April 16, 2012
Why is That in the Bible?
The following is an adaptation of a post on our Brazilian blog, which in turn is an adaptation of the message preached last night at the Kerigma congregation.
In our congregation here in São Luís I am preaching a series of messages from the book of Gênesis. Yesterday, we arrived at chapter 9, verses 20 through 29.
To summarize, after the flood, Noah gets drunk and ends up naked in his tent. His son Ham gets a kick out of this and tells his brothers about it. They are horrified, and take measures to protect the dignity of their inebriated father.
Upon waking up, Noah pronounces a curse on his son Ham, and his grandson Canaan, as well as a blessing on his other two sons, Shem and Japheth.
And my question, whenever I arrived at this passage, was what in the world is this doing here? This is not one of the well-worn paths in Scripture. Indeed, I don't think I remember a single flannel graph presentation from this text.
But, after studying this passage, I believe there are three keys to opening our understanding of this text.
1. The Author It is important to understand that God used Moses to write this portion of His word.
2. The Context The original intended audience of this text was the nation of Israel, as they prepared to enter into the Promised Land. As we interpret this section, we cannot forget this fact.
3. Canaan Noah's grandson is included in the curse, even though he evidently had little to do with his father's actions. In fact, as the curse progresses, he gets mentioned more than his father. What's up with that?
Taking these three factors into consideration, the purpose of this text becomes clear. As they entered into the Promised Land, the Israelites would encounter the occupants of that land, namely, the Canaanites--descendants of Canaan (see Genesis 10:15-19 and Exodus 33:2). Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Moses relates this story with two purposes:
1. A Warning If God's people let down their guard (as Noah did when he hit the bottle a little too heavily), the enemies of God would take advantage of it (has Ham did when he shamed his wasted father). And, in fact, this is what happened. The book of Judges is the sad tale of God's people repeatedly letting down their guard, and God's enemies (the descendants of Canaan) taking advantage of them.
2. An Encouragement When he relates the curse that Noah pronounced on Canaan's head, Moses was communicating to the children of Israel that the destiny of their enemies was already sealed. They would in the end be defeated and reduced to slavery. Therefore, when the Israelite armies went out to do battle with the Canaanites, they could be sure of eventual victory.
And, as I told our congregation last night, for us today remain the same warning and encouragement.
1. A Warning If we let down our guard, our enemy will take advantage of it. In I Peter 5:8 we read that,
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour
It falls to us to be alert and vigilant through meditation on the scriptures and prayer.
2. An Encouragement Our enemy, though a roaring lion, is already defeated. On the cross, when Christ cried out "It is finished!" it meant the ultimate defeat of Santan and his hosts. And so, when we do battle, we know that we are dealing with a defeated enemy.
May we be sufficiently warned and encouraged by the story of a tipsy Noah and his disrespectful son!
Posted by Andrew on April 16, 2012 5:57 PM.
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