THE POWER OF ONE RIGHTEOUS AND OBEDIENT HUMAN BEING
The prophet Ezekiel who received his visions and prophetic oracles in Babylon during the first great exile of Israel from their land,u recorded this utterance from God in chapter 14:13-14 of his book:
“Son of man, when the land sins against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out my hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it:
“Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, says the Lord God.”
Think of this: God did not include Moses in this list, nor Abraham. God included from the Torah only Noah. And from the ancient time of the pre-patriarchal period just after the flood, God included Job. And from the time of the prophets, during the time of the great assembly under Ezra the priest, God included only Daniel. As a result, we gain the divine perspective of this man Noah—he was one of the great patriarchs of humanity. Genesis 6:9 introduces us to him with these remarkable words:
“Noah was a righteous man, perfect in his generations; Noah walked with God.” Just as the Torah says of Enoch, that he “walked with God,” so it says of Noah—”he was righteous—he walked with God.”
Noah is the man who bridged the ancient world and the present world. During his early lifetime people lived to almost a thousand years due to the very protective environment that existed, one that was so fecund and healthful that it was able to support the dinosaurs; but also, after the Great Flood which Noah and his family alone survived, Noah’s family alone from all the violent people of his early years, Noah passed through to the world that emerged out of the seismic upheaval of nature that was the world-wide Flood. The dinosaurs perished, masses of animals and fauna perished. To this day, mountain tops around the globe contain fossils that perished during the upheaving cataclysm. What came through in the ark that God commanded Noah to build, and which took him a hundred years to accomplish with the assistance of his three sons Shem, Ham and Japheth, was a seed of renewed biological life for planet earth in an environment so disrupted that it was no longer recognizable to him as the habit of his first half-millennium.
Every ancient culture of the world records a story of the survival of humanity through a great water catastrophe by means of a man in a boat. The Gilgamesh epic is the most famous of the non-biblical traditions. Modernists who wish to thrust God out of their consciousness minimize this fact thinking that by ignoring the ancient memory of humanity they can clear the way for a slow evolutionary explanation for earth’s broken topography. But the Grand Canyon of Arizona in the United States was not carved out over millions of years by the slender Colorado river—it was produced by a massive water and ice upheaval of gargantuan proportions—the kind produced by the Great Flood of Genesis 6-9.
God took Enoch out of the coming Flood event by way of a catching away from the world; God took Noah through the Flood event by way of a protected escape—the ark. In both cases, men who walked with God were preserved from the general calamity that came upon evil people of whom the bible says in Genesis 6:5,
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
We live in a time very much like this description. If it were not for the righteous remnant of God’s people among the nations of mankind there would be no restraint from the judgment that must fall upon societies wholly given over to sin.
[2 Thessalonians 2:7-8, with context]
But in the midst of that ancient world was a single man whom God considered to be righteous. And God spoke to him. And he heard God’s voice. And he obeyed God’s instruction to build a massive boat even in a time when there had been no water event that would justify such a structure on dry land. Amazingly, when Noah finished the ark, seven days before the flood came God sovereignly moved the animal pairs that would replenish the world to migrate to the prepared ark: they entered, and God shut the door. Then the flood came and overwhelmed all breathing life on the earth.
Years ago, paleontologists discovered a massive mammoth in the ice cap of the north pole. I saw a picture of it in my first semester geology class textbook during my undergraduate years at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. This “prehistoric” beast was flash frozen as it grazed on tundra that then existed in what is now the ice cap of the northern hemisphere. The mammoth still had grain in its belly. Only an event like the Great Flood could have caused the atmospheric collapse that made a mass of water fall like stones from the sky and that therefore froze by the time it reached the grazing precursor to the elephant. He was instantly frozen stiff while standing erect and eating.
How did Noah survive? By being in the ark as the seas rolled and rolled and the heavens rained and rained. The ark is said to have been perfectly constructed to float unsinkable on a turbulent ocean. God gave Noah the dimensions for such a boat. There had never been a like vessel built before.
What about the repopulation of earth? From Noah’s three sons humanity expanded once more into what eventually became the 70 primary nations of the current world. That table of nations is recorded at the end of this parashah in chapter ten of Genesis. It is extremely important that we realize that God prepared the nation of Israel to be a light of the truth of God unto these peoples. During the fall feast of Tabernacles, called in Hebrew “sukkot,” there were seventy bulls sacrificed on the altar of God. This number corresponds to the seventy nations of humanity. In Zechariah the bible foretells that after the next major judgment on humanity as a whole (detailed in the book of Revelation beginning at chapter 6 and detailed again in Ezekiel 38-39 at the end of the Millennium concerning the final great war against the people of God) those peoples that survive the horrors of the divine wrath will be required to go up to Jerusalem during the fall feast of Tabernacles. In verses 16-17 of Zechariah 14 the scripture says,
“And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of Tabernacles.
“And it shall be, that whoever will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.”
One might ask: “How important can one godly man or woman be?” One person can be God’s instrument to save the world.
What can God do with you when you surrender your life wholly to him and learn to hear his voice and train your heart to obey Him?