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Fathers of the Bible – Noah

The sons of Noah who came out of the boat with their father were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham is the father of Canaan.) From these three sons of Noah came all the people who now populate the earth. After the flood, Noah began to cultivate the ground, and he planted a vineyard. One day he drank some wine he had made, and he became drunk and lay naked inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw that his father was naked and went outside and told his brothers. Then Shem and Japheth took a robe, held it over their shoulders, and backed into the tent to cover their father. As they did this, they looked the other way so they would not see him naked. When Noah woke up from his stupor, he learned what Ham, his youngest son, had done. Then he cursed Canaan, the son of Ham: “May Canaan be cursed! May he be the lowest of servants to his relatives.” Then Noah said, “May the Lord, the God of Shem, be blessed, and may Canaan be his servant! May God expand the territory of Japheth! May Japheth share the prosperity of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant.”
Genesis 9:18-27

Dear God, this has always been a hard story for me. Even when I was a child and I first read it, I’ve never liked it. But for the purposes of this series on motherhood and fatherhood, I think it’s an important story to sit with.

We have a few things happening here. First, there is a passage of time–enough to grow grapes and then ferment them into wine. This obviously wasn’t an immediate process. There was time for them to have struggled together. The struggled through building the ark. They struggled through the experience of the ark. Now, they’ve struggled through the reestablishment of life. Did hard feelings develop over that time?

The thing I see now is Ham relishing in the idea of mocking his father. Knocking him down a peg or two. “Hey, guys. Wanna see dad drunk off his a** and naked on the ground?”

I think most fathers of children after a certain age have felt, at least once, the disdain and bitterness from a child. As much as children might experience rejection at the hands of their father or mother, mothers and fathers have felt rejection from their parents. Sometimes, the division seems insurmountable. I’ve certainly been there. I can see my children, especially when they were teens, enjoying the experience of mocking me and taking me down a peg. And I can see me lashing out in anger as Noah does.

I’ve never liked Noah’s response to Ham. It feels too harsh–especially to Canaan. But as I sit and think about this, what is a good way to hurt the son who’s hurt you? You hurt his son. From a list of Ham’s children later, I’m assuming Canaan wasn’t the oldest because he’s listed last (Genesis 10:6), but maybe he was the youngest and Ham’s favorite at the time. I don’t think this was about poor Canaan. It was about causing Ham as much pain as possible in the moment.

We never really get any resolution to this story. Noah lived another 350 years after the flood. What were those like between Ham and Noah? Canaan and Noah? Canaan and his dad, Ham? Did they ever reconcile? And why did the author give us this story? Was it to explain a superiority of their lineage over the Canaanites?

When it comes to my own life, how do I respond to my children’s disrespect and/or anger? The ugly truth is that the answer is all over the map. Sometimes I’ve actually responded in love. Sometimes I’ve given them the freedom to work through their feelings of me and waited for them to mature and see things (and me) a little differently. Sometimes! Most of the time, unfortunately, I’ve responded as Noah did–impetuous anger. It can be hard to see myself reflected in this story that I’ve never liked.

Father, help me to respect and honor my parents and my wife’s parents (living and dead). Help me to love them with your love. Help me to see them with your eyes. And with my children, help me to patiently love them as they grow. Help me to see myself through their eyes and respond to them in mercy. Help me to reveal your character to them through my responses to them. Draw them closer to yourself. Please don’t let me do anything to get in the way of your plan for them through my own foolishness, selfishness, or insecurity.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2019 in Fathers of the Bible, Genesis

 

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The Drunkeness of Noah – Genesis 9:8-15, 20-23


The image above is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard. The image is called “Failed Savior” and was created by Ned Bustard.

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life…

20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.
Genesis 9:8-15, 20-23

Dear God, when I opened Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups this morning, this is the first image I turned to. I’ve never liked this story, and I almost turned away. But then I got to thinking that perhaps I should explore this story more. Why does it hit me that way?

I’ve never liked the image of the human Noah. Why tell us this story? Why not just leave it at verse 19 and the part about you putting your bow in the sky as a reminder of your covenant with us? I really don’t need to know about Noah getting blackout drunk and being discovered by his son. Or do I?

My first inclination was to focus on Noah’s shame in this image and the reaction of his sons (and then his subsequent response to them). When I looked at Bustard’s image, I saw:

  • A fat old man passed out.
  • An umbrella. I thought it was a clever nod to the rain and a way to use it to give Noah a little modesty. Obviously, Bustard wasn’t going for a period piece.
  • The wine bottle and glass are also obviously not period, but communicate that the subject of the image is drunk and passed out.
  • The life preserver was a nice nod to the ark.

That’s what I saw. But here’s Bustard’s description of the piece:

Hebrews 11:7 states that “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” But although he was instrumental in saving all of the living, Noah was not the promised Savior. Noah is shown here drunk, lying in a cruciform, and with a life preserver forming a halo of sorts around his head. He is an inebriated old man, and the symbol of his saving work is broken and covers him as poorly as the fig leaves covered the shame of Adam and Eve.

Hmm. I had never thought about comparing Jesus and Noah. I hadn’t thought about Noah being your “savior” for the remnant of humanity and comparing that with Jesus being our Savior. The halo. The cruciform. The fact that the umbrella is broken. I had missed all of that. Interesting.

Father, there is none righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10). Except for Jesus, of course. Thank you for a complete savior. Thank you for an inclusive savior. Noah was an exclusive savior, sent by you to preserve the remnant of mankind. Jesus was sent to rip away the veil between you and us and present all of us to you as an unblemished bride. Help me to live into that and to carry that to others who need you today.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

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Enoch Walked with God — Genesis 5:1-8, 21-29

Genesis 5:1-8,21-29 NIV
[1] This is the written account of Adam’s family line. When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. [2] He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind” when they were created. [3] When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. [4] After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. [5] Altogether, Adam lived a total of 930 years, and then he died. [6] When Seth had lived 105 years, he became the father of Enosh. [7] After he became the father of Enosh, Seth lived 807 years and had other sons and daughters. [8] Altogether, Seth lived a total of 912 years, and then he died. [21] When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. [22] After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. [23] Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. [24] Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. [25] When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he became the father of Lamech. [26] After he became the father of Lamech, Methuselah lived 782 years and had other sons and daughters. [27] Altogether, Methuselah lived a total of 969 years, and then he died. [28] When Lamech had lived 182 years, he had a son. [29] He named him Noah and said, “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed. ”

Dear God, My thoughts on this story really just flow around the lives we live. We are here, we are a small part of the world, and then we die, leaving behind the little ways in which our lives caused ripples in the pool. A little George Bailey-esque, if you will. Enoch’s tale is unique because he wasn’t that old when compared with his contemporaries describe in these verses, but he was apparently taken up whole to be with you. I wish I knew more details about this story. It’s all pretty vague.

Bot the fun part of going through Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-ups is getting to look at the art as well. What do I see in this piece that the artist might want to tell me?

  • The first thing I notice is the size difference. God is too big for the frame and cannot be fully seen.
  • The road that Enoch is walking is not smooth, but apparently paved with stones, over which Enoch might stumble.
  • God is carrying a shepherd’s crook, but dressed in modern clothes. I don’t know that this image was specifically drawn for the Enoch story or if it just fit with the Enoch story, but the image is obviously for me as well. The picture’s title is “Walking with God” by Rick Beerhorst. Going back to the shepherd’s crook, I think the artist is intimating that you are ready to catch us at any time. And you are also ready to nudge us along the right path.
  • I suppose those are fields next to the path, but it could conceivably be a river as well. Either way, there is something to the left that the man can see, but is not interacting with.
  • I guess the last thing I noticed is that the mountains are in the distance, so this picture is taken of the man while he is in the valley, where most of life is lived. Mr. Beerhorst could have placed the man anywhere and given the picture any background, but he chose to show us “Walking with God” in the valley.

I heard a speaker one time try to make the point that all of our lives are smaller than we think they are by asking us a series of questions.

  • How many of you know what your father did/does for a living?
  • How many of you know what your grandfather did/does for a living?
  • How many of you know what your great grandfather did for a living?
  • Great-great grandfather?

He then went on to indicated that, for our great-great grandfather, his life was complicated and could be overwhelming. His problems seemed so big to him, but now with the passage of time his work is largely forgotten. What remains of our great-great grandfather’s legacy are the relationships he affected while he was living and how his touch on them ripples through to time to our lives. It was a great reminder then, and seeing the legacy and lineage around Enoch is also a good reminder that, at the end of the day, Enoch’s biggest contribution to history was to be part of Noah’s family tree and then getting out of the way.

Father, help my life to ripple through time for your glory. I don’t know what will be left of my physical work when this world is all said and done, but I hope that, even after people have forgotten my name, that the love that I showed someone today will be there for someone else through someone else tomorrow.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

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