…for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1:6)
Both God’s judgment and his merciful rescue are seen in the story of Noah and Flood in Genesis 6-8.
Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:9)
What a great thing to have said about you! 2 Peter 2:5 calls Noah a “herald of righteousness.” A herald is one who brings important news. I think we can assume from the text that for the entire 100 years (yes, you read that right) that it took to build the ark Noah was warning his neighbors to repent. Spending 100 years building a big boat in your backyard in a landlocked region where there has never been any rain would be quite the conversation-starter, I would imagine!
“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.” (Hebrews 11:7)
Notice that “by faith” is mentioned twice in that verse. You will always see in the Bible that we are saved by faith alone. God’s people were saved in the Old Testament by faith in God’s promised Redeemer. People were saved in the New Testament (and ever since) by faith in God’s sent Redeemer. Abel’s sacrifice was accepted because it was offered “by faith” (Hebrews 11:4). Abraham “believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6, see also Romans 4:9)
Like his great grandfather Enoch, it is said that Noah “walked with God.” (Genesis 5:24, Genesis 6:9). Jude 1:14 tells us that Noah’s great grandpa Enoch actually warned of the coming judgment two generations earlier. But clearly, both Enoch’s and Noah’s warnings of a future judgment have gone unheeded.
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)
Think about how hard his neighbors must have made it for Noah. Talk about peer pressure. Noah spent about 100 years building the ark. Landlocked. With no way to transport the boat. In Genesis 2:6 we learn that rain was not always a part of the natural order, that God originally watered the earth with a mist that came up from the ground. So, for 100 years, in this landlocked region, Noah is faithfully building an ark in obedience to God’s command and this promise from the Lord:
For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. (Genesis 6:17-18)
Do you think that his neighbors maybe gave him a bit of a hard time? 😉 But, despite the ridicule that he no doubt suffered, Noah obeyed the Lord.
In Genesis 7:1, God told Noah and his family to go in to the ark. For seven days, they just hung out in the ark and waited (with the sun shining outside). And then the floods started and the Lord shut the door. (Genesis 7:16) It is significant that it is God, not Noah, who shuts the door. Though God uses humans to take the word of His mercy and judgment to the nations, it is the Lord who lavishes mercy and executes judgment. Though God is patient with us, it is sobering to realize that a time will come for every man, woman and child when it is too late to trust the Lord. But for Noah and his family, the shutting of the door represents peace and security.
“When the Lord shut Noah and his family up in the ark, they were totally secure and thereby become an illustration for us of the believer’s perfect security in Jesus Christ. The rains would come. The floods would rage. But nothing would touch these who had been sealed in the ark by Jehovah. It is interesting that God did not say, ‘Noah, it is time to shut the door. Get your sons to help you slide it closed and throw the lock.’ The Lord does not place the safety of his people in others’ hands. He himself throws the lock. It is said of him, ‘What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open’ (Revelation 3:7).” (James M. Boice, Genesis, p. 344-345).
It is also important to note that there was only one way to escape God’s judgment – one ark with one door. Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved…” (John 10:9) Jesus also said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Exclusive claim? You bet it is. It is God’s rescue plan, not ours. We should just be grateful that He has provided one at all! Also, note that God waited until the last possible moment to shut the door. It was already raining when the door was finally shut.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
God is a merciful Savior, but God is also a righteous Judge. From the perspective of someone who is inside His amazing grace, this is not a difficult truth, but a very comforting one.