Q&A: How could drunken Noah be a preacher of righteousness?

How could drunken Noah be a preacher of righteousness?

Question

How could Noah be a preacher of righteousness (2 Pet. 2:5) when he was a drunk (Gen. 9:20-21)?

Answer

Noah was a preacher (i.e., herald, official messenger) of righteousness (2 Pet. 2:5). In 1 Peter 3:19-20 Noah is referred to because the message of repentance and faith was preached in the power of the Spirit of Christ by Noah.

In addition, Noah was faithful (cf. Heb. 11:7). He literally followed the Master Architect’s plan and built the ark (cf. Gen. 6:14-16), which took numerous years. Every strike of Noah’s hammer was a strike of faith. Each and every piece of gopher wood placed was heralding the gospel to a depraved generation. Even the application of tar declared the message of Christ. (Please see “Why did the Ark require pitch?” below.)

Noah was over 500 years old when he finished the ark (cf. Gen. 5:32) and 600 years old "when the flood of waters came upon the earth" (Gen. 7:6, 11). God blessed Noah. By faith he and his family survived the flood. At 601 years of age "the water had dried up from the earth. So Noah removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry" (Gen. 8:32).

Noah lived faithfully for many years, but several years after the flood waters receded, he planted a vineyard and became drunk (Gen. 9:20-21). Yes, drunkenness is a sin (Gal. 5:21) and sin makes one unrighteous before God (cf. 1 John 3:4; 5:17). But we should also remember we’re actually born in unrighteousness (cf. Gen. 8:21; Psa. 14:2-3; 51:5; Eph. 2:3).

Noah wasn’t considered righteous because of the way he lived his own life. Even though he lived long before Christ, Noah’s righteousness rested in the work of Christ alone. As Paul states, “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Cor. 5:21; cf. Rom. 1:17; 3:21-22, 25; 4:25; 1 Cor. 1:30; Phil. 3:9, et.al.).

God uses imperfect men and women to spread the gospel of his goodness. Paul was a murderer and Peter denied Christ three times. And yet these men spread this gospel by the Spirit of a Christ like Noah did. Even an ass, which can’t be righteous, was used by God (Num. 22:21-38). God used the adulterer David and a lost man like Judas (Mark 3:14; John 17:12). He uses creation itself — “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psa. 19:1; cf. Rom. 1:19-20).

The righteous message of Christ may be spread by a number of means. Preachers are just sinners communicating with other sinners, mere dying men preaching to other dying men.

Related Topics

Why did the Ark require pitch?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).