Sermon: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem!” (Genesis 9:18–10:32)
At this point in Genesis, God has sworn that he will never again destroy the world with a Flood. There will be no more do-overs, so the people who exist will continue on, generation after generation, for as long as the earth remains—that is, until God destroys the world with fire to usher in a new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells (2 Pet. 3:1–13).
Right now, the people who exist are extremely small in number, since God brought only eight people safely through the judgment of the Flood. From here, we need to see how the sons of Noah will reproduce into the heads of the clans, languages, and nations that will disperse into every land across the entire face of the earth. That, at least, is what we would expect to read as the very next story; however, we will not see that “table of nations” until Genesis 10. Between the record of the covenant with Noah and the first genealogies of the people groups descending from that first family, we discover a shocking, despicable story in Genesis 9:18–29. What are we to make of the patriarch Noah’s becoming drunk and lying naked in his tent? Why is the sin of Ham so heinous, and why does Noah curse Canaan, the son of Ham? How does this influence the rest of the history recorded for us in the Bible from this point forward?