All was not well in the world. The members of the human race were living in malice, greed, and violence towards one another. The people that were meant to live in perfect peace in a glorious garden had disintegrated into a society of terrors.
The descendants of Adam and Eve were in total rebellion. They did not reflect the image of their good and holy God. Instead, they lived in utter evil, shaming themselves and their families with their horrific behavior. God was determined to judge them. He was going to wipe them off the face of the earth.
This may seem brutal, but in fact, it was His right. He made them. He was the one who gave them energy and life every day so that they could continue to live. Why should He make their lives longer if they would only use the time He gave them to do terrible things?
There was one man who rejected all of the sin and shame. In the midst of that corrupt, disgusting society, Noah was a righteous man. He was a descendent of Seth and Enoch, and he walked with his Lord. Noah’s name meant, “rest.” Many believe that this means that the goodness of Noah gave rest to the heart of God. How precious that out of all the people on earth, this servant could bring comfort to the Lord. When the eyes of God were on him, He could rest from all the pain and grief that the wickedness on earth had caused. A righteous man has the power to bring a form of rest that is like the Sabbath. His goodness brings order and peace.
The LORD said to him, “‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood’” (Genesis 6:13-14). Then God gave him very specific instructions about how he was to build the ark.
An ark is a large boat, but this was going to be a very curious boat. It had no sails to catch the wind and make it go. It had no oars so that Noah and his sons could row it through the water. And it had no rudder, so there was no way to steer it in one direction or another. All it could do was float. Noah and his family would have no control over where it went. They would have to completely and utterly depend on God to bring that ark where He wanted it to go. All God was calling them to do was stay afloat and wait on the LORD by faith.
The ark was to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high with a roof over the top. It was huge, and that was on purpose. Noah was told to bring his wife and sons and their wives onto the ark. They would also bring at least two of every kind of animal and plenty of food for them all. Then God would send a torrent of rain for forty days and forty nights. The whole earth would be flooded. Every human and animal would die except for the ones on the boat. That way, when the rains stopped and the floodwater went down, Noah and his family and the animals could start the world all over again. Noah and his wife and children could begin a new culture of human society where God was honored and obeyed.
The only problem was, the rain hadn’t started yet. What if Noah built that massive ark and the rain never came? He would be the laughingstock of human society! Noah was going to have to build the ark by faith. He believed what God said. The Lord was going to send the rain, and so Noah began to build.
Noah’s faith in God was pretty amazing. It is also amazing to think about what God was trusting Noah to do. God had made a promise to Eve that one of her descendants, one of her seed, would be the one who would crush the head of the serpent. It would fall to a human to break the awful power of the curse. Now God was going to wipe out all the seed of humanity on earth except for one family and start over. But what if Noah, too, rebelled? How would God keep His promise to Eve? What an amazing thing to have lived a life of such righteous dependence on God that the Lord could trust Noah to carry the burden of His promise with him!
Perhaps we are beginning to see a pattern in the Bible. Even when almost every human utterly rebels, there are a few who live by faith. They are such a dignified treasure and magnified nobility that they make it all worth it to God! And God calls them into a rarefied partnership with Himself to accomplish His purposes. The entire human race was an agony to the Lord because of their sin, but Noah’s faith was a priceless blessing to the Creator of the universe. God and Noah were in a covenant partnership together to bring about the will of the Lord.
Noah built the boat and waited on the Lord for over a hundred years. All that time, the people on earth knew that a righteous man had been warned that a flood was coming. In all that time, they could have repented. But they didn’t. Imagine how those arrogant sinners scoffed at him. When the time of God’s judgment had come, only Noah and his family were ready. This is what the Lord told Noah;
“‘Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.’”
Everything happened just as the LORD said it would. Noah and his family climbed on board and the animals entered. Every kind of animal you can imagine was there. The roars and chirps and hoots and howls must have been incredible! After seven days, the floodwaters began to fall from the sky, and the rain did not stop for forty days and forty nights.
The scene on the ark was full of life, but the scene on the ground was very different. Imagine thousands of people, wretched and determined to sin against God, now wailing and drowning as He cleansed the earth of them. They would not be allowed to pollute God’s creation with their sin any longer.
Imagine their home and huts, the trees and livestock and farms all drowned under the downpour of endless water. Imagine the children doomed by the sin of their parents. These parents would have trained their children up in rebellion. They would have taught them their wicked ways. And so God protected the earth and the future of humanity from them. He is a righteous Judge.
The Bible says that once Noah’s family and all the animals were on the ark, “…the Lord shut them in.” Somehow, God himself shut the door to the ark behind Noah. At that moment, a sharp line was drawn between those that follow the Lord and those who demand rebellion. The family of Noah was the remnant of God, and the protection of the Lord was upon them.