Jump Start # 2911
Genesis 9:21 “He drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent.”
“Say it ain’t so, Joe,” is a statement that a young boy shouted out at baseball legend Shoeless Joe Jackson has he was headed into a courthouse to testify about fixing the 1919 World Series. The Chicago White Sox were known as the “black sox” after that gambling scandal. And, that boy’s expression, “Say it ain’t so, Joe,” has become an iconic expression when a leader and a hero falls from grace because of some indiscretions and poor choices.
Our verse today takes us to that “Say it ain’t so,” expression. It’s about Noah. He has survived the ridicule of building the ark. He has endured those long, long months in the ark. He exists the ark to a new world and a world that is unpopulated except for what come out of the ark. Noah and his family alone found favor with God. The in-laws didn’t make it. The cousins didn’t make it. No grandparents. No next door neighbors. No guy down at the shop. Everyone died except for Noah and his immediate family. Everyone.
Now on this side of all of that, in a new world, our verse reveals that Noah got drunk and uncovered himself. One of Noah’s sons saw this and the other two sons covered Noah up. The “uncovering” of Noah has led writers to suggest all kinds of things. Most are not nice. Most are sexually based. Some believe Noah was wrong. Others believe what Ham saw and thought was wrong. But here it is. God shows a blemish in Noah’s character. The man who found favor with God was now doing unfavorable things. The one who walked with God was now walking without God. And, as you and I come across this, we want to join that young boy from 1919 and shout, “Say it ain’t so, Noah.”
What about the Noah’s in our lives? The preachers, shepherds, and parents who disappoint us and reveal that they do not walk on water as we once thought. Their feet are clay. There are cracks in their character. They are not being a hypocrite or faking their love for the Lord, they have failings and weaknesses. And, when the truth about these things surface, it’s enough to set a church back for decades. People lose hope. Some become angry. Others get discouraged. Heads roll. Preachers are fired. Elders resign. And, it can take a long, long time to move past the sins of our leaders.
What are some things we ought to learn:
First, no one, other than Jesus, and only Jesus is our Savior. The rest of us are broken, flawed and only a few steps away from sin. Even the best dad in the world or the perfect spouse, has moments, issues and a history with the devil that did not end well. Our hope and our faith is not in the church building. It’s not in the people we worship with, even though we love them. It is in the Lord. Jesus saves. Only Jesus is perfect.
Second, maybe God put this story of Noah in the Bible so we wouldn’t get the idea that Noah was perfect. He’s not better than you and you are not better than he is. David had his adultery. Abraham lied. Peter denied and later played favorites. Samson had his women. Rahab was a prostitute. The hall of fame list drawn from Hebrews 11 are of people who believed but struggled. We are not any different.
Third, maybe God put this story of Noah in the Bible to keep you from being discouraged about yourself. Yes, Noah obeyed God and built the ark. But Noah also got drunk. Yet, there he is in Hebrews 11 as one who found approval with God. Noah got drunk, but there is no indication that he became a drunkard. There is no reason to believe that he no longer sought the Lord. You and I fumble. Sometimes we fumble at the worst time. Sometimes our fumbles hurt others and cause others to be disillusioned. It is easy to beat ourselves up and to feel that God has no place for someone like us. But then there is Noah. Then there is David. Then there is Rahab. Then there is Samson. And, where do we find all those names, together in Hebrews 11 as believers who gained approval of God.
Fourth, maybe God put this story of Noah in the Bible as a reminder and a warning to us. There is no need to walk in these same steps as Noah did. The drinking likely lead to the uncovering of himself. Drinking will do that. It affects a person by taking away the safe guards that are designed to keep us pure, decent, modest and holy. Remove those safe guards and you’re likely to remove your clothes. It’s amazing to see so many young people getting caught up in the fad of drinking and going to wine tastings. That generation is into fitness and health and there is simply nothing good about getting drunk. Spiritually, medically, morally, emotionally—alcohol is a train that is rapidly heading towards a brick wall. There’s going to be a crash and it won’t be pretty. And, with this in our Bibles, we don’t have to do what Noah did. It didn’t turn out well then and it won’t turn out any better for us.
Finally, when leaders disappoint, don’t give up on them. Leaders need help to. The preacher needs a shepherd. The shepherds need shepherding. Now, when a person tries to justify sin, excuse sin and continue in sin, then there is a problem—a real problem. Now, it’s a major trust factor and faith issue. Those folks need to step aside and have “come to Jesus” meeting. But others slip now and then. They feel terrible when it happens. They seek the Lord for forgiveness. Yet everyone knows about the slip. Can they still lead? Should they still lead? We must be careful that we do not set ourselves up for a big failure. It can lead toward sinless perfection, which we will never find in each other. So, the reality is, your elders sin. Your preachers sin. You sin. Help each other. Build each other up. Don’t excuse the sin. Don’t treat it as if nothing bad happened, because something bad has happened. But deal with the sin and don’t destroy the person. Crucify the wrong and not the person. Make the heart stronger and better.
Say it ain’t so, Joe. Some times, it is so. And, with that we must help, forgive and restore.