His Righteousness

Concerning the person of Noah, little is recorded. He is tenth in descent from Adam in the line of Seth. This makes Noah the last of the antediluvian patriarchs listed in Genesis (Gen. 5:28). The name “Noah” means “rest,” “comfort” or “relief.” Lamech, his father, trusts his newborn son will in some way “comfort us in our labors in the soil which the Lord has cursed” (v. 29).  Perhaps he is so named in the hope that through him righteous people will find comfort and relief from the depravity surrounding them.

In God’s eyes, the flood is a necessity. “He looks upon the earth and behold, it is corrupt” (Gen.6:12). The Hebrew language indicates flagrant wickedness and rebellion is raging. The world in that era must have been extremely degenerate, for the Lord laments in His heart that He has created human beings in the first place (6:6). “I will destroy them by washing them away” is the Hebrew rendering (6:7). The Lord tells Noah, “In seven days I will cause it to rain for forty days” (7:4). The water came and went on cue. Interestingly, it has never rained on earth prior to this time (Gen. 2:6).

We know nothing about Noah until he is 500 years old. He a man of faith and learns of God’s plan to destroy mankind (Heb. 11:7). The Lord announces a 120 year grace period for the human race (Gen. 3:6). Enoch has already proven it is possible to live a holy life in a corrupt society (Gen. 5:22-24). During the darkest era in the human race, Noah walks with God. For this he “finds grace in eyes of Lord” (6:8). The Pentateuch validates that God works with individuals rather than with nations.

God says to Noah, “If you keep my covenant, you will be saved by this ark” (6:18). Except for eight persons, the entire human race is destroyed. God never tells Noah why He plans to wipe out the inhabitants of the earth…and Noah never asks. Just prior to the Rapture, Jesus describes the world’s apathy and indifference by saying it will be “as it was in the days of Noah” (Mt. 24:37-39 & Lk. 17: 26-27).

The fact it has never rained before does not bother Noah. Public opinion does not matter to him. Being unpopular does not sway him. The difficulty of the task does not deter him. The length of time he had to wait does not stop him. The story in Genesis verifies a number of things regarding Noah:

~ He is honored by God for his faith.
~ He obediently undertakes an overwhelming task.
~ He perseveres despite the ungodliness surrounding him.
~ He is supernaturally delivered from the waters of judgment.
~ He builds an altar and offers sacrifices.
~ He is a positive influence on his family before and during the flood.

Noah does not remain silent: he preaches (I Pet. 3:20 & II Pet. 2:5). He continues to warn others of the impending judgment for 120 years. We can envision Noah perpetually explaining the horrific significance of his building project to the jeering crowds. Some might label him a ministerial failure, for he made no converts except his family. But those who hear his message are given a choice.

His Ark

As the gigantic craft begins to take shape, it becomes the world’s largest illustrated sermon. The day soon comes when Noah cuts his last plank and preaches his final message. The Lord invites Noah and his family to enter the ark, as a loving father bids his children come into the house prior to a coming storm. The only persons to escape the deluge are four married couples: Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives.

Although Noah endures the jeers of his contemporaries, the laughter of the people diminish as the rain commences and continues for forty days (II Pet. 3:4-6 & Gen. 17:7). Imagine the mood of those outside the ark as men see their families drowning all around them. One pictures a sea of humans scratching their fingers raw as they claw at the ark, hoping to be saved. But “the Lord has shut them in” (7:16). Noah could not have opened the door if he had wanted to.

The deluge validates that God is in complete control of the human race. It serves to show He never sends judgment without first sending a warning. His threats of future judgments are never idle. The Sodomites are informed of the impending decimation of the cities of the plain (Gen, 19). The Egyptians are told their firstborn sons will die (Ex. 12). The deluge is punitive, retributive, deliberate, planned, calculated, and inevitable.

Noah never deviates from God’s blueprint one cubit. The ark is emblematic of the fact that human beings must embrace His perfect plan in order to be saved. Just as the structure of the ark is simple, so God’s plan of salvation is uncomplicated. Considerable time is allowed to build it. The Lord always gives people time to repent.

His Covenant

The ark finally settles in the mountains of Ararat. Noah is not allowed to leave the ark after it lands for nearly a year (Gen. 7:11 & 8:13). He sends birds at regular intervals to help him discern the condition of the earth. When the final dove fails to return, Noah realizes the waters have asswaged (8:12-13). Noah emerges to find a purified planet - a chance for the human race to serve God and find comfort and relief as the name “Noah” suggests.  “Ararat” means “the beginning of the world.” It is the location from which the human race spreads into the rest of the planet.

His first act as the earth’s proprietor is to build an altar and offer thanksgiving. God promises the earth will never again suffer a universal flood (Gen. 8:21). His pledge to Noah is universal and everlasting in scope. God establishes a covenant with him and He never covenants with unrighteous individuals (6:18). Noah is specifically listed with righteous men such as Job and Daniel (Ez. 14:14).

Humanity is given a second chance. Noah leaves the ark with God’s blessing and encouragement to be “fruitful, multiply, and replenish the earth” (9:1). The Lord sets a rainbow in the sky as a token of this covenant: a link tween God and man (9:13). Every minute of the day, somewhere around the globe, rainbows can be seen. Every one of them is a reaffirmation of God’s pledge to Noah.

The story of the deluge perfectly illustrates God’s plan of salvation. He preserves the righteous from the flood of divine judgment. The Lord knows how to separate weeds from the wheat, good fish from the bad, and the righteous from the wicked. Noah lives another 350 years after the flood and dies when he is 950 years old. Despite the lessons of the flood, mankind is as corrupt as ever. Every person today stands in need of God’s deliverance.

To summarize the tragedy and the triumph of this epic story, no one has stated it better than James Hastings in the year 1913:

“Noah’s is the lonely vigil of a solitary human soul, gazing into the night lit by the fires of sin and revelry. He stand as a man of faith waiting for the dawn. Suddenly the scene changes. Noah is lifted up above that world, floating on an endless sea. It is an ocean which deeply buries the vanity of the human race. But in this vast solitude Noah is waiting - waiting for an earth renewed, waiting for the green leaf to reappear, waiting for the emergence of the mountain tops. He sends forth the raven and the dove, hoping they will return with tidings of the reappearing land. Then the night diminishes as the waters recede. A renewed world arises - baptized from its former corruption. The old life is ended and forgotten.

And there stands Noah, waiting still. But hope has dawned, light is in the east, and morning is in the air. Everywhere there the aroma of a fresh start in life. Surrounding him are signs of a renewed opportunity for mankind. Liberation from the bondage of yesterday’s ancestral disobedience has arrived. When the final curtain falls, we find Noah - still waiting - but he is waiting under God’s covenantal rainbow.”

 


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