Controversy can result when men take the account of Noah and the flood, analyze it, draw conclusions from it, and then compare those conclusions with facts revealed in nature. Such controversy doesn’t edify! The events of the Old Testament, including those about Noah and the flood, “happened as examples and were written down as warnings for us” (1 Cor. 10:11 NIV). That’s how our Lord Himself used them (Mt. 24:37-39) and that’s the way they’ll be used in this article.
Noah’s Times Were Like Ours
The spiritual state of the people of Noah’s day was very much like that which we see around us today. Then, as now, “the Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Gen. 6:5). Our tendency is to be influenced by the spirit of the times. But if we follow Noah’s example, we can avoid that spirit and live praiseworthy lives as he did. “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God” (Gen. 6:9). He “found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8). But before Noah could find favor (or grace) and walk with the Lord, he had to become a man of faith: “Without faith it is impossible to please God … By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark” (Heb. 11:6-7).
We Too Have Found Grace
We too can be people of faith; we who believe have also found grace in the eyes of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him, “we have gained access … into this grace in which we now stand” (Rom. 5:1-2). Through grace, we have been given the Holy Spirit and through the Spirit we are enabled to be “righteous” and “blameless” amidst the wickedness of our day. If we walk in the Spirit, we “will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Gal. 5:l6) and we will produce “the righteousness that comes by faith” (Heb. 11:7). Like Noah, we can walk with God.
Do What God Commands
God told Noah that He was going to cause a flood to judge the earth that was “corrupt … and full of violence.” God also told him to build an ark to preserve himself, his family, and animal life (Gen. 6:11-21). God gave detailed specifications so that the ark could survive the downpour and the current that would take it up to the mountains. “Noah did all that the Lord commanded him” (Gen. 7:5). His example at the time of the flood is one for us to imitate continually.
Be Preachers Of Righteousness
Besides being a boat-builder, Noah was a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5). Knowing what was going to happen, he undoubtedly was preaching repentance, a turning to God, and salvation in the ark. Following his example, we will also preach repentance, a turning to God, and a trusting in the work of the Lord Jesus for salvation from the wrath to come. In effect, Christ is our Ark! However, we should not have high expectations for the response to our preaching, for in response to Noah’s preaching “only a few people, eight in all,” were saved from the flood’s destruction (1 Pet. 3:20).
Terrible Times Lie Ahead
In Matthew 24:2-31, the Lord Jesus predicts that terrible times lie ahead and warns that “as it was in the day of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (v. 37). He added that “before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark” (v. 38). They undoubtedly scoffed at Noah’s warning, and we can expect the same thing today.
There Will Be Scoffers
Scripture tells us that we can expect people today to scoff at our warning of what lies ahead saying, “Where is this ‘coming’ He promised? … Everything goes on as it has from the beginning” (2 Pet. 3:4). Scripture then explains why He has not yet come: “The Lord … is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). This patience was also present in Noah’s day: “God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built” (1 Pet. 3:20). When the Lord shut the door (Gen. 7:16), there was no escape for those outside when the flood came and destroyed them. Similarly, the Church is now being built and the day is coming when the door will be shut (Mt. 25:1-13).
Let’s Celebrate Our Salvation
When the flood waters receded and the ground was dry, God called Noah and his family out of the ark. What was the first thing Noah did then? He built an altar and used it to worship God! He did that by offering sacrifices, and the Lord “smelled the pleasing aroma” (Gen. 8:20-21). Thus, Noah and his family remembered who had accomplished the work of salvation for them. Likewise, we who are saved by the work of Christ are asked to partake of the bread and wine to remember Him and to worship. We partake while looking forward to His promise to return and deliver us from the wrath to come. We rejoice that “God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Th. 5:9).
Praiseworthy Conduct Can Precede Sin
Noah is praised as a man of faith; he is listed in the “who’s who” of faith in Hebrews 11:7. But he is also presented here in Genesis 9 as imperfect. After his tremendous demonstration of faith in believing that a flood was coming, and in constructing an ark according to God’s instructions, Noah fell into sin. He planted a vineyard, made wine from the grapes, drank it, and “became drunk.” And there were evil consequences – his youngest son violated a taboo and Noah cursed him by cursing his son, Canaan (Gen. 9:20-27). Scripture does not explain why he drank too much wine; however, we can speculate that He became depressed. Scripture says, “Give … wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and … remember their misery no more” (Prov. 31:6-7). Thus, his sin was not in drinking the wine but in becoming drunk.
Think Positive Thoughts
Why might Noah have been depressed? He had undoubtedly been a wealthy man. He had been able to purchase all the cypress wood he needed to build the ark and to purchase all the food that had to be stored away for the people and all the animals in the ark. He lost everything in the flood. Also, he lived in a very civilized country where men had built cities, where agriculture and animal husbandry were productive, where technology was progressing, and where the arts were thriving (Gen. 4:17-22). All this was destroyed. As he contemplated all the loss around him, he easily might become discouraged! We can avoid discouragement by eliminating our negative thoughts and by heeding the Scripture which says: “If anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (Phil. 4:8).
Provision For Failure
Noah’s failure is a warning to us to avoid being self-confident. We can exhibit the highest spirituality, and see God doing wonderful things through us, but still get discouraged and fall into sin when we see things going wrong. We are not immune! If we are alert to the possibility that we can sin, we will more likely recognize it when it occurs, and judge it immediately. It is reassuring to know that there is provision for us to be cleansed from it (1 Jn. 1:9) and to know that there is “One who speaks to the Father in our defense” (1 Jn. 2:1).
Heed The Warning
By building the ark and preaching righteousness, Noah was warning the people of what lay ahead. Nevertheless, as our Lord said, “In the days of Noah … the flood came and destroyed them all” (Lk. 17:26-27). In the same way, God tells us through Peter that “the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment” (2 Pet. 3:7). Having told us this, Peter immediately asks us a very searching question: “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?” (2 Pet. 3:11). If we truly believe Peter’s prophecy, would we not be a people quite different from what we actually are? Wouldn’t we be more like Noah?
By Alan Crosby
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org