This account is found in Genesis 6:5-7:24.
Yes, I believe that there really was a man named Noah. Noah lived in a time where most had forgotten about God. In fact, scripture tells us that "The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." God was not in the thoughts of the people.
Being a just God, there must be judgment and penalty for sin. He can't just look the other way--in the same way that it would be outrageous for a judge in our court system to simply let a convicted serial killer walk free.
In this case, God wiped everyone out--except Noah and his family. For Noah, God promised He would rescue him, if Noah obeyed and did as God said.
"So Noah built an ark...
Noah's neighbors came out to watch...and point...and laugh, because they didn't believe Noah about the boat...or the storm...or needing to be rescued." -Jesus Storybook Bible
So Noah obeyed. God sent the rains and the floods for 40 days. God destroyed those who were disobedient. After the rain stopped, Noah's family was on the ark for over 100 more days (talk about cabin fever) before they found dry land.
The first thing Noah did was build an altar and sacrifice to God for his protection and provision. And the first thing God did was make another promise: He would never again destroy the earth with water. And as a sign of this promise or covenant, God put a rainbow in the sky.
"And there, in the clouds--just where the storm meets the sun--was a beautiful bow made of light.
It was a new beginning in God's world.
It wasn't long before everything went wrong again but God wasn't surprised, he knew this would happen. That's why before the beginning of time, he had another plan--a better plan. A plan not to destroy the world, but to rescue it--a plan not to destroy the world, but to rescue it--a plan to one day send his own Son, the Rescuer." (JSB)
Lord, make me a Noah. Help me to be faithful in a land that despises You and Your ways. Make me righteous and blameless. Help me to walk with You. Help me to lovingly show others their need for a rescuer when it's so easy to think we've got this life figured out. Thank you for staying true to your word and sending us perfect rescuer, a redeemer.