Genesis 7:16 Then the Lord shut him in.
We can imagine people changing their minds about Noah once it started raining. For years they heard him preach, and watched his godly behavior. They could have joined him at any time, but found it easier to be part of the godless majority than to join a godly minority.
We can also imagine people standing around the ark saying, We’re sorry Noah. Can you open the door? Can you please, please, open the door? But Noah could not open the door because Noah did not shut the door. The door had been shut by God.
As the water rose, we should imagine families on their housetops, and children asking their parents if they were going to die. We should imagine parents regretting their failure to raise their children for the Lord, and looking into their eyes with panic as they were swept away.
This is so important that Jesus used this story to teach about the end of the age. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:37-39).
And again, Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, Sir, open the door for us. But he will answer, I do not know you or where you come from (Luke 13:25). According to Jesus, there will be people who planned to get into the kingdom of God, but delayed until it was too late. Then they will plead with God, but he will say, I do not know you.
A few other parallels are also worth noticing. Building the ark seemed foolish to those who perished, and the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18), wrote Paul. The ark was the only way to be saved, and there is no other name under heaven . . . by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12), said Peter. Those who heard Noah preach rejected the truth, and others perish because they refused to love the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10), wrote Paul. Salvation in Noah’s day was not entirely different than it is today.
Genesis 7:17-23 For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits.
Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.
We can imagine Noah’s family gathered in the ark as the rain came pouring down. We can imagine the water rising higher and higher until the boat began to float. And we can imagine Noah praying that it would not break apart. Dear God, please, keep this boat in the palm of your hand. Forty days later the rain let up, but it was over a year before the ground was dry enough for them to leave the boat. Then they built an altar to worship the God who saved them (Genesis 8:20).
Hard times should make us thankful. When everything is wonderful, every single day, our appreciation begins to fade. But when the storm clouds threaten to wash us away, we learn to be thankful for every normal day. Whenever the sun goes down on a normal day, we should thank God that we are not in a flood. And if we are in a flood, we should thank God that he will see us through.
Genesis 9:3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
At first, God only allowed a vegetarian diet (Genesis 1:29), but after the flood he included meat. This is a correction to false religious views that restrict the human diet. Whatever God has made should be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth (1 Timothy 4:3), wrote Paul. There are many things we prefer not to eat, but there is nothing that God has forbidden to eat.
A young lady attended a Bible study where she argued for the equal sacredness of all living creatures. She was a vegetarian by conviction and would not even kill a fly. But during the Bible study, a bee crawled up her sleeve and stung her. Instinctively she killed it, and everyone saw what she did. False religions often confuse the created order, but the Bible makes sense of the world God created.
Genesis 9:13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
Noah might have become nervous the next time he saw a cloud in the sky; and he might have panicked the next time it rained. So God gave him the sign of the rainbow, to assure Noah that he would never destroy the earth with a flood again (Genesis 9:15). Whenever we see a rainbow, we should thank God for preserving the world he created. The world cannot preserve itself; it only endures because God sustains it (Hebrews 1:3).
Genesis 9:20-21 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.
This is a little surprising. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God (Genesis 6:9). Noah’s preaching (2 Peter 2:5), and his faithful service, also speak to his righteous character. Noah was a godly man, but like the rest of us, he was not perfect.
Life was not easy after the flood, and Noah sought comfort in wine. But too much wine leads to drunkenness, which can also lead to immodesty. Perhaps Noah disrobed because of the heat, or for some other reason, but this story does not reflect well on him.
Genesis 9:22-23 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.
Ham should have protected his father’s dignity by covering his nakedness, and saying nothing about it. [L]ove covers over a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8), wrote Peter. But instead of keeping quiet, Ham broadcast his father’s indiscretion to his brothers. They too could have ridiculed, but chose to honor their father by covering his shame. When Noah found out what happened, he blessed Shem and Japheth, but cursed the descendants of Ham (Genesis 9:24-27).
Other than Jesus Christ, there are no perfect people. Even righteous Noah had a moment of failure. We ought to keep this in mind for ourselves, and for other sinners as well. Some sins need to be exposed, but most should be covered over. And whenever we fail, we should take our sins to Jesus Christ, and be assured of his forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
Reflection and Review
Is it ever too late to be saved?
Should we be surprised when godly people fail?
Why shouldn’t we talk about other people’s sins?