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Noah was the builder of the ark. The unknown writer of Hebrews described Noah as a precursor of the kind of faith it would take to follow Christ. Noah’s story was also a foreshadowing of the kind of redemption that God would provide for His people. Noah lived during a time of rapidly escalating depravity.
During this time, according to the author of Genesis, “every inclination” of the human heart had turned evil—much to God’s anguish (see Genesis 6:5– 6). As a “righteous man,” Noah stood in marked contrast from the rest of civilization. Noah’s righteousness was not superficial, yet it consisted of just one thing: Noah “walked with God” ( Genesis 6:9) while the rest of humanity walked in the other direction.
In Genesis, two descriptions of humanity’s wickedness bookend the account of Noah’s righteousness, evoking the impression that God’s lone worshipper was in danger of drowning amid a sea of wickedness. God, however, had other plans—intending to drown humanity’s wickedness in a sea of judgment, sparing only Noah and his family.
The details concerning Noah, the ark he built, and the flood that ensued are well-known. Acting on nothing but faith, Noah built the ark to God’s exact specifications. Twice the writer noted that Noah did “all” or “everything” just as God commanded (Genesis 6:22; 7:5).
As for the ark that Noah built, the Hebrew word is unique, used in Noah’s story and in just one other place: the tale of the baby Moses being placed in a basket so he could escape Pharaoh’s infanticide ( Exodus 2:3). Noah and his ark—and the deliverance it represented for those who follow God—anticipated the story of Moses and Israel’s miraculous deliverance from the Egyptians.
Also, according to the author of Hebrews, Noah’s faith provided a model that all believers should follow in their devotion to Christ. There are other accounts of a catastrophic flood—complete with a Noah-like hero—besides the one found in the Bible. Other examples can be found in ancient Sumerian and Akkadian literature. In the Sumerian story, the hero is named Ziusuddu or Ziusudra. In the famous Epic of Gilgamesh, the flood hero is named Utanapishtim.