Noah is a household name. We know his incredible story: the big boat, the countless animals, the once-in-a-eternity sized flood. Yet, sometimes we need to let the truths of this story sink in one more time.
Noah had an unbelievable environment. The world in Noah’s days was said to be so evil that “every intention of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6.5). This might be hyperbolic—exaggerated for effect. It is hard to believe that there was not a single pure or lovely thought anywhere among all of mankind. But, this is how the world is described and clearly makes the point—mankind was evil! “The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him to His heart” (Gen 6.6). This has to be one of the devastating and condemning verses in all of Scripture. In this dark climate, one ray of light broke through. “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen 6.8).
Noah had an unbelievable message. Although the story is not found in Genesis, it seems Noah was commissioned with the job of sharing God’s truths with a world that had entirely rejected God. We are told in 2 Peter 2.5 that Noah was a “preacher of righteousness.” We can imagine Noah going out among the people, standing outside the brothels and bars shouting out God’s message. We can picture the scowls and jeers Noah endured as He tried to turn the people back to God. The people of Noah’s day did not want to hear God’s truths.
This message likely included the truth about God’s judgment, if it was anything like the prophetic messages we read later in Scripture. Jonah preached, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown” (Jon 3.4). Noah’s message might have been worded, “Yet in 100 years and counting, God will send water falling from heaven, which will accumulate into a flood, and it will be so deep you will not be able to escape. You will all die by drowning if you do not turn back to God. You will die a horrifying death” (100 years explained by Gen 5.32; 7.6). It was probably a bit more eloquent, but possibly something of this nature. The problem with this message is that, as far as we know, there had never been rain, as the earth was watered through a mist (Gen 2.6). If you had never seen water fall out of the sky, how believable is a message that water will fall from the sky and cover the earth. The unbelievable message was true!
Noah had an unbelievable task. While preaching an unbelievable message, Noah was given an incredibly difficult task. Noah was a farmer (Gen 5.29; the first thing Noah does when exiting the ark is plant a vineyard – Gen 9.20). He is tasked with becoming a shipwright, building a floating box 520 feet long, 86 feet wide, and 86 feet tall. He had to build a wooden box, flawlessly with no leaks or holes, as tall as an 8-story building. The only help he had were his three sons, his wife, and his three daughter-in-laws. It’s amazing that he was able to accomplish this without power tools, cranes, and engineered schematics.
Noah experienced an unbelievable salvation. However, through his obedience, Noah was saved from the flood. While the world perished, God preserved His servant and his family. In one sense, Noah was rescued from the flood by the ark. In a more real sense, He was rescued from a sinful world by the floodwaters.
We likewise live in a sinful world. We preach a message of judgment and salvation. We are tasked with bringing the world to believe in a loving, merciful, and amazing God. We deliver the good news of God’s gracious salvation. We must build His Body, His Church, and His Building (1 Cor 12.27-28; 3.9). We, like Noah, experience an unbelievable salvation when we obey His instructions (Heb 5.9). We are saved by water from sins, as was Noah (1 Pet 3.20-22).