“Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating…too often fathers neglect it because they get so caught up in making a living they forget to make a life.” John Wooden – former coach of the UCLA Bruins Men’s Basketball Championship team
So why go to all this effort to look at somewhat obscure passages and so many passages in the Old Testament when we could just go straight to the New Testament to passages which directly speak to how to father our children? My answer would be a thought the Holy Spirit gave me a while back – “The higher the calling, the greater need for truth to support it.” There are few callings higher than the call to father our children. Therefore we fathers need as much truth as we can obtain and as we can handle to fulfill our calling. In saying that, I want to make clear that I’m not saying we need to go out and read every book ever written about parenting. Our quest for truth needs to be Holy Spirit directed. He knows how much we can handle and absorb and heed.
With that in mind, I want to ask you a question about Noah. How in the world did this 500 year old man father his three sons in such a way that they were willing to build a massive ark with him that took somewhere between 100 and 120 years to complete – all the while knowing:
- there had never been a massive flood on the earth and rains very likely were minimal until this great flood
- the people in their region were scorning and mocking them and reminding them of these things
- They had never seen a boat or ship anywhere near this size
- Animals don’t normally walk right up to such a ship in pairs
- Feeding themselves and all these animals for approximately 370 days was going to be a gargantuan task
- They could join their friends and neighbors in “eating, drinking and being merry” and not have to work so hard and endure so much scorn and ridicule and “enjoy life”.
Well again as with Adam, Seth and Enoch, we are not told how Noah fathered. Rather we are told what kind of man Noah was. As I speak to this I would remind you that the evil and wickedness in the world at that time was perhaps the worst it has ever been in human history. All the more remarkable that Noah lived the life that he lived in that day and time.
In contrast to the widespread depravity of man in those days (see Genesis 6:3-7), “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” (Gen. 6:8). As God watched Noah’s actions and listened to his thoughts and assessed the motives of his heart God was pleased with what He saw and heard. In the next verse (vs. 9) we are told, “….Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.” Noah’s righteousness of course was not self derived. He obtained it by his faith and trust in God. He even made it in the Hebrews Hall of Faith for that reason, “By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” (Hebrews 11:7). Noah’s faith was tested and proved by his obedience to God’s commands out of his reverential fear of Him to build this ark according to God’s specifications as a sign and wonder to the watching world of the coming judgment upon them. Beyond the day in and day out building of the ark, Peter tells us that Noah was a “preacher or herald of righteousness” (II Peter 2:5), presumably first to his family and then to those around him. He didn’t just rely on his works or lifestyle or character to shine as a light in the world, but he was God’s spokesman to a lost and blind world.
How did Noah parent those boys of his? Well first he walked with God. Every day Noah looked to God, listened to God, obeyed God, and to some degree enjoyed God. He knew from his relationship with God and the revelation about life that comes from that that the partying going on around him never delivered. It was all emptiness and vanity. It never fully truly satisfied the souls of men and women. Noah on the other hand daily experienced the fulfillment and satisfaction that comes from knowing and walking with and obeying the living God of the Universe.
His sons got to observe their father day in and day out living a holy and devout life in the midst of a perverted and debauched generation. They surely knew other fathers in their community and the contrast was obvious. Their father was a principled man, which meant he did not live to please man and was not reactive to contemporary culture. Out of his daily relationship with God he knew what kind of man God was calling him to be and what kind of work God was calling him to do. That’s all he needed. His inner core was solid and no amount of peer pressure could cause him to veer from it. That kind of character was very rare in his day, and was attractive to his sons. Perhaps when Noah worshipped God they sensed His presence among them and they knew the peace and calming and healing that came from that could not be found anywhere else.
Noah was not perfect. Neither were his sons. Both Noah and his son Ham proved that after the flood when Noah got drunk, and Ham in a very dishonoring way told his brothers about his father’s drunkenness and resulting nakedness (see Gen. 9:20—27). But Noah and his wife and his sons and their wives pulled off something over a long period of time that preserved humanity and kept it from extinction. They showed us what a family can accomplish when the said family has a Dad who walks with God, and hates sin, and pursues righteousness, and listens to and heeds the voice of God.
Oh God, raise up principled men who will walk with You and do Your will regardless of what anyone else around them is doing or saying, and show us how to lead and love our families to follow Noah’s and our example in Jesus’s name. Amen!