Mighty men of old, men of renown! Giants! Men and women living hundreds of years old (Gen. 6:4). The world in Noah’s day was an astounding, incredible and amazing place. But for all its wonders, it was marred because it was also full of sin. In fact, the wickedness of man was so great in the earth that “every imagination of man’s heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). A world that was once deemed very good (Gen. 1:31), had now devolved into something that made God sick in His heart. He was sorry that He had even made man on the earth (Gen. 6:6) and resolved to destroy it (Gen. 6:7).
But in all this mess of a world, there was one man who stood above it all. “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations” (Gen. 6:9). He was a “good man living in desperate times” (Clark). While all others had corrupted their way before God, Noah, it is said, “walked with God” (Gen. 6:9)! This is the same expression that Moses used to describe the life of Enoch (Gen. 5:24). Those who walk with God stand out because they are not going the direction of the rest of the world. Jesus said as Christians we are to be the light of the world (Matt. 5:14-16).
Because he walked with God, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8). While Noah did not participate in the general moral rebellion against God, while his outstanding character set him apart from the rest of the world, he was still in need of God’s unmerited favor. In this instance, that grace manifested itself in his salvation from the physical destruction of the world and all the evil souls from it (Gen. 6:13). This account tells us just as much about God as it does about ourselves. Even where sin abounds, God’s grace much more abounds (Rom. 5:20). “Now for the first time grace itself finds a tongue to express its name” (Clark).
But God’s grace alone was not enough to save Noah. God commanded Noah to build an ark out of Gopher wood and that it was to meet certain specifications (Gen. 6:14-16). When all was said and done, Moses tells us, “Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he” (Gen. 6:22). If Noah had not done the work which God commanded him to do, if Noah had substituted his own dimensions, his own material, or his own design, God would not have blessed him. Clearly, grace and obedience are not mutually exclusive. In the New Testament we are told that Jesus became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him (Heb. 5:9).
Another quality exhibited by Noah was his faith. Living in a world that had never known rain, it must had been very difficult for Noah to imagine the world being destroyed by water (Gen. 2:6). But “by faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Hebrews 11:7). We know from Cain and Abel that faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17; cf. Gen. 4:5-7). Noah’s faith was built upon the commands of God and it was his faith that gave Noah access to the grace of God (cf. Rom. 5:1,2).
The commands of God giving the design of the ark also included the reason for the coming deluge. It was God’s judgment on mankind for its sins. But Noah was evidently charged with warning his generation of the impending destruction for he became a preacher of righteousness (II Pet. 2:5). For 120 years, while Noah warned the antediluvians of the anger of God and called them back to Him (Gen. 6:3), Jehovah waited, thus manifesting His longsuffering attitude toward man (I Pet. 3:19,20). Noah, after preaching to an unbelieving world for 120 years, was able only to claim to have saved his own house.
The ark, though big enough, was not that big of a structure compared to other kinds of vessels we know. The ark was merely a box. It’s purpose was not to slash through the waters of the flood at top speed as if on a hurried mission to reach some faraway destination. It’s main purpose was to stay afloat to keep its occupants alive. It had one door, one way to enter it, just as the church has but one Door, that is Christ (John 10:9). The ark had but one window by which to receive it’s light. The Lord’s church has but one light source, the word of God (Psalm 119:11). All who were saved were to be found on the ark. If we are not in the Lord’s church, we are lost (Acts 2:47).
Moses’ account of the flood tells us nothing of the people who did not get on the ark. We know they were all about their daily walks of life before the Flood began. “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark” (Matthew 24:38). They had no inkling of the coming terror that would end their earthly sojourn. Jesus described their end very succinctly: They “knew not until the flood came, and took them all away” (Matt. 24:39). And then He added, “So shall the coming of the Son of Man be.” “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. . .Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 24:42, 44).
So many are the lessons of Noah.
Eric L. Padgett