Read Genesis 6-8 for the whole story of Noah and the Ark.
My guess is if you grew up going to church, you can easily tell the story of Noah and the ark. Maybe even if you didn’t, you still can because it is so widely known. This story is referenced in popular culture to the point that even those who know virtually nothing of Scripture know the basics of the account even if they don’t believe them to be true.
Sometimes it is the most simplistic, elementary accounts of the Bible that lose their meaning and power because of their familiarity. However, this real story is an important one because of the lessons and principles it instills in even the youngest hearts. At its core, this is about God’s righteous judgment, His provision, His grace, and humankind’s sin. It reveals God’s anger and unwillingness to be passive when all His creation turns against Him. It tells the story of the impact of a righteous man in a world fully consumed by wrongdoing.
The Righteousness of Noah
The account begins in this way: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Imagine how dark that would be. Can you picture a world where every intention was set on doing evil? This report of humanity’s corruption is completely opposite of Noah’s character; he “found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (6:8) and “was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God” (6:9). While this certainly doesn’t imply Noah was perfect, in contrast with his peers he did excel spiritually. As much as this is a lesson about how bad the world was, it is an even more beautiful lesson about the grace of God and His desire to save Noah so he wouldn’t have to pay with his contemporaries for their sins. Did God have to extend grace to Noah? Of course, not! But did God choose to work through one man’s righteousness and faithfulness in order to preserve the future of humanity? Yes, He did. God’s goodness is often a complete mystery to us. We wonder why didn’t He stop it all, especially when it “grieved” God to His heart that He had made man. These questions may feel helpful to ponder, but ultimately these curiosities will never explain God’s grace.
God’s Anger Toward Sin
As we read the story of the flood, it is quite apparent that God has an anger about human sinfulness and, thus, He pronounces a divine judgment against all except Noah and his family. There will always be critics who will read this account and accuse God as a heartless deity with no concern for His wayward creation. But, taking into account God’s righteousness, holiness, and justice alongside His love, mercy, and grace, these charges against Him seem totally unfounded. Yes, God does despise sinfulness and evildoing; His just and righteous character does not allow Him to excuse it. However, in the New Testament, the answer to the wrath of God upon sin is solved in His own Son’s death on the cross to redeem, forgive, and reconcile sinners! While He cannot look the other way when it comes to our sins, He has provided an escape from condemnation, because of His love for us.
God’s Great Care
Last, seeing God’s graceful consideration of Noah teaches us about the incredible provision and care God provides. What would this story look like if God did not provide for Noah? Rather in Genesis 8:1, after the flooding had reached its peak, it says that “God remembered Noah”. This is not in the sense that God had forgotten him then brought him to memory again. There was no “Oops!” moment like when a student remembers about a project due date too late. Instead this literally means that God had Noah in mind. During the most testing, scary, important moment of Noah’s life God was there. We would do well to remember (to call to mind) all the instances in Scripture where God is present during the hardship of believers. When Joseph was in the pit, God wasn’t actually far away. When Moses fled Egypt, God wasn’t actually far away. When Elijah feared for his life because of Jezebel, God wasn’t actually far away. When Gideon was hiding in the wine press, God wasn’t actually far away. When Jonah was thrown overboard, God wasn’t actually far away. When Daniel was sentenced to enter the lion’s den, God wasn’t actually far away. When the disciples feared because of the stormy sea, God wasn’t actually far away. Why do we fear as if God has forsaken us when Scripture teaches so clearly that God doesn’t leave His people to struggle alone? God has a beautiful track record of faithfully watching over those who trust in Him! Noah’s life shows us that God is very in tune with what goes on in our world that He created.
What will we learn from Noah? Will we remember the Sunday school story and dismiss the very real and profound lessons that we learn about the character of the God we serve? I would encourage us to seek to see God better from these few chapters and deepen the love we have for the One who loves us even more!
For Thought and Discussion:
- In re-reading the story in Genesis 6-8 what did you learn?
- What makes the grace God showed Noah so special?
- Why did God decide to destroy the world? What does this reason teach us about God?
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