At the time of the flood, why was Noah’s family preserved? Is there any evidence that they were righteous?
We are not told that any were righteous except Noah himself. “Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God””(Gen. 6:9 also Gen. 7:1). It appears that all others of the time were exceedingly wicked. “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5, 12).
Why then, might Noah’s sons, wife and sons’ wives been preserved? Perhaps some of them were righteous, we are not told. But there are other reasons why God might have seen fit to preserve them.
- God knew they would be the progenitors of people who would seek and serve Him. Looking into the future God could see people He wanted: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Elijah, Jeremiah, and many more. All these were descendents of Shem, Noah’s son. In fact, the entire Israelite people came through that line and among them were many faithful servants of God. Had Noah’s sons died in the flood, this race would not have been.
- Even though Noah’s family may not have been righteous, they were willing to go into the ark. This showed a measure of faith—more than could be said of the thousands who heard the message of father Noah, yet refused to believe.
- The Bible tells us that Noah built an ark “for the saving of his household” (Heb. 11:7, RSV)—this is said as a tribute to Noah’s faith and obedience. Perhaps it was because God saw that Noah needed companionship, and they were the ones chosen.
- There are other instances in the Bible that reflect God is willing to tolerate wicked men and women for the preservation of only a few righteous ones. Although they couldn’t be found, He would have spared Sodom and Gomorrah if but ten righteous lived there. This very day God is tolerating the wicked for the sake of the righteous. Just as He waited in the time of Noah “while the ark was being prepared,” God is withholding judgment so all who would serve Him are given adequate time and opportunity. (1 Pet. 3:20). God’s mercy is truly great!
Whatever the reason, we can trust God knows what He is doing. What looks incomprehensible to us is within close range for the Almighty to whom “a thousand years are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (Ps. 90:4).