Noah, the tenth and last of the pre-Flood patriarchs, lived nine hundred and fifty years. Two thirds of his life, recorded in Genesis 6-9, preceded the Flood. He was “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5 KJV) for about 120 years, despite the fact that he was silent until he opened his mouth to curse Canaan (Gen. 9:25). There is no record of his pleading for his generation when God revealed that He would destroy the earth with a flood – in contrast to Abraham who pleaded for depraved Sodom and Gomorrah. Earth Corrupt Noah lived amidst an evil and adulterous generation. After the Fall, there was a rapid descent into gross depravity. Having murdered Abel, the proud religionist Cain was driven out to become a fugitive and wanderer in the earth – the prototype of the line of the Serpent’s seed (Gen. 3:15). Then Lamech boasted that he had exceeded Cain in his blood-guiltiness (Gen. 4:19-24). This shameless sinner also committed polygamy, which was later imitated by those who “took them wives of all which they chose” (Gen. 6:2). Thus the Spirit’s commentary: “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence” (Gen. 6:11).
All this, as well as Noah’s later sin of drunkenness (Gen. 9:21), suggests that drunkenness was also rife among pre-Flood peoples. The Lord Himself commented: “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all” (Lk. 17:26-27).
Promise Of The Redeemer
When the situation worsened without remedy, God pronounced that He would destroy all flesh. However, He was committed to man’s redemption within the promise of the Seed (Gen. 3:15). Noah was in the line through which the Redeemer would come. To fulfill His word, the Lord must preserve Noah and his posterity. To achieve both destruction and preservation God instructed Noah to build an ark for the saving of his house.
The Lord’s shipwright was in direct contrast to the spirit of his age. He was righteous and walked with God, as had Enoch before him. Scripture also tells us that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8). We are what we are by the grace of God, and are only faithful as far as we are kept from stumbling. It was no easy task working for God when all about him were mocking, drinking and partying. But while Noah and his house were resolved to serve God, the most painful temptation came from the godly line itself where departure from the faith became standard. For example, Methuselah, who died in the year of the Flood, and Lamech, who died five years before it, begot sons and daughters in their latter years who drowned in the Flood. This teaches us that the unbelieving children of believing families, those who refuse to accept the offer of salvation, will perish.
Foreglimpse Of The Rapture
The lives of Enoch, Methuselah and Lamech also teach us how saints will be spared the sorrows of a future day. While Enoch was translated before the Flood, Methuselah and Lamech died before the Flood. And so God says, “no man layeth it to heart … that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come” (Isa. 57:1). Thus the Church, His body, will be spared the Great Tribulation either by death or translation (1 Th. 4:17). However, in Noah we see the truth of post-Rapture saints surviving the Day of the Lord preserved in their righteousness.
Because Enoch prophesied that the Flood would follow Methuselah, who lived to be 969, God was in no hurry to drown the world, which after 1656 years may have numbered a million souls. It is also generally agreed that the 120 years of Genesis 6:3 was not a life span but the time left till the Flood. This means that Noah was 480 when God set the date of the Deluge.
Noah’s three sons walked in the way of their father and took themselves godly wives. But while the patriarch-preacher warned of coming judgment, the scornful children of Cain continued to bring forth children for the pit. While marriage was decreed for the continuance of the human race, there was no purpose in childbearing when only eight humans would survive.
God Of Wonders In The Ark
Noah, motivated by “godly fear” (Heb. 12:28), proceeded to build an ark to the saving of his house. Thereby he “became an heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Heb. 11:7). However, being already righteous in all his generations, Hebrews 11 infers that he had not yet entered into the inheritance which is the birthright of the justified. After the Flood, Noah and his family inherited a new world washed clean of all defilement – and, of course, an eternal inheritance through the promised Seed.
The Flood which followed the ark’s completion was sudden and effective. While its proportions were perfect for a floating vessel, nothing short of a miracle preserved it from being smashed to pieces. The violence of the Deluge is mostly underestimated. Apart from divine navigation, the ship would most certainly have been destroyed.
We must not strain out the miraculous. The very gathering of the clean and unclean beasts was a great miracle. Without miracles, the Bible is just another book. No one can be saved without belief in signs and wonders, as the miracles of the birth, death and resurrection of Christ are essential to salvation.
Mythology And Prophecy
Those who deride Genesis cite the existence of earlier Flood accounts. While they accept the truth of the Flood, they are hopelessly corrupted by pagan mythology. Genesis was written to correct the cuneiform accounts in the same way that Genesis 1 corrects the false notion that the sun, moon and stars are gods and goddesses. It is the Creator who is to be worshiped, not creation.
The pre-Genesis records are therefore by those “who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator” (Rom. 1:25). We should also reject the “local flood” theory. Since the Deluge, there have been many local floods, but rainbows, seen world-wide, mean that God will never again drown the earth.
Despite the scorners, God’s Word was vindicated to the last jot and tittle. “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month” a world which had never seen rain before, saw it as it would never be seen again. “All the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened” (Gen. 7:11). Not only did the sky fall on the heads of the Antediluvians (pre-Flood peoples), but the sea rose to engulf them. God ignored the cries for mercy. While Noah was at peace in godly fear, the mockers perished in cowardly panic. Likewise, the coming of the Son of Man will disturb a world at peace with itself but at war with God. “When they shall say peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh … and they shall not escape” (1 Th. 5:3).
Though God was in the Ark with the eight (Gen. 7:1), the Lord did not speak to His servant again until the vessel rested upon Mount Ararat. The higher the waters rose the nearer the Ark was to heaven. Silent and unseen, their God was with them every hour when nothing but the eerie surge of water was heard outside. Meanwhile, inside there was the rumble of elephants, who served as ballast in the lowermost story, and the chatter of birds in the uppermost story from where Noah sent forth a raven and a dove.
Typology Of The Birds
When the Ark rested, Noah sent forth the unclean raven, which – like Lucifer who was banished eternally from Paradise – never returned. In contrast, the dove returned when it found no resting place. Like Christ rejected by His own, the clean bird returned to the presence of God. However, when sent out the second time, the dove returned with the olive branch – a picture of Christ at His coming who will return to heaven with the Church. Similarly, we may liken the dove’s third going forth to Christ’s being sent by the Father to reign as King of kings in a cleansed world.
Noah’s first act on the cleansed creation was to offer clean beasts in sacrifice. When God smelled the sweet savor of His fragrant Son, He committed Himself forever to sparing the earth from another Flood. God also instituted the rainbow covenant, followed by abundant blessings and also laws. Man would not change in a renewed world, so his wild nature would have to be tethered to strict moral restraints.
Noah’s Cursing Of Canaan
It is therefore with great sadness that we read that the patriarch later drank to excess and behaved disgracefully in his tent. Likewise the sneering contempt of his second son, Ham, was reminiscent of the pre-Flood mockers. Though wine is a mocker which causes men to make fools of themselves, Ham failed to honor his father: “Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brethren” (Gen. 9:22). But in spite of this sad event, Noah never lost the gift of prophecy. He knew what Ham had done and how Shem and Japheth had shown respect. God having already blessed Ham and his brothers, Noah prophetically cursed Ham’s descendants, beginning with his son Canaan, saying, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren” (Gen. 9:25).
All One In Christ Jesus
Generations later, when Israel possessed Canaan, the Gibeonites, who were descendants of Canaan, “became bondmen, and hewers of wood and drawers of water” (Josh. 9:23). However, in this dispensation of grace “there is neither Jew nor Greek … bond nor free … male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). There are, therefore, no such distinctions in Christ where all in fellowship sit together at the Lord’s Table.
The equality of the Body of Christ precludes prejudice. Paul rebuked Peter for separating from the Gentiles, as Paul himself had to renounce his Jewish bigotry to become the apostle to the heathen. Indeed, today God is blessing the children of Ham (Africa) with a spirit receptive to the gospel, while the children of Shem and Japheth (Asia Minor, the West) continue to turn from God in contempt.
In his second letter, Peter referred to Noah as “a preacher of righteousness” where his pre-Flood generation was concerned. In the same letter, he addresses us, not about a coming flood but a coming fire, with words reminiscent of Noah: “With fervent heat, the earth … and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?” (2 Pet. 3:11). What’s the greatest lesson we can learn from Noah? Don’t make the same mistake twice!
By Tom Summerhill
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org