Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Biographies of Ancient Man: Noah

By Analea Styles

Lately there has been one biblical name that seems to be on everyone’s lips, showing up all over in news feeds, blogs, and social media platforms. He even has a hashtag! But who is this “Noah” that everyone is talking about? Well he’s Darren Aronofsky’s fantastical cinematic Noah. And he’s the biblical Noah of Genesis. And he’s everyone’s own interpretation of the two.

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An artist's imaginative rendition of Noah and the Ark 
The purpose of this post is not to get into the debate over said recent film. Read our review of Noah if you are interested in our stance. Instead, we would like to introduce you to the Noah the Bible teaches as one of the most intelligent, skilled, and righteous men of the ancient world.

In The Genius of Ancient Man we present the contrast between the evolutionary view of early man and the biblical account. According to the Bible, man did not evolve slowly from brutish beings into more intelligent humans – rather mankind was created brilliant from the beginning (read our post about the most ancient man of all). The biblical record gives us insight into the lives of several ancient men that were truly geniuses in their time! Noah is one fantastic example.

“This one shall give us rest”

The first mention of Noah in the Bible is when Lamech, his father, names him saying, “This one shall give us rest from our work and from the toil our hands arising from the ground which the Lord has cursed” (Gen. 5:29). Noah was marked from his birth as someone special and unique for his generation. His father was evidently growing weary of the toil and keenly aware that much of their hardship came from the curse God had placed on the ground. Somehow he knew that Noah would bring some relief to the world.

A Man of Righteousness

The character of Noah stands out in bright contrast to the rest of mankind living in his pre-flood world. Genesis 6 says that the people were continually wicked and evil. But Noah “found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8). Noah was “a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God” (Gen. 6:9) whereas the rest of the earth was “corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence” (Gen. 6:11).

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A scene of Noah and his family worshipping God after the flood,
from the Noah exhibit of the Creation Museum

Whereas all of mankind was rebelling against God and living in disobedience, Noah demonstrated his righteousness in his obedience to God’s commands: “Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did” (Gen. 6:22).

The New Testament also remarks on Noah’s character and faith:
  • Peter calls Noah a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5)
  • The author of Hebrews says Noah was a man of faith who had a reverent fear of God and became an heir of righteousness (Hebrews 11:7)

The faith and righteousness of Noah makes him stand out in his time because morality is seen as a characteristic of an advanced nature. According to the evolutionary theory, “morality begins with biology, and specifically with the instincts we have evolved over eons to aid in our survival and reproduction.”[1] But God instilled mankind with a conscience and the ability to reason and make decisions (for example, Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and knew immediately that they had done wrong, so they hid themselves and proceeded to shift the blame to others when confronted).

The term “righteous” used to describe Noah means “just” and “lawful” and indicates moral or ethical significance.[2] Noah knew God’s laws and he chose to follow them rather than join the culture of wickedness around him. This shows incredible strength of character. It would have been mentally and emotionally demanding to live “blamelessly” in a world intoxicated by sin!

The Shipbuilder

Because the Bible doesn’t give us specific details about Noah, much of what we imagine about him is speculation. But we have to remember that when God came to Noah, over 1,500 years had passed since creation. The world was not a primitive place but rather filled with people, cities, and more technology than we usually give the ancient people credit for! We know from Genesis 4:16-22 that people built cities, made tents, raised livestock, worked metal, and created and played instruments! These were very accomplished people! 

And Noah found favor with God. When God decided to bring judgment upon the wicked corrupt world and to “destroy all flesh” (Gen. 6:17), He chose, by His grace, to save a remnant of both animals and mankind. And Noah was commanded to build an Ark to bring them through the waters of the flood.

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An artist's rendition of the Ark (Answers in Genesis) 
The building of this ark was no small chore! The ship that God instructed Noah to build was MASSIVE and would require more than just your average shipbuilding skills.

We do not know for sure how many instructions God gave to Noah pertaining to the building of the Ark. The Bible records a few scant details including dimensions and some materials but the crucial plans are not recorded. God may have given Noah specific instructions or perhaps Noah was capable of designing the ark on his own. By the time he received the commands, he was almost 500 years old – enough time to have acquired a huge amount of knowledge. He also had approximately 120 years in which to construct the Ark and therefore he had plenty of time to research and study. (This timeframe comes from Gen. 6:3, in which God says man would have 120 years, likely referring to the coming judgment of the flood.)

Either way, Noah’s genius and the miracle of God’s grace and provision work together to create an amazing conclusion – the Ark was built perfectly and brought Noah’s family and the animals with them through the catastrophe safely. Just think! He only had ONE chance to get the Ark right, there could be no mistakes!

More than just a builder

Building the ark would have taken more than just shipbuilding skills though. This massive project would have required immense planning and organization. Some have speculated that Noah, after living such a long life, was very wealthy and could have hired laborers to help him as well. Such a project would indeed require immense wealth and therefore Noah could have been a very financially adept man as well.

Furthermore, God expected Noah to provide for all the animals on the ark as well. Noah needed to know about the different kinds of animals, what food they ate, how much, etc. He had to know how to store food properly and to ration it out. Of course, God may also have provided this information in more detail than the Bible records but it was still up to Noah to prepare for it all and see it through.

Thinking about all that Noah had to do, it is not surprising God would give him 120 years to see it accomplished! We cannot help but be impressed by his work. This was one intelligent and extraordinary man!

Saved by Grace

But he was just a man; one chosen out of his generation because of his righteousness, and rescued by the grace of God from judgment. God gave the people 120 years to repent, 120 years of seeing the Ark in progress, a reminder of coming judgment; 120 years to seek salvation. There was only one way to be saved from the coming flood – through that door on the ark. One door.

Today God is waiting for the world to turn from their wickedness. He has provided the door: Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and our only way to God (John 14:6). Our world is not so different from those ancient pre-flood days just as Jesus said: “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah…they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away…” (Matt. 24:37, 39).

There is another judgment coming, this time by fire (2 Peter 3:7), the question is, are you on the Ark? Have you accepted the way of salvation? Do not be like those people who did not understand. Do not continually reject God’s way. Do not try to do it on your own. For it was not Noah’s skill or intelligence that saved him, it was his obedience to God – he got on that Ark! 

Will you accept God’s grace for you today?

Suggested reading for more about Noah and the Ark:

[1] Boeree, C. George. The Evolution of Morality. 2005. . Accessed April 4, 2014.
[2] Baker, Warren. Carpenter, Eugene. AMG’s Annotated Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary of the Old Testament. 2003. AMG Publishers.


  1. Another great article from the Ancient Man team! :) I love speculating about the pre-Flood world. The Bible tells us next to nothing about the period (certainly God's more interested in people than their creative contributions to society) and yet the first few chapters of Genesis cover a little over 1,600 years of history. That's staggering!

    Just a small correction in regards to this blog post: Lamech has a son and names him Noah in Genesis 5:28-29 not Genesis 6:5.

    Keep living for the Kingdom!

    1. It truly is intriguing to speculate, always remembering that we are indeed just speculating! I'm sure it must have been a fascinating time and many times I wish we could know more about it. But God's Word is sufficient! :)

      And thanks for that correction!