YOU HAVE TO hand it to old Noah. He was in a very special and elite class of individuals (Heb. 11:4ff). The aged patriarch possessed more than mental assent for deity (Jas. 2:19; cf. Jn. 12:42); he held a living faith that was active in spirit (Rom. 12:11; cf. Gen. 6:22; 7:5; Jas. 2:24). He was one of those rare breads of bi-vocational ministers who not only held down a full-time construction job (Gen. 6), but he simultaneously served as a (the!) full-time evangelist for the antediluvian assembly of God.1
And yet what really distinguished Noah from his peers (then as well as now), wasn’t just his firm conviction for what was yet unseen (Heb. 11:1, 7), but it was his undaunted courage to declare God’s Word. Note how the Bible describes him:
“And (God—v. 2) did not spare the ancient world, but saved NOAH, one of eight people, A PREACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly” (2 Pet. 2:5).”
“Noah…a preacher…of righteousness…” Think about the implications of those words for a few moments and then consider:
- Noah was THE ONLY GOSPEL PREACHER IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.
- Noah’s long-term sermon series focused on a) RIGHTEOUSNESS (i.e., right actions motivated out of right attitudes—cf. Mat. 7:17-20; Mk. 7:18-23), and b) The Judgment to come (Gen. 6:13; cf. Acts 24:25).
- Peter described Noah’s audience as “the WORLD of the UNGODLY” (emphasis mine—mb). The “ungodly” in Scripture refer to those who are “wicked” (Psm. 1:1), or “worthless” (Rom. 5:6), and so we learn that the people of Noah’s day were both irreverent and well as impious. “Just how bad were they?” you ask. The record says, “The wickedness of man was great on the earth, and…every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5b). “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.2 So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (vv. 11-12). Highlight those words in your Bible—wicked, evil, corrupt, and violent—and then think of modern cities like Minneapolis, Seattle, Chicago, and Portland on a global scale where serious crime has skyrocketed NOT simply because police-departments have been defunded, but because hearts are bent on unrighteousness.3
- And yet, there was Brother Noah—holding his daily revival meetings, preaching on righteousness and morality and the Day of the Lord.
- Noah preached for over a hundred years and only seven other people responded to the shadow gospel.
I can hear what somebody is thinking. “Mike, how was Noah able to do that?” “How was one man able to preach to an entire world caught up in a spiritual pandemic of sin and unrighteousness?” Genesis tells us:
1. Noah preached with his WORDS. He was a (remember?) PREACHER (Rom. 10:14-18; 1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 2:1-7; 4:1-5) of righteousness (2 Pet. 2:5). He was one who heralded and verbally proclaimed the Word of God with conviction.4
2. Noah preached with his WORK. He “PREPARED an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world…” (Heb. 11:7b). The acts and sounds associated with building such a monumental boat shouted to the world that Noah was listening to God, that Noah was living for God, that Noah and his loved ones would be eventually saved by God (Gen. 6:22; 7:1, 5; cf. Mat. 5:16; 1 Thes. 4:11-12), and that those outside the ark would be condemned by God (Heb. 11:7; cf. 1 Cor. 11:32).
3. Noah preached with his WALK. As I said earlier, Noah’s faith wasn’t merely cognitive in nature, it was exertive. He was “PERFECT in his generations. [And he] walked with God” (Gen. 6:9).5 You could correctly say Noah was the only Bible that ancient unbelievers were ever able to read.
1 The “saved” were only those in the ark (cf. Acts 2:47).
2 “That word, ‘violence,”’ is especially telling—God had intended for man and animals to fill the earth, i.e. to reproduce. Instead, the created world has become filled with ‘violence.’ The Hebrew hamas means ‘cold-blooded and unscrupulous infringement of the personal rights of others, motivated by greed and hate and often making use of physical violence and brutality.’ We are dealing here with the darkest shades of human sinfulness—dark because violence is always a personal insult to God since each one of us bears His image.” Michael Whitworth, The Epic of God, 66.
5 Perfect or “blameless” does not suggest that he was sinless. The Hebrew term, thamim, does not mean living without sin or being morally perfect; it means being ‘complete’ or ‘wholehearted’ in regard one’s ‘commitment to the person and requirements of God.’ This idea of inner resolve to be wholly committed to God is reinforced by the statement that Noah was a man who ‘walked with God.’ Taken together, these descriptive phrases indicate that Noah was a man of high moral uprightness and integrity. He was faithful to God and upright in his dealings with his fellowman. He walked with God by reflecting the kind of attitude and lifestyle that would bring glory to his Creator, in contrast to the wickedness that had spread across the earth.” William W. Grasham, Genesis 1-22, Truth for Today Commentary, 219