The Bible calls Noah a righteous man, yet he was barely off the ark before he had sinned by getting drunk. Two of his sons responded righteously, but one did not. What does the Bible say about drunkenness and how should we respond to the sins of others, especially those closest to us?
We’ll also talk about being made in the image of God, the quality of our “salt,” the importance of reconciliation, what it looks like to live in the kingdom of God, and driving under the influence.
Genesis 9 & 10
Shame, Dishonor & Consequences
Let him that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall!
It didn’t take mankind long to sin again, did it?! Noah and his family are barely out of the ark when Noah gets drunk and acts foolishly. When he does, his son Ham can’t resist the urge to look at him in a disrespectful way.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary says about chapter 9.18-23:
“The drunkenness of Noah is recorded in the Bible, with that fairness which is found only in the Scripture, … to show that the best of men cannot stand upright, unless they depend upon Divine grace, and are upheld thereby. Ham … probably rejoiced to find his father in an unbecoming situation. It was said of Noah, that he was perfect in his generations, chapter 6.9; but this is meant of sincerity, not of a sinless perfection. Noah, who had kept sober in drunken company, is now drunk in sober company. Let him that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall.”
That last statement is a quote from 1 Corinthians 10.12. We need to be very careful not to think of ourselves as better than someone else or above sinning in some area, especially in our own strength. We must learn to continually rely on God and His strength.
Matthew Henry goes on:
“The consequence of Noah’s sin was shame. Observe here the great evil of the sin of drunkenness. It discovers men; what infirmities they have, they betray when they are drunk; and secrets are then easily got out of them. Drunken porters keep open gates. It disgraces men, and exposes them to contempt. As it shows them, so it shames them. Men say and do that when drunken, which, when sober, they would blush to think of.”
While the Bible does not condemn having a glass of wine, it does give us strong warnings about the danger and sinfulness of drunkenness.
“Notice the care of Shem and Japheth to cover their father’s shame. There is a mantle of love to be thrown over the faults of all, thrown over the faults of parents and other superiors. The blessing of God attends on those who honour their parents, and his curse lights especially on those who dishonour them.”
What a great reminder about the importance of honoring our parents (Eph 6.2).
1 Peter 4.8 says, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’”
This is true in all relationships, but especially within our families. Though it does not mean that we disobey other clear commands of Scripture, such as the command to leave father and mother and cleave to your spouse (Gen. 2.24) or the command to speak the truth in love when necessary (Eph. 4.15). That includes confronting and, sometimes, reporting illegal or abusive behavior.
The Value of Consequences
We have all seen and heard the heart-breaking stories caused by drinking and driving or someone under the influence of drugs. Letting love cover does not mean we look the other way when someone drives drunk or does anything else that is illegal or puts others at risk. It also does not mean that we seek to lessen the consequences of his or her sin.
Moms, that means refusing to bail that son or daughter out of jail when they have been arrested for DUI or some other crime, especially if it’s happened numerous times. Wives (or husbands), that means respectfully refusing to “call in sick” for a spouse with a hangover.
It means taking the keys or calling a cab. It means making a commitment to never drink and drive ourselves. It means sitting down with anyone in your family, especially your kids, and letting them know that if they commit a crime, you will not bail them out, pay for a lawyer, or do anything but allow them to suffer the consequences.
Consequences are God’s way of getting our attention. They are part of His loving parental instruction. They are the result of His laws of sowing and reaping. When we get in the way, we impede His work in their lives. Often, He will simply take matters out of our hands. That sometimes means greater consequences.
Substance abuse isn’t the only area where we can get in God’s way. It might be rebellion against authority, laziness, or any number of things. So while we need to be careful not to be self-righteous, we need to remember that genuine love doesn’t seek to prevent all pain and suffering.
Instead, we should show genuine love and concern by letting them know that, while we may not remove all the consequences, our love is unconditional. We should pray that God will use the situation for good (Rom. 8.28-29). If they don’t know God, ask Him to save them and if they do, pray for them to fully surrender their lives to Him.
We, also, need to be careful not to gossip. And if we or someone else has been hurt by their sin, seek God’s help to truly forgive.
In the Image of God
Another important verse in chapter 9 is verse 6:
“Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.”
John MacArthur says, “The reason man could kill animals, but neither animals nor man could kill man, is because man alone was created in God’s image.”
So while Proverbs says, “A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal …, (Prov. 12.10), in many cases, the well-being of animals is placed higher than that of people, especially the unborn.
Many of the same people who condemn animal cruelty (rightfully so), protest the wearing of furs (it seems to me God was the first furrier, Gen. 3.21), and go to extremes to prevent the extinction of a turtle, will defend a woman’s right to kill her unborn baby.
Every man, woman and child, inside the womb and out, was created in the image of God and is precious to Him.
Today’s Other Readings:
Our Sustaining God
I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the LORD sustained me.
6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me all around.
7 Arise, O LORD;
Save me, O my God!
For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone;
You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.
8 Salvation belongs to the LORD.
Your blessing is upon Your people.
What a great passage to meditate on if you are being tempted by fear!
Though, as yesterday’s reading showed so clearly, God makes His wisdom readily available and understandable, there will be those who mock or refuse to hear it. Those who hear the truth, yet go their own way are accountable for that choice and will suffer the consequences.
Christ’s Inaugural Address
Chapters 5-7 are often referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. This was Jesus’ first public sermon. You might say it was the inaugural address of the King of kings and the Lord of lords! Jesus was saying, this is how it is in My kingdom! It sounds like we should pay close attention!
It starts with the Beatitudes, verses 3-10. In verse 3, He talks about the “poor in Spirit.” These are the people who recognize that, apart from God, they are spiritually bankrupt.
Verse 4 is about mourning over sin—primarily our own. But too often we’re quick to see the sins of others as major and ours as just minor character flaws. We’ll talk more about that when we get to Matthew 7.
Verse 5 talks about the meek. This has nothing to do with weakness, in fact, quite the opposite. This is the strength that comes from self-control which is empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Verse 11 talks about being persecuted for righteousness sake and we know that does happen. But verse 12 goes on to talk about salt that has lost its flavor. Real salt doesn’t lose its flavor or the ability to preserve things, but salt that is polluted by impurities can appear that way. So if we’re being persecuted in our family or in the work place, etc., we need to be sure it’s because of our righteousness and not because we’re acting like the rest of the world and people see us as hypocrites.
Even when we are suffering for righteousness sake, we need to be sure that we are not acting self-righteously, but truly loving and godly. Then we can take heart to what Peter said—that it is better to suffer for doing right than to suffer from doing wrong (1 Pet. 3.17).
Verse 16 reminds us what is really important—letting our light shine in such a way that God receives glory! And, while it’s discouraging to see much of what’s taking place in the culture around us, we should remember that light shines brightest when the surroundings are the darkest. So, let your light shine!
And in verse 20 Jesus says our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees. He is calling us to genuine heart change, not just external obedience. But it also helps us realize that God’s demands on us are not humanly possible. Our only hope is to be “in Christ” and partakers of His righteousness!
I’d like to leave you with some thoughts about verses 23-24. These verses point to the importance of reconciliation, especially between brothers and sisters in Christ. He says, before we worship Him, if we know someone has something against us, we should first go and get it right. It doesn’t matter who is right or who is wrong. While we are not to be “man-pleasers,” we can’t just say, “I don’t care what people think of me.”
We are to be a reflection of Christ to the world. Jesus said, “They will know you because you have love one for another” (Jn. 13.35). And conversely, we can be a stumbling block to others because they don’t see that love between sisters and brothers in Christ.
What is God saying to you today?
Is your life bringing Him glory?
Is there someone who has something against you which needs to be made right?
Lord, please help each one of us to do what You are showing us to do. Please give us the courage, the humility and the right words, so that others will see us and glorify You, in Jesus name—amen.
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