Then the LORD said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate, and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate, and seven pairs of the birds of the heavens also, male and female, to keep their offspring alive on the face of all the earth.” (Genesis 7:1-3 ESV)
I often wonder what things were like in the days of Noah. How did God determine who had demonstrated righteousness before the law? I wonder how Enoch received his understanding of the end times when I read the New Testament accounts of Enoch’s preaching (Jude 14). How did Noah know which animals were clean and which were unclean if he did not have the book of Leviticus? Asking these questions may prove to be an exercise in futility. There are no answers as to how these things were known. The point that Scriptures make is that they were known! For that reason, we see the collective verses mentioning the people before Abraham and their knowledge of God’s will as a testimony of God’s justice.
God’s justice is sometimes overlooked as people question his goodness. Many who doubt the gospel would like to portray the God of the Old Testament as a spiteful and unloving contradiction to the God of love found in the New Testament. However, understanding what is actually said about these time periods where judgment is often dispensed helps us see beyond the surface of the immediate event. The flood was not an arbitrary event that God allowed simply to deal with an inconvenience. God had communicated what he considered righteousness (2 Peter 2:5), how he wanted to be worshipped (Genesis 4:4-5), and his desire for people to repent before the flood came (Jude 14-15).
It does not take much to counter the myth of the contradiction between the Old Testament and New Testament view of God. Sometimes we see death in the Old Testament as an immediate sentence to hell. That is not necessarily so, especially when children are caught up in the judgment of their fathers (Numbers 16:27, 31-32). Sometimes we do not understand how God is demonstrating his love and mercy. It was an act of love for God to prophesy concerning the end times to people who were so far removed from his revelation at Mt. Sinai and the cross of Christ. It was an act of love to confront Cain and give him the opportunity to do right. It was an act of love to provide the time and materials for the ark to be constructed and to bring the animals to Noah.
Ultimately, God’s judgment is never executed apart from his love. I hope you find more evidence of this truth as you read through the Old Testament.
With brotherly affection,