What was Noah doing to be viewed as righteous by the Lord? He had been working on the ark for over 100 years. Every day Noah picked up his tools to do what he was called to do. He was obedient. Every day he preached that judgment was coming. Now, the time had come. Noah knew the entire time that all the people around him would perish. Very few people would fit on the ark. All along he knew some of his own family would drown in the flood.
The righteousness of Noah was the acceptance of God's moral and ethical boundaries. It was doing all that God said to do. Noah wasn't perfect; he was a sin-fallen man, but he took a stand against sin by trusting in the Lord and His ways.
The law of God hadn't been officially given to man until the days of Moses. Yet, there was clearly an understanding of which animals were clean and unclean. Noah took 7 pairs of the clean animals.
God gave the 47-day forecast; and His forecast are never wrong. There were 7 days left and then it would rain for 40 days and forty nights. Those into biblical numerology see the number 40 as God's number for purification, sanctification or counsel. One resource says it is the number for permanent change. The number 40 shows up in many places:
- Moses was in the land of Midian 40 years before he saw the burning bush;
- the tabernacle was held up with 40 sockets of silver;
- the Israelites wandered the wilderness for 40 years;
- Deut 25:3 authorized punishment with 40 stripes – not more;
- Jesus was tempted for 40 days.
When God commanded Noah, the righteous, to enter the Ark He allowed 7 more days of warning before the destruction came. Some see this as a pattern for the next time God destroys the earth:
- God's people fall under God's protection, sealed away by rapture
- Then for 1 week (of years) repentance is available before the final destruction.
- After that the devastation of God's wrath again rises up.
Once again, we see the obedience of Noah to do all the Lord commanded of Him. We shouldn't lose site of the difficulty of this task and the duration of time it took to complete. It became a lifetime endeavor. Noah was 600 years old. Noah couldn't begin to imagine people like use discussing his life, work and situation. Imagine what Noah has seen and experienced in his 600 years.
Noah, the animals, and his family entered the ark and seven days later the flood and the rains came. This was a real test of faith - to wait another week after more than 100 years of preparation. There was a lot to think about in there as they waited for the water. You know the neighbors probably laughed at Noah. His sons probably had friends that tried to talk them out of the ridiculous notion of a God and judgment. People scoffed at the prospect of a great flood as they still do today. We know what they were doing thought; Jesus told us:
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. (Matthew 24:38-39)
As the rains begin to fall, the world asks, "What kind of God would destroy everyone anyway?" There failure to understand who God is keeps them from understanding what he is capable of and why He would do such a thing. He can do things like this, even if we don't understand it. His ways are not our ways. The world wants to only believe in a God that is 'all loving' and 'forgiving.' He is both, but He's also Holy & just. He can't abide in sin. Sin must be punished.
The fountains of the great deep are broken up. Rain fell, possibly for the first time, as the Heavens broke open. We know the exact day – the 17th day of the 2nd month in Noah's 600th year. We know what the world was like in Noah's day. It was quite a bit like our own, a world full of violence. It's not a stretch for us to imagine 'every thought of man was evil'. We can imagine how Noah was looked at, laughed at, mocked and scoffed at.
As Noah built the ark there were likely many nagging questions. This is the day God answered many of his questions. Now he knew when the flood was coming. Now he knew how God would manage to get the animals to the ark and on board; by God's authority and divine power; two by two. This was the day Noah learned how the door would be closed. As Noah built that door, do you think he wondered how he would manage to get it shut? The door had been opened - now God shuts them in. This was like God sealing them into His protection. When God shut the door, they couldn't open it.
Luke 13:25-28 tells us:
Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open for us,' and He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know you, where you are from,' 26 then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.' 27 But He will say, 'I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.' 28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth,
It was by faith Noah arrived at this day. It was many days of obedience and walking with God. It was by faith they entered the Ark. It was God's salvation and grace that shut them in. Do you think Noah's neighbors and family cried out to him? As the waters got to their waist, do you suppose they began to call for Noah to open up? Maybe they were too proud for that. After all nothing like this ever happened before. Before long, their homes were ruined, their crops were gone, food would be scarce. However, as far as they knew, it would be okay, after all, things had always worked out in the past!
When the water got to their chest, do you imagine they were discussing who to talk to about these horrible conditions? Did they call for government action? Did they curse the politicians of their day blaming them? Did they shake their fist at God? Do you suppose when it got to their shoulders they quit worrying about losing their possessions and started worrying about death? As Noah sat in the dark of the ark, did he hear his family and neighbors crying out to him? 'Noah, let us in. Noah, my friend, open up.' Did they remember anything Noah preached and cry out to God rather than Noah? As the water got up to their nose and they had to bob up and down to get air, you know that survival instinct kicked in. You know many panicked and clawed and climbed on other people to get just one more breath.
Then all life that was not under God's protection was washed away.
The flood waters came; it was devastation, death and destruction. The ark was lifted above the waters. The flood waters covered the highest mountain by about 22 feet. This took a lot of water, but they say there is plenty of water on the earth today to do this - If the earth were a perfect sphere, the oceans would cover the land to a depth of two-and-a-half to three miles. Before the cataclysmic flood, the earth may have been much nearer to a perfect sphere.
Since all of mankind came from Noah's sons, all of mankind remembers the flood. Every civilization seems to have a flood story. Many speak of these floods as local. Moses made it clear to the children of Israel that there is only one true flood story and the flood waters came by the hand of a Good God to wash away evil. Of the more than 230 civilizations that have their own account of the flood the stories are common in many ways:
- 88% describe a favored family
- 70% attribute survival to a boat
- 95% say the sole cause of the catastrophe is a flood
- 66% say that the disaster is due to man's wickedness
- 67% record that animals are also saved
- 57% describe that the survivors end up on a mountain
- many of the accounts also specifically mention birds being sent out
- Many mention a rainbow
- Several speak of eight persons being saved
The flood lasted 150 days without receding. I can't imagine spending 5 months in any boat, let alone with all those animals. Some speculate that God put the animals into hibernation. Even so, this was roughing it.
With all that is going on in these scriptures we might miss why Moses wrote this for God's people. Yes, there was tremendous evil in the land, but it wasn't just about that. Yes, there was a great flood, but its not just about that. It's not about judgment either. It's about God's ability to save a righteous out of a wicked world and its judgment. It's about thousands of days Noah walked with God, even when it didn't seem to make sense; it made more sense then than ever before.
©2019 Doug Ford