After the flood, Noah grew grapes. Perhaps fermentation never occurred in the former ecosystem and the old man did not know what alcohol could do. Maybe he wanted to party all night. Whatever the case, he got drunk and laid naked in his tent. To his shame, Ham, his youngest son, walked in and saw his dad’s embarrassing situation. Like anyone with a good bit of gossip, Ham ran to tell the world about it. Shem and Japheth, Noah’s older sons, did not want to see their father’s shame, they wanted to restore him. Carrying a sheet between them while walking backwards, they covered their father’s nudity without looking.

Noah awoke and cursed the son of his son who had demonstrated classic Small Man Syndrome by pointing out someone else’s fault so as to feel better about himself. He blessed Shem and Japheth because they had covered his indecency. Carnal people always seek to expose another’s shame: a child talks about his dad’s mistakes, a wife gripes about her husband’s weaknesses, a church member runs down leaders who make blunders, and small-minded people run down their friends, family, and co-workers. When we expose other’s shame, we bring a curse on our own lives. Love does not expose someone’s faults, it covers them (Proverbs 10:12). Covering sin does not mean we approve of the behavior. We give people room to get their lives right without shaming them before the world.

God will bless us and not curse us if we learn to cover other’s shame like Shem and Japheth. We cover them with prayer, encouragement, and quick action. Shem and Japheth did not shrug and ignore their father’s problem. They did something about it. Their actions spoke love, not antagonism. We cannot cover shame by ignoring someone’s weakness. We must speak in love and help that person stay accountable so they can find restoration (Galatians 6:1-2).

Should I cover my own shame?

When I am the one who sins, unlike Ham and Noah’s situation, my human nature prompts me to cover my own shame. Some think this is okay, since we should cover the sins of others. Adam and Eve covered their own shame. After they ate the fruit from the forbidden tree, their eyes were opened and they saw the shame of their nakedness. Where Ham demonstrated human nature by revealing someone else’s shame, Adam and Eve showed us another classic element of carnal nature by covering their own shame. They made clothes out of fig leaves (Genesis 3:7).

The result of covering my own shame will be the same as when I expose other people’s shame—I will receive a curse. God cursed Adam with agony and sweat while trying to grow something in the ground he came from. Eve caught the curse of pain in childbirth. It does not appear that God gave these punishments because of their sin when they ate the fruit. He kept His word and let them die spiritually the day they ate of the fruit of that tree. But the curses appear to have come in direct consequence of humans covering their shame. Adam would not admit he had done wrong—he blamed Eve. Eve covered her transgression by blaming the snake.

We must expose our own sin. While we cover the sins of others, we must be up front and honest before God (and any one else involved) about our wrong doing (Proverbs 28:13). God blesses those who confess their sin. Those who hide it will suffer the curse.

What does it mean to be cursed by God?

Does your hair fall out? Do your socks fall down and your buttons pop off? No. In fact, most people live under a curse and do not even realize it. Take Cain for example. This guy shamed himself by murdering his brother. He refused to repent after God called his number. He respond with something like, “I don’t know where my brother is—it’s not my turn to watch him!”

God responded to Cain’s action by cursing him (Genesis 4). God did not say he would curse Cain by not letting him play the piano. He did not tell the guy he would never be good at football. God cursed Cain in the very area of his calling. Cain had proved himself as an excellent farmer. God cursed him there. He told the young man he would never be able to grow anything again.

A curse from God limits your calling. Think of it as a restriction on your destiny. God created you for a purpose on this planet. If you bring a curse on yourself you will never find fulfillment in this life. A biblical “curse” keeps us from being the people God intended us to be. God specially designed Eve to bear children (this being quite distinct from Adam’s physical abilities). When He cursed Eve, He put pain, or hindrance, to the very thing she was meant for. God created Adam to work the soil. When He cursed him, He complicated and brought pain to Adam’s life purpose.

Too many people wander through life accomplishing nothing of value. They seek fulfillment in pleasure. They try sin to find meaning. Various religions promise to give purpose. Yet they never feel complete until they stop putting curses on their lives.

Once you come clean with God He will cover your shame just as He did for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). But if you hide your sin and cover your shame, God will expose you. When others sin, you cover their shame (with prayer and considerate encouragement), but when you sin we expose it (to God and whoever else has been offended).

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How do I make life decisions?

At the tower of Babel, humanity met together to prove they could live without God. The Lord had said for mankind to spread out and populate the earth. These folks decided it would better to build a huge tower for safety to reach into heaven. God did not approve of the world’s first skyscraper. Here we get a glimpse of the age old battle: Man’s Plan vs. God’s Plan.

God mixed up the people’s languages until they scattered out, away from the project. We might think we have the greatest ideas, but if we do not live by God’s principles, we will never succeed. God got His wish by driving the people away from the construction site in tribal groups. Sixteen tribes, from Noah’s sixteen grandsons, populated the earth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, Tiras, Cush, Mizraim, Phut, Canaan, Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram (Genesis 10:2, 6, 22).

How do I know God’s will for my life?

God told Abram to leave home (Genesis 12:1). This made no sense. Many times God’s ways do not make sense to our carnal minds. Abram lived in the most developed city of his day. They had indoor cooking and plumbing. He and Sara his wife lived in a retirement community (of sorts). Each morning Abram would get in his cart, drive across the back lawn, and roll off to 18 holes of golf. At age 75, you would not have thought this was time to start anything new. Then again, God did call Noah when he was 600.

Imagine how tough it must have been for Abram to convince Sarai that they had to sell the house and move. They had no exact destination in mind. They would be living in tents and wandering for years. And they had no child to take care of them in their old age. But God promised to give them so many descendants that they would impact the whole world (12:2-3). Does that make sense? No, but that was God’s plan.

God’s will may require strange or demanding things of us, but He also promises to bless us. For any challenge, He gives due compensation. For any sacrifice, He makes it worth our effort.

How do I know if it is my will or God’s will?

We all say we want to do God’s will. Why? Many people want God’s will because they think it is a short cut to get what they want from life. If I desire God’s will, I should be wanting to please Him and glorify Him in all my decisions. God’s will represents His desires. The desires of the Lord often go directly against our own desires. We have to humble ourselves to live God’s plan:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV). See also Isaiah 55:8, 9.

God’s plan seems confusing at first. It might not even make sense, but when we follow His will we understand it.

What happens if I just do things my way?

While traveling as God had told him, Abram ran into conflict with his nephew. Lot and Abram both raised flocks of animals. Their herdsmen got into conflict whenever Lot’s crew crowded their animals into the same place where Abram’s workers had found water and pasture. Abram had to come to Lot to discuss some sort of resolution to this problem. He told Lot to take his pick of the land, and Abram would take whatever was left over (Genesis 13:7-13).

Lot gives us a painful example of the results of doing things your own way. He makes his decision the same way the most of humanity decides, he did what looked good to him. Living by God’s will may not look good. Man’s plan, however, looks good on the surface, but it will land you next door to Sodom–a life of wickedness and destruction. Lot moved to a place where everyone spent their lives doing whatever felt good and seemed right, but the end brought destruction. When God punished Sodom and Gomorrah for homosexuality, Lot lost his family. He never figured that when he made the decision based on what looked good that his life would end with him fathering children through his own daughters in one night of drunked stupidity.

Eve also made a decision by her human will instead of God’s will. God had said not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge. She did not eat because the devil made her do it. The tree looked good to her, appealed to her tastebuds, and promised to give her what she wanted, so “did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Genesis 3:6). We get into trouble ourselves when we make choices based on what looks good, feels good, or seems smart.

In the short-term, following human desires seems fulfilling. When a guy brings a girl home to sleep with her, he thinks everything is alright. Ten years later, when he is still paying child support he realizes why his instincts were not in his best interest. A woman may give in to the urge to buy something she really cannot afford. Four months later she may see how ungodly her choices have been when she faces legal problems for not being able to pay her debt. Man’s plan seems to make sense—and a big mess, to boot.

What about when God’s will does not seem to happen?

Abram did not do everything right. God had promised to give him a son, but he had a problem–Sarai and he were getting older day by day. With him in his mid-eighties and she in her mid-seventies, they began to get desperate to see God’s plan happen. Being the good wife that she was, Sarai did not want to stand in the way of Abram seeing God’s will fulfilled in his lfe. So she recommend the cute, young servant girl as Abram’s mistress to help him father a child.

Being an obedient husband, Abram slept with the cleaning lady as his wife had suggested. No doubt she looked good and appealed to his flesh in every way. But this was not God’s will. Man’s plan served its purpose for the moment, but the child born of this relationship brought grief to Abram the rest of his life. In fact, the decendents of Ishmael and those who follow his spirit (the Muslims) have caused more death and heartbreak on this planet than any other religious movement.

Later, God visited Abram and told him that the child of promise would now come. He changed Abram’s name to Abraham (father of many) and Sarai to Sarah (“queen” or mother of many). Even though Sarah had already gone through menopause, God miraculously moved upon her that she would conceive with Abraham and bear their only child, Isaac. This young man grew up in the home with his older step-brother Ishmael. This young teen hated his little brother and tormented him. When Sarah and Abraham could stand it no more, he took the matter to God. The Lord told him he would have to kick Hagar and her boy Ishmael out of the house himself.

People often come to God, after doing their own thing, and expect Him to send out all their bad choices and make everything nice again. However, Abraham had to send out Ishmael himself. God does not have to kick out your boyfriend for you. You invited him in; you must send him out. God has no obligation to wipe out your debt. You got into it, you have to do the work to get rid of it. If we do not send out those things born by our selfishness and human reasoning, they will hang around and torment the things God has birthed into our lives.

What about when God’s will seems to be against His own plan?

God challenged Abraham again by calling him to bring Isaac up the mountain to offer him as a sacrifice. Talk about counter intuitive! Why would God want him to kill the son of the promise? While no one today will be called by God to kill a innocent child, we will find ourselves in situations where God seems to send us through things that seem against His own plan.

One simple example of this would be fasting. In God’s general will, he wants people to properly nourish their bodies with the good food He has provided. Yet on occasion He calls us to stop eating for a day or more to seek Him more closely in prayer and searching His Word.

Abraham went up the mountain believing that God would raise this promised child from the dead. God did not make him follow through with the murder, but Abraham proved his devotion to the will of God. Two thousand years later we find out that Abraham’s sacrifice on the mountain served as visual sermon about the death of Christ on the cross.

As you grow in your walk with God, do not keep Him in the box of your expectaions, He wants to do way more than we can imagine. The times of testing and the challenges He sends you may seem totally out of sync with His plan for your life. But when you look back at the end you will see what He had in mind.

Am I a victim of God’s whims?

No. Life is a result of choices we make. If we choose to expose other’s shame, we live under a curse. If we choose to expose our own faults, we enter a blessing. If we choose to live by our own reasoning, we will end up in the pits. If we live by God’s desires–His will–for our lives, our future will improve day by day. Don’t be a victim, make the choices leading to blessing and favor in your life.

Next time…

Let’s talk about how follow God’s will more closely.

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