But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. 9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:8-9)
Of all the people in the world, God chose Noah to build the ark, gather the animals, and preserve humanity and creation when the flood came.
But why did God choose Noah in the first place? Ask the average pew-sitter, and they will tell you that it was because of all the people in the world, God found Noah to be righteous and good.
But if we really believe that, what does that reveal about our understanding of salvation by grace alone? If only one sin is enough to separate us from God, are we saying that Noah was without sin? Or do we look at him the same way we tend to look at our own neighbors, saying, “Well, I know I’m not perfect, but at least I’m not as big a sinner as Bob next door…”
I think it matters that Genesis 6:8 comes before Genesis 6:9 (I know… DUH. Of course it does). But hear me out: Noah found favor (verse 8). Then Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation (verse 9). The word “favor” is interchangeable with the word grace. In fact, that is how the KJV translates it. It is only after Noah finds favor with God that anything is said about his being righteous.
So if I am following the train of thought from Scripture, it goes like this: First comes God’s favor. Then, the pronouncement of righteousness. And this is the gospel of grace. Noah didn’t do anything to earn God’s favor. Maybe he was better than Bob down the street. But that didn’t make him righteous. Noah was pronounced righteous because he has received God’s favor. Not the other way around.