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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
 www.oaklawnurc.org/
 
Title:Noah's Fall and God's Grace
Text:Genesis 9:18-28 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Forgiveness of Sins
 
Preached:09/24/2017
Added:2017-10-10
Updated:2017-10-10
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


 

“Noah’s Fall and God’s Grace”
Genesis 9:18-28
 
This passage is a sad way to close out the account of Noah's life. After all, Noah's life up to this point has been impeccable. Genesis 6:9 describes him as a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, a man who walked with God. The previous verse, Genesis 6:8, had told us that even in a world of pervasive wickedness Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. We also read about Noah's obedience. When God told him to build the ark we read in Genesis 6:22 that Noah did everything just as God commanded him
 
The New Testament also sheds light on his character: We know from 2 Peter 2:5 that Noah was a preacher of righteousness. And Hebrews chapter 11 describes him as a man of great faith. Hebrews 11:7 says, By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
 
How tragic it is when anyone falls into sin. But how much more tragic it is when a godly man, a man who has set an example of godliness in a wicked and perverse culture, gets drunk and exposes himself in his tent. Why would Moses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, have to bring this sad incident up? Would it not have been better just to leave this portion of chapter 9 out of Holy Scripture?  Wouldn’t it be more uplifting and positive to think of Noah just in regard to his faith, and the obedience that flowed from it? Couldn’t Moses end the chapter with verse 17?
 
Romans 15:4 tells us everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. In this tragic account of Noah's fall we see a number of lessons written to teach us, written to help us to endure, and also to give us encouragement so that we might have hope.  
 
Indwelling Sin in Even the Godliest of People
 
First, this account teaches us about the total depravity and indwelling sin of even the godliest of people. We know from Scripture that apart from Jesus Christ there is no one righteous no not one (Romans 3:10). We are reminded, not merely that anyone can fall, but that everyone does fall. The Bible is filled with examples of other righteous people who fell into great sin.
 
Moses, who was inspired to write this account, as well as the first five books of the Bible, had blood on his hands from when he killed the Egyptian guard. Even worse, he struck the rock that the Lord had commanded him to speak to in order to cause water to flow from it. Because of that he was denied entrance into the promised land because the rock that accompanied Israel, 1 Corinthians 10 tells us, was Christ.
 
Or consider David; he sinned blatantly with Bathsheba, and went to great lengths scheming how to cover his sin by arranging for her husband's death in the front line at war.
 
Or we have Simon, the son of John, whom the Lord named Peter, meaning rock. Peter exemplifies in so many ways what it is like to be a bold, powerful witness for the Lord. And yet he also exemplifies in so many ways what it means to be a sinner: his faith wavered when he looked at the waves instead of at the Lord as he walked on the water. He argued with the other disciples as to who was the greatest.  But his greatest fall was when he denied ever knowing the Lord three times over while his Lord was being tried, ridiculed, beaten and mocked.
 
We could go on down the list. The list of heinous sinners in the pages of Scripture is exhaustive. Enoch, Daniel, and perhaps Joseph, are about the only ones whom no specific sin is mentioned within the pages of Holy Scripture.
 
And I am very thankful for that. What assurance of salvation would I have – and what assurance of salvation would you have – if every person recorded in Scripture lived a life like Daniel? He never wavered in the face of persecution. He never failed to pray as he knelt there by that open window facing toward Jerusalem, even though he knew that it would lead him to the lions’ den.  He faithfully recorded the various visions and prophecies given to him. He faithfully strived always to live God’s word out in his life.
 
But by contrast, you and I are more like Peter. Have you always spoken up whenever an opportunity was put before you to witness for your Lord? Have you always looked past the waves of your circumstances with joyful faith focused on Jesus alone? Have you and I always been humble, considering others better than ourselves? Or have we argued with others as to who is the greatest?
 
By exposing the sins of even the most righteous people, whether Noah, David, Peter, or any number of others, we are assured that the same God who forgave them and sanctified them, and promised them that the good work he had begun in them would be brought to completion, will do the same for us regardless of where we have fallen, how we have fallen and even how often we have fallen into sin.
  
The reason why all people, apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, fall into sin is that we carry within us the sinful nature of Adam. Jeremiah 17:9 describes how the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. In Psalm 51:3 David describes how his transgressions and sins are always before him. And in verse 5 of that 51st Psalm he acknowledges, Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
 
J.I. Packer, in one of his books, compares sin to a man's beard. Most of us men shave every day. But by the end of the day there is the “five o'clock shadow”. The hair follicles are deep under the surface of the skin. You can shave them away as they grow. But no sooner do you shave them away, than they grow back again.
 
J.I. Packer's point is that sin is the same way. It is, unfortunately, rooted in the very center of our life; in biblical terminology it is rooted in the heart, and the heart is the wellspring of life. And that is part of the reason why the Holy Spirit inspired Moses to write about this tragic fall of a righteous man who was blameless among the people of his day, a man who exemplified the obedience that comes by faith (Romans 1:5).
 
The Holy Spirit inspired this portion to be written so that we recognize the pervasiveness of sin even in the most righteous of people. And even more importantly we are to recognize sin within ourselves. And recognizing the pervasiveness of sin, we are to repent of it daily and strive, God enabling us, to turn from it more and more.
 
Discernment with Christian Liberties
 
Noah's fall also teaches us that while all drinking is not wrong, great care must be used by those who drink, just as discernment and care is needed in regard to all so-called “Christian liberties”. The legalist is quick to use Noah as an example to ban all drinking. Yet Paul wrote Timothy, Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and frequent illnesses (1 Timothy 5:23).
 
And the wine was certainly fermented; it wasn't just grape juice as some Christians teach. It had to be fermented in order to be preserved. And it clearly was fermented because both the Old Testament and the New Testament describe people getting drunk from wine.
 
In the pages of Holy Scripture wine certainly is not condemned. Psalm 104:15 says, The Lord makes grass grow for the cattle and plants for man to cultivate, bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread to sustain his heart.  And we know who the best winemaker in history was; it was the Lord Jesus Christ whose first miracle was performed in Cana, where at a certain wedding he turned water into the finest wine anyone had ever tasted (John 2:1-11).
 
To say that all drinking is wrong is to contradict the Scriptures which teach that we have liberties as Christians; yet the Scripture also teaches that restraint is needed. Proverbs 20:1: Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.
 
There are some people who consider how Noah became drunk, and explain it away by saying that he didn't know better. They would say that he didn't realize that the wine was potent, and he couldn't be responsible for lying uncovered in his tent because, after all, he was under the influence of the wine which he didn't expect to affect him as it did.
 
Noah may have been caught off guard by how quickly the wine affected him. But surely he knew, as anyone knows after the first glass or so of wine, or after the first beer or shot of whiskey, that there is a change in the way you think and feel. And as Proverbs 20:1 points out anyone who is led astray at that time is not wise.
 
And no one can use the excuse of being drunk to claim innocence for their conduct. Just as you can't legitimately say, “the devil made me do it,” so you cannot legitimately point to excessive drinking as an excuse for your behavior for each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death (James 1:14-15).
 
While we have the Christian liberty to use alcohol with discernment and in moderation it is crucial to heed the advice of Ephesians 5:18: Do not get drunk on wine which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the (Holy) Spirit.
 
The Inspiration of Scripture
 
Noah’s fall also reminds us of the inspiration of Scripture. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…
 
If the Bible was written merely by human authorship, people of faith would not be so honestly depicted as sinners. A.W. Pink writes, “It is human to err, and it is human to conceal the blemishes of those we admire.” Yet Noah, David and Peter, along with a host of others, are all exposed in Scripture as being great sinners. Each time that we read of sin in the life of a believer it is a reminder that the Bible truly is the inspired word of God. It tells us the truth about ourselves even when it hurts; it tells us the truth that we are all sinners in need of the only Savior, Jesus Christ.
 
Noah’s fall is a reminder that temptation and sin will assail us no matter what our past record is. Temptation will always be before us no matter how mature we might be spiritually. Noah was 600 years old when the flood came. He lived righteously for centuries. Yet now he falls into grievous sin. And his sin at an older age is not isolated. Solomon was well along in years when he fell into sin. David was a middle-aged man when he sinned with Bathsheba. Peter was a mature disciple when he denied the Lord three times over before that rooster crowed.
 
Ecclesiastes 12:1 tells us to remember your Creator in the days of your youth. But it is so important to remember your Creator at every age in life. It is crucial for you who are children to focus upon the Lord God, and that same focus is crucial for those in middle age and those who are well up in years. Always remember your Creator. And no matter what age you may be, take to heart the warning of 1 Corinthians 10:11-12, These things happened to them (the people of the Old Testament era) as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
 
Consequences of Mocking Those Who Fall
 
As we close our study of Noah's life we also see that taking delight in another person’s sin is a serious offense. If we just read verse 22 at face value it would not seem as though Ham’s sin was so serious. It simply says that Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness and told his two brothers outside. But from the context, especially verse 24, we see that Ham spoke of Noah's nakedness with ridicule and mockery. It seems as though he couldn’t wait to tell his brothers about his father's nakedness. Some commentators believe that Ham repudiated Noah's faith in God. They believe he took delight in finding his father naked and mockingly said, “Look at the preacher of righteousness!”
 
Such mockery has consequences. In verse 26-27 we read how Ham’s son Canaan would be cursed and become the lowest of slaves to his brothers. Innumerable pages have been written asking why Canaan would receive the curse, when his father was the one who committed the sin. But a basic principle of Scripture, as we read in the 10 Commandments week after week, is that God deals with families by generations. The Lord says, “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:5-6).
 
This episode should cause each one of us who is a father or grandfather, or a mother or grandmother, to live honorable lives before the Lord. We are to live out our faith in such a way that our children and grandchildren see that by God's grace we have set a good example, even with all of our sins and failures. Our prayer, then, is that they follow in the  footsteps of faith so that as our covenant God works through families, generation after generation of our children's children would live to the praise of his glorious grace and not live in rebellion against him.
 
This episode also drives home the importance of the fifth commandment to honor our father and mother. Jesus emphasized the importance of the fifth commandment to the Pharisees, in Mark 7:9-13, as he condemned them for giving money to the temple at the expense of helping their needy parents. 
 
The Apostle Paul also brought up the need for honoring our parents as he wrote in Ephesians 6:1-2: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”
 
It did not go well for Ham or his son Canaan in the land that they were dispersed to. This incident stands as a warning to all of us of the consequences of breaking God’s commandments, whether the fifth commandment or any other. The sin can be forgiven, but the repercussions remain.
 
The Greatness of God’s Grace
  
And then also we see that God’s grace is greater than our sin; not all the sons of Ham were cursed. In the next chapter, Genesis 10:6, we read of how Ham had other sons as well: Cush, Mizraim, and Put, as well as Canaan. Three of Ham’s sons did not receive the curse; God was gracious even as he brought judgment.
 
And the grace of our Lord becomes even more striking as we see that Canaanite blood was in the lineage of Jesus. Much later on in history a Canaanite prostitute, by the name of Rahab, would believe in the Lord with saving faith. She would hide the spies who had come to Jericho. She spared their lives, and in turn when the walls of Jericho fell, her life and the life of her family was spared.
 
But that is not the last time that we read about this woman of ill repute who came to salvation, even though she was from a lineage that was under a curse. We read about Rahab again in Matthew 1:5. We read of how Rahab is in the human genealogy of the eternal Christ, born in Bethlehem, truly human, truly divine and named Jesus “because he will save his people from their sin” (Matthew 1:21).
 
God's grace is always greater than our sin. And even though Canaan was put under a curse, there was Canaanite blood in the veins of the One who shed his blood to cover your sins and to cover mine. There was Canaanite blood in the veins of the One who made full atonement for the sins of Noah, David, Peter and all the people throughout history who by God's grace have believed in Jesus Christ.
 
Have you confessed your sin before the Lord, and do you trust him to forgive you on the basis of his Son's sacrifice on Calvary?  If so, then by God's grace may you and I heed the lessons from Noah's fall, striving in our lives to remain faithful no matter what age we are.
 
And may these verses also teach us to help those who do fall, not ridiculing them or looking down upon them as though we were holier than they, but rather showing them the mercy, grace and love of Christ that we ourselves have received through faith in him. Amen.
 
 
- bulletin outline -
 
Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some its wine he became drunk, and lay uncovered inside his tent. - Genesis 9:21-22
 
“Noah’s Fall and God’s Grace”
 Genesis 9:18-28
 
I.  Noah’s fall teaches us:
     1) The total depravity of even the righteous (21; Jeremiah 17:9; Psalm 51:3)
          
 
 
 
 
 
     2) While all drinking is not wrong (Psalm 104:15; 1 Timothy 5:23), great care must be used (Proverbs 20:1; 23:29-36)
 
 
 
 
 
    3) The inspiration of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16). If written by merely human authorship, a person of saving faith (Hebrews 11:7) would not be so honestly
         depicted
 
 
 
 
 
II. Applications:
     1) Taking delight in another person’s fall is a serious offense (23-24), having severe consequences (25-27); godly parental examples and honoring parents are
          both crucial (Exodus 20:5,6,12; Ephesians 6:1-4)
 
 
 
 
 
     2) God’s grace is greater than our sin; not all the sons of Ham were cursed (10:6), and Canaanite blood was in the lineage of Jesus through the Canaanite
         prostitute, Rahab (Matthew 1:5)
 
 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 09/2, Rev. Ted Gray

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