Sun, Aug 26, 2007
A BUILDER OR A WRECKER? GENESIS 9:18-24
Genesis 9:18-24 by Joe Guglielmo
Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
Series: Sunday Service
A BUILDER OR A WRECKER?
GENESIS 9:18-24
 

            Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Genesis chapter 9 as we look at the story of Noah and his three sons and what transpired after the flood.  I have called this study: A Builder or a Wrecker?  You see, those are options we have in life, to build people up by what we say or what we do; or to tear people down, wreck their lives by what we say or what we do.  Before we get to out text this morning, let me share this story with you. We are told that:

            Four men of the cloth, taking a short breather from their heavy schedules, were on a park bench, chatting and enjoying an early spring day.

            “You know, since all of us are such good friends,” said one, “this might be a good time to discuss the problems that are disturbing us.” They all nodded in agreement.

            “Well, I would like to share with you the fact that I drink to excess,” said one.

            There was a gasp from the other three. Then another spoke up, “Since you were so honest, I’d like to say that my big problem is gambling. It’s terrible, I know, but I can’t quit. I’ve even been tempted to take money from the collection plate.”

            Another gasp was heard, and the third clergyman spoke. “I’m really troubled, brothers, because I’m growing fond of a woman in my church – a married woman.”

            More gasps. But the fourth man remained silent. After a few minutes the others coaxed him to open up. “The fact is,” he said, “I just don’t know how to tell you about my problem.”

            “It’s all right, brother. Your secret is safe with us.”

            “Well, it’s this way,” he said. “You see, I’m an incurable gossip.”

- Arlene Quant, quoted by Alex Thien in Milwaukee Sentinel

            As we are going to see this morning, gossip, malicious words, backbiting, trying to usurp authority is not something that God looks down upon with favor. In fact, listen to what Solomon tells us in Proverbs 6:12-19, A worthless person, a wicked man, Walks with a perverse mouth; He winks with his eyes, He shuffles his feet, He points with his fingers; Perversity is in his heart, He devises evil continually, He sows discord.  Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly; Suddenly he shall be broken without remedy. These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.

            God hates those things and so should we and we shall see that in our study this morning. With that as our background, let’s begin reading in Genesis chapter 9, starting in verse 18 and see what the Lord has for us as we study His Word.

GENESIS 9:18-24

            Not a very good start to say the least. Now, as I read through these verses I see five main points emerge. First of all there is THE NEW LIFE. Then we see NOAH’S FALL. From there we have THE WORK OF DESTRUCTION. Then we will see THE WORK OF RESTORATION. And finally, THE PAIN REMAINS.  And, as we are going to see, these events can also be applied to our own lives today. They are lessons for us to grow by in our relationship with the Lord and with others. With that said, let’s look at these five points and see what we can glean from them.

1.  THE NEW LIFE – GENESIS 9:18-19

            God judged the wickedness of man by destroying them in a flood, except for Noah and his family.  Now, as they exited the ark, they had a new life to begin as God instructed them to repopulate the world. Through Noah’s sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth the world would be filled once again.

            For us as Christians, we have that new life that is only found in Jesus Christ.  Paul said in II Corinthians 5:17, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Or as The Living Bible puts it, When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!  God, by His Spirit, has taken these dead, these lifeless bodies and made them alive again in Christ. I realize many might not agree with this, but outside of Christ you are like a zombie walking aimlessly through this life. Spiritually speaking, you are dead!

            Now, if you don’t believe that, if you doubt what I am saying, then listen to what Paul tells us in Ephesians chapter 2. He said, And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.  Ephesians 2:1-3.

            Outside of Christ we were dead in our sins. We walked or meandered through life without direction. We followed the direction of this world and its leader, Satan.  We were self-seeking, interested in satisfying our own fleshly desires.

            Now if Paul ended with us being dead in sin, that would be tragic. But he goes on to say, But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:4-9.

            You see, God reached down to save us, something we could not do on our own. We are saved by the grace of God or His unmerited favor towards us through faith in Jesus Christ, the One who paid in full the penalty for our sins. And thus, this is God’s gift to us that we receive, we don’t work for it nor do we deserve it!

            Not only do we have the new life in Christ but also we are called to go out into the world and bring the good news of Jesus Christ, the Gospel message to a lost and dying world! In other words God has called us to go out and propagate the Christian message, to bring people to Jesus! Think about this, some thirty years after the crucifixion, without the use of radio, television, newspapers, even the Internet Paul was able to say, We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth. Colossians 1:3-6.  The Gospel was spread throughout the world by the power of God’s Spirit working through vessels that wanted to bring glory to God and the Gospel to the lost. May we do the same!

2.  NOAH’S FALL – GENESIS 9:20-21

            Noah loved the Lord and he served the Lord faithfully. For 120 years he built the ark to preserve life and now, as this new life is beginning, he continues to work hard, maybe too hard. Maybe his time with the Lord was not as important. Maybe he just didn’t have enough time anymore.  Maybe that fire that once burned bright in his heart was only flickering now. Maybe he was confident in his walk with the Lord and he became lethargic in his relationship with the Lord. Maybe he thought he was doing good, he and his family were the only ones who made it through the flood.  Maybe he was not on guard from the temptations of the enemy like he once was.

            Whatever the case, Noah stumbled, he fell, he became a drunken mess. He was so plastered that he laid there passed out in his tent totally naked, exposed for all to see. In fact, as strong and solid as Noah’s walk with the Lord was before the flood, it truly seemed to weaken after the flood. The last thing we remember of Noah is his drunkenness; nothing else is mentioned of him serving the Lord.

            And don’t come to the conclusion that he was old, that he couldn’t do anything, that is not what the Scriptures tell us. Also, there is no mention of Noah having any more children after the flood, his life was barren, there was no fruit being born in his life. This is the concluding remarks of Noah’s life, And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years; and he died.Genesis 9:28-29.   350 years after the flood were silent years for Noah and I think it stems back to this incident of drunkenness that he might never have recovered from, but he did have a choice!

            Now I would love to tell you that the Christian life is easy, you will never stumble, you will never fall, but I can’t! It is not that God wants us to stumble and fall, but we chose not to listen and walk in darkness. And when you walk in darkness you can’t see where you are going and you will stumble, you will fall.  On the other hand, David said in Psalm119:105, Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

            You see, we don’t have to walk in darkness, but when we chose to do that, that is a big mistake as Noah found out. We need to be wise and learn the lesson of trusting in the Lord, following after Him, not deviating from His instructions that He has given to us in His Word. It is as David said in Psalm 119:133, Direct my steps by Your word, And let no iniquity have dominion over me.

            We have talked about this before, but it is so important to be on guard from the attacks of the enemy. I’m sure you have seen those National Geographic type shows where you see the gazelle in the wild and the herd waking about. Also, there are 3 or 4 lions hiding, waiting to get one of them. Now, does the lion go after the strongest, the fastest, the gazelle that is paying attention to what is happening around them? Of course not, they go after the weakest, the slowest, the one that is not paying attention and that will be there meal!

            In saying that, Peter warns us of this very thing as he tells us in I Peter 5:8, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. In other words, pay attention, stay alert, be watchful, because the Devil is like a lion seeking whom he will attack next.  Now, do lions roar before they capture their prey? No, not till after they get their prey. Then why does Peter say this? Maybe he is that confident that his schemes will work, his devices will trick us and we will fall prey to them!

            “Oh my, what can we do?”  Folks, listen to what Peter goes to say, Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.  I Peter 5:9. Our only sufficiency is in Christ, not in ourselves. And yes, the Devil may roar, he may be trying to tempt us, but we are not alone. All over the world our brothers and sisters in the Lord are experiencing these things, thus, resist him steadfast in the faith! Don’t let your guard down. Pay attention.

            Now was Noah’s fall, was his sin having a drink? No, the Bible does not come against drinking but drunkenness!  It was not the first drink, but the others that brought him to that condition. Thus, we need to be wise to what Satan is tempting us with and not go down that path. Don’t give him an opportunity to cause you to stumble. And if you do fall, if you do stumble, then you need to get back up on your feet as soon as possible, you need to repent and get right with God. Noah, it seems, did not and thus, his life was put on the shelf, not serving the Lord anymore because he refused to repent and get right!

            Paul, that great apostle and man of God struggled with that flesh nature and he tells us in I Corinthians 9:24-27, Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. On a daily basis he dealt with the flesh nature, he did battle with those things that were coming against him because he did not want to be put on a shelf, not serving the Lord because of his actions. May we be wise and learn the lesson!

3.  THE WORK OF DESTRUCTION – GENESIS 9:22

            As Noah laid there in his tent, passed out from all the wine he had, naked, his son Ham see’s him in this condition and he can’t wait to tell others about the condition his father is in. You see, in the Hebrew it says that Ham “told with delight” what he saw. He was gossiping, gloating, mocking, undermining the authority of Noah his father. Ham was doing the work of destruction here. And how easy it was for him to do this!

            Now let me ask you this. Have you ever seen or heard of sheep cannibalism? Of course not! Sheep are timid, stupid and they can’t eat each other, they have a hard enough time eating grass.  And yet, in the church we see sheep eating and devouring each other. They bite off their heads and do all kinds of unchristian behavior. Paul, in Galatians 5:14-15 makes this point as he tells us, For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!

            You see, as much as real sheep don’t devour each other, we as Christians have become sheep cannibals. And Paul makes and interesting point here, as much as you bite people’s heads off, as much as you devour people, it will be done to you. Can you see how this can be destructive in the church as everyone devours each other and in the end, nothing is left. When you see a brother or sister in the Lord who has stumbled, who has fallen, don’t devour them, don’t gossip about them, don’t mock them, don’t bite their heads off!

            It’s been about 15 years ago or so since one of my friends was going to put a second floor onto his house, he needed more bedrooms for his children.  So many of us in the church got together to help him out, including me. And we had saws and sledgehammers and we sawed this part of the house and with the sledgehammer knocked out a portion of the roof until the roof was gone. Then we started knocking down the walls.  Now, I was not an expert in doing this and in destruction, you really don’t have to be an expert, it was pretty easy, you just – DESTROY! And with people, it is truly easy to put people down, mock them, make fun of them, ridicule them, that truly takes no effort at all.  And please understand, this is not a gift of the Spirit, it is a work of the flesh!

If you doubt that, listen to what Paul said in Galatians 5:19-21, Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  Then what do we need to do? I am glad you asked because that is our fourth point.

4.  THE WORK OF RESTORATION – GENESIS 9:23

            When Shem and Japheth, the other two sons of Noah and the brothers of Ham, heard what Ham told them, they were broken over it.  Instead of gloating and mocking their father, they took a garment, walked into their father’s tent backwards so they would not see his nakedness, and they covered him! You see, they were not interested in destruction but restoration! It was not that they were approving of their father’s actions, but their love for him outweighed the fleshly desire to put him down.

            I was watching one of those home video television shows a few weeks back and one of the videos was of a family vacation on an African safari. As they came to this lake or watering hole for the animals they showed a crocodile that had captured a baby water buffalo.  Also, in the grass, hidden were several lions and they came after the crocodile and they were able to wrestle that baby water buffalo away from the crocodile. This is still not looking good for this poor creature. But the story does not end there.

            As these lions were on top of this baby water buffalo, trying to kill it, all of a sudden a herd of water buffalo’s and I mean a herd of these creatures came onto the scene and they attacked these lions.  These lions saw they were outnumbered and they ran away. And then, all of a sudden the baby water buffalo got up and the herd surrounded this baby and protected it from any further attacks!  As I watched that I thought what a great story and what a great illustration for us to apply to our lives.

            Tragically, in the body of Christ, that does not happen very often. As a brother or sister in the Lord is down, as the devil is trying to devour them, we don’t go to help, but we throw them some seasoning, some spices so they can enjoy their meal even more. That is not what these water buffalo’s did, they came to the aid of their own. What a lesson we can learn from these creatures, to come to the aid of our brothers and sisters and pull them out of the clutches of the enemy!

            “But they are only getting what they deserve!” Really, I wonder if you would like the Lord to give you what you deserve. I didn’t think so!  And think about it, when you are down, maybe you have stumbled, maybe you have fallen, would you like people to say that to you or to have them come to your side, to your aid! Of course you would want them to come to aid you, you would be a fool to refuse their love, their prayers, their comfort!

            Our speech, the words we say can either build up or they can tear a person down. With our tongue we praise the Lord and with that same tongue we curse our fellow man who was created in the image of God. That should not be. I like what Alan Redpath said:

            I once formed a mutual encouragement fellowship at a time of stress in one of my pastorates. The members subscribed to a simple formula applied before speaking of any person or subject that was perhaps controversial.

            T – Is it true?

            H – Is it helpful?

            I – Is it inspiring?

            N – Is it necessary?

            K – Is it kind?

            If what I am about to say does not pass those tests, I will keep my mouth shut! And it worked!

- Alan Redpath, A Passion for Preaching

            If that doesn’t do it for you, Paul put it like this in Colossians 4:6, Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. Instead of lashing out, let grace flow. Instead of biting someone’s head off, let grace flow. Instead of mocking someone, let grace flow.  When can I stop? NEVER!  Our speech is to ALWAYS be seasoned with grace. Yes, but they don’t deserve it! As I have said, they might not deserve it, but neither do you! God’s grace is given to us not because we deserve it but because He loves us and the fruit of the Spirit is love!

            Also, Peter tells us in I Peter 4:8-11, And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

            I like the way that Grudem expounds on this idea of love covering a multitude of sins. He wrote, “Where love abounds in fellowship of Christians, many small offences, and even some large ones, are readily overlooked and forgotten. But where love is lacking, every word is viewed with suspicion, every action is liable to misunderstanding, and conflicts abound – to Satan’s perverse delight.”  Let us be wise and obey the will of God for our lives and forgive others as God has freely and graciously forgiven us!

            That word fervent in verse 8 of I Peter chapter 4 speaks of a muscle that is stretched to the limit, that is the kind of love we are to have for each other. We talked about the works of the flesh and how destructive they are. In contrast to the works of the flesh is the fruit of the Spirit and Paul tells us, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”  Galatians 5:22-26.

            You see, it is that AGAPE love that is manifested with joy and peace and longsuffering and-so-on, but without that love, we have nothing! And as we minister or serve each other in the body of Christ, may we do so to build each other up, to edify each other, to encourage each other and if we do need to correct someone, that it is done in love with the idea of restoration and not destruction!

            Also, in Galatians 6:1-2 Paul tells us, Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. The word restore is a medical term that was used to set a broken bone. May we love others, may we look out for others with the idea of restoration as the Lord has called us to do!

5.  THE PAIN REMAINS – GENESIS 9:24

            As Noah becomes sober, he knows what his son did to him and I am sure Noah was hurt. Yes Noah made a mistake, he stumbled and fell, but now that mistake is amplified, his son Ham lighted it up for all to see his actions. I am sure you heard this saying growing up and you probably even said it. It goes like this, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me!” That is not exactly true. The bones will heal but the names, what people said may stick with us for a long time. Those wounds can go very deep! It is as this following story illustrates for us:

            There was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, to hammer a nail in the back fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Then it gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.

            The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scare just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say ‘I’m sorry’, the wound is still there.”

- Source Unknown

            We must be careful as we speak because words can wound others and many times they won’t heal. Yes, we are to forgive as Christians, but some can’t and those wounds can last a lifetime!  And the pain that is left behind can be great.  Thus, it is better not to inflict that pain in the first place and let your speech be seasoned with grace, always, that is the key folks!

            As I begin to close this morning, let me share with you this poem that will make you think.  It will make you do a check to see if you are a builder or a wrecker!  We are told:

            As I watched them tear a building down

            A gang of men in a busy town

            With a ho-heave-ho, and a lusty yell

            They swung a beam and the side wall fell

            I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled,

            And men you’d hire if you wanted to build?”

            He gave a laugh and said, “No, indeed,

            Just common labor is all I need.”

            “I can easily wreck in a day or two

            What builders have taken years to do.”

            And I thought to myself, as I went my way

            Which of these roles have I tried to play

            Am I a builder who works with care,

            Measuring life by rule and square

            Am I shaping my work to a well-made plan

            Patiently doing the best I can?

            Or am I a wrecker who walks to town

            Content with the labor of tearing down

            “O Lord let me life and my labors be       

            That which will build for eternity!”

- Author Unknown

            Yes, we have this new life in Christ but if we are not wise, if we are not alert, we can stumble and fall. And here’s the thing, if we know someone in that condition how are we going to respond to them? Are we going to be like Ham whose actions brought about destruction or are we going to be like Shem and Japheth whose actions brought about restoration or at least that is what they tried to do for their father. They did not exploit his weakness.  The choice is really yours, but God has called us to be in the business of restoration. You see, just as He has restored us, He wants us to go and restore others! Don’t inflict pain, hurt; don’t say things that are going to hurt people because that hurt can last a long time.

            May we do as Paul has instructed us. He said, Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:1-4.  May we have the mind of Christ and allow His love to flow in us and through us touching the lives of others. May we look out for others, as God has called us to do because they are family! And so, are you are builder or a wrecker?