Opening Illustration: According to an African fable, four fingers and a thumb lived together on a hand. They were inseparable friends. One day, they noticed a gold ring lying next to them and conspired to take it. The thumb said it would be wrong to steal the ring, but the four fingers called him a self-righteous coward and refused to be his friend. That was just fine with the thumb; he wanted nothing to do with their mischief. This is why, the legend goes, the thumb still stands separate from the other fingers.
This tale reminds me that at times we may feel we’re standing alone when wrongdoing surrounds us. In Noah’s day, the earth was filled with violence; every thought in every heart was “evil continually” (Genesis 6:5, 11). Yet “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (v.8). Fully devoted to God, Noah obeyed Him and built the ark. The Lord, in His grace, spared him and his family.
We too have been shown God’s grace through His Son Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. We have every reason to bring Him honor and stand strong for Him in our daily lives. He is always near, even abiding in us, so we never really stand alone. His “ears are open to [our] cry” (Psalm 34:15). [Jennifer Benson Schuldt, ODB]
Introduction: Noah was a splendid figure of solitary goodness! He was the solitary saint in a time of universal apostasy. His character demonstrates that it is possible therefore, to be good even though we have to stand alone. For 120 years people laughed at him but now the ‘The flood’ was a vindication of his faith. It brought everyone to their knees and so will the last days. 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 same conditions, we too shall walk with God and please Him.
What was the character of the man who has God’s call upon his life?
1. Finds GRACE in the eyes of God (v. 8)
‘Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.’ This was the foundation of his life as it is the foundation of every true life today. ‘By grace we are saved.’ In the biblical sense, ‘Grace’ means God’s unmerited favor, and it was this alone that gave Noah his spiritual position before God. He was ‘saved by grace alone.’ In its proper meaning, it means that the recipients of grace actually deserved the judgment too.
This grace, which Noah found and shared in, was the favor and good will of God; Noah was grateful and acceptable to him; he was well pleased with him in Christ; his person, services, and sacrifices, were acceptable to him through the Beloved; though he might not be acceptable in the eyes of men, who derided him for his piety and devotion, and especially for his prediction of the flood, and making an ark to save him and his family from it; yet he was very acceptable in the eyes of the Lord, and grateful in his sight, and was favored with grace from him, who is the God of all grace, and with all the supplies of it.
2. RIGHTEOUS Man (v. 9)
“Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time” (6:9). The word righteous is used in two ways in the Bible. It is used of the righteousness of faith, that is, of imputed righteousness (Romans 3:21-4:25). When a person trusts in Christ as his sin-bearer, God credits the righteousness of Jesus Christ to his account. We know that Noah had been justified by faith because Hebrews 11:7 says that his obedience in building the ark shows that he was “an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”
But the word righteous is also used of the right conduct which stems from being justified (declared righteous) by faith. It means “conformity to a standard” and points to the observable behavior of those who live by God’s revealed standards of right and wrong. When verse 9 says that Noah was righteous, it is referring to this type of righteousness. It would be wrong to say that Noah found favor with God (6:8) because he was a righteous man. Rather, because he was the object of God’s undeserved favor, he lived a righteous life. His faith showed itself in good works and moral behavior. That’s always God’s order--grace first, then saving faith, then good deeds (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Noah was not only righteous, but also blameless, which means “complete” or “whole,” that Noah had integrity. The phrase “in his time [or, generations]” means that Noah’s contemporaries viewed him that way. Many of them probably thought he was crazy, but they couldn’t deny that he lived what he believed. That Noah was righteous and blameless does not mean that he was perfect. He sinned just as we do. But Noah confessed his sin to God and he obeyed God. Noah’s righteousness and blamelessness are summed up in the words, “Noah walked with God.”
3. WALKS with God (v. 9b)
As we saw with Enoch, walking with God implies faith in God, obedience to God, and fellowship with God. With Noah’s walk with God, three things shine through: faith, obedience, and perseverance. First, faith:
(i) Walking with God begins and continues through FAITH in God’s Word (Hebrews 11:7)
Like Enoch, Noah is listed in the faith “Hall of Fame.” “By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” Two aspects of Noah’s faith:
(a) Faith in God’s Word concerns the unseen. Noah was warned about “things not yet seen.” God threatened to destroy the wicked and promised to save Noah and his family through the ark (Genesis 6:13-18). All this was in the future. Noah had no tangible signs to verify that this would happen. All he had was God’s word. But he built his whole life around it. Alexander Maclaren writes, “The far off flood was more real to him than the shows of life around him. Therefore he could stand all the gibes, and gave himself to a course of life which was sheer folly unless that future was real” (Expositions of Holy Scripture [Baker], p. 54).
Could you say that about your life - which it is sheer folly unless heaven and hell are real? We’ve gotten away from this. We emphasize the present benefits of being a Christian. Christianity is being marketed as a product that can do everything from help you lose weight to make you a successful salesman. But you won’t stand alone in our evil day unless by faith you are staking everything on what God says about future judgment.
(b) Faith assumes that we hear and know God’s Word. Hearing and knowing what God said, Noah acted upon it. We have God’s written Word. But if you don’t know the Word, it won’t have any effect on your daily attitudes, behavior, and relationships. Let’s say you watch one hour of TV each day (the national average is three hours per day!), plus a weekly movie. You spend another hour daily reading the newspaper and various magazines. Plus, you spend time listening to the radio while driving, etc. You read your Bible once or twice a week for 10-15 minutes. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to figure out what is going to influence your life the most! We are so bombarded with the world! You won’t stand alone against the evil of our day unless your intake of the Word is sufficient to offset your intake of the world. (Faith without works is dead …)
I urge you to saturate yourself with the Bible every way you can. Get it on your phone or CD and play it while you drive. Read it daily, asking God to give you His wisdom on how to live in this evil day. Memorize key verses so that God can bring them to mind when you’re tempted to sin.
(ii) Walking with God requires complete OBEDIENCE to God’s Word (Genesis 6:13-22)
Twice we are told that Noah did according to all that the Lord had commanded him (6:22; 7:5). When you think about it, what the Lord commanded him was incredible. Can you imagine Noah telling Mrs. Noah that he was going to build a ship 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high? You hear about guys who build a fishing boat in their back yard, but this was ridiculous! This wasn’t a weekend hobby; it was a full-time job for 120 years! Most of us would have argued with the Lord: “It’s not feasible! It’s not logical! It’s too costly! It will take too long!” But no matter how difficult, illogical, or costly, Noah did “according to all that God had commanded him.” Walking with God requires that kind of complete obedience.
While the ark was a floating box, not a pleasure craft, studies have shown that its proportions are ideal for a seaworthy vessel. How would Noah or anyone else at that time have known how to build such a large seaworthy vessel apart from revelation from God?
As for the problem of how Noah went about collecting all these species, verse 20 indicates that God caused the animals to come to him. That’s a miracle, but certainly God could do it. As for how Noah could have collected food for all those animals and fed them all on board, it is possible that God caused the animals to go into a type of hibernation so that they didn’t require as much food and water (Whitcomb & Morris, p. 71). Also, it is possible that, as will be the case in the millennium, the carnivorous animals ate grass before the flood. We don’t know, but it is not impossible. (Man was vegetarian before the flood.) At any rate, the story is not incredible or mythological. There are reasonable explanations for the many problems.
If Noah had said, “I believe what God says about the coming flood,” but he hadn’t followed through in obedience, he would not have been saved. If he had started, but got tired of the whole thing and quit part way through, he would not have been saved. He and his family were saved from the flood because he obeyed God completely. In our day there is a false security being offered to people under the label of eternal security. Somebody prays to receive Christ and we tell them that they are saved and eternally secure. They may be; but they may not be. If there is no subsequent change in terms of obedience to God, there’s reason to doubt the reality of their salvation. We are saved by grace through faith apart from works, but faith that saves works. The proof of your faith is your obedience.
Walking with God begins and continues by faith in God’s Word; it requires complete obedience to God’s Word.
(iii) Walking with God requires PERSEVERANCE:
The metaphor of walking suggests the long haul. You may run for short distances, but if you need to go far, walking is more effective. God warned Noah of the impending judgment and told him to start building the ark 120 years before the flood (Genesis 6:3). By faith Noah started working and kept going. When his sons were old enough, they helped him. Noah just kept on until it was done.
The New Testament says that he was a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5). He preached righteousness for 120 years and did not have a single convert. In the world’s eyes that gauges success through numbers, he was a looser. It is likely that he had many scoffers. It must have been a favorite pastime to go over and watch old Noah working on his ark. It had never rained yet on the earth (Genesis 2:6). Everyone must have thought Noah was bonkers to spend his life building an ocean liner on dry ground on an earth that didn’t know rain! The pressure to quit would have been tremendous. Yet he kept plodding on.
It’s easy to make a profession of being a Christian. It’s not too difficult to remain a Christian for a few months or even a few years. But it’s another matter to walk with God through the years in spite of trials, hardships, ridicule, and no visible results. We need what has been called “a long obedience in the same direction.” We need perseverance!
Application: If you don’t consistently spend time alone with God in His Word and in prayer, you don’t have a walk with God! If you don’t have a walk with God, you will not be able to stand alone as Noah did. You will be more conformed to this evil world than you are to Jesus Christ. Peter writes that just as the early world was destroyed by the flood, so “the present heavens and earth by [God’s] word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7). His conclusion is, “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (3:11). It’s easy to stand with a crowd; it takes courage to stand alone.