Noah, who was six hundred years of age when the flood came, had seen great decline in his society. He was a preacher of righteousness who warned his listeners of the judgement to come. The account in Genesis does not mention any converts, although there may have been some during his long years of service. But we can imagine him repeatedly coming home after preaching and lamenting the lack of response from his listeners.
Noah was commanded by God to build a means of refuge (the ark) for use during the flood that was about to come. He may have taken years to build it, yet his determination to obey God did not influence others for good. Yet he persevered because he understood the gracious ways of God and his plans for the future.
The worldwide flood is a vivid reminder of the judgement of God. Of course, he executed patience towards the nations. He put up with a society that was sinning its way into judgement until the time for judgement came and it was too late for them. What did Noah feel, and what did God feel, when the door of the ark was shut (7:18)?
The story of the Flood reminds us that God is able to judge a whole society simultaneously. Whatever had been their individual reactions to Noah’s preaching – probably ranging from indifference to hostility – they discovered that his message was not one of idle threats. Although the Lord has promised not to judge the earth again by a flood, he can still exercise judgment in a widespread and frightening manner.
The story of Noah’s ark and the Flood initially may seem irrelevant to us. Yet such a response is a big mistake. We have to imitate Noah and point to the Refuge (Jesus) as our society departs further away from God. After all, God has promised to bless our message to a degree that was not promised to Noah. Difficult times are not occasions for silence about God. Decline in the spiritual and moral outlooks of those around us should make us as determined as Noah to witness for the Lord.