Open Your Bible
Genesis 6:1-22, Genesis 7:1-24, Genesis 8:1-22, 1 Peter 3:18-22
A couple years ago, God called my husband and me to something scary. Ike quit his secure church job with a regular salary and generous benefits to strike out and start a new church. We had no idea how it would turn out, whether we were adequately equipped, or whether it would succeed or fail. But we trusted God, so we obeyed and went.
During that season, we relied on a number of stories in the Bible to buttress our faith. Whenever we needed a reminder about God’s gracious willingness to confirm a hard call, we read about Gideon. Whenever we needed to stand on God’s ability instead of our own, we read about Moses. And whenever we wrestled with the loneliness and fear of stepping into a seemingly illogical call, we read about Noah.
Noah’s story is remarkable for two reasons, one which is obvious and one which is not. The obvious reason is Noah’s faithfulness in an unfaithful generation. Genesis 6:1–5 describes an era in human history that was so dark, so depraved, that it prompted God to declare “I regret that I made them” (v.7). The human race was unraveling, and yet there was Noah, “a righteous man, blameless among his contemporaries” (v.9), who managed to resist the moral current of his day.
This fact about Noah, on its own, makes him an exceptional person. But here is the less obvious, but equally remarkable truth about him: Noah was the first person recorded in Scripture to be asked to take a big leap of faith. To put it another way, Noah didn’t have the heroic stories of God to turn to that we do. No histories of God using the unlikely, or confirming a hard call, or rescuing a desperate people, or most importantly, sending a Savior.
So when God called Noah to something strange and nonsensical—building a boat, in the middle of the land, with no flood in sight—Noah had little to no record of God’s faithfulness in history. All he had was his own knowledge of God.
But how did he acquire it?
Genesis 6:9 tells us that Noah “walked with God,” which is an intentionally active verb. He didn’t simply know God; he did life with God. He drew near to God, he followed God, he honored God, and he served God, and this was how he learned about God. He didn’t have a long historical record of the deeds of God, but he wrote one with his own life.
Millenia later, as a people of God who possess generations of stories of God’s faithfulness to ordinary people, the witness of Noah reminds us of something important. As much as these stories are a gift and a help when faith is hard, one of the most important ways we know God’s character and get to know Him more intimately, is not simply by reading about Him. It’s through walking with Him. It’s through obedience.