I praise the Lord that like many of you readers, I grew up in a Bible teaching, gospel loving church. And I am sure that if you would have asked me about the story of Noah I could have echoed it back to you-flannel graph and all. If you would have pressed me, “Why did God preserve Noah’s life?” my answer would have sounded something like this:
“Well, all the rest of mankind was evil and wicked in every way, but Noah was righteous. Noah didn’t sin or lust or disrespect Yahweh, but instead tried to obey, love, and honor Him. God saw this good behavior and when deciding to punish all the evil men, he rewarded Noah’s obedience and preserved his life via the ark!”
Would you have said that too?
Would you have taught the lessons with a concluding statement of, “So even if everyone around you is sinning, YOU need to be good so that you too can sail away from God’s wrath and be safe from his righteous judgment”? If so, what that is teaching us is that God saved Noah because of what Noah was doing and not doing. Genesis 6:8 tells us
“But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”
So my question is, is that concluding statement the point of the story? Did he “find favor” after he was being well behaved and doing all the “right things?” Is that when God’s eyes lit up at the sight of Noah? Or maybe because he was the smartest or the bravest or the most committed? Is that when God “finds favor” with us?
Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord not when he was obedient, but LONG before. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord before time dawned when the Trinity predestined him to be able to obey and have righteousness and please God and desire to do God’s will above his own. The order of events was not:
Noah’s righteousness –> God’s favor —> Noah’s Salvation
God’s favor –> Noah’s Salvation –> Noah’s Righteousness
See the only reason Noah was seen as virtuous and blameless was because of GOD’S GRACE in his life empowering him to be that. His works of righteousness is a response to being found favorable in God’s eyes, not the other way around. And this is reason to rejoice! This truth makes God so much better! It is not that He is watching his people, searching feverishly for someone righteous to reward-he would NEVER find anyone-we are all naturally so self-glorifyingly wicked! Instead, he has graciously chosen to make people righteous in his eyes for His perfect plan and because of His lavish love!
Why did God save Noah? It’s the same reason why God saved you.
Friends, we should be the most grateful of all people. God does not love you because of your good works. He did not save you because of any potential He saw in you or any desirable attributes you have. It is all grace. And therefore, He does not forsake you because of your shortcomings. He is not surprised by your failings or regretful of his decision to make you His child and heir. The love in God’s eyes when he looks at us is not based on our performance, but based off of his beautiful, gracious favor and kindness.
Titus 3:5 “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,”