joining in Greek, is the meeting point of the zodiak.  When you see the sphinx, it is simply saying in effect this is the beginning and the end.  Our religious system is eternal.  It is the alpha, the beginning, and the omega, the ending.  You see, false religion, even way back in the time of Nimrod, sought to obliterate the true beginning and end.  Isn’t it interesting, when Jesus Christ comes to rule, he will state in the latter chapters of Revelation chapter 21, I believe, will say I am the alpha and omega.  I am the beginning and the end.  I would warn you with this, if you read the horoscopes, stop.  It is a dangerous thing, it traces its roots back to the idolatry of Babylon.

Well, God confounds the language, verse 5:  “And the Lord came down to see the city and tower where the sons of men had built, and the Lord said, ‘Behold, they’re one people, and they all have the same language, and this is what they begin to do and now nothing which they purpose (that is evil) to do will be impossible for them.  Therefore, let us (perhaps an indication of the Trinity) go down and confuse their language that they may not understand one another’s speech.’”  And the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth, and they stopped building the city.  That was the plan of God.  I don’t want you erecting a one world government.  I don’t want you to have one city ruling all the world.  I want you to scatter, develop into the nations that I have designed.  So he came down and took care of that which would create a common barrier, even today.  That is language.  You know it’s hard enough to understand each other even when we speak English, much less when you have another language.  In fact, I was reading one pastor who illustrated this point with a lady in his congregation who was a kindergarten teacher.  It snowed a lot where she taught, and snowsuits were required.  One day she was with a lot of difficulty helping a little boy into his snowsuit.  It was one of those infernal kind with the ties, snaps, and buttons.  It took her about five minutes.  Finally, when she got the boy in it, he looked up at her and said, “This isn’t my snowsuit.”  So with the grace of kindergarten teachers, you know they deserve a medal of honor anyhow.  She pulls this boy after untying and unsnapping everything.  She finally gets him out, and he continued his story.  “This is my sister’s snowsuit.  But my mother said I could wear it today.”  If I had been that teacher, there would be one less kid on the planet earth.

There’s great difficulty in communicating.  In fact, the coming kingdom is prophesied by Zephaniah chapter 3, verse 9, where God says through him, “In the kingdom I will return to the peoples a pure language that they may all with one consent worship me.”  Isn’t it fascinating to know in heaven we will all once again have the same language.  The Spaniard, the Chinese, the Mexican, the American, we will all be able to communicate with one language, and I think communicate perfectly.

Now I want to take a practical turn in this sermon.  I want to give you several things that will be helpful from this passage, unfortunate as it is.  One thing is perfectly clear to me, as I studied this passage.  Had we written the Bible, we would have left the sins of the patriarchs.  There would have been things that we would have ignored, but God doesn’t.  In fact, I think that’s another proof that God determined the content of this book.  Sometimes the Bible is so comprehensive that it is embarrassing.  Sometimes it probes, and we wonder why Lord, why give us these last five verses of Noah’s life.  Let it end on a good note.  Why, because I think that God wants us to learn, not only from the successes of the saints, but their failures as well.  Let me quickly give you seven lessons from the sins of Noah.

Number one:  If you are taking notes, you’ll find a place for this.  A believer is never immune from sin.  A believer is never immune to or from sin.  Noah was 600 years old when the flood came, and he had lived his life righteously for 600 years.  Then in his later years he mars his perfect record.  Is this unique in the Bible?  Absolutely not.  Moses in his later years struck the rock declaring for himself some glory due only to God.  When David was in his fifties, he fell into immorality.

This leads me to the second point.  That is this:  past success doesn’t guarantee future safety from sin.  You see, you don’t inoculate yourself by all of the successes of the past week.  Satan doesn’t say, “Well, you know he’s been really good this past week.  We won’t bother him this week.”  Nor does he say, “Well that person they’re almost in heaven, let’s leave him alone.”  No, it persists to the grave.

Thirdly, small temptations are often the most dangerous.  Look at Noah.  The preacher of righteousness.  A man for a hundred and twenty years said no to all kinds of immorality.  Now with a cheap flask of homemade wine, he’s brought to his knees.  Small temptation, and yet it was the most dangerous.  Perhaps that’s what the writer of scripture means when he says take heed while you stand lest ye fall.  Watch out for the little things.

Number 4:  temptations are always changing faces.  By the time you master one, another one comes along.  But I say changing faces, because ultimately all temptation says the same thing, whose voice are you going to listen to.  The voice of God, or the voice of the world system, your flesh, and Satan.

Fifthly:  Sin never affects the sinner alone.  This is probably one of the most tragic parts of sin.  It never affects just you and me.  You say, Oh no.  My sin isn’t affecting anybody but me.  In fact, no one even knows, but it is that sin in your life that keeps you from being the kind of husband, father, believer, testimony that you ought to be.  Someone is robbed when you and I get away from what God would have us be.  Sin, someone wrote, is like a pebble thrown into a pond of water, although the pebble strikes only one place, the ripples from its force stretch outward.

Number 6:  I want you to mark this one well.  Believers never have an excuse for sin.  I stress believers because I Cor. 10:13 which you can perhaps jot down that reference into your notes, “There is no temptation confronting you but such as is common to man.  But God if faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able but will with the temptation provide a way of escape that you may be able to bear it.”  When we sin, we say no to God’s escape plan.

Number 7:  God never ignores sin.  Even in the life of a saint.  God never ignores sin.  He never plays favorites.  Sin will always bring guilt.  Whoever you may be.  That guilt may bring the loss of joy.  It will bring loss of fellowship, but there are always consequences.

There are two further lessons before we quit that we can learn from our own biography of sin that God has given us.  We’re like Noah, we’re not in here, but we can certainly see the similarities.  That resides in our sin nature.  I want to give you quickly two very positive results or lessons that we can learn from our sin nature.  I know that sounds odd, you mean there’s something positive to be learned about our sin nature.  Yes.  I didn’t say sin.  There’s nothing positive about sin.  I don’t want anybody to call me this week and say, pastor, I sinned, and man you’re right, I learned that positive lesson.  Please.  This is the sin nature.  Let me give you two things.  God can use the awareness of our nature to sin to do two things.  Number 1:  to develop appreciation for our position in Christ.  Paul, the great apostle, cried to God in chapter 7 of Romans, “Lord, whatever I want to do, I can’t do it.  Whatever I don’t want to do, it seems like that’s what I’m always doing.  Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Who will excise from me the sinful nature?”  The body of death is referring to the Roman custom where a man committing murder is taken to the cross, and, before he is put on that cross, strapped to him if this murdered victim is a slave or someone of ill repute or perhaps not a Roman citizen, they’ll take the dead body and lay it on top of the murderer and strap it to him wrist to wrist, neck to neck, waist to waist, leg to leg, and then they’ll put them on the cross.  That is what is referred to as the body of this death.  He will die a hideous death with his victim cheek to cheek.  Paul says, “Who will deliver me from the body of this death, this wicked old man, this old nature that’s strapped to me?”  The awareness of his sin was so great, but then  he concludes the chapter with, “I thank God through Jesus Christ.  There is now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.”

It also develops gratitude for Christ’s work in us.  Not only our position in Christ, but Christ’s work in us.  Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation.  Old things are literally continually passing away.  Behold all things are continually becoming new.  See we get the idea that somebody becomes a believer.  You look at them - scruffy, unshaven, dirty, next week he’s in church, three piece suit, Bible in hand.  Yes, he’s a believer.  No, No, No, No.  It’s a Christian life, and it takes a life.  It’s not the Christian moment, and one of the things about our sin nature is that it develops in us the appreciation that Jesus Christ is at work in my life.  There’s so much that needs to be changed.  There’s so much developing that can take place.  Don’t expect changes in everything in a moment.  It takes a life.  But be confident that it is Christ who works in you both to will and to do his good pleasure.  Phil. 2:13  I like what Paul says in Phil. 1:6:  “I am confident of this very thing, that he which has begun a good work in you shall complete it in the day of Jesus Christ.”  God’s at work. Our sin nature is a lesson.  The reason that you and I are miserable in our sin is simply because Jesus Christ gives us the sense of guilt.  It is our relationship with him that shows us our wickedness.  Thank God for that.  It is the dangerous situation where the individual has no sense of sin.  Do you fail?  Yes.  Do you sin?  Yes.  But you know your sins are forgiven, because you gave your life to Jesus Christ.  And though your sins were as scarlet, they’ve been washed as white as snow.  This is the story of Noah, a saint and a sinner.  Did he fail?  Yes.  Did he sin?  Yes.  God gave it to us to learn.  And yet God would write Noah’s epithet in Hebrews 11:7:  That by faith Noah inherited the righteousness of God.  So have you and I if we have come to the cross of Jesus Christ.  Let’s pray.  Would you stand with me please with heads bowed and eyes closed.

In just a moment we are going to be finished with this service, and we’re going to sing a hymn.  Perhaps you do not know the freedom, the privilege of knowing your sins have been washed away.  When we sing this hymn that’s very familiar, we won’t even need our hymnbooks, Just As I Am Without One Plea, but that thy blood was shed for me, and that thou bidst me come to thee, O Lamb of God I come, I come.  Would you let us sing that, and, if you’ve never trusted Jesus Christ as your personal savior, you are not sure that your sin is taken care of forever,  would you meet me here.  Our invitation also includes those of you who would like to join this fellowship or follow the Lord in baptism.  I would invite you to meet me here as well, for you to express your desire to join this fellowship.  Let’s sing together Just As I Am.  Perhaps you could keep your heads bowed and your eyes closed.  Would you thank the Lord if you’re a believer that He has given us the record of Noah, a man who failed and sinned.  Would you thank the Lord even now that your sin nature reveals to you, although it’s poignant, that He is at work in your life.  Perhaps you’re a believer here and you’re not right with the Lord, and you’d like to pray with a counselor here, would you meet me as well.  Perhaps you would like to stand where you are in your chair and ask the Lord to forgive you for that sin that you’re hiding, you think you’re hiding from Him.  If you have a decision to make, and we can help you, I want you to let everyone else sing with heads bowed and eyes closed  and meet me here, whatever decision.  Let’s sing.




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