There had been a progressive degeneration of the human family after the expulsion of Adam from Eden. From Cain onward mankind had abandoned the fear of God, so that by the time of Noah conditions among men were appalling. "The wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen 6.5). Further, "The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth" (Gen 6.11-12). According to our Lords estimate of the situation men were so indifferent to the warning voice of the preacher of righteousness: "For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe (Noah) entered into the ark" (Mt 24.38).
It was in conditions like those that Noah lived, and, before God, was righteous; and it was from a world ripened for judgment that he went into the ark. God called him and he went in. His righteousness was rewarded by evident divine protection and by a closer intimacy with God and His purpose. So is it ever with the righteous.
Consider, now, the character of the man who went in.
1. He was a righteous man, "a just man" (6.9). He maintained a right attitude towards God, and acted in a commendable way towards those of his generation.
2. He was not only just or righteous, he was also perfect (6.9). The word for "perfect" means upright in character. His righteousness was not hypocritical, it was genuine. There was no pretence in his manner of living.
3. He walked with God (6.9). The statement means that he lived in harmony with the will of God and enjoyed the friendship and fellowship of the One he tried to please.
4. His obedience was implicit and complete. He acted "according to all that God commanded him" (6.22).
5. He found grace in the eyes of the Lord (6.8). The divine favour was bestowed upon him, otherwise he would not have possessed such a character as he had.
There is a patent lesson for us in this record. Noah stood alone, and this would have affected his wife, his sons, and their wives. It has always been difficult to walk with God in the midst of rampant sinfulness. Yet it is possible to be good even though we have to stand alone. It is possible to be right with God, even amidst surrounding iniquity. God is the same to-day as he was to Noah, and if only we are willing to fulfil the conditions we too shall walk with God and please Him.
Account is taken of the very day on which Noah entered the ark. "In the six hundredth year of Noahs life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month in the selfsame day entered Noah into the ark" (7.11-13): that was both a memorable and a solemn occasion. Noah knew that Gods presence was inside, for He had said, "Come into the ark". Eight persons were shut in with God, and, while the Flood prevailed and destroyed all that were without, they were safe. According to careful calculations by others, Noah and his family lived in the ark for three hundred and sixty-five days, a complete solar year. No record of the manner in which they passed their time has been given, but this we are told, that "God remembered Noah" (8.1).
As the Flood receded, Noah made experiment with the raven and the dove, and concluded when the dove did not return on the third excursion that "the face of the ground was dry" (8.13). "And God spake unto Noah, saying, Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons wives with thee" (8.15-16). The eight who went in came out.
Look at the man who came out. His first act was an expression of worship and gratitude. He built an altar and offered up burnt offerings which were well-pleasing to God. So should it ever be in recognition of divine deliverance from judgment. God blessed Noah and entered into covenant with him, giving promise that He would never again visit the earth with a similar kind of judgment. The bow in the sky was to be the everlasting token that God would keep His word. Today, in a society of increasing evil we can, likewise, rest on His faithfulness; what He says He will fulfil.