Respond Like Shem & Japheth

One of the things I love most about the Bible is how real it is. The writers of the various books call the characters out – no one is painted as a perfect human being because human beings simply aren’t perfect. The writers were merciless and didn’t do the people in the stories, even the “heroes of faith” any favors.

Yesterday we talked about Noah who was an amazing and faith-filled man of God. I mean, he was chosen by God to preserve the human race and save a whole bunch of animals because the earth was teeming with corruption and violence. Only Noah found favor in the sight of God – that’s a big deal.

But post-flood Noah doesn’t seem to be as amazing as pre-flood Noah. We see after the flood that Noah was, indeed, a sinner just like the rest of us. Genesis 9 records the story of Noah getting drunk on the wine from his vineyard and laying uncovered in his tent. Noah, despite the wisdom and discernment available to him, got blackout drunk and passed out uncovered in front of everybody – talk about embarrassing!!

“Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.” Genesis 9:23 (ESV)

Now, you might be wondering why I’m bringing this story up during a series that’s all about obedience. Well, that’s a most excellent question and I’m glad you brought it up.

How would you classify Shem and Japheth’s actions? The first word that comes to my mind is honoring. They honored their father and chose not to look on or revel in his shame and nakedness. His sons covered their father’s exposure instead of pointing it out like their brother Ham did.

This shows me that honor is something that goes beyond the Law. God didn’t have to command these boys to honor their father, that knowledge was hard-wired into them. Honoring others is a trait that is deeply engrained in the Christian’s life and something that we never have to question. Now, is honoring easy? No. Would it have been easy for the brothers to leave their father alone, passed out in his tent? Yes. Getting a garment and being intentional to not look at his shameful state was hard. More than that, being respectful of their father after his fall from grace would’ve been even harder, yet that’s what they did. They responded to an unfortunate situation with grace and honor and kindness – may we strive to be more like these brothers!

How can you honor those in your community today? How can you respect those who have fallen from grace?


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