Toward the end of the 19th century, Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel awoke one morning to read his own obituary in the local newspaper: “Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, who died yesterday, devised a way for more people to be killed in a war than ever before, and he died a very rich man.” There was only one problem; Alfred Nobel had not died. Actually, it was his older brother who had died, but a newspaper reporter had somehow gotten it wrong.
Regardless of how it happened, the account had a profound effect on Alfred Nobel. He decided he wanted to be known for something other than developing the means to kill people efficiently and for amassing a fortune in the process. So he initiated the Nobel Peace Prize, the award for scientists and writers who foster peace. Nobel said, “Every man ought to have the chance to correct his epitaph in midstream and write a new one.”
How will you be remembered when your time on earth is over? When you are gone, how will others describe your faith in God? The story of Noah will challenge us to answer these questions. Today, we will be looking at the better part of three chapters because the narrative treats these paragraphs as one long section. We will read through this section because we value learning God’s Word but some portions will be given more attention.
Write your epitaph – Genesis 6:5-12 (NIV)
5 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.
6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.
7 So the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth–men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air–for I am grieved that I have made them.”
8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
9 This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.
10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.
11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.
12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.
We learn four important things about Noah. First, Noah was a “righteous man.” The word translated “righteous” (tsaddiq) connotes “conformity to the standard.” In the case of Noah, he conformed to the standard set by God.
Second, Noah was “blameless.” The word “blameless” (tamim) involves the idea of completeness. Noah conformed to the standard set by God and his life was “complete,” with no essential quality missing. The modifying phrase “in his time” indicates all the more clearly that Noah’s righteousness and blamelessness stood out against his contemporaries’ sinfulness. Noah was not only righteous in the sight of God; he also had a credible reputation among the people of his day.
Third, Noah “walked with God.” This means he had daily, step-by-step fellowship with God. He had God as his companion as he walked through life. This type of imitate fellowship does not happen by osmosis; it must be cultivated. It takes work to be godly. Is your walk with God vibrant?
Lastly, Noah walked with God before his family. Noah’s godliness was the godliness of a man who was involved in ordinary life. He did not withdraw from society. Real godliness is not like that. Noah was out and about in God’s world. He provided for his family. The linking of the names of his sons with his faithful life surely indicates that Noah influenced his family in spiritual matters. Apparently, Noah instructed his family to believe in God…and they did! More often than not, when a husband and father exert spiritual leadership in the home, the entire family responds and follows his lead.
2 Peter 2:5 (NIV) …if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others…Genesis 6:3 (NIV) Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.”
It is interesting to note, however, that Noah’s only converts were his wife, his sons, and their wives (6:18). Apparently, not a single person outside his family paid the slightest attention to what he had to say. He preached for the better part of 120 years and won no converts other than his own family. Nevertheless, by God’s grace, Noah won those that mattered most. Our top priority must always be to influence our family members for Christ.
This is one of the top requirements of leadership.
(1 Timothy 3:4-5 (NIV) 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.
5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)
1 Timothy 3:12 (NIV) 12 A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well.
Titus 1:6 (NIV) 6 An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.
Obey God’s Word
Genesis 6:13-14 (NIV) For the second time in three verses, the Lord mentions the “violence” of mankind:
13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.
14 So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.
|Dimensions||Noah’s Ark||Contemporary Equivalent|
|Length||450 feet||1½ American football fields|
|Width||75 feet||7 parking spaces|
|Height||45 feet||3 stories|
|Cubic Feet||1.5 million||800 railroad boxcars|
|Capacity||14,000 gross tons||Princess of the Orient|
17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark–you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you.
This is the first occurrence of the word “covenant” (berith) in the Old Testament. In the wake of our tragedies and trials, God wants to do the same for us. He longs to speak to us through His Word. He wants to draw us close to Him. Are you running to Him or away from Him? This verse also illustrates another important biblical principle. While God bestows His saving grace and love on individuals, He is concerned about their families as well.
19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you.
20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.
Apparently, all of the animals would “come to” Noah voluntarily (6:20). It would seem that he would not have to hunt them down or look for them in remote places. Their natural instinct for self-preservation, energized by a special act of God, would bring them to Noah’s ark.
21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.” 22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.
In chapter 7, he then repeats this phrase three more times (Genesis 7:5 (NIV) And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him.
Genesis 7:9 (NIV) male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah.
Genesis 7:16 (NIV) The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the LORD shut him in.
No doubt he was called a fool and worse. Just imagine how many Noah jokes people came up with over a century! But he went on believing and working. Noah remained obedient, doing exactly what God said for 25, 50, 75, 100 years…until the ark lay like a huge coffin on the land. What a powerful reminder that God sometimes calls His servants to obey Him even when it seems nonsensical. In these situations, all that we can do is trust in the promises of God’s Word.
This section also reminds us that it is possible to be right with God, even amidst surrounding iniquity. God is the same today as He was to Noah, and if only we are willing to fulfill the conditions we too shall walk with God and please Him.
Trust in God’s Provision – Genesis 7:1-16 (NIV) 1 The LORD then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation.
4 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”
5 And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him.
6 Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth.
7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood.
God is still a holy God. He still hates sin. He still is slow to judge. He watches the sin of man and warns that it will not be allowed to go on and on forever. God tells that world what He will do. In His grace, God warns His people. He tells us in advance that sinful men do not deserve to live on God’s earth. This is the basic message of the Genesis flood.
Like Genesis 1, the account of the flood is structured by a careful counting of the days (371 total days).
- 7 days of waiting for the waters to come (7:4, 10),
- 40 days of water rising (7:12, 17),
- 150 days of waters prevailing (7:24; 8:3),
- 40 days of water receding (8:6),
- 7 days of waiting for the waters to recede (8:10), and
- 7 more days of waiting for the waters to recede completely (8:12).
Remember God’s power – Genesis 7:23 (NIV) Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.
The flood is to be a reminder to us of the reality of final judgment Matthew 24:38-39 (NIV) 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark;
39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
Luke 17:27 (NIV) People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.
2 Peter 2:5 (NIV) “…if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others;
2 Peter 3:5-6 (NIV) But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.
God holds the world accountable for its behavior. It tells us that God is grieved over our sin and the harm it does to others. He will not put up with it forever.
We live in a moral universe, and to go against the moral laws which God has built into the world invites disaster. Sin affects our personal lives, our families, our church, our community, our nation, and ultimately, our world.
We cannot escape the fact that we are responsible to God for our behavior and that a future judgment is coming when we will answer for the way in which we have lived. That simple fact should dramatically affect our perspective in life and make us desire to be faithful to the God who has been faithful to us.
Rejoice in God’s grace. – Genesis 8:1-22 (NIV) But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. 15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 17 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.”
18 So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives.
19 All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds–everything that moves on the earth–came out of the ark, one kind after another.
20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.
21 The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
22 “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”