By Tony Eldridge
It seems that somehow life as a child of God is different for us today than it was for the men of old. Yes, we understand that they were tortured and physically abused for their stand with God, but they had the miracles; they talked with the Lord and he talked back to them. Oh how strong our faith would be if only we lived the same life as one of the patriarchs!
This article is not going to discuss miracles. Nor is it going to focus on the different dispensations of the three ages. In fact, to the contrary, it is going to discuss something that maybe we don’t want to hear when we search in vain for reasons as to why the men of God in other times had an advantage over us. It is going to discuss one ancient patriarch and his unusually stark parallel life to that of a Christian living today. The man in focus is Noah.
Now immediately our defense mechanisms jump to our aid. “Noah? Why, he was a man living in a unique time. I mean, how many floods has God sent to destroy man; and how many ship builders has he commissioned? Noah, a man whose life parallels that of my own?” Yes my friend, his life very much parallels our life. And it would be extremely wise for us to look at these similarities as we live our own life.
Little is known of the early life of Noah. He appears on the biblical scene at 500 years old (Gen. 5:32). But what follows in the next few chapters recites a story that any preschool child would know: Noah and the flood.
The first parallel between our life and his is found in Genesis 6:5-7. “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thought of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth !… We both live under the promise of destruction. Are we not told in 2 Peter 3: 10, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” My friends, the promise of destruction to us is just as real as it was to Noah; and it is just as sure. One day, all that is surveyed upon this earth will be gone – destroyed by fire. Do we believe it?
Now let’s focus on the next parallel between us. Genesis 6:8, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Noah lived in the midst of a wicked and perverse world, yet he was a light of righteousness. In the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord tells us something similar. “You are the light of the world.” There is no doubt that we live in an age where sin is all around us. But as children of God, we are expected, not requested, to be different from the world (Rom. 12:2). If we let the sin of this world influence our lifestyle, then we are giving up everything of value. Let us not think that we can live this life as a Christian without influencing another soul for good and still walk the streets of gold. We are commanded by the Lord to live actively as a Christian and if our life is not characterized by this lifestyle then we have fallen short of this command. Let us indeed, follow in the footsteps of Noah and live as a light in this dark world.
The next parallel is similar to the previous one. It is found in 2 Peter 2:5, “. . . but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness.”‘ We both are commanded to spread the good news of salvation to others. I think that sometimes we have the mistaken notion that Noah’s job was simply that of a ship builder. No, he was to convince others to come aboard with him. Repentance was the message that he taught; salvation was the gift he offered. “Therefore, whoever confesses me before men, him will I also confess before My Father who is in heaven. Bu he who denies me before men, him will I also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32). Are you a “preacher of righteousness?” Can your life be characterized as that of evangelism? Again, neglecting this responsibility puts our soul in jeopardy (him will I also deny). What an example we have in Noah!
I believe we can also lean on Noah for comfort when we experience the mockers that will come when we fulfill our responsibility of spreading the Good News. Think about it, Noah preached for 120 years (Gen. 6:3) while the ark was being built and no one other than his family listened. A very logical conclusion can be made that his generation mocked him. Here he was building this big boat and telling the people that God was going to flood the earth and they had better get their life right if they wanted to survive. No one listened – no one! “Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell sleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation'”. (2 Pet. 3:3-4). We, like Noah, will face scoffers when we teach the truth. I suppose that one way to avoid these scoffers that Peter warns of is not to teach anything that people will scoff at. Here’s a little test for us: when’s the last time that we were scoffed at or persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12) for the message we taught? It should be a fearful thing when we find ourselves receiving no criticism by the world.
The last parallel that will be drawn between Noah’s life and our life is that of faith. Noah had a working faith. The Hebrew writer says, “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household” (Heb. 11:7). Noah’s faith caused him to obey the will of God no questions asked. If Noah was like many people in the denominational world today, I could imagine him saying to God, “Lord, I have faith that you are going to destroy the world, and I praise you for giving me a way for escape” and then go on his merry way, never touching a hammer or saw – faith without works. No! God said build and Noah moved with godly fear and built the ark! And to us, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have faith in God until we literally turn blue in the face, but unless our life is characterized by the things that were under discussion already, can our profession alone save us? Unless we do the work of our Lord, we are no different than the demons. “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble!” (Jas. 2:19) By faith, Noah obeyed God for salvation; by faith, so must we.
There is so much more that we could learn from this man. Not him only, but all those whose examples were left for our learning. Noah, however, makes a wonderful study because when his situation in life is studied closely, one can see just how much this ancient partriach really does compare to us. Noah was a man whose example is worthy to follow and a man whose dedication to the Lord is worthy to emulate.
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 18, pp. 565-566
September 17, 1992