The heights of sinfulness and the depths of depravity that man reached in the days before the Flood had left God with no other possible course of action than an all-encompassing, worldwide judgment upon all mankind. None were repenting and turning to God at this time, there was nobody seeking God’s forgiveness and reconciliation with Him. The Holy Spirit contended with the hearts of men for 120 years prior to His unleashing of the flood waters, yet nobody heeded His call, no one believed God.
“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” (Hebrews 11:7)
We are told in Genesis 6:8 that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. But why did he find grace? What was it about Noah that caused God’s favor to be upon him? Verse 9 tells us three things about Noah’s character: he was a just man, he was perfect in his generations, and he walked with God.
Noah Was A Just Man
That he was a “just” man carries with it two shades of meaning. First, he was just in the sense that he was loyal to God. While the entire world was living in a manner that was as far as possible from the things of God, while every other person on the planet was worshiping at the altars of idolatry and hedonistic pleasures, being actually worshipers of self, Noah remained loyal and faithful to the living God. At times, as we look at the world around us, it is easy to think as did Elijah that we must be the only person in the world who still believes in and follows God Almighty (1 Kings 19:10). This wasn’t true in Elijah’s day (1 Kings 19:18), nor is it true today. But for Noah, it really was the case! He alone remained loyal to God in the midst of an entire world that had turned as far away from God as they could.
Second, the term just man signifies that Noah was justified in a legalistic sense. He was just and righteous because he lived up to God’s requirements. He met the holy demands of a holy God and was, therefore, deemed righteous and justified. And what were those requirements? Was it the fact that he built the Ark as God had instructed? No, he found grace from God before he did this. Was it that he answered God’s calling on his life to preach the Word to a lost and dying world? No. Again, God’s grace upon him preceded his answer to the calling, as well. Noah believed God. As God would later do in the life of Abraham, He imputed righteousness to Noah on the basis of his faith (Romans 4:3). Salvation has always been by grace through faith. This is precisely the manner in which Noah and his family were saved from the Flood.
Noah Was A “Perfect” Man
When we think of somebody being perfect, we think of somebody who never makes mistakes or errors. This is not the meaning here in Genesis 6:9. Noah was human and, as a human, we know that he sinned and made mistakes (we even have an example a couple of chapters later, in Genesis 9:21). The meaning here is that Noah was “upright”, he was “complete” and “whole.” In short, Noah was blameless. It wasn’t that Noah himself was perfect and without blame, but that is the way that God viewed him. God was holding nothing against Noah and laying no sin to his charge. Noah was justified and he was deemed blameless before God.
Noah Walked With God
As we saw in the case of Enoch, here again we have an individual who “walked with God.” Yet Noah’s walk with God did not take him directly to God’s house. God had something else in mind for him. If Enoch was a picture of the raptured Church being taken out of the wold before the judgment, then Noah is a model of the Jewish remnant who are saved through the Tribulation. Both are God’s people, yet each are called to serve God during a different era and in a different way.
What is important to see is that Noah did not find the grace of God because of who he was or what he did before God’s grace came to him. Noah in no way earned the grace of God, indeed, nobody ever can. It is not anything desirable or attractive or good within the heart of man that moves God to extend His awesome grace, God is wholly motivated out of His wonderful love. Whether or not we choose to accept and receive His grace is entirely up to us. Could Noah have rejected God’s grace along with all of his contemporaries? Sure. I do not pretend to know how that would have played out exactly, but I know that God could have found another way of fulfilling His promises even without the co-operation of a single human being. What if, perhaps, more people had embraced the grace of God and turned to Him? I see nothing that would have prohibited God from commissioning a larger Ark, or more of them.
“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6)
It was one who laid hold of the grace of God and was saved by it. One. What a deeply profound revelation of the grace and mercy of God that He would seek out and know the hearts of every single individual on the face of the Earth down to the very last one! God is not unjust, there was not a single innocent person who perished in the Flood. After trying the hearts of all mankind, there was but one who would humble himself and receive God’s grace .
The Holy Spirit is still seeking out and knowing the hearts of every individual on the Earth. It is still possible for anyone who desires to lay hold of His grace by faith. But, like Noah, we must believe Him in order to do that.