By Jeri Young
SCRIPTURE READING: Hebrews 11:7 “ By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with Godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. The story of Noah and the flood is in Genesis, chapters 6-9 In Genesis 6:9, we read: “Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations, Noah walked with God.” We will be moving frequently between the Genesis story of Noah and Noah in Hebrews 11.
In the first few chapters of Hebrews, the writer establishes the deity of Christ and Christ as the long awaited Messiah. In Chapter 11, the writer first tells what faith is, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen,” and then gives as examples the testimonies of these three great men of faith. He starts with Abel, the first martyr for his faith that we read about. God testified in scripture that because of his faith, Abel’s gifts were “a more excellent sacrifice.” ....and that through his death and his gifts, Abel still speaks to us today.
Then scriptures testify that both Enoch and Noah “walked with God.” We see a contrast between the lives of Enoch and Noah. Enoch was taken away and spared from the evil to come. He didn’t have to witness how evil the world would become. Isaiah 57:1 says, “The righteous perish, and no man takes it to heart; merciful men are taken away, while no one considers that the righteous is taken away spared from evil. He (the righteous person taken) shall enter into peace...” God “took” Enoch or snatched him away. We get our word “rapture” from the Latin translation of both the Greek and Hebrew words for “caught up” or “snatched away.” The Latin root word is “rapio,” or depending on the tense, “rapturo.” “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up (raptured) together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (1Thessalonians 4:17)
Hebrews 11 tells us that both Enoch and Noah “pleased God” because they walked with God meaning they both had complete unwavering faith in God.
In contrast to Enoch, Noah is a picture of Israel. Noah was (as will be the Jews who become Messianic Jews in the seven year tribulation) the Lord’s witness during and through the evil days before the end of mankind. Noah lived through the wicked days of his time faithfully enduring to the end when all the earth was flooded. In Noah, we see the righteous in the end times who will engage in the conflict and courageously, by faith, live among a horrifically wicked world....but then just as God shut Noah and his family safely in, so will God do the same for the believing Jews who live through the tribulation. There will also be Gentile believers who commit their lives to the Lord after the rapture and refuse to take the mark and bow down and worship the Beast. Those who survive the seven year tribulation will also go into the new Millennium where Christ will reign. God called Noah and his family to come into the ark and then God shut the door and sealed it to ensure their safety. God spared this righteous man and his family. They passed from the old life into what would be the new life.
So FIRST, let’s look at Noah’s faith. Faith is Noah’s FIRST PRINCIPLE. As in the previous verses with Abel and Enoch, Hebrews 11:7 starts out with “By faith, Noah....” In all three of these righteous men, faith was their bedrock or foundation....their first principle of living life.
I just want to say here that I will in places be quoting from a sermon given by Charles Spurgeon. In preparing this study, I looked at five different commentaries and I found this one to be the most thorough. I was really blessed when I found it.
In everything written about Noah in scripture, we will always see that faith was his STARTING POINT.
First, we see that Noah believed in God in his ordinary every day life because we read that he was“a just man, and perfect in his generations.” BEFORE the great test came and BEFORE he heard the amazing prophesy that God revealed to him, Noah believed in God and lived a Godly life. We know that he did because in Genesis 6, we also read that“Noah walked with God” and Noah “found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”
I like Charles Spurgeon because he can be blunt and put you on the spot which is exactly what he did in this sermon. In his sermon after talking about Noah’s faith in “everyday life,” he paused because he wanted his audience to be in the right frame of mind so he prefaced the rest of his sermon with several rhetorical questions: “Do you have faith? Do you believe in the Son of God? Are you RESTING in the promises of a faithful God? Do you have faith in God for your daily bread? Do you believe that He will watch over your children? Do you believe that He will watch over you at work and in what happens to you at your job? Do you have faith in the providence of God? Do you believe God answers prayers? Is it your habit to turn all of your concerns, even the smallest ones, over to God? Then came the convicting question: If you don’t trust God with the small things, where will your faith be when the flood gates break open? Spurgeon continued on.... Faith must constantly live in you not only as a sometime guest. Faith is not just for Sunday. It is for every day because who knows what might happen the other six days of the week or even tomorrow. Even if you’re in a room by yourself seemingly without temptation, you need to have faith right there. He then gave this example : Look at what happened to David who scripture says “had a heart for God.” By himself in his chamber is when David’s greatest temptation took place.....when he looked on Bathsheba and succumbed to his temptation.
We all love to believe in the good promises of God. The promise of Heaven....the promise of the rapture or catching away.....the promise that He lives in us and loves us beyond our wildest imagination but we must also believe in His warnings. How many of us just shuffle the warnings aside. We would really rather not think about those. I know I would rather not think about them. However, think about this...when we have a good friend and know and trust that friend, we believe that person when they tell us something, whether it’s good or bad. We have faith in that person’s word and their honesty. True faith is believing in all of God’s word....both the blessings and the warnings whether we understand them or not. “By faith, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, Noah prepared the ark.”
Noah believed what seemed impossible to understand. He didn’t live near the ocean. He had never seen rainfall because the water that generously gave life to people, animals and plants came from the underground fountains and moisture was kept in the atmosphere by the firmament that God placed over the earth as a protection. Noah knew none of this. Noah just believed God. Noah believed God when God said He was going to destroy all of the earth except for him and his family and the animals. Noah believed both the promise of God and the warning of God.
Spurgeon says, “The faith which believes in the probable is anyone’s faith: publicans and sinners can so believe. The faith that believes something barely possible is a little better; but that faith which cares nothing for probability or possibility, but rests alone in the Word of the Lord, is the faith of God’s elect. God deserves such faith, “for with God all things are possible. ” Noah believed firmly and therefore prepared his ship on dry land. It is often our goal to become an example of being a ‘great believer’ even over that of being a great thinker...but really, our goal should be to have a ‘ child-like ’ faith.”
At times you and I are tested as to our faith in the Bible, the Word of God, by people who say, “How can you believe that? How can you reconcile Noah’s ark ‘story’ with science? ...or “how can you believe Jonah was in the belly of a whale (really a big fish) for three days?” We hear that a lot today, don’t we. “BELIEVE THE SCIENCE!” they say. Something I actually read in the Tribune a few years ago gave a surprisingly great answer. I even wrote it down to save it. “Science is NEVER settled. Today’s indisputable truths are tomorrow’s ignorance and superstition, especially when profit driven research is concerned.” Who knew I would use it for a Women’s Bible study five years later! Maybe that is why God put it on my heart to remember it by writing it down and saving it. I love how God does stuff like that.
Science is constantly being thrown in our face. Yet, whenever a discovery from the Bible is made proving something is true, it never disproves the Bible or proves the Bible was in error. The discoveries by “scientists” always prove God’s word to be true, i.e., flat earth v. round earth....the currents of the sea are explained exactly as they happen in Psalms 8. These are just two examples but there are hundreds more.
We also want to note that Noah preached alone. Even though Methuselah lived during the time that Noah was building the ark and died within one year of the flood, scripture doesn’t tell us that Methuselah was prophesying also. Methuselah was VERY old when God told Noah to start building an ark. So Noah was alone in his testimony and his warning to mankind. Yes, his family was there but nowhere in scripture does it mention the strength of his family’s faith. I’m certain that they believed but not like the faith of Noah.
Noah’s Endurance: We are incredibly blessed here in the United States (at least for now). While the world is turning more and more to Godless ways, we still enjoy fellowship with other believers and for that I’m eternally grateful. But what if you were alone.....totally alone.....doing something seemingly ridiculous to those around you. What if you were constantly being mocked and ridiculed? How long would you last? We pray for someone for a couple of months, a year, five years or maybe even 20 years and we wither when we don’t see results. Noah, alone in his faith, took this abuse for the better part of 120 years! He preached and I’m sure sometimes begged those he may have loved but they would have no part in his God. But God knew who would believe in Him and who would reject Him.
Remember Abraham in Genesis 18 .....his pleading with the theophany of Christ as He was about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham questioned Him if he would destroy those two cities if even 50 men were found righteous and the Lord said He would not but there were not even 50 righteous men; then Abraham kept dropping the number from 50 to 45 to 40..then to 30 and then 20 and finally to 10. The Lord patiently agreed each time to spare the cities if only that number of people could be found. But there were none except Lot and his family. The Lord saved Lot and his wife and daughters but Sodom and Gomorrah were completely destroyed. It was the same in Noah’s day....none were righteous because they had all rejected God. God knew their hearts. Sadly even though the angel warned Lot’s wife to not look back, she did and was turned into a pillar of salt.
So Noah preached for 120 years without a single convert. When the Lord finally called Noah into the ark with his family and the animals, most likely the rest of the world shouted, “Good riddance!” ....and continued to laugh at him and and scorn him.
When God separates you from the world and you feel alone for a time, it is always to come closer to Him. “That separation which Noah took upon himself so willingly was involved with his salvation for if he had lived with the world, he would have died with the world. Only in separation is salvation. “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Cor 6, 17,18 NKJ) Faith in the Lord Almighty was Noah’s foundation for living his life.
So unwavering faith came first. Secondly, fear was Noah’s moving force. In Hebrews 11:7 we read: “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not yet seen, moved with fear.” Faith moulded Noah but fear moved him. Today at the phrase “fear of God,” unbelievers will say, “Where is your God of love?” ...or quote “Perfect love cast out fear.” Unbelievers often quote bits of scripture to us, don’t they? But Noah was not afraid of God. He knew the character of God. He knew he had favor with God. He walked with God daily and talked to Him throughout the day. When he had trouble solving a problem, the answer would come to him and he knew it was from God. Day by day God provided Noah with the knowledge and provisions for everything he needed to build this huge ark. I don’t think he laid out a pile of lumber for Noah but he opened doors to where he could get what he needed. God would have arranged for divine appointments for Noah for buying, selling and trading whatever he needed to get the ark completed. God never tells us to do something that He knows is impossible for us to do.
Noah was also completely aware of the evil around him but he also rested and had peace because he had no doubts whatsoever about the power, the character and the holiness of God. He believed in his soul that what God warned him of was going to happen and therefore he was obedient. Noah, the preacher of righteousness, had a holy fear of judgment. Knowing the character of God, he knew God was also a just God. He had a holy awe of God and a solemn dread of the judgment described by God that was soon to fall on a wretched sinful world. But he didn’t live in fear because he knew God and he had hope and faith in God’s promise to him that if he built the ark, he and his family would be saved.
How many of us would have complete peace if we knew, without any doubt, our entire family would be saved? Many of us have prodigal sons and daughters. I rest and stand on God’s promise in Proverbs 22:6 “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” God forbid, they may have to go through the tribulation but I think one way or another we will see them in Heaven. We all hope and pray that they return to their faith before the rapture. Don’t despair and never give up praying for them.
Third was Noah’s obedience . Faith and fear together led Noah to do as God commanded him. The Greek word for fear can also be translated “as with reverence, standing in awe of.” When fear, reverence and awe are grafted upon faith, it brings forth good fruit.
Noah must have been a very humble man as well. Why do I say that? Notice that scripture says that Noah did “according to all that God commanded him to do.” He built the ark EXACTLY as he was told. He didn’t say, “Gee, it seems like oak wood might be better than gopher wood....maybe it’s easier to cut or just the thought of the dimensions of the ark that God gave him. He didn’t say, “can’t we make it smaller,” or “do we have to take ALL of the animals?” It must have been initially overwhelming yet he was completely obedient. You can’t be fully obedient if pride gets in the way. How often when God puts on our heart to do something we really would rather not do....how often without actually saying the words, do we think...”there’s got to be a better way...or surely there’s a different or better person to do this,” as if we know better than God or think that our plan would be better? Noah was not only obedient on the outside with his work....he was obedient in his heart towards God. If we grumble at God’s calling but do it anyway, that’s not pleasing to God. There has to be obedience of the heart as well for it to be pleasing to the Lord. Remember man looks on the outside but God searches and knows our heart.
Noah obeyed the Lord carefully. God said to him,“Make an ark,” so, Noah did exactly that.“Thus, Noah did according to ALL that God commanded him, so he did.” The wordALL is the operative word in that sentence . There was careful, thoughtful preparation. Noah prepared not only the correct materials for building the ark but the exact materials God asked for; he prepared the different parts so as to fit together exactly. He prepared his mind and then he prepared his work. He wanted to please God to the very best of his ability. He wanted to please God in ALL that he did.
In walking with the Lord, there must be prayer, determination, thought, care, and attention. Faith must work with all of these to produce obedience to the will of the Lord. Humans are never right by accident, nor obedient to the Lord by chance; preparation of the heart is needed...and this the Holy Spirit will abundantly supply to us by simply asking. Even just the sincere asking is pleasing to the Lord.
I wonder about how each of us plan for our eternal life. We get so caught up in the busyness of every day life. Yet we have this amazing home....literally paradise beyond our imagination, that we’re going to. Why then are we not more eager to prepare for this amazing destination? Yes, we have every day life that needs to be tended to but eternity in paradise is literally THE TRIP of our lifetime and it will last forever. If we were to be given a trip around the world and we knew it was coming up in the near future....and let’s say the trip was to be partially by air...partially by cruise ship....partially by car visiting multiple countries and cultures, it would be on our minds every day. We would probably wake several times in the middle of the night mentally going down our list to make sure we were ready. We would be foolish to wait until the weekend before the trip and then think, “Oh, I guess I had better get ready!” We would never do that. This goes back to faith. Do we really believe that our going home could be at any moment...whether it’s by the rapture or the Lord calls us home through death. What does scripture tell us? ALWAYS BE READY!
What were the COSTS just to build the ark? Have we ever thought about that? I didn’t until I did this study. The ark was 450’ long, 75’ wide and 45’ tall. So it was a football field and a half long. An average story in a residential building is 10’ tall. So if you picture laying a building on it’s side, the ark was 45 1/2 STORIES long (almost half the vertical length of the Empire State Building); it was 7 1/2 STORIES wide and 4 1/2 STORIES tall !! Just to build an enormous ark like that must have cost Noah a fortune for supplies and labor. Probably every cent he had went into building the ark. From the world view when it came to investments, Noah was, as the saying goes, “putting all of his eggs in the same basket.” It was probably difficult to get workers or helpers even if he paid them well.... it probably wasn’t cheap labor because no one would have wanted to be associated with working for a crazy old man building a huge boat. They probably would have been mocked just for working for Noah.
But then, maybe....just maybe there might have been a few good or kind people who at first tried to help him even though they thought he was - at best - an incredibly foolish man. While they were nice to Noah’s face and even helped him occasionally, they probably gossiped with neighbors and friends talking about what a fool he was behind his back. They didn’t have the law or scripture so how did they even know right from wrong back then? Do you ever have unbelievers ask you that? How could God destroy all of mankind if people didn’t even know Him? Make no mistake God gives us all a conscience and has since the beginning of time when He created Adam and Eve. Remember Adam and Eve’s guilt after they ate of the fruit of the forbidden tree in the garden. They were so ashamed that they hid from God (as if anyone could actually hide from God). On the Sunday before His crucifixion when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and people laid palm branches and clothing on the ground before Him calling out Messiah, the Pharisees told Him to stop the people from calling Him the Messiah. Jesus replied, “If I stop them, “even the rocks will cry out.” ....and Paul wrote in Romans 1:20, “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” So while Noah listened to God, the rest of the world refused to even consider there was a God and if there was a God, they did not want any part of Him because they were incredibly wicked.
We too live in an incredibly wicked world today...and God is revealing the wickedness to us more and more each day. Yet, we too have good people today that we have shared the gospel with. They may even be faithful friends...maybe even family....they volunteer in their community....they are respectable....they’re cheerful....have a good attitude... don’t swear or drink. They really try to live good lives but they continue to tell you, “religion just isn’t for me....maybe good for you but not for me.” They say, “If there is an after life, I’ve lived a good life....I work hard, pay my bills, try to help others and I raise my kids to be good people. I’ll be OK... I don’t need religion.” ....sadly they have mistaken religion (works) with faith and relationship. They just won’t believe that faith in Jesus is the only way to Heaven. Oh, how we weep for these “good” people who reject Christ.
Noah obediently followed each command as he received it from God. You have to admire his going into the ark without question....all the animals, birds and insects. We don’t read about him complaining to let him out. No, he patiently waits upon the Lord....trusting the Lord. Noah and his family were inside the ark for 378 days! But what about when God told Noah to come out. I wonder if Noah had just even a hint of wariness when God told him it was time to come out of the ark. I’m sure they they were eager to come out but they were also fully cognizant of the devastation that took place as the earth began to flood. You know they had to hear the wails and probably people beating on the side of the ark to let them in as the water kept rising. But Noah came out without question and the FIRST thing he did was build an altar to the Lord and by doing so he was showing that he was at home with the Lord whether he was on the ark or in this new world.
Now to the final point......what were the RESULTS of Noah’s faith journey? 120 years of preaching and no converts! 120 years and no evidence of a LOT of water coming from some where or anywhere. 120 years of warning people that God was about to destroy them and NO ONE believing him. Can you hear the jeers? Can you imagine if a man started building something like that even today in a vacant parcel of land in downtown San Francisco while preaching about God? Today every Mainstream Media talk show host would be repeating over and over 24 hours a day what a fool he was. Sadly, today there probably would have been multiple attempts to burn it down and even kill Noah and his family. Yes, we live in very wicked times. Jesus told us in Matthew 24:37 that the final days just before His return, the “ days would be just as it was in the days of Noah.”
Yes, undoubtedly Noah was jeered at and mercilessly ridiculed but Noah knew what he was doing and Who’s command he was following and he would not be silenced. All Noah did was simply repeat the warning and go on about with his ship-building. God’s time was coming....the storm was gathering....and before long the deluge would silence those who ridiculed him.
So what did come of it....what were the results? If, after 120 years of preaching, there were no souls saved outside of his own family....what was the result of all of his labor? HE WAS SAVED AND SO WAS HIS FAMILY! There is no greater joy for us than to know that our children walk in truth with the Lord leading their lives. Spurgeon writes...(and I’m going to paraphrase here) ....”But what if you have faithfully walked with the Lord and raised your children to know Him but when they become adults, they refuse to walk with the Lord....or what if even your spouse is an unbeliever?” Nevertheless, Spurgeon said ...”YOU be faithful to your God and to the souls of men. HOLD TO THE TRUTH even if you stand completely alone. Even if your worst foes live in your own house, YOU hold on, and never doubt. Do not compromise even one or two steps down from holiness and being set apart in order to be more easily accepted into an ungodly world. BELIEVE in the power of the ever blessed Gospel. That is the one business of your life and I believe that if you have faith in the Lord as to your family, your loved ones will one day make a full commitment to the Lord” Remember the Philippian jailer, to whom Paul said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved...AND THY HOUSE.” Do not rest content with half of the promise. Grasp firmly the words, “AND THY HOUSE.” Pray unceasingly.
The next result was, that “he, Noah, condemned the world.” Hebrews 11:7 states, “by which he condemned the world.” Even during the worst of the jeering, Noah’s faith, simply shown by his perseverance in continuing on day after day for 120 years, also convicted and then finally condemned the world. We read no where of Noah arguing with the men of his time nor did he wish for them to die. He simply believed and always kept to the truth. The Lord made Noah peacefully bear witness against a sinful world for 120 years. That is God’s long suffering. Could God have opened doors to help Noah get the ark built quicker or even just miraculously provided the ark already made and ready? Yes, absolutely. But God’s long suffering gave mankind an additional 120 years to turn from their wicked ways and worship the Lord.
Because the amazingly long lives of each of these antediluvian elders overlapped each other, the story of Adam and Eve, their fall and God casting them out of the garden was still well known to those living while Noah built the ark.....just like the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Jonah, David, etc., and even the life of Christ and His crucifixion in the Bible are also well known today. The people of Noah’s day simply chose to reject God; but God, in His mercy, IS ALWAYS long suffering. God said in Ezekiel 18:23, “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live.” God gave the people in Noah’s day an extra 120 years to repent of their wickedness. The reason Noah’s life condemned the world was because “he walked with the One whom the people had come to DESPISE.” The fact that Noah carried out his principles in full and invested all that he had in the building of this huge ark should have forced their hearts to be convicted and it would have if their hearts had not been so hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. As God sealed Noah and his family in to the ark, along with all of the animals, those who constantly ridiculed him probably continued to laugh and jeer at him even as they saw the door to the ark close....but then the fountains of the deep opened and it began to rain and the water kept rising and the laughter turned to concern, then to fear, then panic and then to death. Oh how the sight of the ark must have condemned them. And as those who could climbed the mountains to escape the rising water and watched the ark float, how they must have been convicted but it was too late.
We, as Christians, are called to be watchmen on the wall for the LORD. Scripture says in Ezekiel 33 that if the watchman sees a battle coming and warns the people and they fail to take the warning, then the watchman is without guilt and the deaths of the people are upon their own head...but if the watchman sees the battle coming and fails or refuses to warn the people and the people die, then the watchman will be held responsible for the deaths of all of the people. Let us all be faithful and fearful watchmen as Noah was. Let us be open to God’s calling upon each one of our hearts to share the good news of the Gospel of Christ. Acts 17:26 says: “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.” God has a reason for us to be right here, right now. God chose us for this time.
Finally, the last thing that Noah earned by his faith was this: he became heir of the righteousness of God which is by FAITH. For God said of Noah in Genesis 7:1 as He called him into the ark, “b ecause I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. ” God declared Noah righteous, not because of his works, (although his works were action powered by his faith), God declared Noah righteous because of his FAITH. Noah believed God and found grace in the eyes of the Lord. He received the righteousness from God which God gives us today through His son Jesus Christ to all who believe. Wrapped in this beautiful robe of righteousness, Noah stood before the Lord, justified and approved. By faith Noah was adopted and became a son and heir. He became “heir of the righteousness which comes (only) by faith” when others were condemned .
Noah was one faithful man against millions, but though he stood faithfully alone, WITH GOD, he was the majority.
“If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)