Eight adults, after spending one year and ten days in the ark, came forth into a new world. There was not at that time a child upon the face of the whole earth. All eight were full-grown, mature adults who had just come through quite a trying experience. They were aware of abounding death and destruction. They knew of a raging storm, of volcanic eruptions, of turbulent seas as the fountains of the deep opened up, of brilliant lightning flashes and terrible thunder. And all of these were so different from anything they had ever gone through before, or even heard of before in all these years of their lives. And we may note that Noah was six-hundred years old when he entered the ark and that Shem, his firstborn, was a hundred years old when his firstborn, Arphaxad, was born two years after the flood. That flood was, then, together with their perfect safety and safe return to the dry land, a tremendous experience to eight souls who were well able to appreciate it all and to remember it as something far different from anything they had seen or heard of in hundreds of years for Noah and his wife, and for decades for the rest, as a work of God, the like of which they had never before experienced.
And here again the Scriptures make one tremendous leap forward in the account of the history of God’s church and the unfolding of God’s covenant. Genesis 10 and 11 list for us the descendants of Noah through Shem, Ham and Japheth. And we find that Canaan is the youngest son of Ham. Assuming (which is all we can do) that even as Shem begat his first son two years after they came out of the ark, so Ham and Japheth begat sons about two years after the flood, then Canaan at the earliest was born about ten years after the flood. Only the sons of these three sons of Noah are mentioned, and there certainly were daughters born in between these sons. At any rate, the incident of Noah and his drunkenness did not take place the year after, the flood and shortly after the first harvest of grapes. It did take time as well for the fermentation to make such potent wine. But, the point we wish to make at the moment is that Canaan was already born, otherwise Noah would not have and could not have spoken a curse upon Canaan, the youngest son of Ham.
All this we present to indicate that for a brief period of time there was a new world wherein apparently righteousness dwelt. Of course there was sin. All are conceived and born in sin, and the drunkenness of Noah, about ten years after the flood, is not the first sin to appear in the new world. Nor was it the first sin that Noah manifested in his life after his safe journey in the ark.
You see, the flood did not destroy sin but sinners.
Sin went into the ark, and it went in exactly in the hearts of Noah and his wife, and in the hearts of his three sons and their wives. Shem and Japheth performed a righteous, commendable deed, when Noah became drunk, but also in their lives much sin had manifested itself before they performed this deed of which God spoke His approval and upon which He pronounced His blessing.
You cannot destroy sin by waters of a flood. You cannot destroy sin by the most powerful hydrogen bomb. And you certainly cannot destroy sin by legislation, and rules, and prisons. You can frighten man from the outward carrying out of his sinful thoughts. You can curb him behind the prison walls and bars. But sin is a spiritual reality and is removed only by spiritual means. And God, Who saved Noah and his family from the sinners who threatened to bring an end to God’s church here on this earth, did not remove all sin from the lives of these His children. He never does that except in the way of death, when the old man of sin is robbed of his tools and instruments — the members and faculties of his body — whereby he lives in sin. God implants a new heart in His elect. He causes them to be born with the life which is from above. But that life is there in His child alongside of the old nature that is still so powerful and skilled in the ways of evil.
Constantly the child of God, the new man in Christ, must tight the evil that he would not, and work out (or through) his own salvation with fear and trembling. He has a battle to fight within his own soul. He himself is his worst enemy. He is a wretched man who finds that the good that he would, he allows not, and the evil that he would not, that he does. And we may be sure that Noah and his family found this to be the case already in the ark, and doubly so when they returned safely to the dry land, when there was so much more for the flesh to seek and to serve.
Then, too, it must not be forgotten that Noah and his family entered the ark with a full and very detailed knowledge of all the sins for which God destroyed the first world. And drunkenness was one of them. So was sexual immorality that so often accompanies drunkenness. They did not have to learn sin and develop in its practice. The first world even caught on very soon after Adam’s fall, and the firstborn of the first pair of parents quite quickly and easily introduced murder; and Lamech introduced bigamy and adultery as well.
But the Serpent, that old dragon and Satan, strikes again, after the flood when he succeeds in getting the head of the Church, the spiritual leader in that church, to introduce before the eyes of his family these sins for which God destroyed the first world! These were not the only sins for which God came in that judgment. Every imagination :of the heart of man’s mind (Genesis 6:5) was only evil continually. The earth was corrupt (Genesis 6:11) and tilled with violence.
The Serpent, however, here succeeded exactly in getting that spiritual leader of the whole church into an open practice of the sins which brought the first world to its judgment day, and brought Sodom and Gomorrah to their destruction. It was not Shem, Ham or Japheth who initiated this public drunkenness and immoral exposure. It was Noah, the preacher of righteousness, of whom it is stated in Hebrews 11:7 that by faith he built the ark to the saving of his family. The top man, the priest whose calling it was to dedicate and consecrate the whole church (his family) to God is used by Satan to strike a blow at that church, which he hates so vehemently.
And now we come to the words wherewith we at first were tempted to begin this contribution to our rubric, The Day of Shadows, namely, the words of Solomon inProverbs 20:1 “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” Satan used the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil to bring sin into the first world. Here he struck his first blow against the Church of God and implanted the seed of sin that would fill the earth with every evil practice the mind of man can invent. Now, in the new world, he uses the fruit of the vine to humiliate the head and priest of the church and advertise the sins of the old world by an open display thereof, and, in an attempt to corrupt the church from within, to seek to transform it into a camp of enemies of the living God.
God was there in His grace, however, as He always is, and Satan did not obtain the victory which he sought. Ham was delighted and was not touched by the wickedness of his father’s sin. He, to put it mildly, found it amusing, and to state it more correctly enjoyed this display of the sins of the old world.
But before we proceed to condemn Ham and shake our heads in disgust and righteous displeasure, let us ask ourselves how often we not only delight in sins but “have pleasure in them that do them” as Paul writes inRomans 1:32. No, we may be filled with indignation to see some forms of immorality and may join groups that fight pornography. And yet we can so easily be those who strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. We can cry that the morals of our children are being corrupted, and then be untouched ourselves by the fact that God is insulted. We can be so concerned about violations of the second table of the law and be untouched by the breaking of the first table. To steal is bad, but to take God’s name in vain is only showing poor taste. To murder is to be condemned in no uncertain terms, but to destroy the truth of God, and thus to try to murder Him, is a freedom of religion that we ought to grant to all men. And we can easily become “ecumenical-minded” and find pleasure in them that do destroy the truth concerning God. The concern is not so much what you believe about God, but whether you can get a big organization that caters to man’s social advancement. We can call abortion murder (and it is!) and send letters and petitions through the mail to get signatures for legislation that will take the filthy magazines off the shelves of our stores, and even deceive ourselves into thinking that we are Shems and Japheth’s who are covering up their father’s nakedness; and then we can turn around and support movements that present the Almighty,— THE ALMIGHTY, if you please — as a helpless beggar who has done all he can, but is at your mercy as to whether his “wonderful plan that he has for you” can be anything more than just a plan, a pipe-dream, wishful thinking. Down, we say, with pornography, curb all crime in our streets. But at the same time we say, Down with a sovereign, almighty God Who does all His own good pleasure and is in no way and at any time dependent upon man in the matters of his salvation, and in the matters of his natural life.
May God grant us grace to fall on our knees when we read of Noah’s sin — we who are the heads of our homes and of our churches, the elders, both teaching and ruling elders, and deacons, and the educators and instructors of the covenant children in the schools — and of Ham’s delight in it, so that we see our own sins as well and look to the cross of Christ for deliverance from our own wickedness. May we receive grace to pray for His Spirit to cleanse our hearts and minds so that our hands with our tongues are kept clean and pure, and our eyes filled with tears when we see sin. May it be as with the psalmist that “Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not Thy law.”Psalm 119:136. And, if that is not the case with us, let us be silent and not assume a holier-than-thou attitude either over against Noah or Ham.
But Christ is the answer, and not by His example but by His cross and the power of sanctification which He earned for us on the cross and bestows upon us by His Spirit. This is our only hope against every blow that the serpent directs towards us. It was this work of the Holy Spirit that brought Noah to sorrow and contrition over his sin, and that caused Shem and Japheth not to find pleasure in them that do sinful deeds.
The cross is all important, and God forbid that we should glory save in that cross of Christ. But we need that operation of the Spirit, which the crucified Christ received, for our purification, to keep us from walking in sin. When the serpent, that old dragon and Satan strikes at us — and especially when he does this at those in the offices in the church — we need more than an ark and a building in which to hide against the attacks of Satan. We need the sanctifying power of the Spirit of Christ to work repentance and sorrow and hatred against sin in our hearts.
Here, in the heart, is where we have the victory over Satan. Even when he brings severe injury and death to the body, we have the victory in a cleansed heart and mind, and may look for Christ to come with a complete victory at the end of time, that not only destroys sinners as the flood did, but all sin within us, so that there is not a new world in distinction from the old world, but a new Jerusalem, a holy city where with perfect bodies in a perfect environment we shall serve God in perfection.