Noah’s name meant “rest,” and that’s incredibly appropriate given the purpose God would give him in life. The time during which he lived was anything but restful. God looked down from heaven and humanity was evil. “The wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). That was the culture in which Noah lived. Those were the influences that surrounded him. But Noah was different. How? He found grace in the eyes of the Lord (vs. 8); and with that grace Noah began a work of such nature that the apostle Peter would later call him “a preacher of righteousness” (2:5). For the next 120 years Noah worked to combat the sin that surrounded him – but how could one man distinguish himself rom such a sin filled world and be a preacher of righteousness?
Noah Preached Righteousness by What He Did
Noah’s life stood out from the lives of the people around him. In 1 Peter 3:20 Peter referred to those people as being in “prison” because of their disobedience. But the fact that Noah stood out is significant. He must have stood out for a reason and that reason must have been in the way that he lived. We must never underestimate the power of faithful living. In fact, back in 1 Peter 3 the apostle had addressed that back early in the chapter in terms of how a believing wife has the power to win her unbelieving husband to Christ just by her manner of living (vs. 1-2). In Genesis 6:9 Noah is referred to as “a just man,” “perfect in his generation,” and someone who “walked with God.” Imagine how much Noah must have stood out to those around him. So Noah’s ministry of righteousness began with his life lived in submission to God and that served as a workable example to everyone around him.
Noah Preached Righteousness by What He Said
God never brought His judgment on a people without first providing them an opportunity to hear the truth. He has always been longsuffering and that was just as true with the people of Noah’s day. God insured that those lost souls in bondage had an opportunity and that opportunity was through Noah’s preaching of righteousness. Noah was their only hope. He stood directly between them and condemnation. So Noah couldn’t afford to mince words. His message wouldn’t have been pacifism toward sin. It wouldn’t have been that they could remain in sin and still escape the danger of the flood. It wouldn’t have been about God accepting them just as they were in their sin. Given the nature of the problem Noah’s preaching would have centered around one theme and that would have been repentance. Among the many things that we need to be preaching in our sin filled world in some way everything must point back to the same principle need – repentance. So Noah’s example of righteousness wasn’t enough to accomplish his work. At some point he had to verbalize what he wanted the people to know and so Noah preached righteousness by what he said.
Noah Preached Righteousness through His Family
After everything was said and done who responded to Noah’s preaching? His family. That’s not to say they didn’t ever do anything wrong again. In fact, not long after they exited the ark they got themselves into a mess pretty quick. But his family’s presence on the ark had to be a testament to their concern for righteousness as well. What are we doing to ensure that our families are concerned about righteous living? Whatever Noah did he did enough to ensure that in the end his family was saved. Paths sometimes curve, twist, and even some to a grinding halt. But we can never stop encouraging teaching, and particularly praying for our family to ensure that their lives are a reflection of righteousness.
I’ve often wondered if Genesis 6 were to be rewritten, this time in view of our present generation, would I find grace in the eyes of the Lord. Would my faith be such that I could be God’s preacher of righteousness today? We are the lights of the world, so let’s let our lights shine before so they can see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).