Why God Favored Noah—Why We Should Care
MOST of us remember occasions when we heard important news. We remember details—not only where we were and what we were doing but also how we reacted. No doubt, Noah never forgot the day he received news from Jehovah God, the Sovereign of the universe. And what news could have been more important? Jehovah said that he had determined to bring to ruin “all flesh.” Noah was to build a gigantic ark for the preservation of him, his family, and animals of every kind.—Genesis 6:9-21.
How did Noah respond? Did he rejoice upon hearing the news, or did he protest? How did he break the news to his wife and family? The Bible does not say. What it does tell us is this: “Noah proceeded to do according to all that God had commanded him. He did just so.”—Genesis 6:22.
That surely is the important point, for that statement explains in part why Noah found favor in God’s eyes; Noah was willing to do what God asked him to do. (Genesis 6:8) What else caused God to favor Noah? The answer is important because we must be like Noah to survive when God again cleanses the earth of wickedness. First, though, let us consider what life was like for Noah in the days before the Flood.
Demons Come to Earth
Noah lived early in human history. He was born about a thousand years after the first man was created. People then were not the cavemen that many envision—hairy, dim-witted creatures who slouched about with clubs in their hands. There were forged tools of iron and copper, and Noah may have used these in constructing the ark. There were also musical instruments. People married, raised families, cultivated crops, and had livestock. They bought and sold things. In these ways, life then was much as it is today.—Genesis 4:20-22; Luke 17:26-28.
In other ways, things were quite different. One difference was that people lived much longer. It was not unusual for a person to live more than 800 years. Noah lived 950 years; Adam, 930 years; and Methuselah, Noah’s grandfather, 969 years.a—Genesis 5:5, 27; 9:29.
Another difference is described at Genesis 6:1, 2, which says: “Now it came about that when men started to grow in numbers on the surface of the ground and daughters were born to them, then the sons of the true God began to notice the daughters of men, that they were good-looking; and they went taking wives for themselves, namely, all whom they chose.” These “sons of the true God” were angels from heaven who materialized as humans and roamed the earth as men. They had not come at God’s direction; nor had they come to benefit the human family. Instead, they “forsook their own proper dwelling place” in heaven to have sexual relations with the beautiful women on earth. They became demons.—Jude 6.
Rebellious, perverted, superhuman in power and intelligence, these demonic angels exerted a ruinous influence on humans. It is likely that they controlled and dominated human society. They did not operate secretly, like a criminal mastermind who conceals his identity and works his evil, cloaked in shadow. Rather, they openly acted in shameless rebellion against the arrangement of God.
These angelic sons of God had relations with women, and the women bore children who grew to possess extraordinary strength. They came to be known by the Hebrew term “Nephilim.” We are told: “The Nephilim proved to be in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of the true God continued to have relations with the daughters of men and they bore sons to them, they were the mighty ones who were of old, the men of fame.” (Genesis 6:4) The Nephilim were much to be feared. The word “Nephilim” means “Fellers,” those who cause others to fall down. They were killers whose violent exploits are likely echoed in ancient myths and legends.
The Grief of the Righteous
The Bible’s description of that generation was one of deep-rooted and widespread corruption. It says: “The badness of man was abundant in the earth and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time. . . . The earth became filled with violence. . . . All flesh had ruined its way on the earth.”—Genesis 6:5, 11, 12.
This was the world in which Noah lived. In contrast with those around him, “Noah was a righteous man” who “walked with the true God.” (Genesis 6:9) It is not easy for a righteous man to live in an unrighteous society. How Noah must have been grieved by what people said and did! He probably felt as did Lot, another righteous man who lived after the Flood. Lot, who dwelled among the depraved inhabitants of Sodom, “was greatly distressed by the indulgence of the law-defying people in loose conduct,” and “what he saw and heard while dwelling among them from day to day was tormenting his righteous soul by reason of their lawless deeds.” (2 Peter 2:7, 8) So it must have been with Noah.
Are you distressed by the shocking events in the news or by the godless conduct of people around you? If so, you can identify with Noah. Just imagine how difficult it must have been for him to endure a world of unrighteousness for 600 years, for that is how old he was when the Flood came. How he must have longed for relief!—Genesis 7:6.
Noah Had the Courage to Be Different
Noah “proved himself faultless among his contemporaries.” (Genesis 6:9) Notice that the Bible says he was faultless among, not from the viewpoint of, his contemporaries. In other words, he was faultless in the eyes of God, but to the people of the pre-Flood world, Noah was odd. We can be sure that he did not agree with popular opinion, nor did he get involved in the ungodly entertainment and social activities of the day. Imagine how people viewed him when he began to build the ark! They likely laughed at him, ridiculed him. They did not take him seriously.
Furthermore, Noah had deep religious beliefs, and he did not keep them to himself. The Bible says that he was “a preacher of righteousness.” (2 Peter 2:5) Undoubtedly, Noah expected opposition. His great-grandfather Enoch was a righteous man who foretold that God would execute judgment against the wicked. Evidently, this brought persecution against Enoch, though God did not permit his opposers to kill him. (Genesis 5:18, 21-24; Hebrews 11:5; 12:1; Jude 14, 15) With Satan, the demons, the Nephilim, and most of the people either indifferent or opposed to him, Noah needed courage as well as faith in Jehovah’s ability to safeguard him.
Those who serve God have always been opposed by those who do not. Even Jesus Christ was hated, and so were those who followed him. (Matthew 10:22; John 15:18) Noah had the courage to serve God, though it was not popular to do so. He understood that having God’s favor is far more important than having the approval of those who oppose Him. And Noah was favored by God.
Noah Took Note
As we have seen, Noah courageously preached to others. How did they react to the message he brought? The Bible says that before the Flood people were “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.” They failed to heed the warning.—Matthew 24:38, 39.
Jesus said that the same would be true in our day. For well over one hundred years, Jehovah’s Witnesses have sounded the warning that Jehovah will take drastic steps to fulfill his promise to establish a new world of righteousness. Though millions have responded positively, billions of earth’s inhabitants take no note. “According to their wish,” they ignore the reality and the significance of the Flood.—2 Peter 3:5, 13.
Noah, however, did take note. He believed what Jehovah God told him. That obedience led to his salvation. The apostle Paul wrote: “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.”—Hebrews 11:7.
An Example to Imitate
The ark that Noah built was gigantic—longer than a football field and as high as a three-story building. It was more than 100 feet [30 m] longer than the schooner Wyoming, which was reportedly the largest wooden-hulled ship ever built. Of course, the ark was not a ship; it needed only to float. Nevertheless, it required advanced construction techniques. And it had to be covered inside and outside with tar. It may have taken more than 50 years to build.—Genesis 6:14-16.
There was more. Noah had to stockpile one year’s food supply for his family and for the animals. Before the Flood came, the animals had to be gathered and brought inside. “Noah proceeded to do according to all that Jehovah had commanded him.” What a relief it must have been when everything was ready and Jehovah closed the door of the ark!—Genesis 6:19-21; 7:5, 16.
Then the Deluge came. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights. All had to remain in the ark for a full year until the waters receded. (Genesis 7:11, 12; 8:13-16) All the wicked people perished. Only Noah and his family survived into a cleansed earth.
The Bible says that the global Flood of Noah’s day stands as “a pattern . . . of things to come.” In what way? We read: “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.” As in Noah’s day, however, there will be survivors. Be assured that “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial.”—2 Peter 2:5, 6, 9; 3:7.
Noah was a man of godly devotion, a righteous man among a wicked generation. He obeyed God completely. He had the courage to do what was right even though he knew that this would bring the disdain and hatred of those who did not wish to serve God. By imitating Noah in these ways, we too will find favor with God and have the prospect of deliverance into the new world that is soon to come.—Psalm 37:9, 10.
a See the article “Did They Really Live That Long?” in the July 2007 issue of Awake! page 30.
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The violent exploits of the Nephilim may have been echoed in ancient legends
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By imitating Noah’s faith, we can find favor with God
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Alinari/Art Resource, NY