Noach (Noah / Rest)
Genesis 6:9–11:32; Isaiah 66:1–24; Luke 1:5–80
“This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.” (Genesis 6:9)
Last week in Parasha Bereisheet, we read that Adam and Chava (Eve) were exiled from the Garden of Eden because of sin. They became fruitful and multiplied, as God intended, but the wickedness of mankind also increased upon the earth.
This week’s Torah portion specifically identifies that by the time of Noah, the earth was filled with violence (hamas).
God decided to cleanse the world from that hamas by sending a Great Flood upon the earth that would destroy every living thing He had created.
“So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence [hamas] because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.’” (Genesis 6:13)
Noah Means Rest
“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.” (Hebrews 11:7)
Although the world was filled with injustice, cruelty and violence, God found one man worth saving. Noach (Noah) was in his generation the only ish tzadik (righteous man).
In Hebrew, the name Noach means rest or consolation. It is related to the word for comfort.
“His father called him Noach believing that he would bring him rest from hard labor over the ground that was cursed because of sin.” (Genesis 5:29)
Perhaps his father also foresaw a greater calling of Noach to bring rest.
Because Noach was a righteous man, God instructed him to build the ark to save himself, his family, and the world’s animals from the coming deluge. In that way, those who followed Noah into the ark found rest from God’s judgment.
When his family left the ark, they entered what was essentially a new world.
The Obedience of Faith
Though Noach likely could not even imagine a flood so severe that everything and everyone on earth would be destroyed, he obeyed God.
Year after year, he labored in the sun, following through on God’s instructions.
He did not need to see evidence of the coming rain; he had faith in God.
“It was Noah’s great faith that led him to work obediently with Godly fear to build an ark for the saving of his family.” (Hebrews 11:7)
It must be noted, however, that Noah’s Ark (Tevat Noach) guaranteed only their physical salvation, not their spiritual destiny.
The ark seems to foreshadow the protection of the Israelites through the blood of the lamb on the doorpost in Egypt.
“Like the ark, that blood only guaranteed the physical safety and deliverance from the final plague in Egypt, the death of the firstborn.” (Exodus 12:12)
It also did not guarantee those who survived because of that blood would make it to the Promised Land. Each person determined their own entry into that Land.
Tragically, just as most of the people perished in the flood, the vast majority of the children of Israel also died in the wilderness due to unbelief.
Only two men, Caleb and Joshua, who walked with God wholeheartedly, were given the right to enter the Promised Land.
Unbelief leads to disobedience that robs us of the rest of God.
“And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” (Hebrews 3:18–19)
The faith of Noach is something of a parallel with our own walk with God and entrance to the “New Jerusalem.”
It is by faith that we inherit the promises, not by good deeds, though good deeds and obedience are essential hallmarks of a living faith.
After all, Noach did not establish his faith only with words; he demonstrated it with faithful obedience.
“But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” (James 2:18)
Haftarah Noach: A Glorious Future
The regular Haftarah (prophetic) reading for Noach is Isaiah 54:1–55:5, some communities read 54:1–10.
In this beautiful passage, God confirms that He is Israel’s husband and promises His everlasting kindness and deep compassion toward her.
He compares His reproach to the waters of Noach; in the same way He promised to never bring a flood over the entire earth, He promises never again to rebuke Israel.
Because this week’s Haftarah falls at the new month (Rosh Chodesh), however, an alternative end-time passage is read.
In Isaiah 66:1–66:24, Elohim, the Creator of Heaven and Earth declares that He is searching for people of a contrite heart and humble spirit who will revere His Word.
“These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at My word.” (Isaiah 66:2)
This end-time passage prophesies the miraculous birth of the nation of Israel in a single day!
“Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.” (Isaiah 66:7–8)
This prophecy was fulfilled when Israel became a nation in May 1948.
According to this passage, we should be rejoicing that Jerusalem is once again in Jewish hands:
“Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her.” (Isaiah 66:10)
God has a glorious future planned for the holy city of Jerusalem. We will one day see peace (shalom) and prosperity in this city:
“I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream.” (Isaiah 66:12)
And while this passage looks forward to that day, it will not come before God cleanses the earth of all evil and wickedness, much as in the days of Noah.
“See, the LORD is coming with fire, and His chariots are like a whirlwind; He will bring down his anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For with fire and with His sword the LORD will execute judgment on all people, and many will be those slain by the LORD.” (Isaiah 66:15–16)
As in the Days of Noach
A final judgment and destruction is coming upon the world; but just as was in the days of Noah before the flood, most continue on with life as usual, completely unaware of what is coming.
“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away.” (Matthew 24:36–39)
Those who love God and are faithful to His Word will not be consumed, but will see His glory displayed in the new heavens and the new earth:
“As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before Me, declares the LORD, so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before Me, says the LORD.” (Isaiah 66:22–23)
Today, we live in perilous times, when the nations of the earth are being shaken with terrible floods, fires, hurricanes, tsunamis, famines and earthquakes—one natural disaster after another, as Yeshua prophesied would happen in the last days before His second coming:
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” (Matthew 24:7)
Yeshua has promised to be a safe place of refuge for us; therefore, no matter what trials we may endure, we can rest in His promise of eternal security.
May we emerge from this ark of salvation to see the establishment of the new heavens and the new earth of peace and righteousness and perfect justice under the rule of Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah).
“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 21:36)