Noah condemns the world by his faith in God’s Word. God tells Noah to build an ark, to gather two of every kind of fauna, to put his family into the ark, and to wait while the world drowns via non-stop rain for forty days and forty nights. When Noah obeys God, he condemns the world — the world which does not believe and obey. “The waters surge upon the earth 150 days.” (Genesis 7:24) And, “[God] wipes out every living thing that is on the surface of the ground, from mankind to livestock, to creatures that crawl, to the birds of the sky, and they are wiped off the face of the earth. Only Noah is left, and those that are with him in the ark.” (Genesis 7:23) For over ten months, Noah waits in the ark for God to release him and those with him. Forty days after the tops of the mountains are finally visible, Noah sends out a dove who returns. The second dove he sends out returns with an olive leaf; the third dove does not return at all. Noah waits a few months longer before God tells him to exit the ark with those saved through Noah’s obedience to God’s Word.
The world drowns in God’s rain; and by his faith, Noah condemns the world.
I’m not completely sure I understand why it is that the faith Noah has condemns the world except that his faith leads him to obey God in spite of the world’s derision. That Noah does not stand on a pedestal and shout, ‘repent for the end of the world is at hand!’ is revealing. Rather than striving to save the world from its destruction, Noah strives to do God’s will, continuing to build the ark in preparation for the flood he has been told is coming upon the whole world. Noah regards God as more important than his neighbors and friends, building the ark even as the world goes about its business of ignoring God.
By his faith, Noah saves himself and his family.
Like the ark saves the eight people from the drowning of the world, so baptism with water saves us “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” The water of baptism does not wash us of physical dirt, says Peter, but is “the pledge of a good conscience toward God.”
Jesus promises us a “good conscience toward God” — and this is not a condition which we produce under our own power. Rather, this peace with God is His gift to us in conjunction with the gift of His Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit comes to us once Jesus is resurrected from the grave. As Jesus goes to sit “at God’s right hand with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him,” the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us, God’s own children. (1 Peter 3: 22)
Our baptism is a statement — through the washing of water, Jesus promises we are saved. We are become new creations, created in Him for God the Father. We are bought at a price; and are worth more than we can imagine to God. After all, we cost Him His Son’s human life. We cost His Son His Father’s presence.
As we emerge from the waters of baptism, we declare to all — ‘I belong to the Lord. My conscience is clean.’
God “leads [us] in paths of righteousness,” says the psalmist. Noah, “in reverent fear constructs an ark for the saving of his household” when he is “warned by God concerning events as yet unseen.” (Hebrews 11: 7) He is led by God into a path which “condemns the world” and causes Noah to “become an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” (Hebrews 11: 7)
God marks the paths we are to travel, asking us to follow Him in faith. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11: 1) Noah believes God, that the flood is coming, that the ark can be built, that he and his family are able to gather representatives of every living thing, that the ark is able to save. Therefore, he acts righteously in this faith. And his faith is based in his trust of God — in the God he knows.
James writes, “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” He firmly presents Abraham as a man who is “justified by his works,” writing: “You see that faith is active along with his works; and faith is completed by his works, and the Scripture is fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believes God, and it is credited to him as righteousness.’ ” (James 2: 22, 23)