Who Was Noah?
by Rich Deem


Noah, the righteous

The Bible describes Noah as the only righteous representative of humanity worthy to be saved from God's judgment. So, God warned Noah to build an ark, along with his wife and his three sons and their wives. So, eight people were rescued from God's judgment.

Rich Deem

Noah was one of the patriarchs of the Bible, who remained faithful to God, despite the corruption that occurred around him. We know virtually nothing about Noah's early days. The Bible only mentions that his father, Lamech, named him Noah (which means "rest"), because "This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the LORD has cursed."1 Both Christians and Jews recognize Noah as a great man of God, who, despite his challenges, remained faithful to his calling.

The times of Noah

Exactly when Noah lived is up for debate. Young earth creationists place Noah as having lived about 5,000 years ago, based upon biblical genealogies. However, because those genealogies are likely representative generations, and not complete,2 Noah could have lived tens of thousands of years ago. Regardless of the actual time in which Noah lived, the Bible is clear that Noah lived during some very turbulent and troubling times.

The Bible describes two lines arising from our first parents, Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve's first two sons had much more than the usual sibling rivalry. Abel was the righteous son who strived to please God. However, Cain grew jealous of Abel's favor with God and murdered him. Because of this crime, Cain was banished to the East of Eden and Adam and Eve's next son, Seth, continued the righteous line of Adam and Eve. For quite a while, the two lines never met, but continued to live apart. However, eventually, the righteous line (the "sons of God") found the unrighteous line of Cain (the "daughters of men") to be beautiful and started marrying them.3 The result was that the godly line of Seth became morally corrupted through the influence of their ungodly wives (which is why the Bible warns against being "unequally yoked"). One of the descendants of Cain, Lamech, bragged to his wives that had had killed both a man and a boy in fights.4 The corruption of mankind became so great that "the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time."5 However, human beings didn't stop at just thinking evil thoughts all the time. They acted on those thoughts and filled the world with violence.6

The flood

God's solution to all the evil and violence was to destroy all mankind. Noah and his family were the only human beings found to be worthy of being saved. The Bible describes Noah as having been "blameless among the people of his time" and that "he walked with God."7 God told Noah that He was going to cause a great flood to destroy mankind and he was to build a large ship, an ark, in which he, his family and livestock were to survive.8 The ark was to be really big—almost the size of an aircraft carrier. To build such a large ship on dry land surely made Noah an object of derision. However, the Bible says, "Noah did everything just as God commanded him" (Genesis 6:22). According to the Bible, the building of the ark took 100 years. The Bible does not say what the other people thought of Noah's building project. However, one can imagine that they made fun of Noah. The New Testament says of Noah that he was a "preacher of righteousness,"9 suggesting that Noah warned the other people of their impending doom. The New Testament says God was patient with mankind, in giving people ample time to repent during the 100 years for the construction of the ark.10 However, it seems that none of the evil people believed Noah's preaching to repent of their evil ways. After the ark was completed, Noah took two of every local animal species and 7 pairs of his livestock aboard the ark.11 When completed, God Himself closed the door.12 Forty days of rain inundated the entire land,13 killing all the people except those on the ark.14

Noah's faith

Noah is often known for his righteousness in a world that had completely turned against God. However, Noah was not morally perfect. After the flood, Noah planted a vineyard, made wine, got drunk and passed out naked in his tent.15 Like all other believers, Noah's righteousness was the result of his faith in God, not just the outward representation of the faith, which sometimes fails. When all others had abandoned their belief in God, Noah stood firm in his faith. Noah is recognized as one of the great examples of faith in the in the eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews—the great chapter on faith:

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. (Hebrews 11:7)

The ark of Noah is a symbol for God's ultimate ark that can save everybody. At death, we all are judged on the basis of our faith. Those who get on God's ark (Jesus Christ) will be saved from the judgment and pass from death to eternal life.

Conclusion Top of page

Noah was a great man of faith, who didn't compromise his faith during a time in history when all others were ignoring God and carrying out extreme evil. Noah preached for 100 years during the building of the ark and God patiently waited for any person to repent. However, none believed Noah or wanted to follow God, but continued in their evil ways until they were all wiped out.

References Top of page

  1. Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and became the father of a son. Now he called his name Noah, saying, "This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the LORD has cursed." (Genesis 5:28-29)
  2. See The Genesis Genealogies: Are They Complete?
  3. Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." The Nephilim were 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)
  4. Lamech said to his wives, "Adah and Zillah, Listen to my voice, You wives of Lamech, Give heed to my speech, For I have killed a man for wounding me; And a boy for striking me; (Genesis 4:23)
  5. The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. (Genesis 6:5)
  6. Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. (Genesis 6:11-12)
  7. This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. (Genesis 6:9)
  8. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons' wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them." (Genesis 6:14-21)
  9. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; (2 Peter 2:4-5)
  10. 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. (1 Peter 3:20)
  11. The LORD then said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. (Genesis 7:1-3)
  12. "When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." (Genesis 9:16)
    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 9:17)
  13. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights. (Genesis 7:12)
  14. Every living thing that moved on the earth perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. (Genesis 7:21)
  15. Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. (Genesis 9:20-21)

Last Modified December 16, 2014


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