How many Christians do you know who grieve because they cannot seem to reach others, especially their relatives? We long for all the world to be saved, but have special grief for those who are closest to us. Paul longed for the salvation of the nation of Israel and expressed it so vividly when he said, “I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart, for I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:3-4).
I got to thinking the other day about how Noah must have felt as he tried to reach the lost. The Bible describes Noah as “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5). God decided 120 years before the actual flood that He would send it (Gen. 6:3). We do not know when Noah began preaching, but we often think of him preaching during that entire period. It is possible that he had been preaching long before this as he saw the wickedness of his world.
Now here’s a thought. How many uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers, sisters and other relatives did he have? Since people lived for hundreds of years, they likely would have had far more children than we often think they did. Josephus was a Jewish historian of the first century and he gives insight into what was commonly believed by the Jews of his day. “The number of Adam’s children, as says the old tradition, was thirty-three sons and twenty-three daughters.” While noting that these numbers are uninspired, they certainly change our perception of the ancient world. Consider the second generation after Adam and then how many people there would be in each succeeding generation. Noah was ten generations after the creation. Pause and think of how many ungodly relatives he had, but that did not change his attempts to teach them.
As he sought to teach them, they all rejected him. Jesus described Noah’s world when He said, “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” (Matt. 24:37-38). They did not know! They could have, for their own relative was trying to teach them.
So the next time you get frustrated about the fact that those you love so much are not receptive to love you are showing toward them, think about Noah, the preacher of righteousness. Even his own grandfather, Methuselah, died the year of the flood.
We are called to teach others. This is our mission and we must not lose sight of His commission to us. The fact that people are not receptive does not change our responsibility. There is another judgment day coming! Think about Noah!