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The Apostle Peter called Noah "a preacher of righteousness" (2 Peter 2:5), and in Hebrews 11:7 he is presented as a faithful follower of God: "By faith Noah, …moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household…and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith" (Hebrews 11:7).
Noah was the grandson of Methuselah, the oldest man who ever lived. His life can be divided into three parts: For hundreds of years nothing was recorded about him. Then Genesis 5:32 tells us, "After he was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth." Later God spoke to him, commissioning him to build an ark to spare his family and various land animals, because God had determined to drown wicked mankind in a universal flood (Genesis 6:17-21).
The context of Genesis 6:5-6 highlights the wickedness of mankind doing what was right in their own eyes—not unlike most people today. The general population was arrogant and hedonistic, refusing to honor God or His laws, while Noah is described as a just man, perfect or upright in his generations (Genesis 6:9). He kept God’s commandments and "walked" with God, obediently undertaking the gigantic project of building the ark, as well as preaching a warning message to mankind.
Noah was probably unrelentingly ridiculed for doing this. He was building a massive boat on land, and everyone ignored his warning about the impending judgment of God. As the weeks turned to months and months to years, Noah may have had moments when he wondered whether his scorners were right, yet he remained faithful to God.
This situation continued until Noah's 600th year (Genesis 7:6) when, after many decades the ark was completed. It was a gargantuan structure some 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high (137 by 23 by 14 meters). As a matter of record, no other ship of this size is known to have been built until A.D.1858 (Halley's Bible Handbook, 2000, p. 96).
Finally, after all the animals were loaded on board, Noah and his family entered the ark. Then, when seven days had passed "all the fountains of the great deep were broken up…And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights" (Genesis 7:11-12). Except for those on the ark, all of mankind perished in the rising waters.
There is ample evidence the Flood during Noah's time covered the surface of the whole earth. Those who don't believe the biblical account claim this event was, at most, only local or regional. But the Apostle Peter makes it clear the Flood was universal: ". . . The world that then existed perished, being flooded with water" (2 Peter 3:6). (See the accompanying article: Did The Noachian Flood Cause A Global Catastrophe?)
The example of Noah is being played out on earth today by those who are committed to following God as Noah did, and appropriately warning this decaying world of its evil ways and urging it to turn to God in repentance. The time to act—to get our lives in order—is now. Jesus Christ spoke of a time of worldwide catastrophe still ahead of us in which humanity would again face extinction if God did not intervene: "It will be a time of great distress, such as there has never been before since the beginning of the world, and will never be again. If that time of troubles were not cut short, no living thing could survive; but for the sake of God's chosen it will be cut short" (Matthew 24:21-22).
The Good News Magazine (May-Jun, 2003)