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THE SHAME OF NOAH AND THE SIN OF HAM

(SERMON #55 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, June 22, 2008

“And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him” (Genesis 9:20-24).


Some of you are reading the Book of Genesis for the first time. This passage of Scripture must come as a great surprise to you! Noah getting drunk, and placing a curse on his grandson Canaan, must be a shock to you. But I think there are several lessons in this passage that can actually be quite helpful to us. Let us go immediately to those lessons.

I. First, the passage shows that the Bible is God’s Word.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (II Timothy 3:16).

This means that all of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, has been given by God Himself. Dr. Criswell said,

The clearest way to give Paul’s meaning is to translate as follows, “All Scripture, because it is God-breathed, is profitable…” The origin of Scripture is stated: It is “God-breathed” (theopneustos, Greek), i.e. the words of Scripture are to be received as from God Himself. The doctrine of Scripture maintained by the Bible is that its words are “God-breathed” (W. A. Criswell, Ph.D., The Criswell Study Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1979, note on II Timothy 3:16).

Our text in this passage gives proof of inspiration. Arthur W. Pink said that this text gives,

…a striking proof of the Divine inspiration of the scriptures. In the Bible human nature is painted in its true colors: the characters of its heroes are faithfully depicted, the sins of its most prominent personages are [openly] recorded…is evidence that the characters of the Bible are painted in the colors of truth…that such characters were not sketched by human pens, that Moses and other [writers of the Bible] must have written by Divine inspiration (Arthur W. Pink, Gleanings in Genesis, Moody Press, 1981 reprint, p. 121).

What is this but a true account of the shame of Noah and the sin of Ham? What is this but an accurate depiction, given by God, given by inspiration? You can trust the Book of Genesis because it gives you the foibles and inconsistencies of its greatest men! There’s a ring of truth in the accounts of the Patriarchs and other heroes of the Bible. We see them as men, as they were, beset with doubts, fears and insecurities. Sometimes they stumble, as did Noah. We learn to trust the Word of God because it speaks so relevantly to us, and shows us that even the best of men are not plaster saints, perfect in all their actions. True, the Bible says of Noah, before the Flood,

“Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations”
      (Genesis 6:9).

This indicates that he was “just” because he had been justified through faith, not by sinless perfection. The Reformers said that converted men are “justified though sinning.” That is one of the great statements about justified men brought to light by the Reformers. Then Genesis 6:9 says, “he was perfect in his generations.” This does not mean that he was sinlessly perfect. The Hebrew word translated “perfect” is from a Hebrew word that means “upright” and “sincere” (Strong #8549). We shall see that Noah remained a justified and sincere man, although he was not sinlessly perfect. This is the view held by the Baptists and Reformers concerning justified men in general, and I believe it applies to Noah throughout his life. Apart from this one incident, Noah appears as a man who was justified through faith in the preincarnate Christ, and lived, apart from this incident, as a “sincere” man in his walk with God. There is no other mention of Noah drinking in the entire Word of God, so he could not have been a man “given to wine” at any other point in his life. From the record of Genesis, and elsewhere in the Bible, we find no mention of Noah repeating this incident in the remaining 350 years he lived, and he certainly did not do so earlier, before the Flood.

II. Second, the passage shows the danger of drinking
intoxicating beverages.

The Bible says,

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1).

Dr. John R. Rice said,

How strange that Noah got drunk! Some suggest that possibly Noah did not know the result of fermented wine. It is interesting that in all the discussion of the terrible wickedness and violence in the world before the flood, drunkenness was never mentioned. There was murder, for Cain killed Abel. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Genesis 6:11 says, “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” Verse 12 says, “Behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.” And verse 13 says, “The earth is filled with violence” (John R. Rice, D.D., In the Beginning, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1975, page 238).

Dr. Rice said, “before the flood, drunkenness was never mentioned.” In fact, the word “wine” was not mentioned until after the Flood. The first mention of the word “wine” occurs in our text, in Genesis 9:21, after the Flood. This may well indicate that no one knew how to make wine, or that it was not made, for some other reason, until after the Flood. Just as men did not eat meat until after the Flood (Genesis 9:3), so it seems that they did not have wine until the Flood had passed (Genesis 9:21). Perhaps this explains Noah’s folly. Dr. Rice said,

Things were different before the flood. Men lived to enormous ages – up to more than nine hundred years. Animals, whose fossils we find buried under the layers deposited by the flood, were much larger than similar animals today. We suppose, then, that just as that canopy of vapor, “the waters which were above the firmament,” may have shut out some of the infrared rays of the sun and diminished the aging effect, just so bacteria was restrained, food did not spoil as soon, and fruit juice did not ferment as readily.
       Now in the new earth Noah planted a vineyard and drank wine and was drunken. Let us [therefore] charitably suppose that he was not accustomed to the quickly fermented wine and now learns sadly the effect of alcoholic drink (John R. Rice, ibid.).

Certainly this passage of Scripture shows the danger and evil of intoxicating drink. Arthur W. Pink said,

It is surely significant and designed as a solemn warning that the first time wine is referred to in the Scriptures it is found associated with drunkenness, shame and a curse (Arthur W. Pink, ibid.).

III. Third, the passage pictures the total depravity of man.

Arthur W. Pink said that the account in Genesis 9 shows that

Man at his best estate is altogether vanity, in other words, we see the utter and total depravity of human nature. Genesis 9 deals with the beginning of a new dispensation, and like those which preceded it and those that followed it, this also opened with failure. Whatever the test may be, man is unable to stand (A. W. Pink, ibid.).

Man is essentially “evil” (Matthew 7:11). Man is “dead in sins” (Ephesians 2:5), and therefore, must be “quickened…together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5). As Jesus put it,

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:6-7).

Although Ham had been spared from the Flood in the Ark, it does not seem that he was born again, and so he rebelled against his father Noah, and disrespected him. Ham came into Noah’s tent and

“saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without” (Genesis 9:22).

Dr. Rice said,

Ham saw the nakedness of Noah in his tent and told his two brothers. Perhaps he joked about it…there is a lack of respect, a lack of godly fear which children should have for their fathers. So Noah pronounced a curse on Ham’s son because of his disrespect in this matter (John R. Rice, ibid., pp. 239-240).

The curse fell on Canaan, the son of Ham. And Noah said,

“Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren” (Genesis 9:25).

Dr. Ryrie said,

Ham is punished for his dishonor to his father by having a son who would bring dishonor to him. The curse is not on the Hamites, but on the Canaanites, the inhabitants of Palestine…The Canaanites long ago became extinct; the curse therefore cannot be applied to anyone today (Charles C. Ryrie, Ph.D., The Ryrie Study Bible, Moody Press, 1978, note on Genesis 9:25).

But there is a lesson here that does apply today.

“Cursed be he that setteth light by [dishonors] his father or his mother” (Deuteronomy 27:16).

Ham’s sin was essentially that of dishonoring his father. Let all children remember that a curse comes when you dishonor and disobey your father, especially if he is a Christian. Depraved, unconverted men tend to dishonor their fathers, and this brings a curse today as it did then.

IV. Fourth, the passage pictures the atonement of Christ.

“And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness” (Genesis 9:23).

Unlike Ham, Shem and Japheth took no satisfaction in Noah’s condition. Instead, they “covered the nakedness of their father.” The Reformation Study Bible (Zondervan, 2003, note on Genesis 9:23) points out that “they behaved like God.” This means that they acted like God in the Garden of Eden when He covered the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve.

“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21).

In the same way, Shem and Japheth “covered the nakedness of their father” (Genesis 9:23).

The word translated “covered” in Genesis 9:23 is the same Hebrew word found in Psalm 32:1,

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Psalm 32:1).

The Apostle Paul quoted that verse in Romans 4:7,

“Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (Romans 4:7).

The Greek word in Romans means “to conceal” (Strong #1943). It sheds light on the godly covering of Noah by his two sons who honored him, and placed a garment over him in his tent. In doing this they became a type of Christ, who covers our sins by His atonement on the Cross. Christ’s Blood “covers” and “conceals” the sins of a Christian.

That is what the Lord Jesus Christ can do for you. By Christ’s death on the Cross, and the Blood which He shed, your sins can be “covered,” “concealed” from the sight of God! We find that theme of covering, concealing and hiding sin in many of the old hymns and Gospel songs. How I wish people would sing them again today! Charles Wesley wrote,

Hide me, O my Saviour, hide,
   Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide;
   O receive my soul at last.
(“Jesus, Lover of My Soul” by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

Augustus Toplady wrote,

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
   Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
   From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
   Cleanse me from its guilt and power.
(“Rock of Ages” by Augustus M. Toplady, 1740-1778).

William Cushing wrote,

Hiding in Thee, Hiding in Thee,
   Thou blest “Rock of Ages,”
I’m hiding in Thee.
   (“Hiding in Thee” by William O. Cushing, 1823-1902).

And Fanny Crosby wrote,

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
   That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
   And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.
   (“He Hideth My Soul” by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).

Are your sins covered by the Blood of Jesus? Are you hiding in Him from the wrath of God? Are you washed clean from your sins by the Blood of the

“Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”
      (Revelation 13:8)?

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Genesis 9:20-29.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“He Hideth My Soul” (by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE SHAME OF NOAH AND THE SIN OF HAM

(SERMON #55 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him” (Genesis 9:20-24).

I.   First, the passage shows that the Bible is God’s Word,
II Timothy 3:16; Genesis 6:9.

II.  Second, the passage shows the danger of drinking intoxicating
beverages, Proverbs 20:1; Genesis 6:5, 11, 12, 13; 9:21.

III. Third, the passage pictures the total depravity of man,
Matthew 7:11; Ephesians 2:5: John 3:6-7; Genesis 9:22, 25;
Deuteronomy 27:16.

IV. Fourth, the passage pictures the atonement of Christ,
Genesis 9:23; 3:21; Psalm 32:1; Romans 4:7; Revelation 13:8.