Genesis 7:1 (NIV) 1 The LORD then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation.
On verse 1: The Lord found Noah to be “righteous in his generation”. I believe that is best understood to mean that compared to others in his generation, Noah was relatively more God fearing and tried harder to please God than the people of his generation. That is why God decided to save Noah and his family and use them to repopulate the earth after the flood.
What can we learn from this?
1. While God loves everybody, to accomplish His purposes on earth God especially loves to use people who fear Him and who try hard to honour Him.
2. Does this mean that somehow we can earn our way to heaven by trying to be good? No. Noah being found relatively “righteous in his generation” and usable for God’s purposes on earth is different from Noah being found absolutely righteous according to God’s standards for heaven. The fact is that none of us is deserving of heaven on our own merit because none of us is absolutely righteous in God’s eyes. As Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins”. As Romans 3:10 says, “As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one’”. All of us, including Noah, are in need of God’s mercy, which God expressed by sending His Son Jesus to pay for our sins. “[F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24)
Genesis 7:2-3 (NIV) 2 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, 3 and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth.
On verse 2-3: Why did God tell Noah to take seven of every kind of “clean animal” and only two of every kind of “unclean animal”? It’s because Noah would later be offering some of the clean animals as a sacrifice to God. Here we see the first reference in the Old Testament (and the only direct reference in Genesis) to certain animals being designated as clean (i.e. appropriate to eat and to sacrifice) and unclean (i.e. inappropriate to eat or to sacrifice). The concept of clean and unclean animals is developed much more in the book of Leviticus and would become a major component of Jewish culture. In Acts 10, God would make clear to the early church that the regulations on not eating unclean animals would not apply to Christians. More importantly, the need to sacrifice animals to atone for sin was no longer necessary after Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for our sins (see John 1:29; John 19:30).
Genesis 7:4 (NIV) 4 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”
On verse 4: For some reason, forty tends to be a significant number in the Bible. Moses stayed on the mountain with God for forty days and forty nights (Exodus 24:18). Moses’ spies explored the promised land for forty days (Numbers 13:25). The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years (Numbers 14:33-34). Goliath challenged the frightened Israelites for forty days (1 Samuel 17:16). David reigned as king for forty years (2 Samuel 5:4; 1 Kings 2:11), Solomon as well (1 Kings 11:42). Elijah traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Mount Horeb to hear God’s voice (1 Kings 19:8). Jesus fasted forty days while being tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:2; Luke 4:2).
One could say that periods of forty in the Bible tended to be times that God would use to prepare people for something new and greater. Verse 4 is the first direct reference to forty in the Bible.
Genesis 7:5 (NIV) 5 And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him.
On verse 5: Once again we see Noah’s obedience to the Lord, how “Noah did all that the Lord commanded him”. This kind of obedience requires persistence, perseverance, passion and an attention to detail.
Genesis 7:6-10 (NIV) 6 Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. 7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. 8 Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, 9 male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth.
On verses 6-10: It wasn’t Noah who saved himself and his family. It was God who saved Noah and his family. Noah just did what God told him to do to be saved. Likewise, we have no ability of saving ourselves from God’s wrath. All we can do is do what God tells us to do to be saved. What does God tell us to do?
Acts 16:31 (NIV) 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.”
Mark 16:16 (NIV) 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
Romans 10:9 (NIV) 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Like Noah, we would be wise to do what God tells us to do so that we can be saved. If we refuse to listen or obey, we do so at our own peril and the peril of those we lead.
Heavenly Father, thank You for saving me, not because of anything good I have done, but because of Your grace and mercy. May many, many more people in my city, country and world take what You say seriously and do what You tell us to do to be saved, which is to believe in Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!