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And these are the generations of Noe. Noe was a just man; being perfect in his generation, Noe was well-pleasing to God. And Noe begot three sons, Sem, Cham, Japheth. But the earth was corrupted before God, and the earth was filled with iniquity. And the Lord God saw the earth, and it was corrupted; because all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth. And the Lord God said to Noe, A period of all men is come before me; because the earth has been filled with iniquity by them, and, behold, I destroy them and the earth. Make therefore for thyself an ark of square timber; thou shalt make the ark in compartments, and thou shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And thus shalt thou make the ark; three hundred cubits the length of the ark, and fifty cubits the breadth, and thirty cubits the height of it. Thou shalt narrow the ark in making it, and in a cubit above thou shalt finish it, and the door of the ark thou shalt make on the side; with lower, second, and third stories thou shalt make it. And behold I bring a flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven, and whatsoever things are upon the earth shall die. And I will establish my covenant with thee, and thou shalt enter into the ark, and thy sons and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee. And of all cattle and of all reptiles and of all wild beasts, even of all flesh, thou shalt bring by pairs of all, into the ark, that thou mayest feed them with thyself: male and female they shall be. Of all winged birds after their kind, and of all cattle after their kind, and of all reptiles creeping upon the earth after their kind, pairs of all shall come in to thee, male and female to be fed with thee. And thou shalt take to thyself of all kinds of food which ye eat, and thou shalt gather them to thyself, and it shall be for thee and them to eat. And Noe did all things whatever the Lord God commanded him, so did he. – Genesis 6:9-22
“…Noe was well pleasing to God (6:9).” Why? Because “…Noe did all things whatever the Lord God commanded him, so did he (6:22).”
Noah and his family survived the Great Flood and laid the foundation for the whole future of the human race, because one person did “…whatsoever the Lord God commanded him…” Noah, by obeying God, preserved an earthly future for the entire race of man. His obedience foreshadows the perfect obedience of the New Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who bestowed an eternal future upon our race by His obedience unto death upon the Cross.
It is fashionable today to say that Orthodoxy is only about a kind of “cool” mysticism and visions and “hesychasm” and miracles and so forth, and that insisting on obedience to the Ten Commandments and the moral precepts of the Church is some kind of a “fundamentalist” hang-up. People can believe this if they want (and people do tend to believe whatever offers the path of least resistance to their passions), but this approach will certainly lead them into both delusion and immorality. Without struggling first to practice the ABC’s of a moral life based on the plainly revealed requirements of the Faith, a Christian never attains genuine higher spiritual experience. Whatever exalted experiences the deluded person does enjoy are impermanent, illusory, and elusive. He refuses the boring obedience to plain commandments, the hard-won security of building his house on the rock of Christ’s words, and prefers to wander about a spiritual Disneyland hall of mirrors until a certain monster from the labyrinth comes out and devours him.
It is fashionable today to say that Orthodoxy is just one (maybe the best, but still just one) among many “traditional religions,” and that “many ways lead to God.” To believe in the exclusive claims of the Church is just more “fundamentalism.” “I just cannot believe,” says the “tolerant” nominal Orthodox, “that Orthodoxy is the only way to salvation.”
This is your problem, my friend: you cannot believe.You refuse the obedience of Faith. Noah, by contrast, obeyed God. This one person, exercising the obedience of Faith, saved the human race. He believed that everyone except his family was going to drown, because God told him so.
Be like him.
This commentary was taken from The Eternal Sacrifice: The Genesis Readings for Great Lent by Fr. Steven Allen. You can order a copy from Lulu at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/FrStevenAllen