What happens when we continue to sin or continue to hide? It doesn’t have to be a sin that keeps you in shame, being rejected in your vulnerability can also bring shame. Luckily God does not do that. He corrects.
When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said,
“Cursed be Canaan!
The lowest of slaves
will he be to his brothers.”
He also said,
“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem!
May Canaan be the slave of Shem.
May God extend the territory of Japheth;
may Japheth live in the tents of Shem,
and may Canaan be his slave.” Genesis 9:24-27
When Noah discovered what had happened, He cursed Canaan and said that he would be the lowest of slaves to his brothers. He blessed Shem. He asked God to extend the territory of Japheth (Japheth sounds like the Hebrew word to extend), to live under Shem, and that Canaan would be a slave to both. This curse is considered by bible scholars to be a prophecy.
Some time had passed since Noah and his children had exited the ark. Enough time for Ham to have a son named Canaan – enough time that both Ham and Canaan were known for their sinful deeds. At least that seems to be the case here when Noah curses Ham’s son. He sees that Ham has an evil heart and that he’s passed it on to his son, and He feels sure that nothing good can come from them, thus he curses Canaan, and in cursing Canaan, he curses Ham.
Because God has established an eternal covenant with Noah in the previous chapter, it is safe to assume that Noah’s heart and his motives are for God. God is a Holy God and He demands a set apart relationship with Him, and Noah must separate himself from his son and grandson. Psalm 24:3-6 says, “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob.”
Ham’s sin separated him from his father just as our sin separates us from our Father. Sin affects us. Sometimes it enslaves us to a cycle of sin, and often it is passed on to generation after generation.
The immediate result of sin is humiliation and shame. Our humiliation though brings no covering to our shame.
Sin is like a heavy bag you cannot drop off at the corner and run away from. We like to hide our sins because often we already feel so exposed by them to begin with. You can guarantee that, you may feel the weight of the sin and pain without anyone else acknowledging it for you. A little white lie or words of gossip may be like a very small pocketbook. You carry it and can even put it in your pocket, but it still adds weight as you walk. Over time you have to trade in the pocketbook for a larger bag to store more sins in. The weight of the purse gets heavier and heavier, and before long, you have a backpack full of sins that you must carry with you everywhere you go. You store up more sins, so now you need to carry not just a backpack but additional bags. This is what happens every time you do not repent and trade your sins in with God. When you confess and repent, you receive a measure of grace. This grace is light and free and cannot be contained or weigh you down.
I know that coming to the Father and laying down your sin at His feet does not always instantly cure you of physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual baggage. However, He heals us and sets us free from holding onto things that have been weighing us down for years. Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Galations 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
Will healing be easy because he’s promised rest for us? No, not necessarily. God has the ability to touch you and completely heal you. But love always does what is best for us. And sometimes that means we have to learn difficult lessons in order to overcome, in order to be really set free from a sin cycle. We stay trapped in cycles of sin when we refuse to acknowledge our sin to repentance. And when we hide our sins, we are refusing to acknowledge them before the Father. So sometimes, His healing feels like our work. He allows us to stay in a cycle of sin so that at some point, we will grow weary of doing it and surrender fully to Him.
Russell D. Moore says, “If you are in Christ, your punishment was absorbed in the body of a crucified Jesus. There is no more condemnation for you. God is disciplining you, shaping you, and he often uses suffering to do so, but he isn’t punishing you. He views you within the body of his Christ, and he loves and delights in you. Whatever is happening in your life, nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ.”
God covers our sins as soon as we confess them, but His healing works to bring about total covering: physically, mentally, and spiritually. No matter how we hide, where we hide, what fig leaves we sew for ourselves, or what masks we use, none of our coverings will ever do for us what we need for them to do. We have to be vulnerable with God in order to experience true covering and freedom. We have to admit our need for Him and be willing to turn from our wicked ways and allow Him total control. We have to willing to come out of hiding and be vulnerable and accept our need for His covering, feeling certain that we can never hide our misdeeds on our own anymore.
For more on generational sin, read Ezekiel 16.