READ: Genesis 9:18-11
BACKGROUND: Noah and his family had just witnessed God’s tremendous provision as the only humans protected from the flood that destroyed all the Earth. As they left the ark, God instructed them to be fruitful and multiply and He made a covenant with them to never destroy the earth again by flood. In today’s reading we see a series of unwise choices by Noah, his son, and all of his descendants. Then we see, as we will throughout the Bible, that God’s sovereignty cannot and will not be compromised by human pride.
9: 18-20 – Even though Noah was a godly man, he was a sinner and his unwise choice to give himself to drunkenness displays his human weakness. Without God’s strength, no man can avoid temptation.
22-23 – Ham chose to disrespect his father by broadcasting his sin. Shem and Japheth respected their Father by covering his shame.
24-27 – Noah curses Ham’s son Canaan and blesses Shem and Japheth. It’s not clear why Noah curses Ham’s son instead of Ham himself, but it may be a way of saying that Canaan and his descendants would be even worse than Ham. This blessing and curse are seen in the victories of the Israelites over the Canaanites. The Jews were descendants of Shem, so Jesus was a descendant of this line. Gentiles were descendants of Japheth.
10:1-32 – This chapter shows the genealogy of Noah’s three Sons. Through these three sons the whole earth was populated.
11: 1-9 There is significant archaeological evidence pointing to the Tower of Babel.
4 – The people’s plans were egotistical and proud.
6 – God saw the people’s attempts to take their futures into their own hands and remove God from their lives.
8 – God is infinitely creative and gracious in dealing with sinful, proud people. In this case, he decided to make everyone start speaking a different language so that their plans would not succeed.
10-32 – This is more of the genealogy of Shem. It ends here with Abram and will ultimately end with Jesus. Abram is a famous Bible character.
THINK: I would be approximately $500 richer today if only I was willing to learn from experience. The tally of speeding tickets I’ve earned in my short life is really ridiculous and slightly embarrassing. I’ve been pulled over on the interstate, in town, and I’ve even been lucky enough to get a couple of tickets in the mail after I was caught by traffic cams. I don’t really have road rage and I don’t typically intend to speed like crazy, I just don’t pay enough attention and always seems to push the pedal to the medal at just the wrong time. And I’ve paid for it – time and time and time again. I know good and well that there are expensive consequences for speeding and yet I continuously ignore the law. That’s dumb.
When I read Genesis, I start to feel the same frustration towards these Old Testament characters that I do towards myself – how have they not learned? Why in the world do they keep ignoring God’s commands and promises? How could they be so dumb? Thank goodness my life story isn’t recorded for you all to read, because unfortunately my battle with sin would look similar to my battle with speeding tickets – why don’t I learn?
Noah’s descendants no doubt knew about the flood. They were well aware of God’s judgment over the entire earth when people chose idol worship and evil practices over honoring God. And yet how quickly they let pride creep into their lives. Their pride led them to believe they didn’t need God and they could build themselves a tower to Heaven. Their pride caused them to dishonor God by making idols of self, seeking to make their own names great. They paid seriously for their pride and so do we. Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Their pride led to the destruction of their evil plans. Our pride will always fail us.
Pride keeps us from having teachable spirits. Pride keeps us stuck where we are spiritually. Noah’s descendants witnessed and experienced an incredible miracle of God. They knew he was real and powerful, but in their weakness they allowed pride to make its way in to their lives. Each of us has seen God’s terrific power in our world (just look at creation) and in our own lives, yet we often continue to live as if we can direct our lives better than God himself. We can’t.
Fortunately we have countless books that document the history of Christ followers who have gone on before us. We can take advantage of these terrific resources (the Bible included) and learn from the experience of others. We learn from this story of Noah’s descendants that our pursuit of God requires surrender of our selfish pride. We can trust God with our entire lives. He is faithful. He was then and He is now. Pride says we don’t trust a God who has proven himself nothing but trustworthy throughout all of history. Humility says we recognize our desperate need for a Savior and will submit to his Will.
ASK: Do I have a teachable Spirit? If I am continually struggling with the same sin, what do I need to do to surrender and begin to live God’s best for me? Is pride preventing me from putting my full faith in God?
Written by: Cari Widdel