We don't seem much of them until after the flood. All that is noted before that is that they and their wives got on the ark. So we know they had experienced the divine intervention of God through their father's obedience.
Genesis 9 pick up the story after the flood. For the first time, we are shown a shameful moment in Noah's life.
Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. He drank the wine, and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. Genesis 9:20-21 (ESV)Noah got drunk, and then he got naked. Noah was a man who walked with God, but like all men he was a sinner when he took his eyes off of God. What we see next in the story are two different responses when we witness the sin of others. The first is Ham's response to his father's sin and shame.
And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. Genesis 9:22 (ESV)What was Ham's knee jerk reactions? To run and tell his brother's. Ham did not try to cover up his father's, but went to gossip about it with others. He gloated over his father sin. How often is this our response to someone's sin and shame? We like to spread about other's mistakes. We love gossip. How do I know? Ever seen those magazines by the cash registers at Walmart, Kroger, etc. We feed off other people's shame and sin. In our own relationships we are just as guilty. When someone tells us something or we catch someone doing something wrong we can't wait to text, call, tweet, facebook it to someone else.
However, God does not expect us to have this kind of response so we are shown what godly people do when they are made aware of someone else's shame.
Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Genesis 9:23 (ESV)These two brothers made aware of their father's shame, don't run and tell anyone. They immediately devise a plan to cover his shame. In fact, they are so caring that they walk backwards so as not to even look on it. What love they showed their father that day! We demonstrate love when we cover another's sin.
Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9 (ESV)What does it mean to cover someone's shame? Does it mean we ignore it? Absolutely not! However, we do not go spreading someone's shame to everyone we meet. We are to seek to bring restoration to a person who has sinned.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Galatians 6:1 (ESV)But how exactly do you go about doing that...Don't worry the Bible provides an answer.
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. Matthew 18:15 (ESV)STEP ONE: Go and talk to the person alone! Don't take your posse or a group. Don't blab it about! Go and deal with this person in person, but remember you are there to help restore not to tear down.
But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. Matthew 18:16 (ESV)STEP TWO: Get some witnesses who can back up what you are saying and let them talk to the person. Find people who already know about it. People who like you understand that the point is trying to bring them restoration. DON'T BLAB IT TO EVERYONE! This requires a great deal of discretion and discernment to decide who to approach about it.
If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matthew 18:17 (ESV)STEP THREE: Tell the church. This could be a minister, leader, or other christians in the church. We still aren't blabbing it to everyone. We are diligently seeking restoration. Thus we are going to our brothers and sisters in Christ to speak with them.
If steps one through three fail, God reminds us that sometimes this will happen and that we should let them be set away from us. Jesus is talking to the Jews in this passage. They did not associate with Gentiles and tax collectors. So basically, Jesus is saying shake the dust from your sandals and step away from that person. Why? Because you must keep yourself, lest you be tempted. Ancillary to this is that you still aren't going about and spreading gossip. You are walking away from the situation knowing you have tried according to the word of God to help restore this person.
My challenge both to myself and to anyone who is reading this is to start covering the sins of others. Don't be another link on the gossip chain. Seek to restore those who have fallen out of God's will. It's time to live a life that demonstrates the love of Christ which covered all our sins with his perfect sacrifice.