“Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 14:14).
When the prophet Ezekiel wanted to cite the examples of the three most righteous men in all human history, he chose two from remote antiquity and one from his own generation. All three have been regarded by modern liberals as mythical heroes who never actually lived, but Ezekiel certainly had better information about such matters then than such critics do now, 2500 years later.
In any case, he certainly chose wisely, for he was undoubtedly led by the Holy Spirit. “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). As far as Job was concerned, the Lord twice said of him: “There is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” (Job 1:8; 2:3). Daniel was three times called “a man greatly beloved” by an angel sent directly to him by God to answer his prayers (Daniel 9:23; 10:11,17).
But another man was yet to come who was even greater, “filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). Of this man, Jesus said: “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11).
Yet even these most godly men in history were not sinless, and all therefore eventually died. Noah later became drunk (Genesis 9:20,21); Job confessed, when he saw God: “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6); Daniel was “confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel” (Daniel 9:20); John later doubted Jesus (Luke 7:20,23). They could thus not even “deliver their own souls by their righteousness.” Christ must die for their sins as well as ours, and they, like we, had to be saved by grace through faith. HMM