Genesis 9: Honor Authority

The failures of righteous men are a constant and recurring theme throughout Scripture. We see this with Adam and Noah. We will see this with Abraham, Moses, David and a host of other patriarchs. With the exception of Jesus, no one is able to love God with all his heart, all his soul and all his strength, all the time.

Noah is not sinless, but he is one who is trusting in the merits of the coming sacrifice. Therefore, he is declared righteous by God. However, Noah is not only one who is declared righteous; he demonstrates his righteousness by consistently doing what the Lord commands. Noah is an obedient worshiper who understands his duty to honor and obey his Heavenly Father.

But as he is making progress in his faith, he stumbles. Lacking self-control, Noah partakes of too much wine and becomes drunk. This results in shameless behavior as he lies naked in his tent. It is at this point in our life that we are thankful our children’s Bibles do not present comprehensive pictures of Genesis 9; for a seven-hundred year old naked and drunk patriarch would not be a pleasant sight to behold.

While in this shameful condition, his three sons come upon him. Ham treats his father disrespectfully. It is assumed he uses the occasion to mock, and not honor, his father. Ham does his father wrong and leaves him in his drunken and naked condition. Shem and Japheth respond differently. They back into the tent, cover their father, and show him the respect he is due.

Later, Noah awakes from his intoxicated state. It is then the patriarch becomes a prophet. He receives a word from the Lord and passes it along to his sons:

  • The Hamites (Canaanites) will be cursed; they will be the servants of Shemites and Japhethites.
  • The Shemites (Jews) will be blessed; they will be preferred over the Hamites.
  • The Japhethites will be blessed; they will be found dwelling in the tents of the Shemites.

From this episode we learn four truths.

Do not dishonor authority.  God expects his children to obey him. God expects his children to obey him by obeying those he places in position of authority. And more than obedience is required, for God demands that his children obey and honor those in authority. Let us be careful to honor authorities in the home, church, and government, regardless of their drunken, naked, foolish and shameless behavior.

Do not interpret God’s long-suffering grace with always-suffering grace. The Hamites or Canaanites were shown common grace by God for many centuries. God was long-suffering in judging them. Their day of condemnation did not come until Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and Joshua led them across the Jordan River into the Promised Land. Even then, God gave them ample time to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses. God’s judgment is sure, but it is often slow in coming.

Do not believe your sin only affects yourself. Noah’s sin affected Ham, and God made a promise to judge not only Ham but Canaan. The sins of the fathers have a devastating effect on their children. Do not underestimate your influence upon your children and grandchildren.

Do not believe there to be an eternal distinction between the church and Israel. Even in Genesis 9, Noah prophecies that the Shemites (Israel) and the Japhethites (Europeans) will dwell together in the same tent. There is no doubt that the tent first belonged to Shem, but Japheth belongs in that very same house.


This devotional blog will be following a chronological reading plan. I would encourage you to read through the Bible with us this year. The daily reading section can be found at the following places:

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