I don’t know about you, but I’ve always kind of had the impression that Noah’s motivation and message was that of fear. He lived by fear. He preached a message of fear. He was a “fire and brimstone” kind of guy. After all, the world needed to be warned about the impending doom and destruction that was coming in the flood. There was no time for “warm fuzzies.” There was no “Gospel” mixed in with his message—and those of us who are living in these latter days are to take a page out of his book as we proclaim that last-day message of warning.
But let’s get things straight: the book of Hebrews tells us that Noah lived by faith. “By faith,” the author writes, “Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear [as opposed to just plain, old fear], prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Hebrews 11:7). Thus, his experience was not one of fear but of faith.
Hebrews, of course, is simply echoing what Genesis already tells us. “Noah was a just man,” we are told, “perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). But here’s the kicker that came the verse before: “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (v. 8). God looked down upon Noah with eyes filled with grace and love—and it was only because of this that Noah was able to accomplish anything.
But there’s more. Peter informs us that Noah was a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). Noah didn’t preach doom and gloom and fire and brimstone. His message was one of warning, yes, but in that warning he lifted up the beautiful Gospel of God’s saving grace and righteousness—and could point to his big boat as evidence that God was eager to save humankind.
Lastly, Noah’s very name itself was a message of grace and mercy to the world. Every time his name was uttered from someone’s lips, it was a reminder to that person that God had so much more in store for the world than constant violence, turmoil, and strife. What does his name mean? It means “rest.”
And isn’t Noah’s message the same exact message we are to live and proclaim today? “As it was in the days of Noah,” Jesus declared, “so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:37). Make no mistake about it, friends: we have a message of warning. The world does need to be warned. But in that very warning is a message of grace, and righteousness, and, yes, rest.