Everybody knows the story of Noah and the ark and the flood. And everybody thinks they’ve got it down pat. It’s a story about a single good dude in a world filled with terrible, horrible, rotten bad dudes that saves the day for humanity and all of Creation. Right? Or is it? Let’s back-track a bit before jumping straight to the “lesson.”
The story of Noah actually begins in Genesis 6 and continues through the end of chapter 9. In the pre-story to Noah we learn that:
- Men at that time took any number of wives (as Lamech – the first polygamist – did (4:19)).
- The “sons of God” (i.e. those who called on the name of the Lord and were called by him) took any wife they found attractive – regardless of her own affiliation with God. (Wesley’s Explanatory Notes).
- So God limited the lifetime of man to 120 years (which slowly takes effect over the next few generations) (6:3).
- The Nephilim were on the earth (it’s unclear yet as to who or what they were – and it’s unprofitable to spend much time pondering the Nephilim here in a single verse if we miss the point of the rest of the story).
- There was no true law or regulation – so the wickedness of man increased (6:5) – “every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”
- Noah was CHOSEN by God.
Actually, although Genesis 6:9 says that Noah “was a righteous man,” there are a few clarifications about his “righteousness” that need to be made:
- The Bible originally states about mankind that “every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” (6:5). There is no exception clause in this verse excluding Noah from the others.
- Noah was “blameless among the people of his time” (6:9). But the verse does not say that he was completely blameless – just that he was less bad than the others.
- Noah was “blameless” not due to his own righteousness, but only because “he walked with God.” (6:9).
- God CHOSE to save Noah (6:13).
- I believe God chose Noah because Noah obeyed him (6:22, 7:5).
Chapter 6 describes God’s instructions to Noah regarding the upcoming flood.
Chapter 7 describes the actual flood.
Chapter 8 describes the end of the flood.
Chapter 9 describes the aftermath.
Most of Noah’s character can be found in chapters 6 and 9, while chapters 7 and 8 describe the events of the flood (equally interesting – lots of cool numbers – but not the focus of this post).
- God made a covenant with Noah to never again destroy the earth (the rainbow is evidence of God’s promise).
- God gave Noah and his family very similar commands he gave to Adam (“Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.” – 8:1, 8:7).
- God set laws regarding food (no meat with lifeblood yet in it – 9:4).
- God set laws regarding murder (9:5-6). Had there been no laws against it before this? Is that why men were “full of violence” (6:11) and “The Lord was grieved” (6:6)?
- Sacrificed “clean” animals to the Lord (interesting because there was still no “Law” at this time – what determined an animals cleanliness or uncleanliness?). This led to God’s establishment of a covenant with Noah and all living things (8:20-21).
- Planted the first vineyard (9:20).
- Made the first wine (9:21).
- Became the world’s first drunk (9:21).
- Got black-out drunk and passed out naked in his tent (9:21).
- Was mocked by his youngest son (9:22).
- Cursed his youngest son for mocking him (9:24-25).
- And blessed his other sons for covering his shame (9:26-27).
So, although Genesis 6 says that “Noah was a righteous man,” it is clear that he was only slightly better than those violent men of his day. After he was chosen by God for this great task, he became a drunk who cursed his own son. Noah was by no means completely righteous, but he was chosen by God for God’s purposes.
Lessons to learn from Noah:
- God tends to choose those who will obey Him and who walk with Him (in communion with God).
- If chosen by God, it is best to obey Him fully and wholeheartedly.
- If chosen by God, it is not a free pass to a lifetime of awesomeness. Noah still failed and sinned after his “mission” was fulfilled.
- The blessing or cursing of a father can carry over for generations of his offspring (we will see later that Ham’s descendants – the cursed son’s – become many of the nations that will eventually struggle against Abraham’s descendants).