God looked from heaven at all that He had created and it grieved Him to see the sin prevailing in all of humanity. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD and he walked with God. Walking with someone is to identify oneself with the ideas of the other and thus become of one identity to reach a common goal. But Noah was also found ‘perfect’ in his generations. Does this imply his righteous conduct or something more? Did Noah please God with his spiritual or physical purity?
Seed of woman – Satan rebelled against God in heaven desiring to ‘set up his throne’ at par with God and after being thrown out of heaven his rebellion continued on earth. Temptation of Adam and Eve was such a step to put an end to purity of human life thereby drawing them away from a Holy God. And then after being cursed by God that “the seed of woman will crush your head and you will bruise his heel”, after onset of enmity between the two, the evil embarked on a new mission to ‘corrupt the seed of woman itself’. It was towards this end that the fallen angels (the rebellious sons of God) entered into marital relations with women, thus causing intermixing of seed (Genesis 6:2-5). Those fallen angels involved in this were punished by God by binding them in prison. It was to these “disobedient spirits in prison” that the Savior Son of God preached during His three days in the tomb (1 Peter 3:19-20). The corrupted sinful lives of mankind reached such an obnoxious state that God was deeply grieved and ‘repented’ for having created them. God in His anger then, decided to destroy all of His creation on the earth (Genesis 6:6-9).
Noah’s four traits – The Scripture records four specific traits of Noah that were probably the basis for his being chosen by God for saving humanity and creation from becoming extinct. “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:8-9). The analysis of these identified traits will reveal the basic reason of his being chosen by God.
First, Noah’s perfection – The Hebrew word translated as perfect is ‘tamim’, but its core meaning is not about being ‘without fault, flaw or defect’. ‘Tamim’ means ‘complete, whole, full, finished, balanced, innocent, sincere or wholehearted’ while modern translators term it to mean ‘blameless’ – a term used for the nature of animals selected for sacrificial offerings to the LORD. Noah being perfect brings in two views about this trait. First view is about his spiritual maturity with a healthy, wholehearted relationship with God. This is linked to Lord Jesus’ command to all believers, “Therefore you shall be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Greek word ‘teleios’ is used here to mean perfect. This same word is translated a bit differently but implies the same meaning in 1 Corinthians 2:6 translated as ‘mature’ while in Hebrews 5:14 as ‘of full age’. Thus Noah was supposed to have been chosen for his spiritual maturity as per this view. The second view is about the genetic perfection of Noah and his family. The Gospel accounts trace the lineage of Lord Jesus to Abraham, patriarch of the Jews by Matthew since he addressed it to the Jews while Luke in chapter 3 traces His genealogy right up to Adam for his expected audience is all of mankind. Adam was given the dominion rights by God in the Garden of Eden over all created beings on earth and only his offspring and none else could regain the lost authority from Satan, the usurper.
Second, Noah was a just man – The Hebrew word ‘tsaddiq’ is used to mean just, righteous, lawful and correct implying that Noah lived in accordance with God’s will. He was surrounded by people with evil words, works and worship thus being far removed from God and His commands. Noah, thus, was a man of integrity and morality rendering him fit for selection by God.
Third, Noah found grace/favor in the eyes of God – The name Noah itself means rest and some believe that he found rest in God by doing nothing of his own but by reposing complete faith in Him. Grace or favor is translated from Hebrew word ‘chen’ and grace is not given by God because of some inherent quality in us but due to His Divine mercy to someone who needs it. Though showering of grace by God does not mean righteousness in us but is a sign of recognition by Him and it is for His Divine purpose. The word Noah is spelled in Hebrew as ‘Nun- Chet’ which is exactly opposite to ‘Chet – Nun’ the letters for chen or grace. Thus some believe that Noah acted opposite to grace for he was tasked to build the ark to save his family and animals but in addition to this to reach out to others to lead them to God. Noah focused only on building the ark and left others to their sinful living, thus changing the direction of grace from outward looking to inward or self focus alone.
Fourth, Noah walked with God – Noah’s life demonstrates his obedience to God’s command regarding the ark. Abraham was commanded by God to “Walk before Me and be perfect” (Genesis 17:1). The difference is showing concern for others versus self centeredness. Abraham cared for others, even Lot, who had deserted him and claimed rights to the fertile valley for himself. It also may mean that Abraham had to achieve perfection after turning from ‘worship of other gods’.
Perhaps we also many times lose sight for we build arks but refuse to care for and die with or for the lost. In this way maybe we do find favor in God’s eyes but the price is high – the lost multitudes.
How did Noah find favor in the eyes of the LORD – He brew word ‘matsa’ is translated as ‘found’ and it also means ‘discover, search, locate or reap’. We find something only when we start or make an effort to look for something. Noah sent a dove out of the ark and it ‘found no rest for its feet’ (Genesis 8:9); Laban did not ‘find his household images (Idols) that Rachel had stolen and hidden (Genesis 31:35) and Hilkiah the priest ‘found the book of law of the Lord’ or Torah as given to Moses in the Temple (2 Chronicles 34:14-15). In all cases someone looked for something to find the same.
God could have used a passive verb for Noah but he used a noun. ‘Chen’ or grace/favor is a noun from word ‘chanan’ a verb, which has two related meanings – it is about showing favor toward someone and is about relationships. Grace is from someone superior toward an inferior, like a king acting towards his subjects. Second, there is something pleasing in the other due to which favor is shown and Grace is shown towards someone who ignites feelings of tenderness, compassion or sympathy. God is firstly God and merciful and secondly He finds us pleasing to Him for we are created in His image though badly defaced by sin. We are still His and He loves everyone and desires to give all a chance through His command ‘go to all nations’ as great commission.
Moses had to go back to God with the stone tablets that he had carved at Divine command and “And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious…” (Exodus 34:6). The Hebrew words ‘rahum ve’channun’ meaning compassionate and gracious reveal that compassion precedes grace. Thus confession of sins seeking compassion through forgiveness comes before demonstration of God’s favor and never the other way around. There cannot be indiscriminate grace, unasked without repentance. In like manner Noah finding grace/favor in God’s eyes must be in answer to his seeking the same through supplication or confession or for help in maintaining genetic purity.
Logic of ‘chanan’ has not changed and merely saying that “Lord Jesus is the Son of God” will not ensure forgiveness of sins. There must be change through repentance and an effort to refrain from sin. In 1517, Martin Luther wrote the 95 theses in protest against sale of indulgence or forgiveness for future sins after paying some fixed amount. The Protestant Reformation movement started with this. A child of God the Father must respond with confession and repentance to receive forgiveness, otherwise how will i get transformed? In a scenario without repentance it can’t be God’s hand guiding me. Noah, Job and Daniel lived like this to be counted worthy to receive chen or grace or favor and they found favor for they actively looked for it.
What do we learn from Noah’s life? – Noah was much more than a chance recipient of grace and we have seen Four things about Noah – he found grace, was a just man, was perfect and he walked with God. Noah expected the coming destruction due to the sin prevailing all around him and was looking for God’s judgement or direction. It was because of this that he was found suitable by God to undertake the important mission of saving humanity. What do we learn from his life?
First, Noah was dedicated to God’s work – The Scripture declares Daniel, Job and Noah as righteous (Ezekiel 14:14). “Job was the greatest of all the people of the east” and he possessed large livestock resources, number of houses and other property. Job offered “burnt offerings to God” for his children lest they might “have sinned and cursed God in their hearts” (Job 1:3-5). Job’s authority and power was such that Satan had to use bands from other nations to steal/destroy his wealth. Such a rich man and God called him, “My servant, there is none like him in all the earth, a perfect and an upright man that fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8). God used Job to teach Satan a lesson. Daniel with his three friends was taken as a captive in his childhood and they were selected for serving the King with special food from the king’s table being given to them. They refused that impure food but sought to be given only vegetables and fruits “and their appearance was better than all others” (Daniel 1:8-15). Daniel served six kings for seventy years in positions of great authority and those jealous of him “could find no charge” against him. Despite the decree from the king to worship no other gods, Daniel continued to pray ‘three times daily facing Jerusalem’ in his upper room with the windows open (Daniel 6:4; 10). Daniel was a man with great spiritual insight, a prophet of highest order, but he used his talents only for God’s glory.
God equated Noah with such great men and he made the ark from a general design given by God. Lord Jesus compared people of that time with end times generation. “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:26-27).
Second, Noah walked with God – Enoch walked with God and was taken up without facing death. Abraham walked before God to be perfect and became father of two religions, Christianity and Islam. Noah’s walk with God was evident in his being just and through his honest dealings with everyone. He was a man of integrity and was declared perfect by God – a man without condemnation ( Genesis 7:1). Walking with God can only happen when we follow His commands fully in every aspect of life.
Third, Noah was a preacher of righteousness – He was surrounded by such a state of evil all around that God found it necessary to destroy all but despite this Noah remained unaffected by the surroundings. Noah had the courage to stand up for righteousness without fear of retribution and preached this to others (2 Peter 2:5). Australian missionary Graham Staines came to India to serve lepers in Odisha, to serve the physically, financially and socially untouchable of society. He and his two sons were burnt alive by misguided zealots but his wife continued to serve the people without fear. “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household” and the animals to save all from destruction (Hebrews 11:7). Enoch preached about return of the Lord to “convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way” (Jude 14-15). Noah also probably preached about repentance and return to the righteousness of God while answering the questions of people about the ark that he was making.
Finally, God’s grace must be found – Grace by its very definition is a free gift from God, underserved by those receiving it. But to receive it, we must “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Lord Jesus commanded the disciples ‘not to give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet’ (Matthew 7:6). How can the Lord practice what he has forbidden his followers to abstain from? Anyone who neither seeks God nor is willing to follow His Word and value this free gift is undeserving. The only way to receive the blessing of grace and pardon from God is to humbly surrender to His authority in repentance.
The story of Noah and the flood is not only about God’s judgement but also about His mercy and salvation. Lord Jesus has provided us the Ark of His Word to help us escape the future judgement through washing of our sins. Like before a large number will end up outside the Ark to face condemnation and fire. We are not preparing the Ark but like Noah God has given us the time to reach out to others to get others in!
Whom are you reaching out today?