We’ve all been there. We just saved our family and a safari park-worth of animals from a world-resetting flood, and then Monday morning comes. You wake up and the first thought is what will ever top building a boat the size of a building or three with my bare hands, and sailing my family to safety? Naturally, after that, you hit the old fermented grape juice.
One of the reasons I love the Bible is the odd little stories like this; the almost unnecessary detail of it. It’s the kind of story that if I were God, as I often wish/act like I was, I’d move heaven and earth to leave out of the Bible. The drunkenness aside, perving Ham then cops an almighty curse from dad when he wakes up hungover but covered up. I mean, how do we explain this?
It’s one of those stories that naysayers love and Christians struggle to explain. And yet God, in whatever way He compiled the Bible, allows it, and more. Job, Lamentations, most of the Psalms and let’s not forget Elisha calling down a couple of bears to maul a gang of marauding youths who call him a slaphead.
All those stories make it harder to accept the Bible is truth, and yet their inclusion gives me great comfort; God was confident enough to include them because they too are truth; truth about the world, about human nature, about the inner workings of our minds, and the darkness that lurks in us all.
Anyway, let’s get off that tangent and address Noah. As I began to look into this I found a lot of speculation and theory, probably because the whole incident doesn’t take up more than a paragraph. I’m not going to pick out the best of the speculation – you have access to Google yourself. What I’d like to suggest is a somewhat simpler theory – Noah was a human.
Let’s briefly look at Noah’s life. He’s 500 years old before he gets busy with Mrs Noah. That’s a long innings by anybody’s count. Then, at the ripe old age of 500, he gains his three boys. But he’s caught God’s eye because compared to everyone else, his life is righteous. And he get’s given a task that, at best, will make everyone else laugh at him, and at worst, hate him. Yet, he’s obedient. He builds a massive ark, he gets the animals on board and he sails to safety, while the world and people he knew drown beneath him.
Russell Crowe as Noah may not have lined up with the biblical account but one of the scenes that stayed with me was the sound of screaming from the drowning and soon to be drowned people as Noah and his family sailed on in safety. “Can’t we drag ropes?”, Hermione asked. Noah caught God’s eye. We know that God is full of grace and love, so it’s safe to assume that Noah had some of those qualities. How must it have been, entombed in that wooden floating coffin, listening to the world die? That’s got to mess up your mind a little.
Then there’s the flip side. Noah heard from God, obeyed and has been involved in the rescue plan, mass genocide aside, this is Noah’s crowning moment. He’s got something to be proud of. On top of this, he has the mammoth task of rebuilding. Given all that, I think we can understand a little more why he got on the special brew as soon as he could.
These big moments in our lives often drain us the most, after our most glorious victories we often experience our deepest lows. Think of Elijah, he’s just scored a massive win over the prophets of Baal and next thing you know he’s suicidal.
Morning comes and Noah wakes up with a thumping headache, realises he’s sans-pants and eventually gets the whole story. He curses Ham and blesses the other boys. It’s hard to look back at this ancient story, in its ancient culture and relate to it, let alone comprehend it. We don’t offer blessings and curses in the same way these days. I don’t know if Noah was guided by God on who to bless or curse, or if it was just the move of a dad guilty, embarrassed and shamed by his son. But I do think it’s good to remember that these are stories about humans, and contained within them are truths about what it is to be human. So however we may judge Noah’s drunken naked party for one, let’s remember that we are in some way judging ourselves too.