The story of Noah has received criticism from Christians and non- Christians as to whether or not the story is real or a fable. Genesis chapters one through eleven are some of the most debated scriptures in the Bible. Many aspects of the Flood account can be discussed and debated but to say that Noah was not a real person would go against the clear reading of the Bible. (Isaiah 54:9; Matthew 24:38; Hebrews 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5)
It has been documented that there are over 200 Flood stories from ancient history. Although some say that this is proof that it is a made up story I believe the opposite is true. I believe that there were so many flood accounts in the ancient world because the proof of a world wide flood was evident. Any religion or historical account could not leave out the story of the great flood because it was a question that had to be answered. Of course the other writings from religions have different meanings and some of the details are very different with different gods and different outcomes.
The root of Noah’s name means to rest and no one rested in God and His plans more than Noah. He trusted God by being obedient even when he did not fully understand what he was doing or what was coming. He was found to find favor in the Eyes of God which was only said about Moses and some believe Abraham. To find favor in the eyes of God is always a matter of faith.
Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
If we look at some of the aspects of the story of Noah we find several attributes of his obedience that we can all learn from.
1) Obedience in the midst of sin
Every thought and intention of the heart was only evil
Sin does not stay still it is either getting worse or you are mastering it. (Romans 6) Romans chapter 1 talks about how God will continually allow you to walk away from Him and by doing so you harden your heart to the point that you will no longer hear Him. One of the theological debates is who hardened pharaoh’s heart? Did Pharaoh harden his heart by rejecting God or did God harden Pharaoh’s heart to serve His purpose? I believe it is both because as God reaches out to you if you reject Him then you will become hardened to His voice. The illustration I always use is callouses on your hand. What caused them was it the hammer or was it the resistance of your hand to the hammer? It was both and so both are needed to cause the hardening of your heart.
Hebrews 3:15 says today if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts. Eventually your heart will become so hardened that you will not think anything you are doing is wrong. The things that once made you feel bad will no longer make you feel bad and so you will continue in your ways until your path of destruction leads you to death.
The word evil or violence is the Hebrew word Hamas. This is the worse word they could use to describe how vulgar, violent and hard hearted they were toward God, Humanity and even Creation. There was nothing that was sacred and nothing that was wrong with how they were living. They were not just sinning but they were making up sins and encourage others to sin as well.
This is why we cannot take our sin lightly no matter how small or not harmful we think it is. What things are you allowing in your life that will eventually destroy you?
This story is a story of God’s judgment. People do not like to talk about God as a God who judges but this story makes it clear that God hates sin. (Proverbs 6) We like the God who loves us and wants to forgive us but we forget that in order for us to be back in a right relationship with Him Jesus Christ had to take our punishment. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
When God kicked Adam and Eve out of the garden it was the most loving thing He could do because it kept them from eating from the tree of life and living eternally separated from Him. Although this seems cruel and unjust God is really saving anyone who would listen and His creation from the continual destruction of His original design. Also God’s destruction would keep innocent children from being raised and taught the ways of sin.
We know from our own lives that the best way to get rid of bad habits (sins) is to eliminate the source. God was starting over with whoever would come on board (literally) and cutting out the source of the sin that was so prevalent. God was not cold hearted about destroying humanity, it broke His heart. but He knew that if He didn’t the destruction of humanity and all of creation would be ruined for eternity.
When Jesus was talking about the end times He said this.
Luke 17:26-27 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.
The people were going the way of Cain doing it their way with no regard to God at all. In the last days everyone will be about themselves and their selfish desires with no regard to God. (2 Timothy 3:1-9)
Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation
Being surrounded by sin was no excuse for Noah. We tend to make excuses for our sin yet Noah was walking in a generation that God in His love could no longer not judge and yet Noah did not sin. I believe it was Noah’s family that instilled these Godly principles in him. Noah’s great grandfather was Enoch who was so close to God that God raptured him home. (Genesis 5:24) Methuselah was his grandfather who also walked with God and I believe they passed onto Noah the ways of God. Learning to live righteously starts in the home. When we as parents say one thing and live another way our children are the first to see the hypocrisy in our lives.
“Christian parents grieve over lost children who have rebelled against God, His Word, His Son, and His church, They wonder where they learned to rebel. Quite often, children learn disobedience at home from parents who have been rebellious themselves.” (Exploring People of the Old Testament, John Phillips, pg 44)
It was Noah’s family that instilled in him to walk with God and as parents we must continue to instill in our children the ways of God even when the society around us is ignoring God or even denying He exist. Do not grow discouraged because you cannot go back in how you have raised your children but be encouraged that you can still influence your family by the way you live before God.
There are exceptions or other influences in our children’s lives but we must remember God established the family for the passing down of the faith. We have to be serious about raising up a generation to stand in the midst of all the evil that is around them.
2) Obedience to the Plan
Some people only want to follow Gods plan if it benefits them. We take verses like Jeremiah 29:11 that talks about Gods plan for us out of context and say that God only has things in our lives that will be good. The verse is about Gods promise to Israel but if we do accept it for us then it says that God has the plan. That means we do not have the plan and we must accept Gods plan for our lives.
Noah was righteous and God used him not to do what Noah wanted but what God wanted.
Are you willing to follow God even if people think you are crazy for how you are following Him? How many of Noah’s close friends came to him and tried to talk him out of doing what he was doing? One Commentator believes that the people even sabotaged or vandalized Noah’s work.
God does have a wonderful plan for your life but it may not be wonderful for you at the time. The beauty of Gods plan may not be revealed till eternity when you see how He used it to benefit others. Hebrews chapter eleven is known as the faith chapter and there are many people listed that died waiting on God to come through. God has a purpose for all that He does and it is trusting Him in the midst of the process that is difficult.
I think when we teach people that God is for them means that He is going to do their bidding is the reason that many leave the faith when things go wrong. They were taught a false doctrine that it is about them and not about God. Moses was to lead the people out of Egypt and then through the desert because the people were disobedient not Moses. Joseph was thrown into prison multiple times for many years for God to get him where he wanted him. Both stories are about men being obedient to God even though they were in places that were not of their choosing. God in His planning did not seek out their advice to see if they approved of the plan.
Ravi Zacharias says Moses was raised in a Palace to serve in a desert and Joseph was raised in the desert to serve in a Palace. God has a plan but just like Jesus did not come to be served but to serve, ( Philippians 2) God is using us to serve others and asking us to lay down our lives.
Think of all that Noah had to do to accomplish the will of God. The task would have been impossible and never done before.
A) Build a Boat to God’s Specifications
You cannot be about you when God lays out how He wants it done. Skeptics say that this would have been impossible because ships like this were not built until later and this was much bigger than anything that could have sailed. What they forget is first of all God designed it but also this ship was made for floating not sailing. The boat had no sail and no Rudder which means God was in control because there would have been no way for Noah to guide the ship.
Most of us want to set sail with God as long as we have control of the sails and the rudder. We will listen to God as long as we can dialogue with Him and make some course corrections along the way.
We also only want to follow the plan as long as it is easy. If God comes through quickly or makes our work load light we will follow the plan. If it becomes difficult we tend to quit and make excuses for ourselves or we blame God.
Noah had to saw out these timbers down to size and cut them to fit exactly to join other timbers together. This took work, dedication, and detail that would have been painstakingly difficult at times. It took Noah 120 years to build the boat which means that he would have to be patient in carrying out Gods plan.
…the ark was not small; it was a huge structure – the size of a modern ocean liner. Furthermore, it had three stories (Genesis 6:16) which tripled its space to a total of over 1.5 million cubit feet!” (When Critics Ask, Dr. Norman Geisler, Pg 42)
B) Two animals of its kind into the boat
Skeptics use this as proof that it is a made up story because there is no way you could get every species of animal in the Ark. The Bible says of its kind showing that it was not every species of animal.
… the modern concept of “species” is not the same as a “kind” in the Bible. There are probably only several hundred different “kinds” of land animals that would have to be taken into the ark The sea animals stayed in the sea, and many species could have survived in egg form.” (When Critics Ask, Dr. Norman Geisler, Pg 44)
We know animals only produce their kind and cannot evolve into other things so if he had each of its kind then through micro evolution we could see all the species we have today. Adding to the hard work of the boat building some believe he began gathering animals ahead of time creating his own zoo he had to maintain.
C) Gather enough food to feed his family and all the animals (6:21)
Noah was the ultimate dooms day- prepper who had to think way ahead of time in making sure he did not run out of food.
“Noah faced the task of making provision both for housing this floating zoo and for feeding it (not to mention cleaning up after it) – not only during the flood, but also until post flood land began producing sufficient food for them. The same went for his own family, too. Therefore, he needed to pack about and 18-20 month food supply.” (Navigating Genesis, Dr. Hugh Ross, pg. 178)
Dr. Ross goes onto say that Noah would have probably packed all the farming and house building tools he needed as well. Whatever Noah had on the boat is all that he would have when he and his family started over.
D) The work on the boat
Noah and his family were on the boat for a year and the work would have to continue. This means stables had to be cleaned and animals fed and cared for were ongoing never ending task. The will of God does not mean that it is going to be easy. The joy of the Lord does not mean things are not bad around you.
“Walking by faith means to follow someone else who knows more than we do, someone who is also good.” (The Grand Weaver, Ravi Zacharias, pg 43)
3) Obedience to warn others
Noah was not just building a boat he was building a pulpit
Everyone is preaching a message to you but they do not see it that way. They think only religious people are trying to cram a world view down your throat but everyone has a way of living that they want others to live.
2 Peter 2:5 says that Noah was a preacher of righteousness (a Herald). God never pours out judgment without ample warning. God always sends a prophet or spokesperson to warn people that He is no longer going to tolerate the sin they are doing. Anyone who heard Noah could have accepted his invitation to go with him on the boat. Some believe that Noah built the boat big enough to accommodate more families.
You can imagine all the people that stopped by to see this boat in the middle of the desert. The attention Noah would have received as people came by to look, laugh and even marvel at what Noah was doing. Noah told them of Gods judgment but just like our society today believes the world will never end, so Noah’s generation would believe the same. Noah’s only converts were his family. One hundred and twenty years of preaching and pleading and not one of his neighbors or friends believed him.
Noah, by our standards was the worse evangelist ever. When we get wrapped up in numbers we lose what God’s plan is for us. Our job is to tell the truth and try and convince others of the judgment they will face if they do not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Acts 16:31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Saved? Saved from what? You are saved from Gods judgment (Romans 1) and you are saved from the destructiveness of sin in your own life. (Romans 6:23) We have seen the destruction in peoples lives who continue to walk in ways that go against God. God does not tell us not to do things because He is a cosmic kill joy but because He loves us and wants what is best for us.
Our lives are to be lived as a pulpit. Whatever we do in this life is God using us to build a platform to warn others. Either Jesus is the only way (John 14:6) to God as He said or He is a liar. If Jesus is the only way to God then we need to let people know even if they do not believe us or even if they mock us. Your work ethic matters to God and by how you live among a generation who no longer calls things sins will be difficult. Everything you do at work and in your neighborhood is either building or destroying your pulpit for others to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.
God uses ordinary people with ordinary task to preach a great message
Noah was not about being number one in the world but only being obedient to God. If Noah was worried about finances or popularity then he would not have done what God asked. This was not Noah’s dream for himself this was God’s plan for Noah and the world. I know we hear a lot about dreaming big dreams for God but it would be better to listen to the plan God has already placed out for you and be faithful to see it through. Noah did not set out with a plan and ask God to bless it, He simply obeyed the plan that God had for him.
One of these two lines will summarize your life.
“He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 14:3; 15:3, 34)
He did evil in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 13:2,11; 14:24)
So what is God calling you to?
What task is before you that He wants you to do that seems too big?
What are you currently doing that may not be going as fast or as successful as you thought?
We are called to be obedient in the midst of the ungodliness that is in our culture and live righteously pointing people to Christ.