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After the Rainbow: Genesis 9.18-29


The Noah and the ark story in Genesis 9 is a tremendous story of deliverance and what God is able to do.  We love this story!  It’s time to think about the power of God and celebrate it.  This story shows how God helped a family through very difficult circumstances.  After a great victory low moments happen.  Difficult days come.  How do we handle those days?  How do we handle the valleys?  We’ve seen Noah at his finest and now he’s at a low.  How do we help people through difficult times like these?  We know how Noah and his sons responded. 

The world quickly returns to normal after trauma.

For example, after we have a hurricane come through the very next day the sun is shining!  There’s trees down everywhere, but the sun still shines.  It can seem like this in our lives too.  Everything continues on and we are left dealing with difficulties in our lives. 

                    18The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

From Genesis chapter 9 and forward we see the repopulation of the earth through the sons of Noah.  There’s many more stories of how God grew his people.  They’ve been through trauma and now life is back to normal.  This passage echoes what it’s like to go through trauma. 

                    20Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard.

Noah plants a garden.  We think Noah had plants on the ark that served as food.  Some of you are doing this now.   You’re growing plants inside and you’ll take them outside when it’s time.  A garden in established.  Some things are different than they were before the flood.  Not all plants and animals were rescued.  Some became extinct.  In Genesis 9:2 the animals are described as wild for the first time.  There’s an enmity between animals and mankind and this is a change.  The first eight chapters of Genesis are more peaceful.  From chapter nine forward there’s descriptions of hostilities and fear between man and animal. 

For example, in the book of Revelation when Christ returns to establish peace on earth, the lion and the lamb lie down together.  Here in Genesis 9 we see something isn’t quite right.  There’s a part of us that’s never the same after great difficulties and traumas.  Something is lost.  They’re moving forward, things are growing and this is a fresh start.

Our internal struggle can continue after an external threat ends.

They made it through.  Noah spent 120 years preparing the ark and a year getting through the flood.  In Genesis 6 Noah is described as a man who walked with God.  When it came time to stand up, Noah stood up.  He shared his hope in God with others and he was strong.  Noah lived through the greatest catastrophe that ever happened on our planet and now we see a low moment in Noah’s life.   

            21He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent.

Noah cannot hold his wine.  Everyone has weaknesses.  Noah’s past the traumatic event.  He’s collapsed.  He’s fallen apart.  The internal struggle continues.  Grapes are a mixed blessing.  Noah isn’t able to cope with what’s happening in his life.  It’s a huge let down to see Noah like this, such a change in the person described in Genesis 9.  Noah is struggling. In Daniel 2 Nebuchadnezzar has a dream.  In his dream is a huge giant with a chest of bronze and iron legs.  It’s a towering figure.  The feet are a mixture of iron and clay.  A rock hits the feet and the giant falls over.  Daniel is able to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.  Feet of clay are a weakness.  We all have clay feet.   This image reminds us that no matter how strong we are, we all have clay feet.  Even the strongest people in the Bible had weaknesses.  Noah lays uncovered and his sons respond in 2 different ways:

Shaming a person in their struggle damages long term relationships.

            22And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside.

What do we do when someone is going through a difficult time?  There’s something that’s not right when Ham walks into Noah’s tent and sees his naked and drunk.  How do we respond? 

Ham further shames his father.  Instead of covering him he publicly dishonors him by announcing what he sees to his brothers.  “Hey, come look!  Dad is drunk and naked!”  This is sometimes our response too especially if someone is a hero.  There’s a tendency in us to publicly shame.  This is also a fear we have.  This tells us what kind of friend we want to be.  How do we respond when people are struggling?  Ham isn’t sure what to do.  There’s moments when we discover our parents doing something disgraceful.  Ham gives a response that troubles us.  One of the commandments is to honor our father and mother.  Our parents cared for us.   We can imagine what our parents put up with when we were children.  What happens when a parent sees their child in a dishonoring situation?  To a Hebrew person, being seen naked was one of the worst things that could happen to you.  Hebrews were careful to never shame someone publicly through nakedness.  The Romans knew this.  When Jesus goes before Pilate the first time and he stripped naked and whipped the point was public embarrassment.  Then while Jesus is on the cross they are casting lots for his robes because they unclothed him.  Jesus took our shame to the cross.  He had no shame of his own.  He defeated our shame before the whole world.  Ham is increasing the shame of his father.  This isn’t the right response.  Later, Noah will pronounce a curse on Ham that’s carried out throughout the Old Testament. 

Creating a safe space in a time of need promotes healing.

            23Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 

The second response the other sons have makes a huge difference in Noah.  I can imagine them walking backwards, trying not to embarrass him and then covering him up and leaving.  This is a different response.  They did not increase Noah’s shame; they covered it.  All of us are capable of experiencing shame.  If a child falls and no one sees him he gets up and continues to play, but if a child falls and people see him there’s wailing, gnashing of teeth, and we know the child is ok, but they’re experiencing shame.  We know what this emotion feels like.  What kind of friend do we want to be?  What kind of family member do we want to be?  What kind of church do we want to be?  Noah’s tent became a safe place where he could recover. 

There is life after trauma.

                    24When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 

in Genesis 9.  Noah is struggling. In Daniel 2 Nebuchadnezzar has a dream.  In his dream is a huge giant with a chest of bronze and iron legs.  It’s a towering figure.  The feet are a mixture of iron and clay.  A rock hits the feet and the giant falls over.  Daniel is able to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.  Feet of clay are a weakness.  We all have clay feet.   This image reminds us that no matter how strong we are, we all have clay feet.  Even the strongest people in the Bible had weaknesses.  Noah lays uncovered and his sons respond in 2 different ways:

Shaming a person in their struggle damages long term relationships.

            22And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside.

What do we do when someone is going through a difficult time?  There’s something that’s not right when Ham walks into Noah’s tent and sees his naked and drunk.  How do we respond? 

Ham further shames his father.  Instead of covering him he publicly dishonors him by announcing what he sees to his brothers.  “Hey, come look!  Dad is drunk and naked!”  This is sometimes our response too especially if someone is a hero.  There’s a tendency in us to publicly shame.  This is also a fear we have.  This tells us what kind of friend we want to be.  How do we respond when people are struggling?  Ham isn’t sure what to do.  There’s moments when we discover our parents doing something disgraceful.  Ham gives a response that troubles us.  One of the commandments is to honor our father and mother.  Our parents cared for us.   We can imagine what our parents put up with when we were children.  What happens when a parent sees their child in a dishonoring situation?  To a Hebrew person, being seen naked was one of the worst things that could happen to you.  Hebrews were careful to never shame someone publicly through nakedness.  The Romans knew this.  When Jesus goes before Pilate the first time and he stripped naked and whipped the point was public embarrassment.  Then while Jesus is on the cross they are casting lots for his robes because they unclothed him.  Jesus took our shame to the cross.  He had no shame of his own.  He defeated our shame before the whole world.  Ham is increasing the shame of his father.  This isn’t the right response.  Later, Noah will pronounce a curse on Ham that’s carried out throughout the Old Testament. 

Creating a safe space in a time of need promotes healing.

            23Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 

The second response the other sons have makes a huge difference in Noah.  I can imagine them walking backwards, trying not to embarrass him and then covering him up and leaving.  This is a different response.  They did not increase Noah’s shame; they covered it.  All of us are capable of experiencing shame.  If a child falls and no one sees him he gets up and continues to play, but if a child falls and people see him there’s wailing, gnashing of teeth, and we know the child is ok, but they’re experiencing shame.  We know what this emotion feels like.  What kind of friend do we want to be?  What kind of family member do we want to be?  What kind of church do we want to be?  Noah’s tent became a safe place where he could recover. 

There is life after trauma.

                    24When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 

Imagine Noah wakes up and realizes he’s covered with a coat that isn’t his!  He knows someone covered him.  He needs to figure out what happened.  It’s clear from Noah’s response that he knows what happened.  Noah learns who helps and who doesn’t.  We also learn who wasn’t there for us and who made things worse. 

                    28After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29All the days of Noah were 950 years, and he died.

Noah recovers.  He lives 350 years longer after the flood and then he dies.  When we are publically embarrassed we can remember that Noah lived another 350 years.  There’s life after embarrassing moments.  Jesus Christ has given us hope.   There’s life beyond our challenges.  Noah is restored and we don’t hear about him again until Hebrews 11 mentions him as one of the heroes of the faith. 

What about us?  I want you to know there’s no shame in having a difficulty or a mental health challenge.  There are times to seek help.  Maybe you’re dealing with depression?  Thoughts?  Maybe you’re thinking you might need to get some help?  If you’ve already had the thought that you might need help you need to go ahead and seek help.  There’s no shame in seeking help.  God has placed some wonderful people in our community that can help.  Don’t think your weakness is something to hide.  We all have clay feet.  Noah needed help and his sons helped him.  The power of the cross is restoration.  Not all things need medical attention; not all things need therapy.  Whatever you have before you, may you let God restore you.  God loves you more than you can imagine.  God doesn’t just love you when you’re building an ark.  God loves you when you’re drunk and uncovered in your tent as well.  Will you let God restore you today?

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