Did you know that the first use of the word “grace” is found in the Old Testament book of Genesis? We tend to think that “grace” is strictly a New Testament word, but that isn’t true.
In the Christian Standard Bible translation, the word “grace” translates as ‘found favor.’ The Hebrew root word is chanan’el, which means to bend or stoop in kindness towards an inferior. We just call it grace.
Genesis 6:8 says, “Noah found favor with the Lord.” God has always been about grace; but He is also about righteousness and justice. He will not tolerate sin endlessly. Sooner or later, after ample opportunities for repentance, judgement will come.
In Noah’s day, his personal righteousness in a sea of depravity and sin was the reason he benefitted from the favor of God. God gave the people of Noah’s day 120 years to repent because He “saw that human wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every inclination of the human heart was nothing but evil all the time.” (Genesis 6:5) In the middle of this widespread wickedness, Noah was like a candle in the darkness. He behaved differently from everyone else, and his love for God was evident to all. His obedience and rejection of evil caused God to extend grace to Noah and his family. They were all saved from the floodwaters.
Besides building the Ark, what was Noah doing for that 120 years? He continued to live righteously in that cesspool of wickedness. He was verbally ridiculed and insulted on a daily basis, but he continued his ship building, following God’s plan for his life. All around him human hearts were not turned toward God, and the people continued to do all the things that had so displeased God, even right up to the day the rain began to fall and the earth opened up underground waters. Did he preach repentance to them? We have no biblical evidence. After his first warning to them, it is likely that securing the materials and construction of the Ark would have consumed most of his family’s time. As he prepared for what was coming, he continued to live righteously.
In the Old and New Testaments, God has always been about grace. This truth was most beautifully demonstrated in the gift of His only Son, Jesus. (John 3:16-17) That is amazing grace. Paul wrote in Romans 5:8, “God demonstrated His love for us in this way: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” None of are deserving of such a sacrifice. That is true grace.
What’s the inclination of your heart today? Are you full of sin, hard hearted and stubborn like the people in Noah’s day? Isn’t time to turn your heart to the One Who desires to extend grace to you?
Accept His grace while there is still time.
Dr. Zane Brown
Retired Associational Missionary for
Colleton Baptist Association of Churches
Teaching Pastor at Nova Church