So, there is this strange story about Noah that follows the flood narrative. If you have ever come across it, I am almost certain that you have wondered about its awkward presence in the story of this righteous man. If you have not read it, here you go. “Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent” (Gen 9:20-21). The story goes on to describe how his boys found him naked in his tent.
This is quite the transition in the story of Noah. From the righteous ark builder to a drunken farmer. Why does God give us this story? What should we take from it? I believe there are a few important things that this story highlights. I for one, am very grateful for this narrative and others like it.It was, is, and will always be about grace
The flood was a creation reversal. It returned the earth to its primordial state. When the water subsided it was like starting all over again. Noah and his family were the only human beings on the planet. There presence on that new earth was the result of nothing they had done. It was by grace alone that God chose, commissioned, and rescued Noah (Gen 6:9). His righteousness stood out among the rest of the human race, but that was the result of God’s favor not the reason for it. This second Adam was no different than the first. It took him no time to defile the newly cleansed ground. But this was no surprise to God. After the flood, he made a commitment to never curse the earth again. Have you ever read the ground or basis for this covenant? Look at this. “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen 8:21). This is an incredible statement. God’s oath of grace that prohibits him from another flood is rooted in our wickedness. He will not punish like this again because we are so evil. This seems like some upside down logic. But this is the rationale of grace. Where sin abounds, grace abounds that much more. Noah is a sinner. He was a sinner before the flood and he was a sinner after the flood. He was a person in desperate need of God’s saving mercy, just like us. His drunken episode keeps this front and center. It will take more than a flood
In the flood, God literally wiped out all living things except for the creatures on the ark. It would seem that evil had been wiped off the face of the earth. The world was surely cleansed. As we just mentioned, this is far from the truth. In reality, it will take more than a world-wide flood to remove the sin that clings so desperately to the heart of man. The flood did not fix the problem, it could not. The wickedness that provoked the wrath of God was alive and well in the heart of Noah. It would take the judging and saving act of the cross and the gift of the Spirit that flows out of that for hearts to change. The new covenant promised new hearts, transformation from within, and the Spirit who would bring all this about. The flood pushes us forward to this gracious work of God. There are no such thing as heroes
Heroes plural is a misnomer. There is one hero in the biblical storyline. There is room for only one person on the stage of the redemptive drama. Every other character is a supporting actor in the show. God puts the plain truth about biblical characters into Scripture to make this fact plain. This is partly why we get this episode of Noah smashed in his tent. He does it so we can connect with their fallenness and know the same grace they received. He does it so we look past them to the flawless one who won’t ever let us down. Jesus is the only hope for Noah. He is the only hope for us.