Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Noah: The Man Who Obeyed God

The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and He saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. . . . But Noah found favor with the Lord. This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God. Noah was the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. God observed all this corruption in the world, for everyone on earth was corrupt. So God said to Noah . . . . “Build a large boat from cypress wood and waterproof it with tar, inside and out. Then construct decks and stalls throughout its interior. Make the boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. Leave an 18-inch opening below the roof all the way around the boat. Put the door on the side, and build three decks inside the boat—lower, middle, and upper. Look! I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes. Everything on earth will die. But I will confirm My covenant (promise) with you. So enter the boat—you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring a pair of every kind of animal—a male and a female—into the boat with you to keep them alive during the flood. Pairs of every kind of bird, and every kind of animal, and every kind of small animal that scurries along the ground, will come to you to be kept alive. . . .” So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him. Genesis 6:5, 8-20, 22 (NLT)

Noah was a righteous and obedient man (Genesis 6:9; Genesis 7:1, 5) and he found grace (favor) in God’s eyes (Genesis 6:8). Most people only know that Noah built an ark. However, the Holy Bible said he was “the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God” (Genesis 6:9, NLT). As indicated from this passage, Noah’s righteousness flowed from his close fellowship with God. The righteousness of Noah is also mentioned in other places throughout the Holy Scriptures (e.g., see Ezekiel 14:14, 20; Hebrews 11:7; 2 Peter 2:5). In fact, Noah was known as a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5) who warned his generation of God’s coming judgment.

Despite Noah’s righteousness, Noah was not sinless. The Holy Bible makes clear that only Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on this earth (1 Peter 2:21-22; 1 Peter 3:18). Indeed, the Holy Bible records one of Noah’s sins at Genesis 9:20. Nevertheless, Noah wholeheartedly loved and obeyed God (Genesis 6:22, see also Hebrews 11:7). Noah’s daily walk revealed a godly character of obedience, goodness, and virtue among the people and with God (Genesis 6:9; see also Philippians 2:12-16; Titus 1:10, 16; 2 Peter 2:5). His great-grandfather Enoch had also faithfully lived and walked in “close fellowship with God” (Genesis 5:22-24; see also Galatians 5:16, 25; Ephesians 5:2, 8, 15), and Noah maintained the godly line of Seth that began praying and worshipping in God’s Name (Genesis 4:25-26; see also Luke 3:36-38).

When Noah was born, his father Lamech named him “Noah.” Lamech had hope and believed that the curse brought on by Adam and Eve’s sin would be lifted (Genesis 3:17; Romans 5:12-14) and Noah would “bring us relief from our work and the painful labor of farming this ground that the Lord has cursed” (Genesis 5:29, NLT). Noah became father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Genesis 5:32). Ham was the youngest son (Genesis 9:24) and Japheth was the eldest (Genesis 10:21), and all three boys were married (Genesis 7:13). Shem became the father of the Hebrew nation (the Israelites) and a descendent of our Savior, Jesus Christ (see Genesis 10:21-32). Thus, Lamech’s prayer that Noah would bring the world the rest and comfort came true through his descendent, Jesus Christ who said “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28, NKJV).

Noah lived during an evil and violent generation. God had given humans the command to care for the earth (Genesis 1:28). Instead, humans engaged in rampant murder, violence, and corruption (Genesis 4:8, 23; Genesis 6:11-13). The Holy Bible describes the world in Noah's day as filled with utter evil, wickedness, violence, corruption, and total depravity (Genesis 6:1-13). Everything the people thought or imagined in their heart was consistently and totally evil (Genesis 6:5; see also Proverbs 4:23). Like Enoch before him (Jude 14-15), Noah preached God’s righteousness to the people (2 Peter 2:5). Even more, God’s Holy Spirit had been dwelling and striving with the people (Genesis 6:3). Yet, the people rejected God and Noah’s message. God saw the extent of wickedness on the earth and how the world had gone wrong. Human sin had so corrupted God’s earth that judgment fell on the animal too (Genesis 6:13, 17).

So, God decided He would “cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes” (Genesis 6:17, NLT). God said, “My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time” (Genesis 6:3, NLT) because He had become unhappy He had ever made humans and put them on the earth. In essence, human sin and utter wickedness broke God’s heart – filled God’s heart with pain (Genesis 6:6; see also Ephesians 4:30-32). Consequently, God said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them” (Genesis 6:7, NLT). As Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23-24), all humankind would be purged and removed from God’s creation (see 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5; 2 Peter 3:6). God’s gift at creation (Genesis 1:30; Genesis 2:7) would be taken away from these wicked humans because of their sin. God said to Noah, “I have decided to destroy all living creatures . . . . Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth!” (Genesis 6:13, NLT). The flood waters would come from the underground water and the rain from above (Genesis 7: 11-12; Genesis 8:2) to cleanse the earth (global cleansing) of its sin and corruption and create a new order. God’s radical cleaning would check the rampant evil. However, the curse of Adam and Eve was not lifted (Genesis 3:14, 16-19) because the flood did not reform the human heart (Genesis 6:5; see also Jeremiah 31:31-34). Noah and his offspring were still descendants of Adam and carried in their hearts the inheritance to sin (see Psalm 51:5; Psalm 58:3; Ephesians 2:3). Much later, God would graciously send His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ to save the world of sin and change the human heart. Through faith in the life and ministry of God’s Son, God Himself through His Holy Spirit changes humans from the inside out to create a new heart (Jeremiah 31:31-34; 2 Corinthians 5:11-21; Hebrews 8:8-12).

And God punished the world long ago when He brought a flood to the world that was full of people who were against Him. But God saved Noah, who preached about being right with God, and seven other people with him. 
2 Peter 2:5 (NCV)

Despite the corruption and violence of the human race, God’s grace (favor) remained with Noah and his family (Genesis 6:8; see also 2 Peter 2:5). Noah and his godly life stood in contrast to the sinful and wicked generation surrounding him. To save Noah and his family, God gave Noah precise instructions for building the boat (ark) by which Noah and his family would survive the coming flood. Noah obeyed God’s building instructions down to every detail (Genesis 6:14-16, 22). The boat God commanded Noah to build was enormous. The dimension of the boat was the most stable known and is even used today for the design of tankers and freight-hauling ships. By 1900, every large vessel on the high seas was definitely inclined toward the proportions of Noah’s boat. God was the Captain, Scientist, and great Architect of Noah’s great boat with no sail or rudder.

Seven days before the flood, God commanded Noah to lead his family and all of the animals into the ark and Noah obeyed God (Genesis 7:1-5). Previously, God had instructed Noah to bring “you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring a pair of every kind of animal—a male and a female—into the boat with you to keep them alive during the flood. Pairs of every kind of bird, and every kind of animal, and every kind of small animal that scurries along the ground, will come to you to be kept alive” (Genesis 6:19-20, NLT). These couples and animals would procreate and repopulate the entire earth after the flood. So, pairs of every kind of bird, and every kind of animal, and every kind of small animal that scurries along the ground came onto the boat (Genesis 6:20). But how did Noah gather such a large number of animals, birds, and creeping things? Providentially, God caused these creatures to come to Noah (Genesis 6:20; Genesis 7:8, 15). Noah not only learned about the faithfulness of God, but he also witnessed the sovereignty and provision of God in action.

Then, God sent rain onto the earth for “forty days and forty nights” (Genesis 7:4). Noah and his family were saved from the devastating flood waters (Genesis 7:13). “Only a few people, eight in all” (1 Peter 3:20) survived the flood waters (2 Peter 2:5) as God Himself shut the doors to Noah’s boat (Genesis 7:16). “God wiped out every living thing on the earth—people, livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and the birds of the sky. All were destroyed. The only people who survived were Noah and those with him in the boat. And the floodwaters covered the earth for 150 days” (Genesis 7:23-24, NLT).

It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith. Hebrews 11:7 (NLT)

The story of Noah demonstrates that faith involves obedience in the face of the unseen. Noah obeyed God and “did everything exactly as God had commanded him” (Genesis 6:22, NLT). This verse stresses Noah’s wholehearted obedience to God (see also Genesis 7:5, 9, 16). Although God's command to build a boat on dry land seemed foolish to the world, Noah obeyed God. Noah prepared the boat and gave witness that judgment was coming (2 Peter 2:5), the same message his grandfather Enoch had given during his lifetime (Jude 14-15). Thus, Noah not only heard God’s Word, but he also obeyed God’s Word (see also James 1:22-25), while the rest of the world was ungodly and rebelled against God and God’s Spirit (Genesis 6:3, 5-7; see also Jude 15). God warned the people about the coming disaster through Noah (1 Peter 3:20). However, the people rebelled and would not listen to God and God’s messengers.

Noah and his family along with the animals entered the boat, and God shut the door and made it safe (Genesis 7:5, 16). God’s grace extended His loving kindness to the whole family of righteous Noah – Noah’s wife, his sons and their wives (Genesis 6:18; see also Exodus 34:4-7). Through Noah’s obedience to God, his “house” was not destroyed when the storm came (Matthew 7:24-27). Even more, God used Noah to save the human race (as Noah is now the new father of the human race)! Noah became part of God’s great plan of redemption (Genesis 8:20-9:17). Through Noah came Abraham, David, and our Savior, Jesus Christ (see Genesis 3:15). God worked through Noah’s obedience to save humanity from complete destruction (Genesis 6:5, 9). The story of Noah’s deliverance from the flood foreshadows God’s full redemption of His people (Hebrews 11:7; 2 Peter 2:5) and is viewed by the Apostle Peter as in some sense symbolic of Christian baptism (1 Peter 3:20-21).

Genesis chapters 8 and 9 records God’s new beginning of earth after the flood. Then God said to Noah, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you--the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground--so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it” (Genesis 8:15-17, NIV). Once out of the ark, Noah built an altar and worshipped God (Genesis 8:20-21). Also, human and animal relationships were again defined by God and the sanctity of human life was given special focus (Genesis 9:1-7). God’s blessing and mandate first given to Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:28) was now reissued to Noah. God spoke to Noah saying, “Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons' wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth” (Genesis 8:15-17, NKJV).

Finally, God had told Noah before the flood that He would create a new covenant (promise) with him (Genesis 6:18). Noah’s covenant was God’s first and most basic covenant recorded with humans. In this covenant, God sovereignly promised to Noah, Noah’s descendants and to all other living creature (humans and animals) never again to destroy the earth and its inhabitants with a flood and flood waters (see Genesis 9:8-17). God marked this first covenant with a rainbow seen in the storm cloud. So, the rainbow is a sign of Noah’s covenant for all future generations that God will never again to deal with sin by sending such a devastating flood (Genesis 9:11, 15). Times and seasons, created by God in the beginning will never cease till the end of human history (Genesis 8:22; see also Genesis 1:14). Even more, the dove with an olive branch stands as a symbol of peace, and the origin of that symbol traces back to the flood and God’s restored peace between Him and His creation (Genesis 8:6-12). God is a God of judgment but God is also a God of redemption, protection, and restoration (Genesis 8:1; see also Psalm 8:4).

Life Application Study Bible. Carol Streams, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2005.
New Student Bible. New York: Zondervan,1992.
NLT Study Bible. Carol Streams, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2008.
The Amplified Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987.
Zondervan NIV Study Bible. New York: Zondervan, 2008.
Butler, Trent. Holman Bible Dictionary. Broadman & Holman Pub., 1991.
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary. Victor Books, 1989.

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