I love the story of Noah getting drunk. In the universe of my continual thoughts on the Old Testament, this story occupies more space than most.
Allow me to explain.
The details are fuzzy. My age is even a mystery. But I must have been around 12 years old, the same age my daughter is now. Why did I keep reading after the story of the flood? Because when this son of a Baptist minister read that Noah not only planted a vineyard but then proceeded to get drunk, I was frustrated and confused. When we would go out to eat, my parents didn’t want me to get a Coke if it came from the bar.
Part of what made this passage difficult was Noah’s status as a hero of the faith. My flannel-graph theology placed Noah at the center of all that was going on in the story. This was who I was supposed to be like? If I was supposed to be like Noah and have that kind of faith, what about this business of him getting drunk? We were told getting drunk led to all kinds of troubles, a truth evident even in this story.
Needless to say, I did not love this story when I was a young boy. But then I learned something, and what I learned was a turning point in my understanding of this story and every other story I have read in the Scriptures.
Noah is not the hero of this story. God is.
If the point of the story is to tell us that we need to have faith like Noah, then the end of Noah’s story is really disappointing. But if what God has done through Noah is the point of the story, then the story of Noah getting drunk not only makes sense, it is actually encouraging. What did God do through Noah? He saved sinners.
To reconcile my former way of thinking about this story with Noah as the hero and his getting drunk, I was tempted to think his drunkenness was not a big deal. But that didn’t seem to square with the fallout in the rest of the chapter. But when you read this story with God as the hero, it’s a reminder that God is in the business of saving sinful people. Always has been. God makes and keeps covenants with His people (Genesis 9:9,15).
I’ve never been drunk. But I have other sins in the past and in the present, all reminding me that I am not the hero in the story of my redemption. Christ is. And I am safe from God’s wrath only because of the heroic work of Jesus, within whose work on the cross, I ride high and dry like Noah and his family.
Maybe you, too, need this reminder. The burden of being the hero is a heavy burden. This is especially true when you look at yourself in the mirror and see a man looking back who needs a hero himself. The story of drunk Noah reminds us that God saved sinners. And through Christ, He still does.
Written By Matthew B. Redmond