Genesis 6:5,8 – The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
In our final devo answering four tough questions from Genesis 6, at the end of the chapter, God calls Noah to build the ark, which will mean his family is saved and the rest of humanity perishes. But Noah was still sinful, so the question is, why him?
You will need to read Genesis 6:5-8 very closely as the story of Noah is widely misunderstood. Tragically, the story of Noah is commonly told that in the days of Noah, all the men were wicked except for Noah, who was a righteous man that God saved from His judgment in the flood.
The application of this telling of Noah is that there are good people and bad people and that God loves and saves the good guys but kills the bad guys, so we should be good guys so that God will love and save us. This false teaching about Noah is simply not what this passage says and is antithetical to the rest of Scripture that teaches we are saved by God’s grace and not because of our good works. Therefore, it is imperative for you to closely read what Genesis says, paying attention to the intentional theological order of events to properly understand what Moses is teaching.
This is similar to my story – there’s no reason or anything I was doing that would’ve benefitted God in any way apart from His grace and goodness. I was 19 in college, not living for God, and was sleeping with a pastor’s daughter. I wasn’t really a first-round draft pick for a future pastor. But God had a different plan, and I’m extremely grateful that He saved me, my dream girl and I got to get married as Christians, that we had five kids who are all walking with God, and that I now get to tell other people about Jesus every week.
So back to Noah…Genesis 6:5-7 states the total depravity of everyone on the earth with one of the most negative declarations about human sin in all of Scripture. We are told that God saw that every person was only evil all the time. God was grieved that He made mankind because they filled His heart with pain. This statement does include Noah, who was simply one of the sinfully wicked men on the earth who grieved God.
Genesis 6:8 then explains the process by which God chose to save and bless Noah. It says, “But Noah found favor [grace] in the eyes of the LORD.” Noah did not begin as a righteous man, but rather he began as a sinner as bad as anyone else on the earth in his day. The only difference between Noah and the other sinners who died in the flood of judgment was that God gave grace to Noah.
Beautifully, the word favor is the Hebrew word for grace, which appears here for the first time in the Bible and is echoed repeatedly by Paul throughout the New Testament in his teaching on salvation by grace through faith alone. Because everyone was a sinner in Noah’s day, just like everyone is a sinner in our day, God had no good person to work through to accomplish His plan of redemption. So, God worked, as He always has, by saving an undeserving sinner through grace thereby enabling them to live a righteous life as is taught in the next verse. Genesis 6:9 then explains the effects of God’s grace to Noah saying, “This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.”
Indeed, Noah was a blameless and righteous man who, like Enoch, “walked with God”. But Noah was only this sort of man because God saved him by grace and empowered him to live a new life of obedience to God by that same grace.
Once made a believer by God’s grace, God began to speak directly to Noah and give him commands to obey. God informed Noah that He planned to end sin by killing all the sinners through an enormous flood as judgment on sinners. God then gave Noah orders to build an enormous Ark that was some 1,400,000 cubic feet, shaped like a modern-day battleship, and big enough to house some 522 modern-day railroad boxcars.
Noah obeyed God’s commands and built the Ark, likely with only the help of his sons. Hebrews 11:7 says that Noah did so in holy fear as a man of faith who believed that God would bring the flood, even while others continued in sin without repentance. And, upon completing the construction of the Ark, Noah placed his family on the Ark with the animals God had commanded him to and waited for God to fulfill His promise of judgment. Over the next few days, we’ll continue to look at the life of Noah and the impending Flood that God has promised.
Compare Genesis 6:5-8 with Paul’s teaching in the New Testament that we are saved by grace to good works in places like Ephesians 2:8-10. Why is it vital to the gospel that we recognize that Noah was not a godly man of his own effort who was chosen by God to build the Ark because he was a holy man apart from God’s grace?
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