Sunday, April 15, 2018

July 15, 2018 Sermon
Genesis 9:1829
 [Noah and his sons]
18 The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the whole earth.20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded[a] to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.
24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said,
“Cursed be Canaan!
    The lowest of slaves
    will he be to his brothers.”
26 He also said,
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Shem!
    May Canaan be the slave of Shem.
27 May God extend Japheth’s[
] territory;
    may Japheth live in the tents of Shem,
    and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.”
28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 Noah lived a total of 950 years, and then he died.
Today's scripture passage is the story of an incident that occured to Noah and his three sons that outlived the flood and after leaving the ark. It is written that "Noah was drunk with wine and was naked".  
Noah was a man who was told to be [blameless in his time and walked with God] (Genesis 6:9). He was approved and chosen by God, obeyed God's command, built an ark and saved not just his family but many other living things from being perished by the flood.
In that sense, we can say that Noah was one heroic character. And what an "awkward" "disgraceful" figure of impression that Noah displays is today's passage.
I would like us to listen together to the message of the Lord God today as well through this Noah's figure, and his sons' attitude towards him, also the words he (Noah) uttered and others.
Let us read verses 18-19 once again.
18 The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the whole earth.
In Genesis chap. 10 which is the following chapter of today's passage is written the names of the descendants of Shem, Ham and Japheth, and as mentioned in today's scripture passage, it is written that many nations have increased and spread out from the three of them.
This description "People had spread out all over the world from the three sons of Noah" teaches us that "Even the existence of each one of us that live in the present connects us to the future in various forms, crosses to the future and spreads out".
The fact that we live now (no matter we feel that our own existence is small, even if we think that we are not an existence of great influence or meaning to anyone or anything else), has a great significance.
That is because we are an existence that is made to live as we receive life in this world that God has made amidst "passage of time" that continues to the future.
Though each of us is of small existence, the fact that we live at present is a matter that continues towards the future that was planned by the Lord God, it vastly spreads out and is greatly significant.
Therefore, we can spend each day where we are made to live presently as we constantly hold on to a great hope that leads to the future, such hope that we receive from the word of God.
It is written in verse 20 [Noah, a man of soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard]. It is translated in the Japanese bible "farmer"(農夫), but literally translating the Hebrew word in which the Old Testament was written, it is as the English bible translation "a man of the soil". 
Flood occurred and while they were on the ark, Noah and his family (and even the other living things, drifting over the water, spent an extremely anxious and uncertain living.
 Before long, the flood waters subsided and Noah's clan could leave the ark. They stepped down on earth, once again stood on the ground and they could live "on the soil"
The fact that Noah "became the man of the soil" would also mean that "a new life to live on earth was given" to mankind.
Then Noah cultivated the given ground and made a vineyard. Now from here comes the scene of issue. Noah drank wine, got drunk and lay naked in the tent. Just hearing that would make us think of a considerably "unpleasant figure".
As reason that Noah got drunk so as to get naked and fallen asleep is as the following interpretation.
It is said that since Noah was spiritually quite pressured all through as a leader while they lived in the ark, there was the necessity to rest his physical and mental fatigue from excessive strain now that he was liberated from that pressure. 
I believe that there are times when we also feel a great pressure from daily life, work and others. And to get rid of stress at work or living, it is well to have something effective method to work off stress for our healthy body and mind.
I think that it is a joy if we are able to confront even daily pressure through the peace and comfort that comes from faith, and encouraged by the word of the Lord God more than anything else.
At any rate, however, I think this Noah's conduct in today's passage is described unfavourably as an unpleasant behaviour that has exceeded the degree of moderate drinking.
I have mentioned earlier that it is also well to say that Noah is a hero that saved his family and many other living things. However, no matter he is one that is said to be a "hero", the human is an existence that has his own weakness whoever he/ she is, and commits mistakes as well. And Noah was not also an exceptional.  
I think that this word "naked" in the phrase Noah "was naked" at that time could symbolically demonstrate even the part that concerns one's own "sin" that a person desires, if possible, to hide from other people. 
 How did Noah's sons respond to their father's drunken figure, coming across a figure that is naked so as to expose even his own sin?
Having seen that Noah was naked, Ham, one of his sons told that matter to his brothers who were outside. And this Ham's behaviour angered Noah.  
It is commonly interpreted that what Ham did was "he told his other brothers of their father's awkward figure that made him ridiculed", however, I think that by just reading this makes it uncertain whether it is really the right interpretation or not.
Eventually, isn't it just for us to imagine what on earth could Ham has done that angered Noah? It's a matter that only Noah knows, or we can probably suppose that between Noah and Ham was an argument of a father and son that is not written in the bible. 
 The two other brothers, Shem and Japheth who heard from Ham took a garment and laid it across their shoulders, then they walked in backward (considering that they don't see their father's naked figure) and covered their father's naked body with that garment. 
It can be interpreted that what Shem and Japheth did was to cover, by what they can do, the weak part of sin that other people have that is described with the word "naked".
In 1Peter 4:8 of the New Testament is written as follows:
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
"Love covers over a multitude of sins" by considering in parallel with this scripture, the fact that Shem and Japheth "covered" their father Noah's body with the garment made them demonstrate their love for their father in their own way and I think it would be well to understand that they have covered Noah's sin by this matter.
"Love" for us Christians is something that doesn't come out from within us. The love that covers people's multitude of sins is only the love of Jesus Christ who is God the Lord. 
We can only have the perfect redemption of our sins by the sacrifice through Jesus Christ's crucifixion, however, by demonstrating to other people the grace of love that we receive from Jesus, we can cover the sins of other people. 
What does it mean by "to cover other people's sin"? Isn't it accepting their aspect of sin, shoulder it together by what we can do and get close to that person?
We are commanded from God so that we may cover each other's sin, that is, that we may love one another.
Now, Noah who was angry of what Ham did curses Canaan who was the son of Ham with "Cursed be Canaan!"
The fact that Noah was angry at Ham's behaviour, though we can understand it, why did he curse Canaan who was Ham's son and not Ham himself?
This is not an acceptable saying but we have a Japanese proverb that says "Bouzu nikukerya kesa made nikui". That means, "If you dislike someone, you will end up hating everything he stands for."
Even in this case Noah cursed Canaan, that matter could have been possible.
More than that, however, the fact that Noah cursed Canaan, doesn't it demonstrate how much influential (negative) the unpleasant words that we utter or the ruthless sentiments within our heart (as to curse the other person) are?
We human beings have negative feelings or wicked thoughts that we tend to curse even our own children or grandchildren.
If possible we don't want to acknowledge it, but if we try to think of Noah's words as of our own, we would realize that we can never say "such kind of thought is absolutely not within me".
Let's take a look at the following Noah's words in verse 26.
 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Shem!
    May Canaan be the slave of Shem.

There is only one Lord, one God for us. That is why the expression "Lord, the God of Shem" is a bit strange. It seems as if it is saying that there is no God for Canaan like the God of Shem.
God is only One. At that time, Noah was at rage that he could have possibly forgotten even that matter. The God that protected and guided Noah and his family is only One true God, and that only One God is the God of Shem, and of course the God of Canaan and the God of Ham as well.
1 Timothy 2:5
For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,
The reason why we are to love one another is because there is the same God for us all people. It's because we are all an existence that were created by that same God.
It's because the same Lord Jesus Christ's grace is poured on me and also on other people, on my family and on other people's family as well. 
Another thing that we are to consider from Noah's words [Praise be to the Lord! May Canaan be the slave of Shem!] is that through words, we can curse on one side and bless on the other side as well.
 In the letter of James of the New Testament, it is told how difficult it is for us humans to tame our own tongue.
James 3:710
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.
 The bible says, out of our same mouth come praise and cursing (this should not be).
We can praise God and also curse people through the words that come out of the same mouth. The blessing of fruit called grapes that were given from God turns into wine that rests a person's body and relaxes the heart, and similarly by overdrinking, it undermines a person's health and tends to lose composed judgment and will power.
I would like us once again to keep in mind that this world that God has created is good, and the many things that God had given us were given that we may use them for God's good purpose. 
By always receiving in our heart the love of Jesus Christ that the bible tells, we would like us to keep good words and goodwill as much as possible. 
Our Lord Jesus Christ had completely covered our sins by His death on the cross. That means, we that are sinful were completely forgiven through Jesus Christ's crucifixion.
By our words that praise God and that bless other people, and through our way of living, let us proclaim to the world that great joy and peace that we were forgiven through Jesus.
As people that were given the love and forgiveness of Jesus, let us also walk together daily this week as we pray that we may live "covering each other's" mutual aspect of sin by mutual love between us and those that were determined to live with us and between fellow families of the church.