Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Noah's Nakedness

"Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent" (Genesis 9:20–21).

After the Flood, the world started up anew. Just as we find God planting a garden after the creation of the world, so we find Noah, the image of God, planting a vineyard after the Flood. Just as God’s first created son, Adam, rebelled against Him in the garden, so Noah’s son Ham rebelled against him in the vineyard. Even as God passed judgment on Adam, so Noah passed judgment on Ham. This elevation of man to new authority is a result, as we have seen, of the Noahic covenant instituted after the Flood (Genesis 9:1ff.).

There is one crucial difference in the two stories, however: God gave Adam no occasion to sin, while Noah got drunk. How drunk he was and whether this was an accident or not, we do not know. We do know that he uncovered himself in the heat of his inebriation, in the privacy of his tent. His son Ham came into the tent, and instead of concealing his father’s condition, gleefully reported it to his two brothers outside, exposing the nakedness of his father to shame. The brothers Shem and Japheth put a cloak on their shoulders and walked backward into the tent, covering their father without looking at him.

Some have felt that Ham’s sin must have been more than merely looking at his father and ridiculing him. There is nothing in the text, however, to support this speculation. Whatever Ham did was countered by the actions of Shem and Japheth, and all they did was cover their father back up.

Adam and Eve had been created naked and not ashamed, but because of sin, their sense of shame and guilt had caused them to be uncomfortable with nakedness. We call the place where that shame is most concentrated our “private parts,” and it was at this place on the body that male circumcision was performed, indicating the judgment of sin. God had given Adam and Eve clothing as a sign of His Gospel, a promise that He would clothe them in righteousness through the work of His coming Messiah. To strip such clothing off a man and to ridicule his shame is a powerful attack upon the image of God, and receives severe condemnation in the Bible, as Ham discovered.

When two believers are married they, because of the forgiveness of their sins, are blessed with the opportunity of experiencing a deeper intimacy with one another. Then nakedness and sexuality do not bring the guilt and shame that nonbelievers experience. If you know the liberating joys of a truly Christian marriage thank God for the beauty of your sexual relationship.