But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. [Genesis 8:1 ESV]
There is only one place to find peace and that is in God’s presence. However, in a world rebelling against God, surrounded by people who care nothing for the One who created them with an eternal purpose, none want to seek out that peaceful place. If there is peace in the world it is a false peace, a counterfeit, a lie designed specifically to fool people into believing something which is not true.
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. [Genesis 6:5-6 ESV]
God decided to blot out all people from the face of the earth. This means the physical death of all men, women and children. Since the penalty for sin is death there were none who did not deserve to die. They faced His wrath and found no where on earth to escape judgment. They were not at peace with each other. They were not at peace with God.
Yet, one man found favor in God’s eyes. “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD” [Genesis 6:8 ESV].
How did God describe Noah? “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God” [Genesis 6:9 ESV] If there were none righteous, if all were intent upon evil, how could Noah be found righteous? I think the answer is in the phrase “Noah walked with God.”
Like Enoch before him, walking with God means not walking with the world, rejecting the thinking, emotions and willful decisions to rebel against God. This does not mean either Enoch or Noah were sinless. They recognized their sin, realized the consequences of their sin, which brings separation from the One who created them. Walking with God means they consciously relinquished control of their selves to Him against whom they were rebelling. Noah found favor because the thinking of his heart was focused upon his God.
Noah’s ark is a favorite Sunday school story. Flannel graphs and coloring books and cute illustrations are filled with a smiling Noah and smiling animals. Some will show people laughing at the man building the strange boat far from any water. Conveniently left out of this story is the horrible death of all but eight. Left out of these stories is any recognition of the justified wrath of a holy God against those who consciously rejected Him, even hated Him. If these are the images we are placing in our children’s minds then I wish none of them had gone to a Sunday school where God is mocked. We do not teach the absolute devastation caused by sin by putting smiles on the faces of animals.
Noah and his family spent 100 years building the sanctuary needed to save some. When his family entered the ark and God shut the door and it began to rain, and water flooded the earth until the highest mountain was 20 feet under, all of the rest of the people and animals died. The ark was the only safe, peaceful place in the world, surrounded by destruction and death. It was safe and peaceful only because God decided to make it so.
God decided to save Noah. He and his family were just as deserving of death as everyone else in the world. God did not need to save the animals. He’s God and can make new animals. We do well to remember it is God who makes the decisions. But, it is we who must walk with Him.
God, in Christ, decided to offer Himself for our sin. We, like Noah, are required to obey. If there is no peace in this world, only turmoil, death and sin, then we must seek peace only in Him. In the middle of a world which hates God, which finds pleasure in rebelling against Him, which entices us to follow it and not Him, we do well to consciously and deliberately, seek Him.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. [1 Peter 3:18-22 ESV]