The Rest of the Story
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Years ago, Paul Harvey, a famous U.S. radio commentator, ended his talks with the words, "And now you know the rest of the story." He had just given a side of the news or a personality or historical event that was not well known.
Recently the movie Noah has been in the news. The film has a big-name director, popular leading actors and lots of drama to draw viewers into the theaters. Studios invested millions in hopes that the movie would become a big Hollywood hit.
Reviews have been highly negative in terms of biblical accuracy. Moreover, the biblical story has been grossly distorted with Gnostic and other arcane elements and made into a huge Hollywood melodrama.
Many fictional parts have been added, especially the many scenes with mythical rock creatures (supposedly fallen angels) who actually build the ark (with wood from a miraculously grown instant forest) and save Noah from a small army that tries to capture the ark. Further distorting the story, Noah is portrayed as an angry, tormented and murderous man, in complete contradiction of the Bible's description of him as a righteous and godly person.
Perhaps the only redeeming value of the movie would be if people are motivated to read the Bible for themselves, recognize actual parallels between Noah's and today's age, wake up from their spiritual lethargy and turn to God.
As the latest fad, the movie Noah will come and go. But more important is this question: What does the story of the real Noah have to do with us? Surprisingly, it can teach us a great deal. Let's look at seven little-known facts about Noah that can change our lives for good!
1. Noah "walked with God."
What does the Bible mean when it says that Noah "walked with God" (Genesis 6:19)? In fact, we find several righteous men mentioned in the Bible who "walked with God." The first one listed was Enoch (Genesis 5:22). Later, Abraham and Isaac are described the same way (Genesis 48:15).
Later still, David is described as having walked with God, and we're given additional information about what this actually means. The Bible records David's son Solomon saying to God, "You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You" (1 Kings 3:6, emphasis added throughout).
Lastly, we have the parents of John the Baptist, Zacharias and Elizabeth, who "were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless" (Luke 1:6).
So "walking with God" means having a daily, lifelong relationship with God, obeying His commandments and following His way of life.
Regrettably, the movie Noah doesn't mention at all that Noah had an intimate and lifelong relationship with God. In the movie he only has vague clues about what the Creator wants. Yet this is one of the key points of the story about Noah and why God spared him and his family from the Flood.
So the first lesson we can learn is this: Are we walking with God? His commandments are still there to be kept, and they can establish, along with His grace that Noah received (Genesis 6:8), a lifelong relationship with God that will bring many blessings for several generations to those who love Him (Exodus 20:6).
2. Noah preached God's way of life.
Another fact about Noah that many don't realize is that he was a preacher of righteousness.
The Bible tells us that God "did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly" (2 Peter 2:4).
What is the biblical definition of righteousness? It is given in Psalms 119:172, the psalmist here praying to God, "For all Your commandments are righteousness."
Noah was not some silent bystander while his society morally crumbled around him. Instead, he faithfully proclaimed God's way of life. But sadly, no one heeded his words and warnings. Eventually things worsened to the point where "the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5).
Just as a rotten apple will rot the entire barrel of apples, so society had corrupted itself to the point no healthy apples were left—except for Noah and his family.
Sadly, society today is reverting back to the kind of immoral conditions that existed in Noah's day, just as Jesus Christ foretold would happen (Matthew 24:37).
The lesson to learn is this: Are we listening to Noah's successors today? God's messengers—true ministers of Christ—teach and proclaim the need for biblical righteousness as Noah did. They declare God's message to keep all of God's commandments, to learn how to properly live in God's grace, and to spiritually prepare for the coming Kingdom of God.
3. Noah was in his middle years when the Flood came.
Most movies about Noah show him as an old man preparing the ark, but the Bible doesn't describe him in that way. Indeed, Noah lived for 350 years after the Flood (Genesis 9:28).
People lived much longer before the Flood, and Noah lived to the age of 950 years (Genesis 9:29). Actually, he was in early mid-life when he built the ark, and still had a third of his life ahead of him.
So one of the few things the movie Noah did get somewhat right was depicting him as a strong, vigorous man and not an old, doddering man.
The lesson to learn here is to carefully check out what we read or see with what the Bible actually says. As Paul said, "Test all things; hold fast what is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
4. Noah kept God's calendar and Sabbath.
Another little-known fact about Noah is that he kept God's Sabbath and the biblical calendar. Remember, the Bible says he "walked" according to God's laws and ways.
We read in Genesis 2:3 that God established the Sabbath for Adam and Eve right after He created them, setting up the weekly cycle of seven days, with the seventh being the day of rest. There were also months and years to keep track of according to the moon and sun.
As we're told in Genesis 1:14: "Then God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, for days and years'" (English Standard Version). The word translated "seasons" here means "appointed times"—used in Leviticus 23 for God's festivals. Thus some Bible versions translate it this way in Genesis 1:14—for example, "sacred times" in the New International Version and "religious festivals" in God's Word Translation.
We see in the book of Genesis (and throughout the rest of the Bible) that the faithful people of God followed the seven-day week, which had been revealed since the time of Adam and Eve.
Notice what is said about Noah in Genesis 8:10-13: "And he waited yet another seven days, and again he sent the dove out from the ark. Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth; and Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth. So he waited yet another seven days and sent out the dove, which did not return again to him anymore.
"And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, that the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and indeed the surface of the ground was dry."
The Keil and Delitzch Commentary on the Old Testament notes on the Genesis 8 passage, "The seven days constituted the week established at the creation, and God had already conformed to it in arranging their entrance into the ark (Genesis 7:4, Genesis 7:10)."
This passage also clearly shows that Noah understood years, months, weeks and days, and carefully kept track of time while he and his family were shut up in the ark.
The lesson to learn here is: Are we keeping God's Sabbath from week to week as Noah surely did? (To learn more, read our free Bible study aids Sunset to Sunset: God's Sabbath Rest and God's Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind.)
5. Noah followed the biblical food laws.
Here is another surprising discovery—that Noah kept the biblical food laws. Actually, the idea that there was only one pair of animals of every species in the ark is false. As we will see in the Bible, the animals were first divided into "clean" and "unclean" creatures, and there were seven pairs of clean animals but only one pair of unclean animals that entered the ark.
You can read it for yourself: "Then the Lord said to Noah, 'Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before Me in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and its mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and its mate; and seven pairs of the birds of the air also, male and female, to keep their kind alive on the face of all the earth" (Genesis 7:2-3, New Revised Standard Version).
Many Bible translations recognize that the original Hebrew wording refers to seven pairs of "clean" animals—i.e., those fit for human consumption as designed by God—and only one pair of "unclean" animals—those God designated as not fit for human beings to eat. Why the difference in numbers?
It's likely that Noah and his family would need a large enough number just after the Flood to breed, raise and eat—and to make sacrifices with. Also, clean animals are typical prey for predators—so the higher number of clean animals would ensure the survival of both. Regardless, it's obvious that Noah knew which animals were clean and unclean, and he knew better than to eat the unclean animals, since only one pair was needed to keep those species alive.
The lesson to learn here is: Are you willing to follow Noah's example and keep the biblical food laws? In fact, throughout the Bible you cannot find any example of any man or woman of God who ate animals God designated as unclean. (To learn more, see the free Bible study aid What Does the Bible Teach About Clean and Unclean Meats?)
6. Noah and his family were a tiny minority obeying God in the midst of an evil society.
As history shows, sometimes the majority is wrong. This was certainly the case in Noah's day. Of all those who followed their different religions, only Noah and his family were right.
It would have been easy for them to become discouraged. After all, the only true "church" at the time consisted of those in Noah's household. And thanks to Noah's faith and righteousness, we are alive today—for we are all Noah's descendants through his three sons and daughters-in-law.
As Hebrews 11 so aptly notes, "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith" (Hebrews 11:6-7).
The lesson to learn is: Are we looking for God's true Church, a minority who are diligently striving to obey God in a world that is drifting ever farther from Him? You will have to find the Church through its teachings, which conform to God's Word.
7. Noah left us an example for the end time.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly for us, we live in a society that is rapidly becoming very similar to Noah's in two fundamental ways.
First, Noah's day was filled with abject violence and an increasing disregard for human life. As Scripture says: "The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence . . . And God said to Noah, 'The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth'" (Genesis 6:11-13).
Hardly any place on earth is now safe from violence. We lock our doors and realize the respect and security that was commonplace a generation or two ago is no longer there. Around the world, jails are overfilled with the vast numbers of criminals. Making matters worse, to make room for newly convicted lawbreakers, many felons are let out to again roam the streets.
Crime is rampant, and with the increase of drug trafficking, more lives are endangered than ever. Nations are bristling with weapons, and we have already had two world wars in the past century. No one wants to consider what World War III will look like, considering the sophisticated weapons of mass destruction that more nations are rapidly acquiring.
Jesus Christ prophesied there would be a parallel between Noah's day and the end time. He said, "And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all . . . Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed" (Luke 17:26-30).
Jesus was talking here about life as usual with no expectation of destruction and not directly about people living wayward lives. Of course, the waywardness must also be parallel or there would be no unexpected divine judgment.
Our times are indeed like Noah's day in that both are characterized by rampant immorality. "God looked at the world and saw that it was evil, for the people were all living evil lives" (Genesis 6:12, Good News Bible).
This was the second characteristic of Noah's day that would also manifest itself before Christ returns to the earth.
The apostle Paul elaborated on what that evil society would look like at the time of the end: "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power" (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
Doesn't this sound like today's society? The evidence is undeniable. Our families are bombarded with violence and immorality through the media and the Internet. Marriages are breaking up more than ever—that is, if couples decide to marry in the first place. People are obsessed with self and care little about God or what He thinks!
Granted, it is not quite so bad as in Noah's day, when God decided to wipe out the whole world except for eight people. But people of Noah's day lived many hundreds of years so that their evil became worse and worse over that time. Our shorter lives of today provide a check on that evil. Furthermore, the Bible has had a positive though limited impact on human society over the centuries. Still, the world has nevertheless become extremely vile and defiant of God—parallel to Noah's day in many respects.
So what can we do about it?
Jesus Christ tells us: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:33-36).
What He is telling us here is that we should be like Noah—not letting ourselves follow the wrong crowd and live sinful lives. Rather, we should "walk with God," establishing an enriching relationship with Him by being obedient and submissive to His will and fellowshipping with likeminded people.
We should also help proclaim God's true way of life, based on His commandments and our faith in Jesus (Revelation 14:12). We should be watching what is taking place in the world and society around us so we will not be caught napping when God decides to directly intervene in world affairs, which could be quite soon.
And like Noah, we should not be discouraged at being a small minority in the midst of an increasingly degenerate world. Believe me, just like in Noah's day, God will also save those who faithfully walk with Him.
So now you have heard "the rest of the story" about Noah and the lessons we can learn from Him and the momentous events of his life. The question to ponder is: What will you do about it?