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The piety of a patriarch


The piety of a patriarch
Posted on November 22, 2020  - By Leni B

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. Genesis 6:9 

I want to open with a question: how do you want to be remembered? To put it another way, what words would you like people to use when they describe you?

Quite often in Scripture, God chose very specific words to describe His children. Notice, for example, the three terms God used to describe Noah in Genesis 6:9. Three complimentary, encouraging, but also very life-changing words: “…Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.” The three descriptors are righteous, blameless, and walked with God.

These words mean so much more when we realise the culture Noah lived in:

“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. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” Genesis 6:5-8

This passage is telling. It contrasts the way Noah lived to how those around him were living.

With this context in mind, let’s look at each of the words God chose to describe Noah.

A life well lived

The first word is righteous (some translations say “just”). What does this tell us about Noah? God isn’t telling us that Noah was without sin; He was telling us Noah was different. The word ‘righteous’, as used here, means just in character and conduct before God. Noah lived as a faithful follower of God — a righteous life, relative to his generation. In the New Testament, Peter called Noah “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5), implying that Noah had set himself apart from the people of his day. He followed the laws of God and was probably a man of his word.

God isn’t telling us that Noah was without sin; He was telling us Noah was different

The next word God used to describe Noah is blameless. The New King James version uses the word ‘perfect’. Now, we know Noah wasn’t absolutely perfect. Only God is, and Noah had issues — as we all do — and they come to light a few chapters later in Genesis. So, it is clear that ‘blameless’ does not imply that Noah was perfect. It’s telling us that Noah stood out as a man of integrity and character among his generation. He was an unusually humble and dependable person who did as God instructed, despite what was going on around him and the pressures that might have been on him.

Finally, God described Noah as one who walked with Him. What does it mean that Noah walked with God? Enoch, Noah’s great-grandfather, also walked with God. God distinguished the way Enoch and Noah lived their lives, and when we see a distinction like this, we really have to pay attention. God saw something different in the way those men lived their lives. In Noah, God saw a different heart, and different conduct, and the paths Noah chose aligned with God’s heart and God’s ways. What made Noah’s life so different is he didn’t just live it; he walked it out with God.

Think about when you walk with a friend. What does that look like? When I walk with my friend, we use that time to really talk. We share what’s on our hearts. She truly listens; she asks questions; she invites a deeper conversation. We share what burdens our hearts and what brings us joy. It’s the most precious one-on-one time, because there aren’t interruptions — no family, no cell phones, no distractions. It’s the best quality time.

And so this passage invites me to ask, “What does my walk with God look like?” When I walk with Him, does it resemble walking with a friend? Or does it feel like I’m walking with a judge who’s waiting to bring the gavel down on me? Does it feel like I’m walking with someone who has much more important things to worry about than my little problems, and so I just remain quiet? For many of us, sadly, walking with God is not all-important.

What made Noah’s life so different is he didn’t just live it; he walked it out with God

The lonely road

Child of God, we want the words that God used to describe Noah to describe us — to reflect that we have a deep and abiding relationship with God. We want an intimate walk with God that changes the way we live and love on this earth. And that really could change our little corner of the world — or, depending on our calling, might even change a corner on another side of the world.

Living a righteous, blameless, walking-with-God life can be really hard, even lonely — because sometimes it means we stand alone in our convictions. We speak the truth when no one wants to hear it. Or we turn down the invitation to an event, because we know we won’t feel comfortable with what goes on there. And sometimes we feel left out of a conversation about the latest Netflix binge because it makes us uncomfortable to watch it.

Noah took a lonely stand against the evil and wickedness of his day. He paid the price. People probably thought he was out of his mind. I’m quite sure he didn’t fit in.

But Noah’s life emphasises the power of what it looks like to be the one man — or woman — who willingly stands firm for God in the midst of a godless world. We have a choice. We can be content to continue to live right where we are, living only for ourselves and staying in our comfort zones, or we can choose to walk with God. And sometimes that means stepping outside our comfort zones.

Living a blameless life can be really hard — because sometimes it means we stand alone in our convictions

We can listen and watch for God’s work around us. We can pray to invite God to direct our steps to do His kingdom work. Noah walked with God and listened to God, and the walking and listening led to preaching and working. 

Power to persevere

In Noah’s day, that ark was God’s vessel for salvation. It was the only means by which man could escape God’s judgment and be saved. In the New Testament, we too have this invitation to escape God’s judgment, but the vessel through which we’re saved looks a bit different. It’s not an ark; it’s a Person. And His name is Jesus Christ. 

Jesus says, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink,” (John 7:37). This is an invitation to receive Jesus as our Lord and Saviour — to come to Him, put our faith in Him, abide in Him, and walk with Him for now and all eternity.

When we receive Him and put our trust in Him, Jesus promises in John 7:38, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” So, in Jesus, we have salvation and eternal life, but also this gift of “rivers of living water”. That’s His Holy Spirit (John 7:39). 

The Holy Spirit forever fills us, fully satisfies us, and sustains our souls. Through Him, we have the power to be like Noah, to be men and women who stand firm for God in the midst of a godless world — and those who have the faith and courage to do what we hear God calling us to do, even when it doesn’t look like all that we’ve prayed or what we think it should look like.

Heavenly Father, we thank You for the examples from Scripture that show us what walking with You actually involves. We confess that, many times, we walk the way we want. Forgive us our selfishness, Lord. Help us to be people who stand firmly for You in the midst of this godless and perverse generation. Give us the courage to be obedient to you. May we walk with You, listen to You, and, Lord, help that to lead to preaching and working for You, for Your glory and for Your kingdom. This we pray humbly in the precious name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Leni B

About Leni B

Leni B is a wife and mom to two teenagers, who loves the God of the Bible. Apart from ministering at home, she helps lead a Bible study for a small group of women as they study, and find strength from, God's infallible Word together.



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