Do You Condemn the World Through Your Faith?
“By faith Noah . . . constructed an ark for the saving of his household; and through this faith he condemned the world.”—HEBREWS 11:7.
1, 2. What can we learn from an examination of Noah’s life?
JEHOVAH granted Noah and his family—just eight in number—the privilege of being the only humans to survive the Flood. The lives of all the rest of Noah’s contemporaries were cut short when God swept them into a watery grave. Since Noah is therefore our common ancestor, we should be very grateful for the faith he exercised.
2 We can learn much from examining Noah’s life. The Scriptures tell us why God favored him with salvation while He destroyed the people of Noah’s generation. This same divine record clearly shows that our generation faces a similar judgment by God. Concerning this, Jesus said: “There will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” (Matthew 24:21) By imitating Noah’s faith, we can have the sure hope of surviving the imminent destruction of this present wicked system.—Romans 15:4; compare Hebrews 13:7.
3. Why did Jehovah bring the Flood?
3 During the 1,656 years from Adam’s creation to the Deluge, very few humans had the inclination to do good. Morality plummeted to an extremely low level. “Jehovah saw that the badness of man was abundant in the earth and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time.” (Genesis 6:5) Violence, pleasure-seeking, and the presence of materialized angels who married women and produced giant offspring were among the factors that led to the execution of God’s judgment upon that ancient world of mankind. To Noah, Jehovah said: “The end of all flesh has come before me, because the earth is full of violence as a result of them.” The patience of the Creator, the “Judge of all the earth,” had run out.—Genesis 6:13; 18:25.
Noah Walked With God
4. (a) How did Jehovah view Noah, and why? (b) While God’s justice demanded destruction of that wicked world, how was his love manifested in behalf of Noah and his family?
4 How different Noah was from people of his day! He “found favor in the eyes of Jehovah. . . . Noah was a righteous man. He proved himself faultless among his contemporaries. Noah walked with the true God.” (Genesis 6:8, 9) How did Noah walk with God? By doing right things such as preaching as an advocate of righteousness and building the ark in faith and obedience. Thus, although that ancient world was destroyed because it was completely corrupt, God “kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others when he brought a deluge upon a world of ungodly people.” (2 Peter 2:5) Yes, our loving and just God, Jehovah, did not destroy the righteous with the wicked. He instructed Noah to build a huge ark for the saving of himself, his household, and a number of animals, all for repopulating the earth after the Deluge. And Noah “did just so.”—Genesis 6:22.
5. How do the Scriptures describe Noah’s righteousness and faith?
5 With the ark finished, God told Noah: “Go, you and all your household, into the ark, because you are the one I have seen to be righteous before me among this generation.” Paul sums matters up in this way: “By faith Noah, after being given divine warning of things not yet beheld, showed godly fear and constructed an ark for the saving of his household; and through this faith he condemned the world, and he became an heir of the righteousness that is according to faith.”—Genesis 7:1; Hebrews 11:7.
6. How did Noah condemn the world of his day through his faith?
6 Noah had outstanding faith. He believed what God said about wiping out that generation. Noah had a healthy fear of displeasing Jehovah and obediently built the ark according to God-given orders. Moreover, as a preacher of righteousness, Noah told others about the impending destruction. Though they did not heed his words, he refused to let that wicked world ‘squeeze him into its mold.’ (Romans 12:2, Phillips) Rather, through his faith, Noah condemned the world for its wickedness and showed that it deserved destruction. His obedience and righteous acts demonstrated that others besides him and his family could have survived if they had been willing to change their life-style. Indeed, Noah proved that, despite pressures from his own imperfect flesh, the wicked world around him, and the Devil, it was possible to live a life that pleased God.
Why God Will Destroy This System
7. How do we know that we are living in the last days?
7 Each decade of this 20th century has seen the world sink more deeply into wickedness. Particularly has this been true since the beginning of World War I. Mankind has become so steeped in such things as sexual immorality, crime, violence, warfare, hatred, greed, and misuse of blood that those who love what is right wonder if conditions can possibly get worse. Yet, the Bible foretold the development in our generation of extreme wickedness, giving further proof that we are in “the last days.”—2 Timothy 3:1-5; Matthew 24:34.
8. What have some said about consciousness of sin?
8 Today, the concept of sin has been neutralized in the minds of the vast majority. Over 40 years ago, Pope Pius XII observed: “The sin of this century is the loss of all sense of sin.” The present generation refuses to acknowledge sin and guilt. In his book Whatever Became of Sin? Dr. Karl Menninger stated: “The very word ‘sin’. . . has almost disappeared—the word, along with the notion. Why? Doesn’t anyone sin anymore?” Many have lost the ability to discern right from wrong. But we are not surprised at this, for Jesus foretold such developments when discussing ‘the sign of his presence’ in “the time of the end.”—Matthew 24:3; Daniel 12:4.
Pattern of Judgment Set in Noah’s Day
9. How did Jesus compare Noah’s day with what would occur during His presence?
9 Jesus drew a parallel between events of Noah’s day and what would occur during His presence in Kingdom power, beginning in 1914. He said: “Just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man [Jesus] will be. For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.”—Matthew 24:37-39.
10. How do people in general take no note of significant events associated with Christ’s presence?
10 Yes, as in Noah’s day, people today take no note. Being very busy with everyday living and selfish pursuits, they refuse to recognize that present conditions differ significantly from those of the past and fit exactly what Jesus said would mark the time of the end. For years, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been telling a modern generation that Jesus’ presence as Messianic King in heaven began in 1914 and runs parallel to “the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 24:3) Most people scoff at the Kingdom message, but even this was foretold when the apostle Peter wrote: “You know this first, that in the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires and saying: ‘Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.’”—2 Peter 3:3, 4.
11. Why will today’s generation be without excuse when the great tribulation arrives?
11 Yet, today’s generation will be without excuse when the great tribulation arrives. Why? Because there are Bible accounts of ancient divine judgments that set a pattern for what God will do in our day. (Jude 5-7) Bible prophecy in course of fulfillment right before their eyes shows conclusively where we are in the stream of time. This generation also has before it the preaching activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses and their record of integrity-keeping like that of Noah.
12. In essence, how does Peter compare the destruction of the world of Noah’s day with that to come upon “the heavens and the earth that are now”?
12 Peter explains what will happen to those who take no note of these facts. Like Jesus, the apostle does so by referring to what happened in Noah’s day, saying: “According to their wish, this fact escapes their notice, that there were heavens from of old and an earth standing compactly out of water and in the midst of water by the word of God; and by those means the world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water. But by the same word the heavens and the earth that are now are stored up for fire and are being reserved to the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.”—2 Peter 3:5-7.
13. In view of the momentous events ahead, what counsel from Peter should be heeded?
13 With this certain judgment of God staring us in the face, let us not be deceived or intimidated by ridiculers. We need not share their destiny. Peter counsels: “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah, through which the heavens being on fire will be dissolved and the elements being intensely hot will melt! But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.”—2 Peter 3:11-13.
Imitate Noah’s Faith for Survival
14. What questions can help us to analyze ourselves?
14 Today, we face the same challenges as those faced by Noah and his family in becoming and remaining candidates for survival. Like Noah, Jehovah’s Witnesses are condemning the world by their faith backed up by good works. But each of us might ask himself: ‘How am I personally doing? If the great tribulation were to come tomorrow, would God judge me worthy of survival? Like Noah, who “proved himself faultless among his contemporaries,” do I have the courage to be different from the world? Or is it sometimes difficult to tell the difference between me and a worldly person because of the way I act, speak, or dress?’ (Genesis 6:9) Jesus said of his disciples: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.”—John 17:16; compare 1 John 4:4-6.
15. (a) According to 1 Peter 4:3, 4, how should we view our previous worldly thinking and conduct? (b) What should we do if we are criticized by former worldly friends?
15 Peter counsels: “The time that has passed by is sufficient for you to have worked out the will of the nations when you proceeded in deeds of loose conduct, lusts, excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches, and illegal idolatries. Because you do not continue running with them in this course to the same low sink of debauchery, they are puzzled and go on speaking abusively of you.” (1 Peter 4:3, 4) Your former worldly friends may speak abusively of you because you are walking with God and no longer running with them. But, like Noah, you can condemn them by your faith and good works performed with modesty.—Micah 6:8.
16. How did God view Noah, and what questions may help us to examine our thoughts and conduct?
16 God considered Noah to be a righteous man. That faithful patriarch “found favor in the eyes of Jehovah.” (Genesis 6:8) When you examine your thoughts and conduct in the light of God’s standards, do you feel that he approves of what you are doing, of all the places that you go to? Do you sometimes dabble in degraded entertainment, now so prevalent? God’s Word says that we should think about clean, wholesome, and upbuilding things. (Philippians 4:8) Are you diligently studying God’s Word so as to ‘train your perceptive powers to distinguish both right and wrong’? (Hebrews 5:14) Do you reject bad associates and cherish association with fellow worshipers of Jehovah at Christian meetings and on other occasions?—1 Corinthians 15:33; Hebrews 10:24, 25; James 4:4.
17. As Witnesses of Jehovah, how can we be like Noah?
17 After reporting on the completion of the ark, the Scriptures say: “Noah proceeded to do according to all that God had commanded him. He did just so.” (Genesis 6:22) That godly man was also diligent in preaching as a witness of Jehovah. Like Noah, you can be a staunch advocate of what is right as a regular preacher of righteousness. Persevere in sounding the warning of the end of this wicked world, even though few listen. Work unitedly with fellow believers to get the disciple-making work done before the end.—Matthew 28:19, 20.
18. On what basis is Jehovah determining who should survive the great tribulation?
18 Applying the same righteous and just standards as he did in Noah’s day, God is now determining who should survive and who should perish during the great tribulation. Jesus likened the present dividing work to a shepherd’s separating of sheep from goats. (Matthew 25:31-46) People who center their lives on selfish desires and pursuits do not want the old world to end and will not survive. But those who avoid involvement in this world’s filth, who maintain strong faith in God, and who keep preaching the Kingdom message, sounding the warning of Jehovah’s coming judgment, will enjoy divine favor as survivors. Said Jesus: “Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken along and the other be abandoned; two women will be grinding at the hand mill: one will be taken along and the other be abandoned.”—Matthew 24:40, 41; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9; Revelation 22:12-15.
Inherit Blessings With Noah
19. What ingathering did Isaiah and Micah foretell for the last days?
19 In parallel prophecies, God’s prophets Isaiah and Micah both described what would occur during the last days. They foresaw what we see being fulfilled today—a stream of righteoushearted people coming out of the old world and going up to the symbolic mountain of true worship. To others they extend the invitation: “Come, you people, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” (Isaiah 2:2, 3; Micah 4:1, 2) Are you walking with this happy throng?
20. What blessings will be enjoyed by those who condemn the world through their faith?
20 Isaiah and Micah also cited the blessings to be enjoyed by those who condemn the world by their faith. True peace and justice will prevail among them, and they will learn war no more. They will have the sure hope of an inheritance from Jehovah and will “sit, each one under his vine and under his fig tree.” But each person must make a firm decision, for Micah shows that two courses are possible, saying: “All the peoples, for their part, will walk each one in the name of its god; but we, for our part, shall walk in the name of Jehovah our God to time indefinite, even forever.”—Micah 4:3-5; Isaiah 2:4.
21. How can you share in the grand blessing of eternal life on earth?
21 The Scriptures clearly show what is needed to survive the great tribulation: a strong faith. Noah had such faith, but do you have it? If you do, like him you will become “an heir of the righteousness that is according to faith.” (Hebrews 11:7) Noah survived the God-decreed destruction that came upon his generation. Not only did he live for 350 years after the Flood but he is to be resurrected with the prospect of living on earth forever. What a grand blessing! (Hebrews 11:13-16) You can share in that blessing with Noah, his family, and millions of others who love righteousness. How? By enduring to the end and condemning the world through your faith.
Do You Recall?
□ Why is a study of Noah’s life important for Christians?
□ Of what do people of this generation take no note, leading to their destruction?
□ Like Noah, how can we condemn this world?
□ How can we be like Noah as a preacher of righteousness?