My favorite scene of The Simpsons is when Homer Simpson picks up a Bible. He thumbs through it and says, “I hate this book! Everybody’s a sinner in here! Except for this guy!” One of the reasons I believe in the total trustworthiness of God’s word is its brutal honesty about its heroes. Of course, Noah is certainly one of the great examples of faithful obedience in Scripture. Consider for a moment all the reasons he could have come up with NOT to build this huge boat in his backyard. Think of the expense, the ridicule of his family and neighbors, the back-breaking labor, the seemingly endless waiting (about 120 years) for his final vindication. All of this because “God spoke to me.” Can you imagine explaining all of this to your wife?
But as Homer so eloquently put it, everyone’s a sinner in this book with one exception, and Noah isn’t it. It’s a pattern we see over and over in the Bible and throughout history: God blesses us with something, and we channel human creativity into turning it into something sinful. He gives us vineyards, and we use its wine to get drunk. We’re not sure if this passage describes a pattern of alcohol abuse or a one-time deal (I certainly hope the latter). The fact remains, however, that at least in this one instance Noah made a poor choice, and ended up shaming himself before his own sons.
The first lesson we should learn from this is to be careful of making a hero out of any sinner. As Alistair Begg put it, “The best of men are men at best.” We should certainly look to heroes of the faith as good examples to follow when they're being obedient. On the other hand, we must take a realistic attitude towards anyone whom we respect, and we must not be discouraged when they fail to meet God’s standards.
The second lesson we should gain from this is one of hope and encouragement. God dealt graciously and kindly with Noah, and he will certainly do so with us, if we just simply trust him.
Holy Father, you know my failures and my sin, and you love me anyway. Help me to be gracious and compassionate when other people fail in front of me, remembering that you treat me the same way.