But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Genesis 6:8
In the 10 generations from Adam to Noah, the sin principle that Adam passed on to his descendants by his rebellion was developed fully.
But God, who had covenanted in eternity past to take responsibility for and to solve the sin problem had not forgotten His covenant. In a world rampant with wickedness, His grace was still available to all mankind. Noah took hold of that grace, and by it, became the means by which God saved a holy remnant, while destroying all those who refused His gracious offer of salvation and deliverance from God’s judgment upon sin (the Flood).
Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts 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, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” Genesis 6:5-7
The Sin Principle: Genesis 6:5
Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God (the godly line of Seth) saw the daughters of men (the ungodly line of Cain), that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” There were giants (rebels, the fallen) on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. Genesis 6:1-4
‘For some time the two classes remained separate. The race of Cain, spreading from the place of their first settlement, dispersed over the plains and valleys where the children of Seth had dwelt; and the latter, in order to escape from their contaminating influence, withdrew to the mountains, and there made their home. So long as this separation continued, they maintained the worship of God in its purity. But in the lapse of time they ventured, little by little, to mingle with the inhabitants of the valleys. This association was productive of the worst results. “The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair.” The children of Seth, attracted by the beauty of the daughters of Cain’s descendants, displeased the Lord by intermarrying with them. Many of the worshipers of God were beguiled into sin by the allurements that were now constantly before them, and they lost their peculiar, holy character. Mingling with the depraved, they became like them in spirit and in deeds; the restrictions of the seventh commandment were disregarded, “and they took them wives of all which they chose.” The children of Seth went “in the way of Cain” (Jude 11); they fixed their minds upon worldly prosperity and enjoyment and neglected the commandments of the Lord. Men “did not like to retain God in their knowledge;” they “became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Romans 1:21. Therefore “God gave them over to a mind void of judgment.” Verse 28, margin. Sin spread abroad in the earth like a deadly leprosy.’ Patriarchs and Prophets p.81
The ungodly line perverted the godly line when sons of Seth decided to marry daughters of Cain. This principle is true even today in the time of the end.
Paul describes the downward spiral of sin and it is clear that this was the course that the ungodly people before the Flood pursued:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is evident to them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Romans 1:18-23
The Man Noah: Genesis 6:9
This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just (righteous) man, perfect (blameless) in his generations. Noah walked with God.
Noah was a sinner, like the rest of mankind. The difference between him and the people around him was that he believed the promise of grace made to Adam and Eve. He believed that all who took hold of the grace of God would be gifted God’s righteousness, would be enabled to live blameless lives. And so, instead of rejecting God, Noah walked with God.
The word ‘grace’ is mentioned first in the Bible in this verse. The Hebrew word for ‘grace’ in this verse means ‘to find favour; to be acceptable’.
‘Amid the prevailing corruption, Methuselah, Noah, and many others laboured to keep alive the knowledge of the true God and to stay the tide of moral evil.’ Ibid. p 95
Noah was ‘a preacher of righteousness’ to the ancient world 2 Peter 2:5.
Covenant with Noah: Genesis 6:18
But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark—you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. Genesis 6:18
God makes a covenant with Noah that echoes the covenant of grace made with Adam. These covenants give us only the main facts, not the details of the Everlasting covenant. But in them we find a foreshadowing of what our gracious God will do for rebellious humankind.
- ‘I will establish My covenant with you…’ The covenants of grace always declare that God is in a relationship with His people. Though Adam’s rebellion had broken the connection with God, God promises to reconcile and restore man to Himself.
- ‘You shall go into the ark…’ those who by faith respond to God’s grace always choose to be obedient – this is ‘the works of faith’.
- The ark was the means by which Noah and his family were delivered from the Flood. The ark was a symbol of Jesus, who has redeemed all mankind and offers escape from sin and His perfect righteousness as a free gift to all who come to Him in faith.
By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. Hebrews 11:7
The Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 3:20, 21
Sign of the Rainbow:
Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer and day and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:21, 22
And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth. And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”Genesis 9:12-17
God promises unconditionally, never to destroy living creatures by flood waters and gives the rainbow as His covenant sign. He will keep His promises despite the fact that ‘the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth’. This covenant promise was not only given to man, the only creature with the capacity for moral choices, but was given for all living creatures.
‘God promised here that He would never again destroy the earth and all flesh by means of water, by the return of such a flood. He furthermore guaranteed that there would always be a succession of seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night. God promised that that would continue, come what may. He also promised that the forces of nature would be bridled. In other words, the effects and results of sin and the fall were checked, they were held in balance in the covenant made with Noah. In the same way, the powers of evil were put under a greater restraint, and man was not allowed to be as violent as he had been, and as he would like to be, against other men (Genesis 9:5-7). Man was protected against the violence both of man himself and of beasts.
The covenant made with Noah was not a new covenant of grace. The covenant of grace was offered in Genesis 3:15. This covenant with Noah did not interfere with that at all, but simply introduced certain subsidiary promises and ordinances. The covenant with Noah was not a new covenant in the ultimate sense of grace and redemption. It was simply a temporary legislation. It was what is sometimes called common grace, as distinct from the special grace which ensures our spiritual salvation.’ Martyn Lloyd Jones: The Covenant of Grace in the Old Testament.
Is there an obligation of obedience for man in this covenant with Noah? What does the Bible say?
If there is no obligation on man’s part, what is man’s response to this covenant? Some suggestions…praise and thanksgiving to the faithful God? Good stewardship of the earth?
“Only Noah was left”
So God destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah was left alive and those who were with him in the ark. Genesis 7:3
The phrase ‘only Noah was left’ or ‘only Noah remained’ comes from a root word that means ‘a remnant’. The theme of ‘the remnant’ runs though the Bible. The idea of the remnant is that, in a sinful world, there is always a small nucleus of people who respond to God’s grace and walk with Him. Preserved by His grace, they share in God’s redemptive work by demonstrating His righteousness in their lives to the world and they warn the world of the consequences and judgment of sin.
The remnant theme is seen in God’s preservation of Noah during the Flood; in the preservation of Joseph to save a remnant during a worldwide famine. When rebellious Israel was taken into captivity, God promised that a remnant would return. In the end-time, there will be a remnant who, responding by faith to the everlasting gospel, will be preserved by God to demonstrate to the world His righteousness, to call the inhabitants of the world to repentance and warn them of the coming destruction of the earth and all those who have refused God’s grace.
Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. Romans 11:5
Be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Saviour, 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 asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” For this they wilfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 2 Peter 3:2-7
‘The sins that called for vengeance upon the antediluvian world exist today. The fear of God is banished from the hearts of men, and His law is treated with indifference and contempt. The intense worldliness of that generation is equalled by that of the generation now living…Before the Flood God sent Noah to warn the world, that the people might be led to repentance, and thus escape the threatened destruction. As the time of Christ’s second appearing draws near, the Lord sends His servants with a warning to the world to prepare for that great event. Multitudes have been living in transgression of God’s law, and now He in mercy calls them to obey its sacred precepts. All who will put away their sins by repentance toward God and faith in Christ are offered pardon. But many feel that it requires too great a sacrifice to put away sin.’ Patriarchs and Prophets p. 102
in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away. 2 Timothy 3:1-5
To the remnant of God’s people who cherish justice and righteousness in a time of complacency, wickedness and rebellion in the church, to those who sigh and cry for the sins of spiritual Jerusalem, God gives a wonderful promise:
In that day the Lord of hosts will be for a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty to the remnant of His people; for a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, and for strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate. Isaiah 28:5, 6