Genesis 9:1 (ESV) … And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”
Genesis 9 brings before us the inauguration of a new beginning and as we study and ponder what is recorded herein our minds revert to the first “beginning” of the human race, and careful comparison of the two reveals the fact that there is a most extraordinary resemblance in the history of Noah with that of Adam. We would here call attention to a tenfold correspondence or likeness. Adam was placed upon an earth which came up out of the “deep and which had previously been dealt with by God in judgment” (Gen. 1:12); so, also, Noah came forth onto an earth which had just emerged from the waters of the great Deluge sent as a Divine judgment upon sin. Adam was made lord of creation (Gen. 1:28) and into the hands of Noah God also delivered all things (Gen. 9:2). Adam was “blessed” by God and told to “be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth” (Gen. 1:28), and, in like manner, Noah was “blessed” and told to “be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth” (Gen. 9:1). Adam was placed by God in a garden to “dress and to keep it” (Gen. 2:15), and Noah “began to be a husbandman, and he planted a vineyard” (Gen. 9:20).
In this garden Adam transgressed and fell, and the product of the vineyard was the occasion of Noah’s sin and fall. The sin of Adam resulted in the exposure of his nakedness (Gen. 3:7), and so, too, we read “And he (Noah) was uncovered within his tent” (Gen. 9:21). Adam’s nakedness was covered by another (Gen. 3:21); thus also was it with Noah (Gen. 9:23). Adam’s sin brought a terrible curse upon his posterity (Rom. 5:12), and so did Noah’s too (Gen. 24:24, 25). Adam had three sons—(Cain, Abel and Seth, the last of which was the one through whom the promised Seed came; and here again the analogy holds good, for Noah also had three sons—Japheth, Ham and Shem, the last mentioned being the one from whom descended the Messiah and Saviour. Almost immediately after Adam’s fall a wonderful prophecy was given containing in outline the history of redemption (Gen. 3:15); and almost immediately after Noah’s fall, a remarkable prophecy was uttered containing in outline the history of the great races of the earth. Thus does history repeat itself.
Noah “planted a vineyard: and he drank of the wine and was drunken, and he was uncovered within his tent” (Gen. 9:21). As we read these words we are reminded of the Holy Spirit’s comment upon the Old Testament Scriptures—“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning” (Rom. 15:4). What then are we to “learn” from this narration of Noah’s sad fall?
First, we discover a striking proof of the Divine inspiration of the scriptures. In the Bible human nature is painted in its true colors: the characters of its heroes are faithfully depicted, the sins of its most prominent personages are frankly recorded. It is human to err, but it is also human to conceal the blemishes of those we admire. Had the Bible been a human production, had it been written by uninspired historians, the defects of its leading characters would have been ignored, or if recorded at all, an attempt at extenuation would have been made. Had some human admirer chronicled the history of Noah, his awful fall would have been omitted. The fact that it is recorded and that no effort is made to excuse his sin, is evidence that the characters of the Bible are painted in the colors of truth and nature, that such characters were not sketched by human pens, that Moses and the other historians must have written by Divine inspiration.
Second, we learn from Noah’s fall that man at his best estate is altogether vanity, in other words, we see the utter and total depravity of human nature. Genesis 9 deals with the beginning of a new dispensation, and like those which preceded it and those which followed it, this also opened with failure. Whatever the test may be, man is unable to stand. Placed in an environment which the besom of destruction had swept clean; a solemn warning of the judgment of heaven upon evildoers only recently spread before him; the blessing of God pronounced upon him, the sword of magisterial authority placed in his hand, Noah, nevertheless, fails to govern himself and falls into open wickedness. Learn then that man is essentially “evil” (Matt. 7:11) and that naught avails but “a new creation” (Gal. 6:15).
Third, we learn from Noah’s fall the danger of using wine and the awful evils that attend intemperance. It is surely significant and designed as a solemn warning that the first time wine is referred to in the Scriptures it is found associated with drunkenness, shame and a curse. Solemn are the denunciations of the Word upon drunkenness, a sin which, despite all the efforts of temperance reformers, is, taking the world as a whole, still on the increase. Drunkenness is a sin against God, for it is the abusing of His mercies; it is a sin against our neighbors, for it deprives those who are in want of their necessary supplies and sets before them an evil example; it is a sin against ourself, for it robs of usefulness, self-government and common decency. Moreover, drunkenness commonly leads to other evils. It did in Noah’s case; Noah’s sin gave occasion for his son to sin.
Fourth, in Noah’s sin we learn our need of watchfulness and prayer. A believer is never immune from falling. The evil nature is still within us and nothing but constant dependency upon God can enable us to withstand the solicitations of the world, the flesh, and the devil. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” is a word that every saint needs daily to take to heart. Neither age nor character is any security in the hour of testing. Here was a man who had withstood the temptations of an evil world for six hundred years, yet nevertheless, he now succumbs to the lusts of the flesh. And this is one of the things which is written for “our admonition” (1 Cor. 10:11). Then let us not sit in judgment upon Noah with pharisaical complacency, rather let us “consider ourselves, lest we also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1). No experience of God’s mercies in the past can deliver us from exposure to new temptations in the future.
Finally, Noah’s fall utters a solemn warning to every servant of God. It is deeply significant that following this prophecy, recorded in the closing verses of Genesis 9, nothing whatever save his death is recorded about Noah after his terrible fall. The last three hundred years of his life are a blank! “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Cor. 9:27).