By Joshua Spurlock
It was an ordinary day. The sun rose as it always does. People did went about their usual business. There were sad moments and moments of rejoicing, just like any other time.
And then it happened: The rain started to fall, and before anyone could do anything to save themselves, the whole world was overwhelmed in a flood.
Just eight people survived the Great Mabul (Flood), which civilizations around the world remember in their own way. Parashat Noakh serves as a stark reminder that while HaShem (the LORD) is long-suffering, there does comes a point when it is too late to repent.
It’s true that it has been a long time since the wrath of HaShem was poured out on the Earth on a global scale, but don’t think that means it won’t happen again.
As the Lord Yeshua HaMashiakh (Jesus Christ) said concerning his return,
“For as were the days of Noah [Noakh], so will be the coming of the Son of Man [Ben Adam]. For as in those days before the flood [Mabul] they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah [Noakh] entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man [Ben Adam]. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.”
– Mattityahu (Matthew) 24:37-42, ESV
The Mabul was a terrifying event for the overwhelming majority of the world, and it was not the last time such a thing will occur. Judgment by Fire is coming next. For those who are not watching and ready, HaShem’s wrath will appear to come without warning.
As Kefa says,
“They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’ For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God [Elohim], and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly… But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”
– Kefa Beit (2 Peter) 3:4-7,10, ESV
Are you ready? Is your family?
Walking from Judgment
Noakh is an excellent case study for understanding how one escapes the ultimate wrath of HaShem. It wasn’t as though his world was better suited to righteous living than ours. On the contrary, Noakh lived in something of a worst-case scenario.
Noakh lived in an era of incredible wickedness. The entire world was corrupt and he was one of just eight people who were spared the just wrath of G-d.
This is how his days were described:
“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… Now the earth was corrupt in God’s [HaElohim] sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God [Elohim] saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.”
– Beresheit (Genesis) 6:5,11-12, ESV
Yet in the midst of his crooked and perverse generation, Noakh’s was different; a ish tzaddik (a righteous man).
“But Noah [Noakh] found favor in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah [Noakh]. Noah [Noakh] was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah [Noakh] walked with God [HaElohim].
– Beresheit (Genesis) 6:8-9, ESV
Four things stood out about Noakh:
- He found favor/grace in HaShem’s eyes;
- He was a righteous man;
- He was blameless in his generation; and
- He walked with HaShem.
But what do these things mean?
Khen (Grace) is a complex concept in Scripture. Often interpreted to be the receiving of things we don’t deserve, grace can also carry with it the power to change us. A great example of this grace relates to Moshe (Moses).
As Moshe says to HaShem,
“Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight.”
– Shemot (Exodus) 33:13a, ESV
The word translated as “favor” in the English Standard Version (ESV) for this verse is the Hebrew word “Khen”—or grace. My father, Rick Spurlock, points out that this verse displays a cycle of grace. Moshe says that if he has found grace from HaShem, he then wants to be shown more of HaShem’s ways so that he can find even more grace.
In other words, this grace received by Moshe doesn’t just give him a pass to receive things that are undeserved. It serves as a motivator for Moshe, a springboard towards even more righteousness, so that he can please G-d even more and receive even more grace.
Shaul (Paul) likewise says,
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus [Mashiakh Yeshua] were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ [Mashiakh] was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father [HaAv], we too might walk in newness of life.”
– Romans 6:1-4, ESV
Indeed, while we find grace from HaShem and receive Chayei Olam (the Life of the World to Come) as a gift from Him because of the death and resurrection of Yeshua, this grace always results in a changed lifestyle (Cf. Ephesians 2:8-10). And that changed lifestyle is what we see in the other descriptors of Noakh.
He was described as being a righteous man and blameless (“tamim” in Hebrew) in his generations. Clearly his lifestyle was noticeably different from those around him. Grace was not a “get out of jail free card” for Noakh. It was a life-changer.
This is especially obvious in the final descriptor—Noakh walked with HaShem. In other words, his righteousness was not just some surface-level hypocrisy. It was part of a real relationship with the Creator of the universe, a crucial requirement that HaShem has for us.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God [Eloheka]?”
– Mikhah (Micah) 6:8, ESV
While Noakh was by no means perfect (Cf. Bereshit 9:20-21), he did live a set apart life. Those who wish to escape the judgment that sin demands can do no less. But Noakh was more than just a holy man who loved G-d. He was also a shining lamp that brought the light of HaShem to his family.
Talking from Judgment
Yeshua uses Noakh as an example of what the coming Judgment by Fire will be like, mentioning also Lot and the destruction of Sedom and Amorah (Sodom and Gomorrah) by fire, which follows the Mabul (Cf. Luke 17:26-30).
Like Noakh, Lot lived in a place of great wickedness, yet he himself, too, was nevertheless righteous. He also survived a dramatic outpouring of the just wrath of G-d, as fire from heaven overthrew Sedom and Amorah (Cf. Bereshit 19).
As Kefa (Peter) says,
“If by turning the cities of Sodom [Sedom] and Gomorrah [Amorah] to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the LORD knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.”
– Kefa Beit (2 Peter) 2:6-9, ESV
There is, however, a sad difference between Noakh and Lot. Noakh escaped with all seven of his family members—his wife, three sons, and their wives. Lot, however, did not. The exact reasons are not given in Scripture, but there are some clues.
For one thing, we can infer from Scripture that Noakh did not keep his faith to himself. In order to obey HaShem, he had to build an enormous ark (Cf. Bereshit 6:15-16); likely with the assistance of his children. Therefore, HaShem saved Noakh and his children through their active faith.
“By faith Noah [Noakh], being warned by God [Elohim] concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”
– Ivrim (Hebrews) 11:7, ESV
Lot, however, appears to have kept his faith to himself. When at last he finally attempted to dissuade the raucous mob of Sedom from raping his guests, the mob reacted with anger and perhaps even surprise that he was judging them (Cf. Bereshit 19:9).
Furthermore, even with malakhim (angels) insisting that Lot flee the wrath of HaShem, Lot was unable to convince his sons-in-law to come with him.
“So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the LORD is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.”
– Bereshit 19:14, ESV
The most tragic blow to Lot is that even his own wife—despite explicit warning by the malakhim not to turn and look back at the cities as they were destroyed—did so anyway and was turned to a pillar of salt (Cf. Bereshit 19:17,26).
It may just be speculation, but the events surrounding Lot’s salvation could imply at least some failure on his part to share his faith with his family. The reactions of the mob at Sedom, as well as that of Lot’s sons-in-law, could indicate that this was the first they had heard of his disapproval of the city’s wickedness. In the very least, he had not been convincing enough.
Compare this with what HaShem says of Avraham (Abraham) in the chapter in the Torah which precedes the destruction of Sedom and Amorah.
“For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham [Avraham] what he has promised him.”
– Bereshit 18:19, ESV
Noakh’s family also was not perfect, as seen in the troubling actions of his son Kham [Ham] in the wake of Noakh’s drunkenness (Cf. Bereshit 9:20-25). But two out of three sons is doing relatively pretty well—whereas both of Lot’s surviving children erred in their judgment (Cf. Bereshit 19:30-38).
In the wisdom of Shlomo HaMelekh (King Solomon), there is no guarantee that well-trained children will be perfect, but he does say that they will turn out all right in the end.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
– Mishlei (Proverbs) 22:6, ESV
It appears that Noakh’s faith was evident enough that at least his family followed him into the ark. Lot lost almost all his family to the fiery end of the wicked, and the two that did survive erred greatly in the aftermath of the tragedy.
You and Judgment
Judgment by fire is coming soon.
Are you ready? If you are a parent, are you training your children in the Way of HaShem?
It is a mitzvah (a commandment and good deed) that HaShem instituted, and it carries with it a double blessing: Both you and your children will live long in the Earth (Cf. Devarim / Deuteronomy 11:21).
While we are not to do good deeds to look good for other people (Cf. Mattityahu / Matthew 23:5), Yeshua, our Lord, also makes it clear that the righteous are not to hide their good works when properly motivated their faith in, love for, and fear of HaShem our G-d.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father [Av] who is in heaven [HaShamayim].”
– Mattityahu 5:14-16, ESV
May your light therefore shine upon the world around you in the grace of our Lord Yeshua HaMashiakh and in the power of the Ruakh HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), and may you see your children and your children’s children believe and follow HaShem through Messiah Yeshua, our Lord.