I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there are some pretty awkward Bible stories.
In January I started a new Bible reading plan that will take me through the Bible in a year (You can check out the app Read Scripture here). But right out of the gate we find a weird passage in Genesis 9 about Noah.
In this story, Noah plants a vineyard after coming off of the ark. He then gets wildly drunk off the wine from this vineyard and falls asleep naked in his tent. Then, to make matters worse, one of his son goes and tattles to the other brothers about their father. Noah awakens later, embarrassed and ashamed.
I told you this was a weird passage.
Here’s the “awkward Bible story” dilemma: Either we ignore this passage and apologize to anyone who stumbles across it, or we look for a deeper meaning. I challenge you to face the awkwardness.
3 Simple Questions to Untangle a Biblical Mess
If we’re going to face it, we have to ask the obvious question: What’s the deal, God? If the Bible is inspired, why’d You go and include awkward Bible stories? Actually, there’s a lot we can learn here, and we can learn it by asking three simple questions:
1. What does this passage tell me about humanity?
2. What does this passage tell me about God?
3. What does this passage tell me about myself?
3 Things We Learn from an Incredibly Awkward Passage
1. Noah was fallen like everyone else.
When we ask the question, “What does this tell me about humanity,” we see that even a man called “righteous,” “blameless,” and “faithful” still messed up (Genesis 6:9). Noah had a chance to correct what Adam first messed up, yet in this passage we find Noah just like Adam, naked and ashamed in a garden.
This theme is seen all over the Bible. You see people do crazy or stupid things, and your first question is, “Why is THAT included in the Bible?” One answer is to remind us that people are fallen and sinful, and we need a Savior.
2. God shows us grace and promises a Savior.
What does Noah’s failure tell me about God? As you read the Old Testament, you’ll see God raising up good people who still make terrible mistakes (think Abraham, Moses, David).
All of these people are called by God, and sustained by God, but ultimately they aren’t the Savior they need. All these flawed heroes in the Bible point us to one man who will perfectly love and follow God—Jesus.
3. “I’m a good person” has never been a good argument.
God didn’t save Noah from the flood because he was perfect; He saved him to make a point. Noah had no power to save himself from the flood; he was completely dependent on God’s love.
Way too many people today are banking their eternities on the argument, “I’m a good person, so I’ll go to heaven.” Noah was a good person, but he still needed God’s salvation.
This is good news, because it means you don’t have to be a “good person” to receive God’s love. God is in the business of working His perfect plan through imperfect people. Our rescue comes when we turn to Jesus and admit that we can’t face eternity alone.
Don’t Be Afraid of Awkward Bible Stories
A lot of people in the church resolve to read more of their Bible each New Year. But awkward or confusing passages often cause us to hit the breaks. We don’t see God in awkward Bible stories, so we stop reading.
Instead of stopping, I want to encourage you to slow down and think. I’m not saying you’ll find the perfect answer for every awkward story, but if you process what a passage tells you about humanity, God, and yourself, you’ll have a solid framework.
Ultimately, remember this: Every word in the Bible was put there on purpose. There are no mistakes or misprints. God paints a picture of redemption through the Bible that is long and wide and deep. The countercultural life doesn’t shy away, but it presses in to look deeper, see clearer, and run harder after knowing God.