We first hear about Noah in Genesis 5, which begins with “this is the book of the generations of Adam.” Right from the start, we see that Noah is going to be special as he is the only member of this genealogy whose name is explained. His father, Lamech, states that his son, Noah, will bring relief -“Noah” sounds like the Hebrew word for “rest or relief”. When we meet Noah, we learn that he is the one and only follower of God remaining in his generation. He goes on to become the second father of the human race. We learn quickly what Noah was to relieve us from in Genesis 6:1-8. At this point, God determines to pass judgment on the world through the flood (v. 7). Yet, even in this situation, we see a ray of hope: “But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord” (v. 8).
Despite the rampant wickedness that was increasing upon the earth, there is one man who stands out—a man whose life was characterized by the hand of God’s grace upon him. Noah found favour with the Lord. God was about to send judgment upon the world for its wickedness, but He extends His saving grace to Noah and his family. Giving very specific instructions, the Lord told Noah to build an ark in preparation for a catastrophic flood that would destroy every living thing on earth. Noah diligently accepted his calling and never wavered from it. Noah’s greatest accomplishment, however, was his faithful commitment to obey and walk with God all the days of his life. Over and over again, in the account of Noah’s life we read, “Noah did everything just as God commanded.” His life of 950 years, exemplified obedience.
We learn from Noah that it is possible to remain faithful and pleasing to God even in the midst of a corrupt and sinful generation. Surely it wasn’t easy for Noah, but he found favour in God’s eyes because of his remarkable obedience. God blessed and saved Noah, just as he will faithfully bless and protect those of us who follow and obey him today. Our call to obedience is not a short-term, one-time call. Like Noah, our obedience must be lived out over a lifetime of faithful commitment. Those who persevere will finish the race.
The Apostle Peter tells us that Noah was a “herald of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5) As evidence of his walk with God, we see that after the flood, Noah built an altar and offered sacrifices to God (Genesis 8:20). Worship was a central part of Noah’s life. We also know that Noah is included in the “Faith Hall of Fame” in Hebrews 11, another indication that Noah was considered a model of faithfulness and that he had the kind of faith that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6).
With all that said, what can we learn from the life of Noah? Practically speaking, Noah is an example of a life of faith. Hebrews 11:7 says of Noah, “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” Noah didn’t need to “test” God before going into action; God commanded, and he obeyed. This was typical of Noah’s life. Noah was part of the godly line of Seth, of whom it was said, “At that time men began to call upon the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26).
Noah was the result of generational obedience and faithfulness toward God. If we were to model our lives after Noah, there is no better rule to follow that to be “righteous, blameless in our generation, and to walk with God.” In other words, be right with God, be right with others, and have a reverent and worshipful relationship with God. First and foremost, Noah’s life shows us the eternal truth that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8).
God’s grace was upon him, aside from which Noah would have perished with all of the other wicked sinners in the flood. Noah is also a prime example that God saves His elect. We see that God was patient concerning the coming judgment while Noah built the ark (1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5). The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials.
Finally, Noah’s life serves as a reminder that judgment on sin will come. The Day of the Lord will come (2 Peter 3:10). Jesus uses the life of Noah as a foreshadowing of what it will be like when the Son of Man returns in final judgment (Matthew 24:37-38; Luke 17:26-27). As such, we need to follow Noah’s example and be a “herald of righteousness” and heed the words of Paul: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us .Like Noah, we are Christ’s ambassadors in these last days. God’s judgment is coming, but He offers reconciliation through Jesus Christ. All you need is confidence in Gods instructions!
Illustration by Wycliffe Bible Translators of Russia (freebibleimages.org) CCA-4.0