Shelby G. Floyd
Our lesson is entitled, Drink—Drank—Drunk! I have partially conjugated that verb. “Did you drink that beer?” “Who drank that wine?” “They have drunk strong drink from the Herculean cup like Alexander the Great of old.” Drink, drank, and drunk.
The Bible teaches that we all live and then we die. If there is no afterlife, the apostle Paul said, “then let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Corinthians 15:32). If all we have is this life, then according to the people who live that lifestyle, that is the best thing to do—eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die! But the evidence is overwhelming that there is an afterlife. As the Bible writer says, “it is appointed once for man to die and after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
And we all have people in our families that have been overtaken by alcohol. My own grandfather abandoned my dad, my grandmother and the whole family because of alcohol. He was gone to California for 20 years and no one knew where he was. He returned back to Indiana when I was a young man, but I did not know him. He was like a stranger to me. Because of alcohol, my grandfather deprived his immediate family and his grandchildren of any family relationship. That is what happens when people give themselves over to strong drink.
Every day on the news we hear of someone who has been killed, maimed or destroyed for life because of alcohol and drunken driving. How should convicted drunken drivers be treated today in America? In 1986 the newsgroup in Chicago put out some interesting facts as to how drunk drivers are treated in other countries:
• In South Africa a drunken driver is given a 10 year prison term and a fine of $10,000 or both, depending upon the circumstances.
• In El Salvador drunken drivers of the first offense are executed by a firing squad.
• In Turkey a drunken driver is taken 20 miles out of town by the police and forced to walk back under escort.
• In Bulgaria the punishment is execution for a second conviction of drunken driving.
• Malaya jails a drunken driver and if he is married his wife is also jailed.
• Russia known for heavy drinking revokes for life the driver’s license of drunken drivers.
• In Norway a drunken driver loses his license for one year and spends three weeks at hard labor in jail.
• In Finland and Sweden drunken-driving receives an automatic jail sentence or one year at hard labor.
These statements demonstrate that our country is very lax in the way we treat drunken-driving. The Bible is very clear about the danger and destruction that comes from drinking alcoholic beverages. One single passage in the New Testament book of Ephesians verifies my assertion: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). “And do not get drunk with wine,” is a very plain statement that everyone can understand. Christian people should fill themselves with the Spirit of God and not spirit of debauchery. Alcohol is a drug and leads to other kinds of drugs and debauchery. When people are drunk they are described as being “intoxicated.” Alcohol is a toxin and will destroy a person internally, externally, and eternally! It should be avoided by all Christian people like the plague.
Last year I spoke to you people about Noah and the great flood as described in Genesis chapter 6. Today I take up where I left off. After the flood, the Scriptures declare that Noah, and his family landed on the earth that had been cleansed from all the sin and wickedness. Moses declared, “Now the sons of Noah who went out of the Ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And Ham is the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated” (Genesis 9:18-19).
Beware of Failure after a Great Victory
We know originally the whole earth was populated from just two people—Adam and Eve. And now we have the same process starting all over again with eight people. We observe that Noah and his family have just achieved a great victory. Anytime we have a great victory in our life, we must be very careful and humble. It is so easy to be lifted up with pride after a great victory. And usually that portends a great fall. We all need to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God.
Noah and his family had just achieved a great victory over the fallen world. And now they step out of the Ark on top of Mount Ararat to a new earth. According to the book of Genesis, Noah was the son of Lamech: “Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and had a son. And he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD has cursed” (Genesis 5:28-29). And have you ever thought about what Lamech said concerning his son Noah? Lamech being a godly man prophesied that his son would bring some comfort to the human race concerning the work and toil of the soil that God cursed (Genesis 3:17-19). But the text suggests that through Noah there would be some relief from awful labor of man to dig out a living from the cursed soil.
Therefore, I would suggest that the flood itself, while bringing great destruction on the earth, also brought some relief to the soil. There is no doubt that the receding water brought in rich layers of topsoil like we have in Indiana. In the northern half of Indiana, the prairie soil is black, deep and rich in nutrients. In one sense the great flood made the earth better after God had originally cursed it because of the fall of man. The text suggests that the earth would be better off after the flood than before the flood—both physically and spiritually! Oh the wonderful grace of God. And in my opinion the earth was better off after the flood than it was before the flood. Wherever the great flood waters descended they brought in a rich layer of topsoil like we have here in the great state of Indiana.
All of the great races and nationalities of today have all derived from Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And all of the languages and dialects that are spoken today can be reduced to three main language families. No doubt these also can be traced back to Noah’s three sons.
I am sure the Noah family felt very lonely after the great flood. Think about it. Suppose, tomorrow everyone in this congregation would be the only ones left upon the whole face of the earth. We might be very depressed. Imagine, what might have gone through the minds of Noah and his family. They might have been very lonely, discouraged, and depressed. I don’t know for sure. But just try to imagine what it must have been like for only eight people to step out on this big world.
The Bible teaches that Noah was the best person that ever lived in that time before the flood. And the New Testament informs us in the great chapter on faith about the character of Noah: “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Hebrews 11:7).
NOAH BECAME DRUNK FROM WINE
The Bible is an honest book because it is a message from God. And God does not pull any punches when it comes to sin. And the Bible is an honest book even when the best man in the world does something wrong. God’s word is honest about good old Noah and his shameful drinking of wine after he landed in the new world that was cleansed from sin.
God Does Not Excuse Sin
We read about this episode in the life of Noah in Genesis:
“And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in 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, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness” (Genesis 9:20-23 NKJV).
There is the record of the shameful episode of drinking wine by the best man who ever lived before the flood. After Noah and his family came out of the Ark, God gave directions to them. He told them basically to do the same thing that he told Adam and Eve after he expelled them from the Garden of Eden because of their sin. Specifically he said (Genesis 9:1-7),
Go forth and multiply and repopulate the earth.
You can eat animal flesh, but not the blood.
You are not allowed to kill man or you will be killed by man.
I am giving you and all mankind an unconditional covenant that I will never destroy the earth again by water. The rainbow is the symbol of my promise.
Noah and those who followed after him were to live by submission to God’s directions given to all mankind.
Therefore Noah started out being a farmer just like Adam had in the beginning of the human race. Our founding father Thomas Jefferson stated that the culture of the soil was the noblest work that anybody could do. He was a very educated man, but he loved gardening and farming most of all. To work in the soil is a wonderful occupation.
And Noah planted a vineyard as part of his farming. It probably took two or three years for the vines to mature and produce grapes. I remember when I was a little boy we had a 2 acre mini farm in Sunshine Gardens with several rows of Concord grapevines. I would pick them and sell them for five dollars a half bushel. It was good spending money for a young boy and that was my first taste of running a business. But I did not make any wine and get drunk!
But Noah drank of his wine and as we would say, “He became dead drunk!” Surely Noah had observed this kind of behavior going on before the flood. But up until the time of Noah I don’t believe we have any legislation against drinking wine. But Noah was not naïve. He was a great man, but great men also make great mistakes sometimes. All of us have sinned and made some big blunders in our lives. Solomon said “There is no man that does good and sins not!” There are a lot of different kinds of sins: sins of ignorance, sins of weakness, and sins of presumption. There are stupid sins, simple sins, and complex sins. And there is sin that involves other people. And yes, there are sins of drunkenness and even the best of people sin. Usually people drink alcohol or take drugs to escape something in their life. Albert Einstein said, “A person who never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
Noah Disgraced Himself
Noah sinned with his eyes wide open. He was a wise and discerning man. You probably remember the advertisement for Paul Masson’s Emerald Dry, “We shall sell no wine before it’s time.” Good old Noah should have said, “I will drink no wine after it’s time!” Noah drank wine after it’s time and that is what got him into trouble.
Good old Noah was disgraced, when he drank fermented wine, became drunk, and uncovered his nakedness. Ham, one of Noah’s sons saw his father’s nakedness in his tent. At least he was not outside parading himself before everyone. He was naked and drunk in his own tent. Different titles have been given to this topic by various preachers. One preacher entitled his sermon, “Drunk in Your Birthday Suit.” “Preacher Found Drunk and Naked,” was another title. The Bible does say that Noah was a preacher of righteousness. Preachers must be very careful about their own life, lest they be portrayed as fickle and fake.
Ham Dishonored His Father
Ham saw his father naked and then he went outside and told his brothers Shem and Japheth about it. That seems to be very innocent when you first read about it. So you might wonder, what’s all the fuss about? Could he help it if he saw his father naked? When you go back and study the original language the word “saw” or “looked,” conveys the idea that “he gazed upon his father’s nakedness with delight!” Therefore he dishonored his father and treated his father with contempt by making light of his nakedness.
Also, he went out and told his brothers about what was going on inside the tent. It seems that he was inviting his brothers to also make merriment of his father’s disgrace. And it is at this point that our lesson switches from the drunkenness and nakedness of Noah to the disrespect and dishonor of Ham toward his father.
One thing we learn from this episode is that when we sin we are going to take somebody else with us. We are going to involve somebody else with our sin. Mark that down in your little book. No one sins alone. Noah’s shameful drunkenness and nakedness involved his son Ham. And Ham’s dishonoring his father involved Shem and Japheth.
But Shem and Japheth were of a different spirit. They were embarrassed over the sin of their father. Instead of rejoicing in it, they respected their father and honored him by putting a blanket over their shoulders and back side. And they backed up to their father and covered his nakedness. And the Bible says they did not see him in his embarrassing situation. The New Testament declares, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth”” (Ephesians 6:1-3 NKJV).
God does not want people to parade around naked. That is the reason that Adam and Eve made fig leave miniskirts to cover their nakedness after they sinned and lost their Halo of innocence. They still were not covered sufficiently, so God made them robes out of animal skins and covered their nakedness. So basically that is what Shem and Japheth did for their father.
Mothers and fathers, we learn from this story that your relationship with your own children may be damaged by your own sin. Scripture teaches that the sins of the fathers accrues to the third and fourth generation of their offspring (Numbers 14:18). Children do not inherit the guilt of their father sins, but the consequences. This simply means that the consequences of the sins of the fathers and mothers are going to involve their children. Like father–like son. Like mother–like daughter. That is the idea. Adam’s sin involved his children and Noah’s sin involved his children. Ham disrespected his father, while Shem and Japheth honored their father and did the right thing.
Another lesson that we learn from this is that some people are just waiting right around the corner for somebody to make a mistake or commit a sin. And then they can’t wait to go out and tell everybody about it. When someone does wrong in the church, it is no time to ridicule them or jump up and down on them with both feet. It is the time to bear one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:1-2).
THE BIBLE AND ALCOHOLIC DRINK
Now let us take a brief look at what the Bible has to say about God’s people partaking of strong drink. It is not a question of what you or I think about the use of alcoholic beverages. Our discussion must be limited to what God says about such behavior. Solomon, the King of Israel wrote some strong words condemning the use of wine:
Do not gaze at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup,
when it goes down smoothly!
In the end it bites like a snake
and poisons like a viper.
Your eyes will see strange sights,
and your mind will imagine confusing things.
You will be like one sleeping on the high seas,
lying on top of the rigging.
“They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt!
They beat me, but I don’t feel it!
When will I wake up
so I can find another drink?”
That reading definitely describes someone drunk on wine. Solomon described wine when it was red and fermenting in the cup. He said do not gaze at it and that means do not drink it. Both the Old and New Testaments use one word to describe fresh juice or fermented juice which will make somebody drunk. The Greek word oinos can mean either one according to the context. Therefore, when the word wine is used in the Bible we must look at the context to understand what it is talking about. And Proverbs 23 is definitely talking about fermented wine that will make someone drunk. And the passage is very descriptive of what people will do when they are drunk on wine.
My mother grew up in a dry county in southeastern Kentucky. There was a man there who if he could not buy the real thing would drink aftershave lotion to satisfy his thirst for alcohol. One day he was in town with a brown paper bag full of aftershave lotion. Someone asked him what he was going to do with all that aftershave lotion. He was very witty and replied, “I am going to shave an elephant!” That is the kind of crazy things that people do when they become drunk. And people need to know that there is the same amount of alcohol in a can of beer, glass of wine and a jigger of whiskey.
Alcoholic drink is to blame for much of the evil that is in our country of America. Because of alcohol women are raped and robbed, drivers of trucks and automobiles are maimed and killed, homes and families are destroyed by drunkenness, and many who start out drinking alcohol eventually go on to get involved in all kinds of drugs and narcotics.
What are some of the symptoms of drunkenness? We see slurred speech, imbalanced walking, red flushed face, red and swollen eyes, and erratic behavior. Those are just a few of the symptoms. Solomon also stated that drinking wine produces bad character and bad actions in Proverbs 20:1, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” According to this, wine will make one a mocker, a brawler, and foolish. Those are not good traits for anyone to exhibit.
A member of alcoholics anonymous sent this column to Ann Landers:
• We drank for happiness and became unhappy
• We drank for joy and became miserable.
• We drank for sociability and became argumentative
• We drank for sophistication and became obnoxious
• We drank for friendship and made enemies
• We drank for sleep and awaken without rest,
• We drank for strength and felt weak
• We drank the disability and acquired health problems
• We drank for relaxation and got the shakes
• We drank for bravery and became afraid
• We drank for confidence and became doubtful
• We drank to make conversation easier and slurred our speech
• We drank to feel heavenly and end up feeling like hell,
• We drank to forget and were forever haunted,
• We drank for freedom and became slaves,
• We drank to the race problems and solve them multiply,
• We drank to cope with life and invited death.
Regardless of how the world behaves, Almighty God definitely calls Christian people to be sober. Without a godly society a country will be headed toward spiritual destruction. In his first letter Peter wrote, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV).
NOAH’S CURSE AND BLESSING
After Noah awoke from his drunkenness and nakedness, he found out how his three sons had treated him while he was in this condition:
Then he said:
“Cursed be Canaan;
A servant of servants
He shall be to his brethren.”
And he said:
“Blessed be the Lord,
The God of Shem,
And may Canaan be his servant.
May God enlarge Japheth,
And may he dwell in the tents of Shem;
And may Canaan be his servant.”
(Genesis 9:25-27 NKJV).
Noah Cursed Canaan
Why did Noah curse his grandson Canaan instead of his son Ham? The Bible teaches that the sins of the fathers will carry on unto the third and fourth generation of their descendants. Obviously, no one inherits the guilt of their father’s sins, but only the consequences. Therefore this was like a prophecy that Canaan would be of the same character as his father Ham. And when the children of Israel finally went into the Promised Land, it was the Canaanites that became their enemies because they disrespected God and his people.
Noah Blessed Shem and Japheth
But while Noah cursed Canaan, he also blessed Shem and Japheth. They were blessed because they honored and respected their father. And for several generations they no doubt passed these virtues on to their children and grandchildren. And later on we read of God’s curses and blessings upon his people Israel. And you can read these curses and blessings in Deuteronomy 27-28. And there is a remarkable and noteworthy observation in our lesson today. The only recorded words of Noah in the entire Bible are the words of the curse and the blessing. We all need to remember that if we respect and obey God’s words, we will be blessed.
NOAH LIVED AND DIED
Moses completed this story with these words, “And Noah lived after the flood 350 years. So all the days of Noah were 950 years; and he died” (Genesis 9:28-29 NKJV). Is not that summary a picture of all of us? We live our life and we die. Noah was a good man but he made a big mistake. We all fall short of the glory of God. The important lesson we learn is not to continue in those sins, but to learn from them, overcome them.
Noah was one of the last to live a long life. He lived 500 years before his three sons were born. He lived 350 years after their birth and died at the young age of 950 years. Our lesson began with the subject of sin, and ended the subject of death. The apostle Paul declared, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Dear readers, if you are not a Christian why delay any longer? Obedience to the gospel brings salvation (1 Corinthians 15:1-3). Let all of us know that when our Lord returns in the clouds of glory, things on this earth will be going on just like they were in the days of Noah: “for the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the Ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:37-39 NASV).*
* Copyright © 2015 Shelby Floyd All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd delivered this sermon, Sunday morning, January 18, 2015, at the Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 West Main Street, Greenwood, Indiana 46142
Shelby G. Floyd