You Play, You Pay
Turn with me now in the O.T. to Genesis 9.
We will be looking together at verse 18-29.
God has built into all of life the principle of cause and effect.
In physics, for every reaction there is an opposite and equal reaction.
Or what goes up must come down.
Or for pyromaniac boys, “If you play with fire you’ll get burned!”
Clearly, choices have consequences. Yes, decisions determine destination.
Careful obedience to God brings blessing, and careless disobedience to God brings His curse.
That’s what I want you to be on the lookout for as we focus our hearts on God’s Word before us.
Genesis 9:18–29 “Now the sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem and Ham and Japheth; and Ham was the father of Canaan. 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated. 20 Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness.
24 When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. 25 So he said, “Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants He shall be to his brothers.” 26 He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, The God of Shem; And let Canaan be his servant. 27 “May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; And let Canaan be his servant.” 28 Noah lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood. 29 So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years, and he died.”
For our growth in Him, God here shows us the-
Continuation of the human race 18-19
Compromise with sin 20-24
Consequences of sin 25-27
Commentary on Noah’s life 28-29
1. Continuation of the human race 18-19
We observed in chapters 6 how God, because of the corruption of the human race, vowed to destroy mankind with the Flood.
Yet, He chose to spare righteous Noah and his family.
After the Flood, which lasted over a year, subsided, Noah and his wife with his sons and their wives disembark from that great ark.
There something out of the blue that God has Moses include in verse 18. Look at the last phrase: “and Ham was the father of Canaan.” And it says it again in verse 22.
We should ask, “Why is this son of Ham whose name was Canaan mentioned? If you look forward to Gen. 10:6, you see that Canaan was the youngest of Ham’s 4 sons.
We know none of them nor were any other children born on the ark. For Genesis 10:1 in speaking of Shem, Ham and Japheth, says, “And sons were born to them AFTER the flood.”
So Canaan’s name pops long before he was born. Here’s why. It prepares the listeners for something significant that’s coming.
Remember, Moses penned these words as the Israelites were at the brink of entering in the Promised Land. And he then read these words to them.
Do you remember the other name for that land? Canaan.
And the Canaanites were the pagan idolaters that God told His people to remove from the land. And the explanation for that begins right here in Genesis 8:18 when the individual Canaan after whom the land was named is mentioned.
By the way, the expression, “land of Canaan” dominates from Genesis 11 all the way to the end, chapter 50, being used 35 times. Very significant in God’s plan- they were the dreadful enemy of the Israelites.
Now, we remember, from the first verse of our chapter (9), when the world population had become just 8 people, God tells Noah and his sons, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.”
At this point, as Moses writes some 1500 years since that day, he affirms her in verse 19 that “from these (sons of Noah), the whole earth was populated.”
Even to our day, every one of us in this room, every one of us in the world traces his family line back to Noah (and of course back to Adam).
How did life go after the Flood? You would think with Noah being a righteous and blameless man
who walked with God (6:9) that the new world with a fresh start would be virtually sin free.
Hardly. For when Noah and his family exited that ark, sin exited with them. For it was in them!
The universal flood drowned humanity, but it didn’t drown sin.
2. Compromise with sin 20-24
Noah seemed off to a great start when he gets to work and begins farming.
He took to heart God’s committing Himself to blessing in seedtime and harvest and plants a vineyard. Noah was bright, remember he was 600 years old at the beginning of the Flood (Gen. 7:6)!
So, he would have recognized tender little grapevines that had begun to grow after the great deluge. And it would have taken from 2-3 years for those vines to bear a harvest.
Well, one day Noah drank from the fruit of the vine which the Bible says was wine. It had a significant content of alcohol (no surprise to Noah). And Noah drinks far in excess and becomes intoxicated. Verse 21 makes it clear that he “became drunk.”
What? Noah, the righteous man, drunk? Yes, God show this man who walked with God miserably. He failed to show self-control and wise judgment.
And friends, what a sober warning for us to hear.
Even those who have lived near to the Lord for decades (or in Noah’s case, hundreds of years), they aren’t above sin. For in an unguarded moment, even the most righteous can fall flat on their face in sin.
David, though a man after God’s own heart, did what no one ever imagined in committing adultery and then murder in trying to cover it up.
Peter, after walking with Christ for over 3 years in a moment of weakness denied three times that he knew the Lord.
I could make a list for you of names, Christian men and women who have brought reproach to Christ’s name in giving in to the lusts of the flesh.
Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:12 sounds the alarm. And the one who has spiritual ears must hear: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”
Here’s the lesson to be learned: Noah had opportunity to be a model in a whole new world, and he’s found drunk in his tent.
And that makes him vulnerable to lots of danger. First, physically.
The Mayo Clinic Health System staff explains that “alcohol is a neurotoxin that disrupt[s] communications of the brain. It also affects functions of brain cells directly and indirectly through different organ dysfunction.”
What that means is this: when alcohol reaches the brain it immediately affects the one’s ability to control behavior and body functions.
Judgement and inhibitions are affected, memory is impaired, clear thinking is compromised, and with a greater concentration of alcohol in the bloodstream (.40%) the person will go unconscious.
Now, Noah has a high level of alcohol in his bloodstream. In that condition, it deeply affected his moral judgements. He lost control of his thinking and behavior.
For he uncovers himself in his tent. It well could have been that as the alcohol dilated his blood vessels, he had a temporary feeling of warmth.
What’s clear is that he’s drunk and immodest. And he apparently then falls asleep or goes unconscious.
While he was in that shameful and vulnerable condition, his son Ham sees him.
Let’s be clear. The idea of the Hebrew verb isn’t an accidental glance. It’s an intentional gaze. There’s observation and enjoyment of what lingers before the eyes.
It’s the difference between seeing something evil and turning your head away versus seeing evil and just drinking it in.
Ham’s filthy mind enjoys looking at his father who’s laying there stark naked and totally drunk.
To make matters worse, he then goes outside the tent and tells his two brothers. The sense is, “Take a look at this. You’ll never believe what dad has done. What kind of example is this?”
We have good reason to suspect Ham has a spirit of being happy to see and spread the sin of his dad.
I’m convinced if Ham would have had a cell phone with a camera, he would have taken pictures and sent them by Snapchat to everyone he could. Well, the only guys in the world his age are his 2 brothers.
So, he eagerly runs and tells them what he had seen. He may have hoped they would join him in mocking their dad in his disgraceful state.
Keep in mind. Ham is not a little boy. He’s a grown, married man with 4 sons. He knows what he is doing and is enjoying every moment of it.
He should have shown compassion and discreetly covered his dad and left. Instead he stares at his dad and then spreads the sin.
Ham chooses the low road and terribly dishonors his father. In so doing, he dishonors God.
Let’s not forget, though it was yet to come, God had Moses write in stone the 5th commandment which applies to all children of all ages: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.”
Paul then highlights that very command in Ephesians 6:2-3. So listen carefully children (and that’s all of us who have living parents):
“HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.”
God means business about showing honor to parents. So, don’t dare dishonor them by making a big deal over their failures and even sin.
Don’ talk bad about them, don’t’ laugh at their expense, roll your eyes or ignore them when they are talking.
And don’t dishonor to them by not taking time to help them especially when they are elderly.
Look at how the other two brothers show honor to Noah their father even in his time of failure.
“But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father….”
The other two brothers show a godly reaction.
In the original text, it literally says, that they took “the garment.”
That would indicate it was the garment Noah had been wearing. Well, how would they have gotten it?
Could it have been that Ham came running out waving Noah’s robe when he announced to them what he had seen?
Well, Shem and Japheth, they go to great extremes to honor their dad.
With his robe behind them and hanging from their shoulders, they together walk backward.
And they manage to get him covered at the same time avoid looking at him in his shameful condition. For we are told, “and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness.”
Now that’s avoiding every appearance of evil. I Thes. 5:22
It’s making no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. Rom. 13:14
And it’s following the resolve of David who pledged, “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes…” Psalm 101:3
And most importantly, Shem and Japheth were emulating the holiness of our God. For His “eyes are too pure to approve evil, and [who] can not look on wickedness with favor.” Hab. 1:13
A second and vital lesson we learn from these brothers is seen in their covering their father. Instead of gossiping or gloating over their father’s sin, with loving hearts they cover it.
Solomon in Proverbs 17:9 so aptly tells us, “He who conceals a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends. “
And further in Proverbs 19:11, “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression.”
Beloved, in God’s family we are to be those who seek to minimize the shortcomings of others.
Instead of speaking poorly about those who have stumbled or are struggling, we should humbly seek to cover their shame. For that expresses a heart of brotherly love.
The apostle Peter saw Christ show him grace when he miserably failed. And he then writes, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” I Peter 4:8
Don’t misunderstand. This isn’t about tolerating sin. The issue is even when there is sin that must be dealt with, we must guard our hearts against any attitude of self-righteous pride:
The apostle Paul pointed this out to believers in Galatia: “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” Gal. 6:1
Well, when Noah awoke from his drunken stupor, verse 24 tells us, “he knew what his youngest
son had done to him.” This knowing (wayyeda) is a knowing that results from inquiry.
Noah probably asked. It became clear to him how Ham had shown dishonor.
And here come the
3. Consequences of sin.
Look at how Noah, now deeply disgraced, reacts (v. 25): So he said, “Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants He shall be to his brothers.”
The word “Canaan” is related to the root “kana” meaning to be humbled.
Noah’s statement spells the fate of the Canaanites. Because of their wickedness, Israel, as described in Joshua would one day conquer them.
Now you might be thinking, “Wait a minute. Wrong guy, Noah! It was your son, Ham, and not Canaan, your grandson, who did your wrong.
He was the only one who looked at you naked and gossiped about it.”
Or was he? It’s certainly not out of the realm of probability that Ham told his son Canaan and Canaan had an evil response to Noah. A number of Bible scholars suspect that.
Now the Jewish Midrash and Rabbis in trying to figure this out concluded there was some physical abuse by Ham to Noah.
Some including those in the Jewish Sanhedrin believed it was castration, and therefore since Noah couldn’t have a forth son, Ham’s fourth son Canaan would be cursed.
Well, that’s pure speculation, and nothing in the text points to that.
But what’s clear is that Canaan and not Ham is cursed.
Let me fill in some gaps and help you try to make sense of this.
First of all, we have to understand the character of God.
He hates sin and calls each individual to account for his own sin.
Deuteronomy 24:16 “Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.”
But why doesn’t Noah curse Ham?
If you will note in Gen. 9:1, God blessed Noah and his sons. That blessing extended to Ham. And Noah knows that and does not turn around and curse the one God has blessed.
But here’s what may well be at the heart of this curse on Canaan.
Noah could see that Canaan was marked by the same sinful nature as his father Ham. Remember, twice (v. 18 and 22) designating Ham as “the father of Canaan.”
So this is what’s key. Canaan is not cursed for what his dad did.
He is cursed ultimately for what he and his descendants named after him would do- reject the Lord.
So we should see this as Noah giving a prophetic oracle of what will come about through Canaan.
The Canaanites would become notorious for their wickedness, idolatry and hatred for God and Israel.
To the Hebrew way of thinking, the Canaanite people embodied the sinful attitude of Ham therefore they deserve to be punished.
Therefore, Noah in this curse is prophetically denouncing the entire line of Canaan for their coming departure from God.
And the curse receives its fulfillment in the Canaanites, the idolatrous enemies of Israel.
By the way, there’s no ethnic group under the curse of Ham. Canaan was cursed. His descendants have become extinct, so their curse does not continue and apply directly to any people today.
But what about the other two brothers who dealt honorably with their father?
Shem is next. His name speaks of fame. But it’s not his fame but God’s.
In fact, important to note, Noah doesn’t bless Shem. That’s right. He blesses the Lord.
He exclaims (v. 26), “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem.”
We’ve talked about the important “blessed” over the last 3 weeks. It’s barak here, and pictures bending the knee, kneeling down before the Lord to praise the Lord.”
Football players who chose to kneel during the national anthem do it as a sign of protest against the government. But for the O.T. believers,
kneeling is a sign of praise to God. It’s from a heart of blessing God for His greatness.
Now, there’s a great clue here for us, in Noah’s blessing the LORD, the God of Shem.
It points to Shem’s line being the promised seed that would lead to the Messiah.
Remember, it was the wonderful gospel promise that began with Adam and Eve and would go through Seth and Abraham and ultimately to Christ.
Early on in Luke’s gospel, he gives a wonder genealogy of Jesus. And it says (in Luke 3:36,38) that our Lord was “the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech.”
And it reaches all the way back affirming that Jesus was “the son of Adam (and ultimately) the son of God!”
In God’s sovereign plan, He chose that through Shem and his descendants He would bring a Savior, the Messiah, Jesus Christ to the world!
Now watch this. Shem wasn’t chosen for his own blessing but for the blessing of God. Noah says, and be sure you see it there in verse 26: “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem.”
And likewise, Christian, God has chosen us not only for our blessing but that He would be blessed by us!
Our lives show the world as well as the invisible angels, good and evil God has redeemed us and is worthy to be praised!
Friends, when we are with Christ in heaven, our greatest preoccupation won’t be, “O, we are so blessed to be saved.” Rather we will be blessing God and blessing Christ for all He is
Now you need to see it yourself in Rev. 5:11–13. Because here you see, Christian, what you will be singing about in heaven forever:
“Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” 13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea (that includes you, Christian), and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”
Canaan’s cursed. Shem becomes the chosen line that brings blessing to God.
And what of Japheth?
Noah says, “May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem.”
Dwelling in their tents means the sons of Japheth would receive spiritual blessings through the descendants of Shem.
When we study chapter 10, we will see an amazing record of how nations were established from the line of Shem, Ham and Japheth. All that powerfully shows God’s sovereign hand actively orchestrating all of history for His glory!
Now bear in mind, the words that come from Noah’s mouth here at the end of Genesis 9, for they are his last will and testament.
They not only point to hope in the Messiah through Shem. They warn of the inescapable consequences of sin.
Verse 25 says cursed Canaan would be a servant of servants (literally the lowest of servants).
In verse 26, Canaan is described as a servant of Shem.
And in verse 27, as a servant to Japheth.
What this points to is a sober warning.
Because of sin, all the descendants of Canaan would be conquered and destroyed by the Israelites. It was the judgement of God upon sin.
Friends, the sober yet timely reminder to us is this, “You play, you pay.” The wages of sin is death. Rom. 6:23
Yes, “be sure your sin will find you out.” Num. 32:23
Now, here’s a big take away from this text: there are dreadful consequences if you live a life of compromise and sin.
There is shame and pain and the judgment of God.
Yet, glory to God, that will not last forever if Christ’s blood has covered your sin. You are redeemed if and only if you have repented from your sin and surrendere to the Lord in total faith.
We’ve seen the continuation of the human race, Noah and Ham’s compromise with sin as well as is consequences. Moses leaves an epitaph or
4. Commentary on Noah’s life 28-29
“Noah lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood. 29 So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years, and he died.”
Now we know that Noah was a righteous man and that he walked with God. Yet the final commentary on his life, it seems anticlimactic.
The last scene of Noah’s life we have seen was a failure
By the way, in this entire account we’ve seen this morning, there’s no word from God. His silence may suggest His displeasure.
Noah and in turn his son Ham could have ended well and spared themselves a lot of grief had they stayed clear of sin.
This shows us all the more, how we must love what God loves- holiness. And we must hate what God hates- evil. We must recognize our weakness and proneness to sin and how it dishonors God.
Remember Joseph in prison when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him?
He says, “How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” Gen. 39:9
And friends, it shows us how desperately we need to rely on God’s grace to live holy lives.
The psalmist asks, “How can a young man keep his way pure? The answer: “By keeping it according to Your word.”
Then with holy resolve he declares, “With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.” Psalm 119:9-11
Friends, immerse your life in the Word of God, and it will keep you from sinning against God.
Spare yourself from the pain of sin and end well by having a life dominated by the purifying Word of God!
The final 3 words about Noah, after 950 years, are short and solemn: “and he died.”
Noah died. And you will die. Physical death is still the inevitable consequence of sin for all people.
But friend, praise God, we don’t have to die spiritually!
So rejoice, that all because of Christ and His substitutionary death on the cross, dying physically means awakening in the presence of Christ.
If by repentant faith you have become a child of God, thank God that your eternal life has been settled.
And make it your ambition to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord and please Him in your obedience.
Choose by His grace to end well for His glory!
You Play, You Pay
1. Continuation of the human race 18-19
Gen. 10:6, Gen. 8:18
2. Compromise with sin 20-24
Gen. 7:6, 1 Cor. 10:12, Ex. 20:12, Eph. 6:2-3, I Thes. 5:22, Rom. 13:14, Psalm 101:3, Hab.1:13, Prov. 17:9, Prov. 19:11, I Peter 4:8, Gal. 6:1
3. Consequences of sin 25-27
Deut. 24:16, Rev. 5:11–13, Rom. 6:23, Num. 32:23
4. Commentary on Noah’s life 28-29
Gen. 39:9, Psalm 119:9-11
Lord, in what specific areas of my life are you calling me to stay far from any compromise with sin?
You Play, You Pay