The last time we were in Genesis, we saw the first genealogy in Scripture recorded in Genesis 5, which serves as a bridge of sorts between the creation account and the flood. As we looked at that first genealogy, we saw that God was keeping his promise to preserve the promised seed through the line of Seth. We saw also how that death was a universal enemy, claiming both the faithful and the godless, but death is not the end. That truth was made clear by the testimony of Enoch who went to heaven without dying. Primarily, we saw the descent of man into deeper sin and corruption over the course of time; which corruption reached its apex in Genesis 6, bringing God’s judgment upon the human race. Yet one man and his family found grace in the eyes of God, and we know that man as Noah.
The biblical account of Noah and the ark is one of the most famous and well-known stories in the Bible. Yet it’s probably one of the most misrepresented stories in the Bible. Most children who grew up attending Sunday School were impressed with the image of Noah’s ark being some relatively small tugboat-looking vessel, having a deck crammed full of cute and cuddly smiling animals with an old man whose face is just beaming with joy. That’s not an accurate representation of the Biblical account. The flood of God’s judgment was the deadliest event in human history. This cataclysm was anything but happy. I think many people are skeptical of the bible because they associate these accounts with cartoony images from their childhood. But as we’ll see, this vessel was massive—certainly large enough to fit every animal kind.
While we may be fascinated by all of the details about the ark and the animals, this account is primarily about God’s covenant faithfulness. God acted in mercy to save humanity, amidst his judgment upon the sin of humanity. Ultimately, this is about the promised Seed of the woman being preserved through global judgment.
In Genesis chapter 7, the world that then was, ended. With the exception of one family, human civilization ended. Noah then became the new patriarch over the human race. Not only are we all descendants of Adam and Eve, but we are all descendants of Noah and his three sons. When we read Genesis 6 and 7, we are reading our own family history! But as we look at this, we might wonder, “why Noah?” In the first part of our passage, that question is answered.
I. Noah’s Character amidst a World of Corruption (6:9-12)
9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.Genesis 6:9-12
Despite the fact that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually, Noah was a just man—a righteous man. Noah was swimming against the current of his own day. In other words, Noah was a man of faith, who feared the LORD, and sought to do what was right in God’s eyes. When Moses tells us that he was “perfect in his generations,” he is comparing Noah to his contemporaries. In a world filled with corruption and violence, Noah was perfect. Now, this word perfect does not mean that Noah was a man without faults. It has the idea of being whole or complete. It is a Hebrew expression used to describe a person of integrity—a genuine person. In other words, when you interacted with Noah, you saw the whole man. What you saw was what you got. Noah didn’t lead a godly life publicly and an ungodly life privately. He was a true man. Moses also tells us that Noah walked with God. This echoes what Moses told us about Noah’s great-grandfather Enoch, whom God took to heaven without him dying. That he walked with God simply means that everything in Noah’s life centered around his relationship with God. Worship and fellowship with God were Noah’s priorities in life.
May this be said of us all. We should be people who trust God and do what’s right in his sight. We should be people of integrity, who have nothing to hide. We should be people who walk with God. The world that we live in is yet filled with corruption and violence. It would be easy for us to go along with the current of our day, and swim downstream with everyone else. But what lies downstream is the judgment of God. Noah was a man of character amidst a world of corruption. Noah led a difficult life of swimming upstream, but Noah’s family was the only family that survived God’s judgment.
II. God’s Faithfulness amidst His Fury (6:13-16)
13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. 15 And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. 16 A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.Genesis 6:13-16
God demonstrates faithfulness amidst his fury. Although God had now decided to destroy the world, he was yet providing a way of escape, preserving his promise to bring the Redeemer into the world one day. God’s way of salvation, in this case, took the form of an ark. The word ark literally denotes a box. The same Hebrew word used here, was also used to describe the ark of the covenant. Thus, God told Noah to make a large wooden box, sealing its surface within and without with pitch. The word pitch is referring to bitumen, which is black tar or asphalt. Already, the familiar image of a wooden tugboat with a deck full of smiling animals is starting to fade away. The biblical ark was actually a large black box, the same color as a freshly paved road or a parking lot. God also gives Noah the dimensions of the ark: 300 cubits in length, 50 cubits in breadth, and 30 cubits in height. Those measurements translate in our reckoning to about 450 feet in length, 75 feet in width, and 45 feet in height. The ark was a giant black box that was three stories tall, longer than a football field, and that probably had no deck at all. But, of course, that doesn’t look as fun when painted as a church nursery mural.
Noah didn’t have to be creative with this. God gave him very specific instructions and specifications. All he had to do was follow them. This reminds us that salvation is always by God’s design and not man’s. Man cannot devise a way to save himself from God’s judgment. In fact, unless God speaks, mankind is blissfully unaware that God’s judgment is coming. God must reveal to Noah that judgment is coming, and must also instruct him on how to be saved. The same is true of salvation through Jesus Christ. The way of the cross, is salvation by God’s design and not man’s. Like the ark, it is divinely revealed and must be received by faith. Without God’s explanation of the cross, it would simply look to us like an innocent man was executed unjustly. When Jesus and the Apostles tell us that the cross is the only means of our redemption, that is a truth we must receive by faith. Noah heard and accepted God’s word by faith. Noah had never seen rain. The earth had never been flooded. Yet Noah believed God and obeyed.
7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
This is exactly how we are saved from God’s wrath to come. We are warned of things we’ve never seen; and yet we must respond to God in faith. We’ve never seen heaven or hell, and we’ve not seen Jesus. Yet God requires us to believe in those things that we have never seen. If we do so, God declares us to be righteous. This is where most people stumble. They simply cannot believe in what they cannot see or experience with the senses. But God was pleased to design salvation this way. God wants us not only to believe that the Bible is his word, but also simply to take him at his word. Many people cannot accept that. This kind of child-like faith is an affront to man’s intellect and his ego. This is why Jesus tells us that we must humble ourselves as little children to enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3-4). You must let go of your pride and your ego, and simply believe God with a child-like faith. That’s what Noah did.
Yet the very fact that God even provided a way of salvation from judgment at all, was God showing his faithfulness amidst his fury. God is just as much a God of mercy as he is a God of justice and judgment. And we ought to be thankful for that!
III. God’s Covenant amidst a Global Cataclysm (6:17-22)
17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. 18 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. 20 Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. 21 And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them. 22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.
Back when we first began to study Genesis, we examined covenants; and how God was pleased to establish his relationship with his creation through means of covenants. Again, verse 18 is the first time in Scripture that we see God use the word covenant. A covenant, we must understand, is more than a simple promise. It is a binding pact between two parties, wherein they must keep the terms agreed upon, on pain of death. So, God informs Noah that he’s about to destroy earth along with every living creature, and yet the good news is that with Noah, he will establish his covenant. In that covenant, God promised to keep Noah and his family alive, along with every kind of animal. Yet in this covenant, God required only one thing from Noah found in verse 18: and that was the simple command, “thou shalt come into the ark.” The binding agreement between God and Noah was this: God says to him, “I will save you and your family, but you must get in the box.” Salvation was that simple. We come to Christ for salvation the same way. That’s why in John chapter 10, Jesus calls himself the Door (John 10:9). Just as Noah received salvation by entering into the ark by a door, so mush we receive salvation by coming to Christ and believing on him.
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.John 10:9
One of the common objections that many skeptics raise against this account of Noah’s ark is that there is no way that Noah could have fit every species of animal on the ark. But that’s actually not what God told Noah to do. It wasn’t every species but every kind. In all likelihood, the animals that existed in these days were nothing like the animals that we have today. For example, you probably didn’t have all the diverse species of canines and felines. You probably had one kind of canine back then, who became the great grandfather of all the species of dogs, wolves, and coyotes that we have today. The same with felines: you probably had one cat kind, who became the grandfather of lions, tigers, leopards, and even house cats. This being the case, there would have been more than enough room in the box for every kind of animal. But even if you explain this to a skeptic, they’ll likely just find another objection to this account. This is because you cannot come to faith in God through the exercise of intellect or of human reasoning.
For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.1 Corinthians 1:21-35
You must find grace in the eyes of the Lord. God must reveal the truth to you supernaturally, by an inward work of the Holy Spirit, which then enables you to believe in things you haven’t seen or understood. That’s how Noah responded to God. Chapter 6 ends with these simple words: “Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.” Noah simply believed God and obeyed. That’s what we must all do, concerning the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are told that we must believe in the God that raised his Son Jesus from the dead—something that defies intellect or reason. And by doing so, we are saved. Those are the terms of the covenant that God offers us. God promises to save us, but we must come through the door of faith in his Son Jesus Christ. We must believe on Jesus.
In chapter 7, we see the deadliest event in human history thus far: the global flood. There are three simple truths that I want you to learn from the flood account:
1. God Commands us to be Saved from His Judgment (7:1-10)
1 And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. 2 Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. 3 Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth. 4 For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth. 5 And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him. 6 And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth. 7 And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood. 8 Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth, 9 There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.Genesis 7:1-10
We often don’t think of salvation as a command, but rather an invitation. But an invitation is something that we can normally refuse without consequence. For example, if someone invites you to a birthday party, you may turn them down, and go about your normal life with minimal consequences. But that’s not the case with salvation.
Verse 5 tells us plainly that Noah did according to all that the LORD commanded him. And the command was simple. Verse 1: “Come thou and all thy house into the ark.” God didn’t simply invite Noah into the ark. He commanded him to get in the ark. The same is true of God’s command to us today. Listen to what Mark tells us about Jesus’ message in Mark 1:14-15:
14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.Mark 1:14-15
Jesus didn’t simply invite people to repent and believe the gospel. He commanded them to do so. It’s not an invitation that we can simply refuse without consequence. If we refuse that command, all that remains for us is judgment. This is why the apostles sometimes described faith in the gospel as obedience to the gospel. For example, in 2 Thessalonians 1:8, Paul tells us that when Jesus returns to this world, he shall be revealed from heaven…
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:2 Thessalonians 1:8
In other words, God’s fiery vengeance will come upon those who have not obeyed the gospel call. The gospel call is simply repent and believe. In Acts 17:30, Paul tells the Athenians that “God commands all men everywhere to repent.” It’s not optional. It’s not an invitation that can be refused. It is a command to be obeyed. Noah obeyed God. He went in. And he was saved from judgment. Likewise, in order for us to be saved from judgment, we must obey Jesus’ command: “repent and believe the gospel.”
2. The Opportunity of Salvation will come to an Abrupt End (7:11-16)
11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. 12 And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights. 13 In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark; 14 They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort. 15 And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. 16 And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.Genesis 7:11-16
The day of judgment finally came. And when that day came, the people of earth were assaulted both from the sky above and from the ground beneath. They had no place to run. The rain poured from above, and water began springing up from beneath the earth. Some creation scientists believe that the great underwater chasm that we know today as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge was the place where the fountains of the great deep were opened up, and the intense water pressure from that rift pushed the original land mass apart as the world was flooded.
Regardless, judgment day came on a specific day on the calendar, and the people were unprepared and had no place to run.
As we saw weeks ago, Peter tells us in 2 Peter 2:5, that Noah was a preacher of righteousness, no doubt warning the people of his day, of the judgment to come. But the day came when it was too late to heed the warnings. Verse 16 tells us that after they went into the ark, the Lord shut him in. The door of salvation was closed. The opportunity of salvation came to a definite and sudden end. As we read this today, what God wants us to understand is that the day of salvation from the last judgment will also come to a sudden end. As Peter told us in 2 Peter 3:10, the day of the Lord shall come like a thief in the night. Listen to what Jesus says about his coming in Matthew 24:36-39:
36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.Matthew 24:36-39
Jesus warns us that judgment day will come just as suddenly and unexpectedly as the flood came upon the world in the days of Noah. The people of earth didn’t know until the flood came and swept them all away. They were going about their daily lives, eating, drinking, getting married, making plans for the future; and then a giant tidal wave came and swept them all away. That day came when Noah got on the ark, and God closed the door. Jesus wants us all to realize that the day will come in which the door will be closed. The opportunity of salvation will come to an abrupt and definite end.
3. God’s Judgment will be Total (Genesis 7:17-24)
17 And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. 18 And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. 19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. 20 Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered. 21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: 22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. 23 And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. 24 And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.Genesis 7:17-24
Everything on earth that wasn’t in the box perished. This wasn’t a local flood. Otherwise, there would have been a place to run. It was a global flood. Every high mountain on earth was covered. This is why we have actually found fossils of sea creatures as high up as the Himalayas, the highest mountain chain in the world. That’s because the Himalayas were completely submerged at one point in time. When God flooded the world, nothing escaped. All flesh died. It was a total and complete judgment.
The same will be true of the judgment to come. Every person will stand before God on judgment day. Listen to how John describes this in Revelation 20:11-15:
11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.Revelation 20:11-15
Heaven and earth fled from his face, but found no place to hide. How much less shall we? What John saw was a complete and total judgment. Everyone in history will stand before God on that day, whether they died in the flood, or if they died recently. The dead, both small and great, will stand before God with no place to hide, and the books will be opened—the record of every man’s works. And when judged according to his works, no man will escape God’s judgment, because all men are guilty of sin.
If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?Psalm 130:3
Yet another book was opened: the book of life.
The book of life is not a list of men’s works. Instead, it is a record of names—the names of all who have come, or ever will come, to Christ for salvation—including the names of all who had faith in God before Christ came. In the book of life, you’ll find Paul’s name as well as the name of Noah.
Noah was saved from God’s judgment because he got on the ark. We will be saved from God’s judgment if we come to Christ in faith.
God commands us to come. The day of salvation will come to an end. God’s judgment will be total.
Noah was a man of character amidst a world of corruption. But we must realize that Noah wasn’t that way because he pulled himself up by the bootstraps. Noah was a man under God’s grace. Noah found grace in the eyes of God. Noah was simply a believer. He did what he did because he believed God. Likewise, we aren’t saved by our character. Apart from God’s grace upon us, we would all be swept away in judgment. What makes the difference?
The difference is made by how you respond to God’s word. Will you believe God’s word and act upon it, or will you not?