HEBREWS 11: HEROES OF THE FAITH
PART 3 – NOAH: FAITH TO OBEY AND STAND APART
Noah is the next character in the heroes of the faith series as mentioned in Hebrews 11. We’ve looked so far at Abel and Enoch. Abel taught us about the first step – how to be accepted by God. Enoch taught us about the next step and that is walking with God. Noah… well he is a different story. Noah was given one big do-it-yourself construction assignment and speaks to us about persistence in what God calls us to and standing apart from this world.
By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith (Hebrews 11: 7)
WHO IS THIS MAN?
What do you think about when someone mentions Noah? It goes without saying that it is a big boat, a lot of water, and months of non-stop mooing, barking and clucking.
Noah? Really! I mean…isn’t he just the main character in a children’s story?
How well we all know that story. The only man of God on a world that had become selfish and corrupt – where everyone did as they pleased. And we are told that God had had enough of the evil that was in the world He had created, and so warned Noah that He was going to literally wash all the wrong away and start afresh through him and his family. So, Noah, in obedience to God, built an “ark” that was big enough to hold representatives of all the animals in the world. The rains came down and the floods came up and God destroyed all that was on the earth and then, sealed with the sign of the rainbow that He would not do this again, God made a new beginning through Noah…
Noah? Really! A flood that destroyed the whole earth???!!! Well, I believe that this is so. I believe that this happened. Why? Because I have faith in God – that He has given us His Word – the Bible – and that what is in the Bible is true. “Blind faith”? No, I don’t think so. It’s based on the substance of things hoped for – to me Jesus proves that the Bible is true; and it’s based on the evidence of things not see – I trust in the truth of His Word.
But what is really exciting is all the physical evidence of a “universal flood” that is turning up all over the world. Now, it’s not all agreed by all people that this is evidence – but it is pretty exciting for me…I could speak of the fossil evidence – of mammoths encased in ice, standing up with flowers in their mouths; I could speak of geological evidence of catastrophic flood levels all around the globe.
I’m not going to though…you might like to research this yourself and make your own mind up. Instead I just want to mention some amazing linguistic evidence for the flood that came to my attention many years ago. The Reverend C.H.Chang wrote a book with Dr Ethel Nelson called “The Discovery of Genesis” (1979) in which “the authors remind us that China boasts of 4,500 years of unbroken civilisation. The ancient Chinese were monotheists, serving a Supreme Heavenly Ruler”. They point out how so many of the ancient Chinese characters – used in their writing – show clear similarities to the narrative found in the Book of Genesis. Not least amongst these are their characters which pertain to the story of Noah and the Flood:
The first is the Chinese character for “boat” which is broken down into 3 parts which mean “a vessel containing 8 people”. WOW! That’s Noah and his family!
The second is the Chinese character for “flood” which, broken down, means “8 people together in the water”.
One of the Chinese peoples, the Miao, have an oral tradition of a universal flood where the “patriarch Nuah” was the only one “righteous” and built a huge boat to take 2 of every type of animal and bird to survive the great deluge that was coming. He even sent a dove to see if the waters had receded!
Don’t you just love such confirmations of the Bible story as these?
THE GENESIS 6 ACCOUNT
This is the account of Noah and his family.
Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. 10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.
11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 14 So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.
17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark – you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. 19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you.
22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.
Let’s start off with looking at some key points from Genesis 6 and then we’ll go back to how the writer of Hebrews 11 applies it to our study of what faith looks like…
“NOAH WAS A RIGHTEOUS MAN” (GENESIS 6: 9)
This doesn’t mean he was sinless, no-one is, but it shows that his heart was right before God. And let’s remember the lesson of Abel here. Noah was not “righteous” because of what he did, neither was he “blameless” because of never doing wrong: he was righteous and blameless because he put his trust in God’s grace. God made him righteous and therefore took all blame off of him.
“HE WALKED FAITHFULLY WITH GOD” (GENESIS 6: 9)
Just like his ancestor, Enoch, we see here the bedrock of his faith…he walked with God…every day and in every way…in the good times and in the bad times…he trusted in God, he followed God’s guidance, he lived for God in all he did, he did not follow the ways of all those around him…this is the faith we are called to manifest.
NOW THE EARTH WAS CORRUPT IN GOD’S SIGHT AND WAS FULL OF VIOLENCE (GENESIS 6: 11)
Noah walked with God and so stood apart from the way that all the other people were living.
Mankind had become “bad”.
- There was demonic influence and sexual immorality: Genesis 6: 1-2 and 4 speaks of “sons of God” marrying “daughters of men” – accepted to mean that humans literally were in sexual union with fallen angels…or to put it in modern parlance, that mankind was in close relationship with demons and following the ways of the devil.
- There was great wickedness in the world and in the heart of man: Genesis 6: 11.
- There was violence and corruption: Genesis 6: 11.
- Man was unresponsive and resistant to God’s leading: Genesis 6: 3.
- It was a time of great sadness and grieving by God: Genesis 6: 6.
Despite all this going on in the world, Noah separated himself from it, walked with God and refused to compromise with the way that the world was going.
This is faith! And this is God’s calling on our life. Look at the similarities between Noah’s time and our time. Jesus warns us that “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt 24:37). It is our time now to stand apart from the way that the world is living.
Let’s tie this in with what the writer of Hebrews 11 verse 7 goes on to say…
“BY FAITH NOAH, WHEN WARNED ABOUT THINGS NOT YET SEEN…”
What we see here is that Noah was commended because he was one who acted today in view of what was coming tomorrow – THIS is the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”.
Many scholars argue that Noah had never seen rain before, let alone knew what a flood might be, but his faith was to trust in what he heard God speak to him and then to act in obedience to God’s command – even if it made no sense to him at that time; even in the face of mockery (what an idiot he must have looked to those around him) and opposition (how society must have hated his “scare mongering”). God told him to act on “things not seen” – this is faith!
This is faith: to be persistent in what God has called you to do and to stand apart from what everyone else might well be saying.
BY FAITH “IN HOLY FEAR [HE] BUILT AN ARK”
Noah had probably never seen rain, never seen a flood, never even seen the sea (if he lived inland in Mesopotamia). Yet, by faith he built a boat – not any old boat, but the biggest boat you could ever imagine. Why did he do this? Because he trusted in the command of God and then the details of the dimensions for the boat that God gave to him. He just did it. He just built what God commanded him to build.
And how long did it take him to build? Some suggest it was 70 years in the building. 70 years of mockery; of “so where’s this flood you’ve been talking of Noah?” Faith is persistence in the face of what we see with our eyes – it truly was the “evidence of things not seen” for Noah.
Why did he not give up? Because he had “holy fear” of God. This is not the “fear” of “terror”, this is the fear of reverential awe – that God is holy, that you “don’t mess God about”, that He is to be obeyed.
“BY HIS FAITH HE CONDEMNED THE WORLD”
Noah’s faith in trusting in God’s Word and building an ark was the evidence of condemnation of the scepticism and lack of belief of all the others who were destroyed in the flood. When we stand firmly, by faith, on what the Word of God says, our very stand condemns the world that is refusing to live in the way that we are living for God.
BY FAITH NOAH “BECAME HEIR OF THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT IS IN KEEPING WITH FAITH”
The heir is the one who inherits what the father has. Through his faith Noah was given, or made, righteous. Through his faith Noah received the reward of righteousness – and is in Paradise for eternity this very day. And so will we when we live by the faith that Noah exhibited.
THE CHALLENGE OF NOAH’S FAITH FOR US TODAY
Noah showed that faith is trusting in the Word of God even when it makes no sense (“build an ark”).
Noah showed that faith is doing what God calls us to do even when nothing seems to be happening (“build for 70 years even though it’s not raining”).
Noah showed that faith is being willing to stand separate from the ways of the world no matter how much mocking or threatening we face. Jesus warns us that God is going to again judge the world and that just as in the days of Noah no-one is going to believe it:
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[f] but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24: 36-39).
By faith, like Noah, stand firm in your walk with God.
Paul tells us:
While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety’, destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape (1 Thessalonians 5: 3).
By faith, like Noah, stand firm in your walk with God.
Peter tells us:
Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, ‘Where is this “coming” he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.[a]
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming (2 Peter 3: 3-12)
By faith, like Noah, stand firm in your walk with God.