Noah is unique not in what happened during his life, but because of the quality of his life. He deserves special attention because he is one of three people singled out and named by God personally as being righteous:
Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Son of man, if a country sins against Me by committing unfaithfulness, and I stretch out My hand against it, destroy its supply of bread, send famine against it and cut off from it both man and beast, even though these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves,’ declares the Lord God.
These three are special because of their faithfulness—their walk with God—in which they never failed to follow His commandments and Word completely regardless of the earthly circumstances. In the story of Noah we not only have the teachings of baptism, divine covenants, and Final Judgment, but the ultimate example of the kind of spiritual walk towards which we should all strive.
Read verses 6:5-10
Q: What are the key qualities of Noah that differentiates the “righteous man” from the “wicked man”?
“Blameless in his time” indicates that he resisted the peer pressures, behavior, and false teachings present and putting pressure on everyone during his time. He did not succumb.
“Walked with God” indicates the highest degree of obedience that results in a personal relationship with God, not just someone following the rules.
This is quite a contrast to the wicked, defined in v.5 as “every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
Q: What other person is described in Scripture in these terms?
A: “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.” (Job 1:1)
Application: If WE desire to find “favor in the eyes of the Lord”, what would WE have to do? How does our life contrast to the example of Noah?
Read verses 6:11-22
Q: Does God bring about judgment—particularly “final judgment”—without warning?
A: It only “seems” like it comes without warning because of the lack of attention provided by those on whom it comes. God always gives time for repentance by announcing His plans well in advance and communicating them through His messengers.
Q: How do we know that Noah was a messenger of God, warning of judgment, and not off by himself secretly building the ark?
A: In 1 Peter 2:5 Noah is referred to as “a preacher of righteousness”. In His day, EVERYONE “knew” about and even “believed” in God because of their fathers before them being so close in time to the Garden of Eden. So Noah did not need to try to convince anyone of the existence of God, but that they should live properly in the presence of God.
Q: How does biblical history define Noah’s actions?
By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
A: He took God at His Word that He would do everything He said even though Noah had never seen, much less heard, of anything being done by God like this before. It’s summarized in v.22, “according to all that God had commanded him, so he did”.
Q: What is the evidence of God’s grace at work in His instructions to Noah?
A: “But I will establish My covenant with you”. (v.18) On the one side of the equation God devotes to total destruction those on whom His judgment is directed; on the opposite side stand those faithful to Him with whom He makes promises of safety and redemption as strong as the judgments pronounced on the others.
Application: Do you see that there are only 2 groups—those on whom judgment is promised and those who have a covenant with God? If obedience and faith are the key requirements, how easy/difficult is it to “jump” from one side to the other? Can you see it’s not something accomplished at the last moment but from the outset? [Hint: “Voting” for God is never enough.]
Read verses 7:1-5
Q: Were there only two of each kind of animal taken onto the ark?
A: They all boarded two by two, but there were actually seven taken of every “clean animal”, that is those animals known to be acceptable for eating and sacrificing to God.
Q: But we’re a LONG way from the Law being given through Moses, so how does anyone know at this time what is “clean” or “unclean”?
A: This is a great illustration that God communicated information and commandments for which they were responsible that was not directly recorded in Scripture to this point, and reinforces the righteous character of Noah that he knew EXACTLY what the Lord meant.
Q: What is significant about v.4?
A: Up until this point, Noah had been working and preparing; now God set in motion the timetable for it to actually happen. It’s a lesson concerning Revelation and the End Times, in that until the seals are broken (Revelation 5:1) we are to be preaching and preparing.
Read verses 7:10-16
Q: Why doesn’t Noah, in the presence of the rains and safely inside the ark, close the door himself?
A: The ark has not actually been lifted up off the ground by the floodwaters, so Noah knows that there is still time for others to run into the ark. He knows that it is up to God to decide when to finally close the door of opportunity for repentance.
Point: If you haven’t repented and been living an obedient life, when you see the signs of God’s judgment coming true, it is too late. The “final cut-off point” that man might choose is not the same designated by God. This is true during the Last Days where, in spite of the signs and wonders, men do not repent or change their ways, thus sealing their own fate long before God closes the door forever.
And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.
Read verses 8:1-9
Q: What is so wonderfully significant about the phrase, “But God remembered”?
A: From the first day of rain until they finally come out of the ark on dry ground, 1 year and 10 days will pass. Although safe in the ark, everyone in the ark still experienced and witnessed God’s judgment. In spite of the length of time and all that went on, God never forgets His faithful and how to bring them safely through judgment. It might seem like a long time to those awaiting the outcome, but God does not forget nor act slowly.
Observation: It’s interesting that the “unclean” bird first used by Noah (the raven) is of no use compared to that of the “clean” bird, the dove.
Q: To what spiritual rite does Peter compare Noah’s experience?
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.
—1 Peter 3:18-22
Q: What does Peter say is supposed to be the reason behind baptism? How does it compare with what we know about Noah?
A: “An appeal to God for a good conscience”. In other words, baptism is an outward sign of an inward condition, to be alive and obedient to God’s ways and dead to all of the old. This is the very character of Noah, the “preacher of righteousness”, an example of being blameless before God.
Read verses 8:13-19
Q: Noah sent out a raven, a dove three times, and even removed the cover from the ark; but he never actually left the ark. Why?
A: He waited for God to decide when the event was finished and to provide instructions.
Point: Noah never assumes anything based on the circumstances, whether leading up to judgment or after it’s subsided.
Application: How do we make our decisions—based on how the circumstances look or by God’s direction and interpretation of them? How should we be more like Noah in this regard? How does the following Scripture apply:
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.
—2 Peter 2:4-10a
Read verses 8:20-22
Point: It is important to note that during the process of a covenant being made by God, a sacrifice is necessary. This is a teaching related to the Messiah in the necessity of blood being shed. For every covenant made between man and God, something has to be sacrificed to complete the deal.
Read verses 9:1-7
Q: Do these instructions sound familiar? To whom were they previously given?
A: These are the same instructions as originally given to mankind through Adam, the issue of bloodshed having been learned through Cain and Abel.
Q: Since God started over again with Noah, did He also start over again in terms of His commandments and expectations?
A: No; they remain unchanged.
Point: What God states in the beginning remains the same regardless of mankind’s failures to obey or attempts to redefine. Just as God provides the same guidelines to Noah as He originally gave Adam, so He wrote the Ten Commandments a second time exactly as written the first time when they were smashed.
Application: What things exist today that you think have “changed” and that Scripture no longer apply as they did in days past? Marriage and divorce? Relationships? Tithing of all resources? List anything that comes to mind and give an explanation of why you feel this way. Can you honestly say that your feeling is biblically based and that God has truly changed it?
Read verses 9:8-17
Q: If a sacrifice is always required of a covenant, what is another common requirement?
A: A sign. In this case, the rainbow.
Q: How does this compare to the covenant God will make with Abraham?
A: A sacrifice was effected, and the sign of the covenant was given to be circumcision.
Application: How does this apply to the work of Christ and the new covenant?
Q: How does a covenant work? Is it in force no matter what? Is it some kind of protection or guarantee regardless of how the parties act in the future?
A: It requires obedience and faithfulness on the part of both parties. Because God never wavers from faithfulness on His part, the problem is always on the part of mankind. This is why Abraham actually declined to follow through with the transaction on his part because he knew that while God would always be eternally faithful, as a man Abraham would not. Every covenant carries with it the responsibility of obedience and faithfulness.
Q: Going back to the fact that God identifies Noah, Job and Daniel as the highest ideals of man, what other things do they all have in common in terms of what went on during their life?
A: All of them underwent trials no one else had undergone before; all were tested and never wavered. Each had to trust God regardless of the circumstances and each had to defend the name of God. (List other things as you think of them.)
What “covenants” have YOU made with God? How successful have you been in keeping your end of the agreement? What will you do to improve going forward?
Can you afford to wait until the last moment to choose God’s ways and avoid Final Judgment? How about for others that you know? What is the work that has to be undertaken in the here and now to ensure one’s “in the ark” so to speak before God closes the door?
How do you judge the timing of when to act in accordance with God’s will? Is it dictated by the circumstances?
What kind of person does God desire to have a relationship with? How does that compare and contrast with yourself?