Most Christians are familiar with the story of Noah. This is one of the few stories in scripture that those who haven’t stepped in church or opened the Bible can recognize.
Noah’s story begins in Genesis 5. This chapter’s introduction opens with “this is the book of the generations of Adam.” We know from scripture that Noah represents the tenth generation from Adam. One of the reasons we know Noah’s story is so important is because of the way he is referenced. Noah is the only member of this family line who is given a name explanation. Lamech, his father, states that Noah is special and that he will bring relief.
We also learn a great deal about Noah’s character. We see that Noah is obedient to God through his willingness to obey Him without question as he builds the ark. Another fascinating fact about Noah’s story was his age. When he was asked to build the ark, he was 480 years old. This sailing vessel would be the largest of its kind until centuries later. Also, a lot of people do not consider the fact that Noah’s generation likely hadn’t seen rain before. It would not make sense to the people of the time for Noah to build a large ark because they weren’t near any major bodies of water. It was because Noah trusted in God that he promptly obeyed.
It is also interesting to look at Noah’s background. He was the grandson of the oldest person in the Bible, Methuselah, who died at age 969, the flood year. He is also one of the favorite Old Testament characters. His father named Enoch, is said to have walked with God, according to Genesis 5:24. We also know that Methuselah’s son Lamech died just a few years before the flood at age 777. This was following Noah’s birth. Noah was the tenth generation descendent of Adam, who was the first human on earth. Following Methuselah’s birth, his godly father knew of what was to come, for his son’s name meant “when he died, judgment.” Another interesting fact is that Methuselah died the same year God judged the sinful world using the great flood during Noah’s time.
While most Christians know the story of Noah before the flood, there are still many Christians who never learned about the shame of Noah, which took place after the flood. Noah is considered the first wine drinker by some. Genesis 9:20-21 tells us that Noah planted a vineyard that produced wine and became very drunk at some point following the flood. Not only was Noah completely drunk, but he also found himself naked inside his tent. What came next is recognized as the sin of Ham and possibly Canaan. This was one of the most painful periods of Noah’s life.
Noah woke from his sleep and discovered what many would consider their worst nightmare. In a moment of drunken weakness, he consumed so much wine that he passed out. He was not aware that he had fallen into a drunken sleep, and his naked body was shamefully exposed.
Noah’s sons responded to his nakedness in radically different ways. While Ham took delight in his father’s humiliation, further exposing his nakedness, Shem and Japheth took a more honorable course of action. They heard God encourage the value of the human body. Recognizing that they were made in God’s image, they did what they could to protect their father’s dignity. They did not want to degrade his image any further. They took their eyes away from Noah’s exposed body while also carefully covering his body so that he would no longer be in shame.
While this moment was not one of Noah’s proudest, it does serve as a reminder that even people who are saved by God’s grace are still prone to sin. A reminder of this can be found in Genesis 8:21, which says, “The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.’” This moment is also a significant warning of how our careless decisions can ruin our reputations. Look at what happened to Noah when he became drunk. It hurt his reputation, even though he was a godly man. The same can apply to our lives.
While we may not know exactly why Noah became drunk, the reason is irrelevant. Sometimes, the Bible leaves out certain details because they are not crucial for our relationship with God. While the exact sequence of events that led to Noah’s stumble is not detailed in scripture, we do learn about the power behind what we consume. We also know from the Bible that he sinned like other people, but according to Genesis 6:9, he was still “a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time.” We do see Noah’s life contrasted with humanity. He found favor in a world where evil manifested. Noah was chosen to do an impossible task. This same task allowed him to advance God’s purpose and changed the world as a whole.
Ultimately, we know that Noah is the hero of the flood story. God selected him to build the ark because scripture tells us in Genesis 7:1, “You alone have I found righteous.” However, at the end of the story, we are told Noah is the first human to plant a vineyard, get drunk, and expose himself to his children. Maybe the more significant message here is that even the best people can fall into addiction, along with error. Thankfully, our God isn’t a God of condemnation but of grace. We may be righteous, and we may lose our way, but God will still see the best in us.