Today’s Scripture: “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.” (Hebrews 11:7)
True faith will always be substantiated by righteous works. It is this powerful truth that we see illustrated in the life of Noah. If Abel’s faith was a worshiping faith, and if Enoch’s faith was a walking faith, Noah’s faith was a working faith. His faith in God translated into righteous works of obedience. Genesis 6:9 says, “Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.” Like Abel before him, Noah was righteous. And like his great-grandfather Enoch, Noah walked with God. Hebrews shows us how Noah’s faith goes a step further in that he demonstrated obedience to God’s instruction. His faith was not passive, but was active. In verse 7, the writer of Hebrews mentions several truths about Noah’s working faith:
First, notice what Noah BELIEVED.
The Bible says, “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear…” The phrase “divinely warned” carries the idea of warning as well as instruction; it means that God told Noah what was going to happen, but also told him how to deal with it. The account of Noah’s life and ministry is found in Genesis 6. At the time when God spoke such warning, Noah was already a believer. In the midst of a totally corrupt culture, a remarkable statement is made about Noah’s life:
Genesis 6:8—“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”
Noah wasn’t saved by his works; Noah was saved by God’s grace. That is how salvation has always been given. It is always by grace through faith. The Bible says that as the Lord looked upon the earth and saw the corruption of mankind, God called Noah to a specific task. Noah’s faith involved his total person. Notice in verse 7 that the writer of Hebrews mentions three key components of Noah’s belief:
- His heart was gripped—“By faith…”
- His mind was enlightened—“being divinely warned”
- His will was surrendered—“moved with godly fear”
Each of these components are essential to biblical faith. If his heart had been gripped and his mind enlightened but there was no movement in his life, then he would not be upheld as an example of biblical faith. Faith always grips the heart, enlightens the mind, and motivates the will.
The word “moved” carries the idea of reverential obedience; it means that it was the fear of God that motivated his life into obedience. Just how was Noah moved into action by his faith?
2 Peter 2:5—“And did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly.”
Noah took the instruction that God gave Him, simply believed God’s Word, and preached to the people of his generation. In fact, we gather from Genesis 6 that Noah labored on the ark for 120 years before the first rain drop ever fell. During those 12 long decades, he was moved with godly fear to preach and warn his generation of the impending judgment. A person whose life is not characterized by obedience does not possess biblical faith, regardless of what they may or may not say. True faith is authenticated by righteous works.
Second, notice what Noah BUILT.
Being moved with godly fear, the Bible says that Noah “prepared an ark for the saving of his household.” Because faith in God had gripped his heart, and because divine instruction had enlightened his mind, and because he was moved with godly fear, Noah prepared an ark just like God commanded. God gave Noah all the instructions that were necessary for the construction of the ark—the type of wood that was needed, the layout, and the dimensions.
Genesis 6:15—“This is how you are to build it: the ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.”
Just to help us visualize it, the ark would have been one and a half football fields long, about as wide as a football field, and approximately four stories tall. Keep in mind that it had never even rained before. The writer of Hebrews says that Noah had only been divinely warned of things “not yet seen.” The instructions from the Lord seemed bizarre. Not to mention the fast that as the ark was going up, more and more ridicule came Noah’s way. He was subjected to much ridicule, scorn, and opposition. Yet his belief motivated him to build. He simply believed God and starting building.
Some would say that Noah’s ministry was a failure. After 120 years of faithful preaching, only eight people entered the ark, all of which were from his own immediate family. But upon closer inspection, the opposite is true. Never criticize the fruitfulness of a man whose family believes. Rest assured that up until the very day that the ark was closed, Noah was preaching and preparing, preparing and preaching. And while the neighbors laughed him to scorn, three pairs of little eyes were watching him all along—the eyes of his three sons. Noah’s wife, sons, and his daughter-in-laws believed in him. They knew his heart and saw his faith. He may not have won his generation to the Lord, but he did win his posterity. The first place that we ought to have spiritual influence is to be our own families. If you can be a good witness at home, you can be a good witness anywhere.
Third, notice what Noah BECAME.
The latter part of verse 7 says, “…by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” Noah’s faith and obedience to God served as a rebuke to his generation. His life stood out in stark contrast.
Matthew 24:37-39—“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
In the midst of their partying and godless living, they could faintly hear the sound of the hammer in the background. For 120 years, they had more than enough opportunity to repent and turn to God, but in they chose not to. Then the day came when the skies grew dark and the thunder began to roll. Panic erupted from within the population. In their desperation, they dropped their party lifestyle and ran to the Preacher. Unfortunately for them, it was already too late. While Noah’s generation perished in the flood waters, the Bible says that Noah became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. This means that his faith led to his inheritance.