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Noah – A Flawed Hero


Noah 7 – A Flawed Hero

Text: Genesis 9:18  18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. 19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.

When I preached on this passage around 10 years ago, I named it, ‘The Backsliding of Noah.’  Today, I’m not sure I would do that at all.  Remember that Noah was just like us!  We are all backsliders, to some extent.  So what is a backslider? A backslider is a genuine Christian, – a real believer in Jesus, who is not living as they should, – living a life that cannot properly deal with the mortification of sin.  (I have brought along a visual aid – he’s standing right here, in front of you, in this very pulpit.)  John dealt with this problem in 1st John 1.  He rights to us, that we might not sin!  But when we do sin, we must recognise that sin, and repent of it, and turn from it.  And when we DO sin, as we will, we have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ the righteous!  1 John 2:1  Note that Jesus is described as ‘The Righteous’ for ONLY he is righteous, never us, we are clothed in HIS righteousness.

And we are not alone in our backsliding.  Consider the Reformation heroes:  Luther was a racist and his language was sometimes unrepeatable!  And he wasn’t the only one.  Zwingli was a warrior. Calvin should have pleaded for the life of Servetus, Knox assented to the death of an archbishop. All of these men were deeply flawed. How do we make sense of this?   By reading our bible.  The bible never paints gloss over the characters of whom it speaks.  David – was an adulterer, a manipulative liar, a man involved in a plot to murder.  Samson –  let his passion for Delilah rule his head, bringing about his downfall.  Rahab was a harlot.  Noah was a drunk.   Lets see a little more about this


  1. Noah’s Calling. 20 And Noah began to be an husbandman,

Noah had been a shipbuilder!  I don’t know too many shipyard workers who later in life turn their hand to farming, so I wonder if before he had been called of God to preach and build the ark he had been a farmer?  If so he returns to that task. (This happens – sometimes the Lord calls a man or woman to a particular task – perhaps as a missionary etc – and when that task has been completed he returns the man to his calling.)

Noah’s is a necessary task. The world has been destroyed and the earth saturated. Now’s the time to replant and grow again. The world needs a farmer!  But look at where that led him. and he planted a vineyard:

The Christian’s choice of occupation is a very important choice indeed.

  • The Christian’s occupation should be glorifying to God. We all accept that it would be difficult for a Christian to be a bartender or a publican.  But nowadays the distinctions are so blurred!   These days, can a Christian be a registrar? A policeman? A baker!  Cf the late Sammy Kelly, a great footballer with a potential international career ahead of him, who became a Christian and his career was abandoned.  Christian Institute reported about a toyshop owner won’t open on Christmas Eve because it’s a Sunday.  When our job causes us to sin, we need to be visiting the jobmarket!
  • The Christian’s occupation should leave time for proper obedience to God. Some occupations are so demanding these days, that a worker cannot get time to spend being a parent, going to church, reading the Scriptures and in prayer.  You work all day, and well into the evening, you come home exhausted, you flop down on the sofa and fall asleep, and you crawl into bed knowing the next day will be the very same.
  • The Christian’s occupation must be a reason to give thanks to God. God has blessed many of us, through our work, and our toil.  But we can also become materialistic, as the blessings of riches go to our head, and the attractions of this world take over our lives, and our hearts grow cold and unthankful.  Money becomes our goal and our false god.
  • The Christian’s occupation must be a blessing to others. We must be thankful, and we must use our vocations, and our abilities to bless others too, as He has blessed us. Paul was a tentmaker, and he used his occupation to support his Christian labours, so that he would not be a burden to others.

Noah’s occupation was a source of his downfall.  Many’s a man or woman has had his Christian life and testimony ruined by his occupation.

  1. Noah’s Curse.

Noah’s occupation led him to expand his business by planting a vineyard.

  • Noah drank. 21 And he drank of the wine, now obviously the harvest had been reaped, and the wine had been produced. Now the Bible has a lot to say about alcohol – don’t forget that grapes and wine are a gift of God, and they are necessary in societies like ancient Israel, where they acted as a means of water purification.  Paul urged Timothy to drink a little wine, for the sake of his physical weaknesses.  Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding.  Yet the Bible is always against any form of drunkenness! Now see…
  • Noah drank beyond what was wise. and was drunken; Luke 21:34    Noah got drunk.  I don’t know how that would have happened.  Did he like the taste, and just keep on drinking?  Did he start to feel merry, and lose his senses?  Did the gradual increase of alcohol make him oblivious to the effects?  Why do people drink to excess?  Sometimes that can be hard for us to understand, those who are not predisposed to excess alcohol.  But every alcoholic starts his downfall with a single glass.  It’s a salutary warning.
  • He behaved like a drunkard. and he was uncovered within his tent. Drunkenness ALWAYS leads to shame. (Illustrations). Look at how this shame played out.
  • Nakedness. Nakedness is always shameful. How often do we see of this shameful behaviour? You men and women, coming out of nightclubs and bars in the early hours of the morning, perhaps abroad on drink fuelled holidays, revelling and singing and vomiting in the street, and lying half naked in the gutters and on the pavements of our towns and cities…
  • Exposure. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, What was wrong with that? Many people see people unclothed, even relatives. They could be carers, doctors, nurses, – even just by accident. This must be different. Some preachers will tell us that his nakedness was no accident, that Noah had his clothes deliberately removed by Ham, his youngest son, – and even worse that had performed some form of vile sexual assault upon his own father. Commentators note that this exposure caused Ham to revile his father, to laugh at him, to scoff at him. He despises his father. And more is to come…
  • Gossip. and told his two brethren without. So nasty and vindictive was he that he not only poured scorn upon his father, but he went to his brothers and gossiped maliciously to them.
  • After drunkenness – respect. 23 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. They would not look upon their father, nor would they permit others to look upon him in his shame.  The put a blanket across their shoulders, and they walked backward into his tent and covered him up.  It was a mark of great respect for their father, – in his sinful stupidity he has disgraced himself in the sight of God and of man, but these two brothers are shielding him from ridicule.

How could Noah recover from this?


  1. Noah’s Cure. 24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. 25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. 26 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. 27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
  • Noah’s prayer. I wonder did Noah awake to his foolishness, and repent of his sin? I believe he must have, a true believer always will, eventually … The Bible tells us that when Noah recovered he and discovered what has been done to him in his state of inebriation, he prayed to the Lord, asking that the perpetrator of the crime be cursed of the Lord, and for his other sons to be blessed.  If Noah had been still in his sins, then surely that prayer would have gone unheard and unanswered!
  • Sin’s legacy. How can Noah curse ham?  Ham has already known the greatest of blessings, in his preservation in the day of judgement.  The curse of his father’s sin falls in effect upon Canaan, who is destined to be a servant to the other men in the days that lie ahead.  (There were some who used this verse to justify slavery, alleging that Ham was the predecessor of all the black races, and that his descendants were made to serve the descendants of Shem and Japeth. Ham’s descendants were to be  a servant of servants The lowest of all servants.

A simpler and more accurate assessment would be to conclude that all sin has consequences, material and spiritual, and very often the sins of a believer will have a very great effect on that believer’s family.



So let’s remember.  Nobody is perfect, least of all me, or you, or David, the man after God’s own heart, or the Apostle Paul, the chief of sinners, or Noah, the drunken sailor.  When we look at the faults of others, as we are right to do, for we are to be discerners of fruit, we look at them through the eyes of those who are conscious of our own sinful disobedience and rebellion, our own shortfall in righteous, and we have pity on others, and pray for them, and forgive them as God has forgiven us.  And we examine our own lives, to find our own backsliding condition, and we confess this to the Lord, knowing that he has pardoned all our sins at Calvary.


So we come to the end of our series on Noah, and our passage ends with this simple epitaph, 28 And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. 29 And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.


© Bob McEvoy 2017

From → Bible Study, Genesis

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