4. As It Was In The Days Of Noah” (Pt. 2): God’s Plan Is Disclosed (Genesis. 6:8-22)Related Media
This is the fourth expository sermon in Genesis on “The Life and Times of Noah.” The times of Noah were remarkably like our own - a time of spiritual degeneracy, moral permissiveness and perversion, departure from God, rampant liberalism, and a time of violence and corruption throughout the world.
But God is not left without resource or witness. God has always had his man or woman for every occasion. He had Joseph who remained faithful in the days of Pharaoh. He had Elijah who stood firm in the days of the Baal prophets. He had Moses who stood firm in the days of the exodus and wilderness wanderings. He had Esther in the days of Mordecai and King Ahasuerus. He had Deborah in the days of Sisera and King Jabin. He had Daniel in the days of King Nebuchadnezzar. And he had Noah in the early days when humanity began to multiply on the earth.
God has never been without witness, no matter how utterly wicked the days may be. And we are living in wicked days with homosexual marriages, abortion on demand, doctor-assisted suicide, euthanasia etc. We are living in days when the church, which has been so blessed by God, is turning her back on the truth. We’re living in days when people love themselves, money, and pleasure rather than God.
The subject of this passage is: God’s plan for the world. The primary theological lesson in this passage is that God protects the righteous and condemns the wicked. Notice firstly that…
1. God Observes Everyone’s Moral Condition (6:8-12)
A) God Looks With Favor On Those Who Are Righteous (6:8-10).
Noah was just such a righteous person. He was one man who stood for goodness and for God. Noah was the last pre-flood descendant from Seth, from the godly descendants of Adam. Even though the sin of mankind had reached such depths of depravity that “the Lord regretted that he had made man” (6:6), nonetheless, there was one man who stood out.
It says of Noah that (1) “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (6:8); (2) “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation” (6:9a); and (3) “Noah walked with God” (6:9b). These three statements describe Noah’s relationships with the society around him (“his generation”) and with God. This description of Noah jumps off the page because of its sharp contrast with the culture around him. The culture around Noah was marked by departure from God (4:16-24), moral degeneracy (6:1-5), God’s grief over his creation and God’s plan to destroy man (6:6-7). In the midst of this gloomy scene, however, Noah’s conduct and character shine in bright contrast to the world around him. The people of his day were generally depraved and degenerate…
“But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (6:8). Thank God for the “buts” of Scripture – “but Noah…”. Noah blooms like a rose in the midst of rottenness. Noah is the bright ray of hope in the midst of darkness, death, and despair. Noah stands out from the surrounding society – he is faithful to God. In contrast to all that was going on in the world and in contrast to the deep grief that God was feeling, Noah “found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (6:8). He was the recipient of God’s sovereign, unmerited grace, kindness, and mercy.
That Noah found favor with God indicates that he needed it. We all need God’s grace precisely because we are unworthy of it, for none of us deserves God’s grace and favor. We can’t earn it and we have done nothing to merit it. God does not owe it to us, just as he didn’t owe it to Noah. God freely extends his sovereign grace toward those who are totally undeserving, sinful, and blameworthy. God’s favor is bestowed on human beings purely on the basis of his sovereign favor, which is extended to those who repent and put their faith in Christ. That’s the only way to receive God’s unmerited favor - by repenting of our sins and receiving God’s forgiveness through his love and mercy in Jesus Christ. That’s how we find grace in the eyes of the Lord. And those who find favor with the Lord escape God’s coming judgement on the world.
That Noah found favor with God implies that he was searching for it. “But”, you may object, “the Bible says ‘no one is righteous, no, not one… no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’” (Rom. 3:10-12). That’s true. That’s how far humanity by nature and practice has departed from God. But the Bible also says, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13). “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isa 55:6-7). “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (Jas 4:8).
So, how do you reconcile those two thoughts? On the one hand, no one seeks after God - we are completely separated from Him and want nothing to do with him, for “all we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way” (Isa. 53:6). And yet on the other hand, you will find God when you seek him with all your heart. How can someone find God who doesn’t seek for God? Is this some kind of bizarre “hide-and-seek” game in which God dodges behind bushes so that we can’t find him? Or, is it that we turn the other way every time we see God?
The answer is this: we seek God only when he draws us to himself. Since we do not seek God by ourselves the only way we seek him is if he initiates it. And God initiates it by his Spirit, who sovereignly and unilaterally opens our spiritually blind eyes, enabling us to seek God in order to find meaning and purpose in life and to discover beauty and truth in Jesus. The Spirit of God draws us to God, brings us to repentance and faith, and regenerates us with new life in Christ. That’s how we find God. There is no other way. If we are incapable of finding God and unwilling to search for God, then the process must be all of God. And that’s how Noah “found favor” in the eyes of the Lord. That’s the only way anyone finds favor with God.
Notice that this favor is “in the eyes of the Lord.” No one else’s opinion or assessment of us has any validity. Our standing before others is of no account, be they paupers or princes, commoners or kings, judges or juries, family or friends, bosses or bureaucrats. Their opinion of us is of no value for eternity. We must find favor “in the eyes of the Lord.” And we only find that through faith in his beloved Son, our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Noah “found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” That’s the first and most important thing we know about Noah. But we also know that…
“Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation” (6:9a). He was righteous in his character and his actions. To be “righteous” means to be upright, honest, impartial, fair, just in all his dealings and relationships with other people. He was decent, dependable, honest, lawful, ethical, trustworthy. He was basically a good and godly man.
According to 2 Pet. 2:5, Noah was “a preacher of righteousness.” Throughout the 120 years from the time God decided to flood the world, Noah preached righteousness. A preacher of righteousness tells people (1) how to be right with God; (2) that God himself is righteous (just); (3) that God demands that we be righteous also; (4) that if we don’t get right with God we will eventually come under God’s righteous judgement; and (5) that in order to get right with God we have to accept God’s offer of salvation. In the case of the people of Noah’s day that meant entering the ark. In our case, that means trusting Christ as Saviour and Lord. That’s the only way to be declared righteous by God.
Noah’s faith in building the ark was a message of righteousness: “He constructed an ark for the saving of his household” (Heb. 11:7). His righteousness was transparent in his action. His action was an incarnational sermon that God’s judgement was coming and people needed to get right with God.
In their case, entering the ark would have taken faith - faith that Noah’s warning was true; faith that a flood was coming (they didn’t know when or how but it was coming); faith that only the ark could save them (not their own efforts); faith that they would be safe in the ark until the flood was over; faith that when the flood was over, they would go free.
In our case, to trust Christ takes faith. You can prove that the historical Christ actually existed and you may believe what he said was true, but to trust him for your eternal security from God’s judgement, that takes faith.
Noah was a righteous man, “blameless in his generation.” Noah was blameless precisely because he was righteous. Noah was blameless before society. He lived uprightly, with integrity, without reproach. Though not sinless, Noah was blameless in his relationship to the world around him. He didn’t philander with other women. He didn’t curse and swear. He paid his bills on time and didn’t owe any taxes. It isn’t that Noah was perfect – for there was only one perfect man, Jesus Christ - but that there was nothing that anyone could point to and find fault with him. That’s quite a commendation, isn’t it?
He was blameless before society and, more importantly, he was blameless before God. Noah didn’t succumb to the ways of the world around him. He didn’t adopt their immoral, degenerate, perverted and idolatrous lifestyle. Noah was a man of faith whom God justified and declared to be blameless.
All of this description of Noah is summed up in the third characteristic of his life…
“Noah walked with God” (9). He is like his great-grandfather, Enoch, who also “walked with God” (Gen. 5:22). Noah had seen such piety displayed in his great-grandfather and he followed his example.
To walk with God means that you live in close company with God, that you treasure fellowship (communion) with God, that your life is characterized by godliness. The prophet Micah asks the question, “What does the Lord require of you?” And the answer is: “To do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God” (6:8). What are the three key components of that verse? (1) Act justly (righteously); (2) love kindness (mercy); (3) walk humbly with your God. That describes Noah. And that describes what the life of every Christian should be like.
Our lives should be characterized by righteousness - integrity, fairness, impartiality. Our lives should be characterized by kindness - forgiveness, forbearance, mercy, sympathy, gentleness. Our lives should be characterized by humility - not thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think but esteeming others better than ourselves. Our lives should be characterized by walking with God - a prayerful life, a desire for God and love for his word, closeness to God, a deep understanding of God.
When you walk with someone, you understand them and enjoy their company. You enter into common experiences. You laugh and cry together. You talk together, listen to each other. You share your innermost feelings. Your relationship is marked by harmony, oneness. That’s what it means to walk with God. You want to hear his voice, go where he is going, do what he is doing, love what he loves, hate what he hates.
This isn’t an activity restricted to a certain, esoteric few. This is normal Christianity. This is what God expects and wants of us. He wants us to be absorbed with him, just as he is with us. A. W. Tozer is reported to have said that the goal of every Christian should be to “live in a state of unbroken worship.” That’s what it means to walk with God.
There have always been Noahs in days of corruption. God has always had his men and women to stand for him no matter what the surrounding circumstances were. I have a book in my library called, “They Found the Secret” by Raymond Edman. In the book, he describes the lives of people who “found the secret” to walking with God - people like J. Hudson Taylor, John Bunyan, Amy Carmichael, Oswald Chambers, Adoniram Judson, D. L. Moody, Handley Moule, Andrew Murray and more. The thrust of Edman’s book is that “It is not enough to just know about Christ or to know about what he did for us, nor even to experience his work in us. What is needed is to experience him in us as he works out God’s inscrutable will” (Walter Elwell, Foreword, “They Found the Secret,” 11). This is what it means to walk with God.
Writing about John Wycliffe, Stuart Briscoe recounts: “At a particularly dark time in England’s history, God raised up a man called John Wycliffe. J. C. Ryle the Bishop of Liverpool, wrote in his book, Light from Old Times, ‘England seems to have been buried under a mass of ignorance, superstition, priestcraft and immorality.’ Yet, in this kind of environment John Wycliffe shone brightly. Known as the ‘Morning Star of the Reformation,’ even though he died about 100 years before Luther was born, he was acknowledged in academic, ecclesiastical and political circles as being ‘no common man’. For over twenty-five years the things that he said and the actions that he undertook spoke loud and long to his contemporaries. It is a fitting tribute that even though his body was exhumed and burned and the ashes thrown into a stream thirty-one years after his death, his name lives on in the ministry of hundreds of Wycliffe Bible translators who have reached out to the hidden tribes with the message of Christ. There has always been a Noah or a Wycliffe” (Briscoe, “Genesis: The Preacher’s Commentary,” 80).
Such, then, was Noah, a man who “walked with God.” He was a man who had placed his faith in God. He was faithful and true to God despite the world around him. This made Noah different from his society. The masses were ungodly – “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:4), self-centered, self-sufficient, self-indulgent. The masses were only interested in pleasure and prosperity – to “eat, drink and be merry”(Lk.12:19). They had found the key to progress in urbanization, secularization, industrialization (as we noticed in Genesis 4), all of which took them further and further away from God.
But Noah didn’t get caught up in all of that. He remained faithful to God in the midst of moral and spiritual decline and darkness. You see, when someone is faithful to God their life is different. When you are converted to Christ your behavior changes, your thinking changes, your desires change, your goals and priorities all change. Because when God saves you he changes you. All of a sudden you understand the meaning of life, and God gives you a new purpose in life. And that’s what he did for Noah. God called Noah to faith and gave him a new purpose, a new occupation, a new life’s work.
When God calls you, he not only calls you to salvation but he calls you to service as well. Every Christian is called to serve God. If you claim to be a Christian but your life hasn’t changed, then you’re not saved. It’s just that simple. If your behavior didn’t change, your thoughts didn’t change, your speech, your purposes and your desires didn’t change, then you’re not saved. It’s just that simple. Because the Bible says, “If anyone is in Christ, he / she is a new creation. The old has gone; the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Thus, God called Noah to serve him in a very unique way. Now, we may not all be called to build an ark for the saving of our household. But we are all called by God to serve him in some way. That doesn’t mean that you become somebody who is odd and can’t relate to the world around you. It means that within the context of your life and your abilities God provides you opportunities to serve Him.
So, Noah “found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” His standing before God was on the basis of God’s grace, not his own merit. And because of God’s grace, he was able to respond to God in complete obedience through faith. He submitted to God, he served God, he obeyed God – no questions, no rebellion, no excuses. Even though he had never seen an ocean, never felt rain, let alone a flood, and never seen a ship. And as a result of his faith and obedience, his entire family was saved by entering the ark.
First, then, God observes everyone’s moral condition. He looks with grace on those who are righteous, but…
B) God Looks With Grief On Those Who Are Wicked (6:11-12).
God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth (6:5) and God was grieved in his heart (6:6). God looks with grief on the earth: “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” (6:11-12).
Notice the distinction here between the “earth” and “all flesh”. The corrupt behavior of “all flesh” had a negative impact on “the earth” in which they lived. Human beings cannot live wicked lives with impunity. We cannot practice corruption and violence without negatively affecting the entire environment of the earth. So, by this point in Noah’s history, sin had affected the entire planet.
The earth was corrupt morally, spiritually, physically, environmentally, politically, socially, judicially etc. Man’s unethical conduct, dishonest dealings, immoral relationships, and rejection of God had corrupted the planet. Human beings were depraved in their nature, degenerate in their behavior, disconnected in society, and detached from God, with the result that “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight” (6:11).
Furthermore, the earth was filled with violence. Violence accompanies corruption. When the nature of human beings is rotten their relationships become ruthless.
What is the conclusion of the matter? “God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (6:12). This was the universal human condition – corruption.
So first, God observes everyone’s moral condition. And…
2. God Determines Everyone’s Eternal Destination (6:13-22)
Such is the putrid stench of corruption and violence that God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (6:13). Notice here the three parts to what God determined for every human being’s eternal destination.
A) God Provides Escape From Judgement (6:14-16).
God said to Noah, “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood” (6:14). God’s decision to destroy all flesh was accompanied with God’s provision for escaping coming judgement. God’s judgement can never be taken in isolation from his redemption. This is the redeeming grace of God toward us who believe. God does not cast away his people, those who are declared righteous by God. The means of salvation for Noah, and all those who heeded his message of coming judgement, was an ark.
“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). By God’s grace and on the basis of faith, Noah and his household were saved from the flood by entering the ark.
We can only be saved by the means of escape that God has provided. By God’s grace through faith we can avail ourselves of the means of escape through the death of Christ. We cannot work for it and we don’t deserve it. Salvation is all of God’s grace in Christ.
The first step in God’s determination of every human being’s eternal destination is that God provides escape from coming judgement. The second is…
B) God Ultimately Destroys The Wicked (6:17)
“Behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die” (6:17). Notice that God does not say “everyone shall die,” but “everything that is on the earth shall die” – i.e. everyone and everything that is not in the ark. The ark was the place of safety and refuge from God’s judgement. Everyone who did not heed God’s warning through Noah’s preaching and who did not enter the ark by faith would be destroyed in the flood.
Remember, “As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt. 24:37). Today, Jesus Christ is our “ark” of safety from the judgement of God that is about to fall on the world. If you are “in Christ” (Rom. 8:1; 2 Cor. 5:17), then you are saved from coming judgement. If you are not “in Christ” – if you ignore God’s offers of mercy and do not take refuge in the saving work of Christ - you will be punished, not by a flood but by fire (2 Pet. 3:7, 10).
Firstly, God provides escape from judgement. Secondly, God ultimately destroys the wicked. And thirdly…
C) God Securely Preserves The Righteous (6:18-22)
God promises Noah, “I will establish my covenant with you and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you” (6:18). Despite the worldwide judgement that was coming, Noah was secure in God’s unilateral covenant with him. He could count on God’s word that he would preserve Noah and all those with him in the ark.
Such is God’s promise to us through the New Covenant in Christ. By faith, all who trust Christ are eternally secure in God’s promise that we are forgiven and sealed for eternity. God has covenanted with us, as he did with Noah, that judgement is coming but that we can be safe and secure if we take shelter in Christ.
The evidence of righteousness and faith is obedience. Noah carried out God’s plan, incredible as it seemed, in all its details, for the preservation of all who would believe (6:19-22).
But as in Noah’s day, the majority of people don’t believe it. That’s why, after 120 years of preaching that (1) full and free salvation from certain judgement in the coming flood was available for those who believed and who demonstrated that belief by entering the ark, and that (2) certain death and eternal doom awaited those who rejected his message and were left behind, despite those warnings only eight souls were saved!
No one outside Noah’s family believed him. They didn’t take him seriously. They wrote him off as a nutcase. For 120 years, they heard Noah’s message but concluded that nothing had changed. Apart from the building of the ark, everything was going on as it had before. And the longer time went by, probably the more intransigent and opposed to Noah and his message they became.
Remember our outline of this passage:
1. God Observes Everyone’s Moral Condition.
a) He looks with grace on those who are righteous.
b) He looks with grief on those who are wicked.
2. God Determines Everyone’s Eternal Destination.
a) He provides escape from judgement.
b) He ultimately destroys the wicked.
c) He securely preserves the righteous.
And remember the thesis of this sermon: God protects the righteous and condemns the wicked.
So where do you stand today before God? Are you safe and secure for eternity “in Christ”? Or, are you still rejecting the truth of God’s word, that judgement is coming, that full and free salvation is available through Jesus Christ? May we all embrace the salvation and eternal security which are found in Christ alone.