This past week we examined the story of Noah and how he planted a vineyard, grew grapes and made wine, and got intoxicated. Then, Noah fell asleep on the floor, naked.
In order to understand the story of Noah’s drunkenness, and why it is sin, we need to go back a few verses and look at the covenant God made with him after the flood. In chapter 9 of Genesis, we read these words, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves on the ground, and upon all the fish in the sea: they are given into your hands.” (Gen 9:1-2)
In reading these words, we cannot help but be reminded of the same words given to the man and the woman in Genesis 1:28, “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
In both cases, a covenant was made which allowed mankind to be given the responsibility to the Earth, which some commentators see as an archetype of the Temple itself. In seeing the earth as God’s archetypical Temple, mankind can also be viewed as His royal priesthood.
However, even though mankind had been given this responsibility and called to be priests of God’s Temple, mankind misused the gift of God in order to seek to displace God from the throne and install himself instead.
In the case of Man and Woman, they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because they wanted to be like God. In the case of Noah, he misused the grapes of God’s garden for his own pleasure, just as the pagans of his time had done prior to the flood. Commentator Allen P Ross writes, “Intoxication and sexual looseness are hallmarks of pagans, and both are traced back to this event in Noah’s life. Man had not changed at all; with the opportunity to start a “new creation,” Noah acted like a pagan.” Noah’s sin distorted the new covenant God had made with mankind.
As an example of that distortion, mankind was original created naked. However, after the Fall, Adam and Eve saw their nakedness as shameful, while Noah’s nakedness is also seen as shameful. Sin had changed what God had intended.
This is why Noah’s sin is much deeper than simple drunkenness. Noah, even though he begins as a righteous man, falls prey to the temptation to misuse God’s gifts for his own self gratification.