by Bob Walz
“The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts in his heart and was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” Genesis 6:5,6
“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.” Genesis 6:11,12
Was the level of wickedness in Noah’s day worse than our own? Moses describes people whose every thought was only evil continually. What they knew of good before the fall, when every thought was only good continually (hard to imagine) has now become equally true of their knowledge of evil. They now knew good AND evil. It’s a grievous thing when that which was intended as an instrument of good and deep joy becomes a mechanism of evil that brings overwhelming disappointment. It brings regret when that which was ordained for a high purpose is defiled and wallows in triviality, or when that which was planted to bloom with bounty and blessing shrivels up and blows away. What pain it is when regret comes to the dreams of God. The people of the earth who were very good (Genesis 1:31) had become the multipliers of evil.
This brings the LORD to a tumultuous decision. He causes what first occurred in the hearts and lives of people to occur to the whole earth. Almost every life has been flooded by evil and so the earth will be flooded as well. As the earth has been filled with violence, violent waters will transform the face of the earth. But how does the LORD’s story of redemption continue?
“But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.” Gen 6:8
“Noah did all that God commanded him.” Gen 6:22
“Then the LORD said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation.” Gen 7:1
“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.” Heb 11:7
Noah’s ark, the stuff of cute children’s books, was a very difficult building project performed over decades by one family, using ancient tools and ingenious contraptions. All that work done so that one faithful man could save his family and, by extension, all families. The ark was a floating zoo in a big box designed to float. A zoo seems novel and exciting for the weekend visitor but a radically different experience for the zoo keeper. In was no Sunday picnic for Noah and his family to be afloat for a year in this menagerie. It must have been dark and damp and at times might have seemed unbearable, but there was no alternative. What they endured wasn’t very glamorous, but we should be eternally grateful for their sacrifice. Let’s be honest, it took steel-hearted men to build this huge boat with no water in sight and to provide for every one of these animals so that they and their family might be preserved.
God saw Noah as distinctive in his generation. Some of the most powerful words in Scripture begin with the words, “But God …”. This time the key phrase is, “But Noah”. Noah lived in contrast to the world around him. He stood out in a good way, especially to God, who selected him for a special task. In a wicked and perverse generation Noah and his household obeyed the LORD. It’s interesting to compare Noah with Lot. Both lived among perverse people, but Noah was faithful while Lot was not. Noah’s goal was to obey God and preserve his family. Lot’s goal was to get the best (see Genesis 13:8-13) and he didn’t act to protect his family (Genesis 19:4-11). He lost his wife as she disobeyed God while being rescued from Sodom and he effectively lost his daughters when they committed incest. One man stood out from his generation while the other was swallowed up by his generation. Oh, that we might be like Noah!
How did Noah stand out? He did what God commanded him to do with perseverance and was faithful to the men and women he was called to preserve and protect. Think again of the words, “But Noah …” and change them to, “But YOUR NAME …” Live under the grace and favor of God, obey Him, be faithful to those God has called you to love. If you do, your life will impact generations of people you’ll never see until heaven.
I’m glad Noah was faithful in his generation. What are you going to do in your generation?