Noah

By Eric Johnson

The entire article on Noah is underlined here, with my commentary throughout. 

Noah was the son of Lamech, the grandson of Methuselah, and the great-grandson of Enoch. The scriptures list him as the 10th patriarch from Adam (see Genesis 5; Moses 6:8–26; 8:5–13). Noah was ordained to the priesthood when he was 10 years old by his grandfather Methuselah (see D&C 107:52).

Even if a person accepts the Doctrine and Covenants to be scripture, the idea that Noah was a priest (at the age of 10 even!) begs the following questions:

  • How could Noah hold the “priesthood” when people were not given the priesthood until Moses and the Levites (Aaron)?
  • Where did Methuselah get this priesthood to be able to give to his grandson? Who gave it to him?
  • How come boys in the Mormon Church don’t get any type of priesthood at the age of 10?

Most Mormons reading these sentences probably won’t think of asking these questions. They are taught to think unconditionally. Nowhere in the Bible is such  an idea taught.

He was a person of integrity and did all that God commanded him (see Genesis 6:9, 22; Moses 8:27).

This part is true, as taught by the Bible.

Noah lived at a time when people thought and did evil continually (see Genesis 6:5, 11), and God called him to be a preacher of righteousness to that wicked generation. When the people rejected his message, God commanded Noah to build an ark, gather animals, and prepare for a flood. Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and their wives were the only people on the whole earth saved from the flood (see Genesis 6:13–22; 7:21-23; Moses 8:16–30). After the flood, God made covenants with Noah (see Genesis 9:8–17). Noah not only served as one of God’s prophets but was also a ministering angel after he died and brought heavenly messages before the birth of Christ and during the Restoration (see Luke 1:19, 26; D&C 128:21).

Generally, Noah is never considered to be a “prophet,” even though Muslims and Mormons alike give him this title. The office of “prophet” really didn’t originate until later, as featured in the four books of Samuel and Kings. Before the time of Moses in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament), the title “prophet” was only given to Abraham (Gen.20:7). During the time of Moses, Aaron is called a prophet in Exodus 7:1. But besides Abraham and Aaron, nobody else—including Noah—is ever referred to as a “prophet.”

As far as Noah being a “ministering angel,” I’ll deal with this later in this review.

Why does God call prophets?

Because He loves us and wants us to know about Him, God calls prophets to make known His will and true character, teach us right from wrong, and warn of the consequences of sin (see Exodus 4:16; 2 Kings 17:13; Luke 1:70). At times, prophets may be inspired to prophesy of future events for our benefit. Their primary responsibility, however, is to bear witness of Christ (see Acts 10:43). Learn more about the purpose of prophets.

There is no problem with this essay’s interpretation for biblical prophets. However, to assume (as the LDS Church does) that there is a living prophet today, who happens to be the president of the Mormon Church, takes a huge leap.

If God is loving, why did He destroy His children by a flood?

God has a plan for our salvation. He created the earth so we could experience a life where we could prove ourselves to Him and prepare for eternal life (see Abraham 3:24–26).

The Book of Abraham is a unique LDS scripture, not accepted by Evangelical Christians. For problems with the Book of Abraham, click here.

God gave us our agency to learn how to choose between good and evil. Because the people in Noah’s day were doing “only evil continually,” the children had no chance to learn good from evil (see Genesis 6:5, 11–12; Moses 8:22, 28–29). Thus, God’s plan went unfulfilled and He determined to start again (see Moses 7:32–38; 8:17). Learn about God’s plan for your salvation.

According to Mormonism, agency supposedly was given in the preexistence, another unique LDS teaching. Because this teaching is not biblical, it is therefore rejected by Evangelical Christians.

What about the salvation of God’s children who died in the flood?

The scriptures teach that God prepared a prison for those people who died in the flood and that Christ suffered for their sins (see Moses 7:38–39). We learn from other scriptures that this prison was a spirit prison and is a temporary place in the spirit world for those who pass away. Learn more about the spirit world.

Moses is another unique LDS scripture. It too is denied as authoritative by Evangelical Christians.

What is the symbolism of Noah and the flood?

God uses symbols to teach gospel truths. In the New Testament, Peter explained that the flood was a “like figure” or symbol of baptism (1 Peter 3:20–21). Just as the earth was immersed in water, so we must be baptized by water and by the Spirit before we can enter the celestial kingdom. Also, Noah himself was a symbol of Christ. It was necessary for any living creature who wished to be saved to come “unto Noah into the ark” (Genesis 7:9, 15). Learn more about ordinances that are necessary for your salvation.

The language used here must be understood in an LDS context. Yes, the flood is a symbol, just as baptism is. First Peter 3:20-21 is not a good verse to use to support the idea that baptism is a requirement for justification from sins. See here for more information.  Mormonism teaches that works are required in order to present oneself worthy before God. Often James 2:20 and 26 are quoted. When these verses are taken in context, however, the Mormon interpretation is shown to be faulty. For more on this topic, click here.

What role did Noah play in the events surrounding the birth of Christ?

Noah was also known as the angel Gabriel and was sent to announce the birth of Jesus Christ (see Luke 1:19, 26; Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 104). He was sent by God to tell Zacharias that he and his wife, Elisabeth, would have a son they should name John. This was John the Baptist, who would prepare the way for the Savior (see Luke 1:5–23). Gabriel also visited Mary and told her that she would be the mother of the Son of God (see Luke 1:26–38). Learn more about the birth and life of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Using Luke 1:19 and 26 as support for Noah being Gabriel the Archangel is ripping this passage out of its context.z Verse 19 says,

And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.

Verse 26 adds:

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

How do these verses show Noah as an angel? Even D&C 128:21, which is listed above and below, provides no clue as to how Noah can be equated to an angelic being. It reads:

And again, the voice of God in the chamber of old Father Whitmer, in Fayette, Seneca county, and at sundry times, and in divers places through all the travels and tribulations of this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! And the voice of Michael, the archangel; the voice of Gabriel, and of Raphael, and of divers angels, from Michael or Adam down to the present time, all declaring their dispensation, their rights, their keys, their honors, their majesty and glory, and the power of their priesthood; giving line upon line, precept upon precept; here a little, and there a little; giving us consolation by holding forth that which is to come, confirming our hope!

Nowhere in this entire section—its preface reads “An epistle from Joseph Smith the Prophet to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, containing further directions on baptism for the dead, dated at Nauvoo, Illinois, September 6, 1842”—is Noah’s name ever mentioned! So with no scripture to support this idea, how can this official essay make such an unbiblical assumption?

So from where does this idea come? Joseph Smith did teach this in Documentary of the Church 3:385-386 and also explained that Adam became Michael the Archangel. Yet was this his personal belief? His ideas were never canonized.

So we have the biblical characters Adam and Noah as well as Moroni, the last living Nephite from the American continent. Moroni came to Joseph Smith to show him the gold plates containing the Book of Mormon. According to BYU professor Robert Millet:

“Latter-day Saints believe that angels are men and women, human beings, sons and daughters of God, personages of the same type as we are. Parley P. Pratt, an early apostle, wrote, ‘Gods, angels and men are all of one species, one race, one great family.’ Elder Bruce R. McConkie, a more recent apostle, wrote, ‘These messengers, agents, angels of the Almighty, are chosen from among his offspring and are themselves pressing forward along the course of progression and salvation, all in their respective spheres.’ In spite of prevailing sentiments in the religious world, as well as in Christian traditions and legends, Joseph Smith taught that angels do not have wings. These beings, Joseph explained, either have lived or will live on this earth at some time in its history. (D&C 130:5.) They do minister to people on earth, sometimes being seen and often unseen. They are subject to the will and power of Jesus Christ” (The Mormon Faith: Understanding Restored Christianity, p. 39).

According to Smith and Millet, angels have either once lived as humans or perhaps will one day live as humans. How does a person become an angel? Little to no information is given.

“Those without eternal marriage may be angels. Now, the angels will be the people who did not go to the temple, who did not have their work done in the temple. And if there are some of us who make no effort to cement these ties, we may be angels for the rest of eternity. But if we do all in our power and seal our wives or husbands to us…then we may become gods and pass by the angels in heaven. (75-39.) Some might say, ‘Well, I’d be satisfied to just become an angel,’ but you would not. One never would be satisfied just to be a ministering angel to wait upon other people when he could be the king himself. (76-59)” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 51. Italics in original).

According to LDS leaders, angels must have been disobedient by not getting married. Tenth President Joseph Fielding Smith explained,

“NO MARRIAGE IN HEAVEN FOR UNRIGHTEOUS. This is the only answer the Lord could have given to these unbelievers. It is in full accord with the revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, wherein the Lord says that, ‘when they [those of “this world” who do not keep the whole law] are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven; which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory. For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.’” (Doctrines of Salvation 2:73.).

Twelfth President Spencer W. Kimball added,

“Those without eternal marriage may be angels. Now, the angels will be the people who did not go to the temple, who did not have their work done in the temple. And if there are some of us who make no effort to cement these ties, we may be angels for the rest of eternity. But if we do all in our power and seal our wives or husbands to us…then we may become gods and pass by the angels in heaven. (75-39.) Some might say, ‘Well, I’d be satisfied to just become an angel,’ but you would not. One never would be satisfied just to be a ministering angel to wait upon other people when he could be the king himself. (76-59)” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 51. Italics in original).

What become even more bizarre is how Joseph Fielding Smith said that Noah was not only Gabriel but also Elias. He wrote Answers to Gospel Questions, 3:138-141:

Then we discover in the revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith in August 1830, that it was Elias who came to Zacharias and announced the birth of John the Baptist. [D&C 27:6-7 is then cited.] This is the same Elias who held the keys of the dispensation of Abraham and who came to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, April 3, 1836, in the Kirtland Temple and restored the keys of Abraham’s dispensation. [D&C 110:12; 128:20-21 are then cited.] From these scriptures we learn that Noah is Gabriel and that he came to the Prophet Joseph Smith in his calling as an Elias and restored the keys of the dispensation in which the Lord made covenant with Abraham and his posterity after him to the latest generations. The term Elias means forerunner. Noah, Elijah, John the Baptist and John the Revelator have been referred to as Elias in scripture, though the references to Elijah by this name are mistranslated. [Smith,Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 340; D&C 77:9, 14.] Summarizing the facts: Joseph Smith revealed that Gabriel was Noah; Luke declared that it was the angel Gabriel who appeared to Zacharias and Mary; and the Lord has declared that Elias appeared to Zacharias and Joseph Smith. Therefore, Elias is Noah.

The logic that Noah = Elias (Elijah) = Gabriel is a far stretch. Even in Mormonism, it is never taught that a human (Noan) can become another human (Elias). How can any of this be justified in light of Mormon theology?

With all of this as a background, the following questions should also be considered:

  • Noah is described as having been married. So why did he have to become Gabriel?
  • If an angel will be in this state, as Smith said, from “all eternity” “and from henceforth are not gods,” then what did Noah and Moroni do wrong in order to lose the possibility of future godhood?
  • If Moroni became an angel because of disobedience, then why do most Latter-day Saints hold him in such a positive light?
  • Where does the Bible ever teach that humans later become angels?

As far as angels not having wings, the Bible contradicts this note, as at least some angels (seraphim and cheribum, as dicussed in Ex. 25:20; Ez. 10; Is. 6). are portrayed with wings.

Just what do we know about Gabriel (as taken from Bible software Logos 5):

  1. Gabriel is mentioned in the Old and New Testaments. He’s known for bearing good news of Jesus’ coming birth, but his first biblical appearance is in Daniel 8:16, when he is told to explain a vision to the prophet.
  2. Gabriel stands in the presence of God.This is how he describes himself to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist (Luke 1:19). The Greek word for “stands” is paristánō, which means to wait before a superior. The Septuagint uses this word to describe how Joshua served Moses and how David assisted King Saul.
  3. Gabriel is one of only two angels explicitly named in the Protestant Bible.The other is Michael, a warrior archangel.
  4. The Bible doesn’t call Gabriel the “archangel.” The Book of Tobit (of Catholic and Orthodox canon) identifies the angels who stand in the presence of God as archangels, and so Gabriel has been called an archangel by tradition.
  5. Gabriel looks like a man (but see #6).The name Gabriel means “man of God” or “strength of God.” The second time Daniel encounters Gabriel (Daniel 9:21), he describes Gabriel as a “man [. . .] seen in the vision previously.” We don’t get any more details on Gabriel’s looks. Perhaps that’s because his messages are always so important.
  6. Gabriel scares people.When Daniel meets Gabriel, he is frightened and falls on his face. When Gabriel greets Zacharias, his first words are, “Do not be afraid.” Mary’s greeting is more celebratory, but Gabriel still follows up by telling her not to fear.
  7. Gabriel anticipates Jesus. Gabriel relays a prophecy concerning “Messiah the Prince” to Daniel. He tells Zacharias that John the Baptist will be a forerunner before the Lord. And most famously, he tells Mary that her son will be called “the Son of the Most High.”

Gabriel and Noah are never linked in any way.

What role did Noah play in the Restoration?

Along with other heavenly beings, Noah appeared as the angel Gabriel to Joseph Smith, “declaring their dispensation, their rights, their keys, their honors, their majesty and glory, and the power of their priesthood” (D&C 128:21). Learn more about the Restoration and Joseph Smith.

Once more, D&C 128:21 never equates Noah with Gabriel. Why should the Latter-day Saint believe this is true?

What are covenants and why does God make them with us?

A covenant is a sacred agreement between God and a person or group of people. God sets specific conditions, and He promises to bless us as we obey those conditions. When we choose not to keep covenants, we cannot receive the blessings, and in some instances we suffer a penalty as a consequence of our disobedience. Learn more about covenants.

To learn more about covenants, click here and here.