The Book of Hebrews #50 chapter 11:7
The Book of Hebrews
Noah: A Preacher of Faith
Hebrews 11:7
 
It’s interesting to me that the entire story of Noah is summarized in one verse of Scripture.  The original story takes four chapters to tell, Genesis 6, 7, 8 and 9.  But here is Hebrews, we get one verse.
 
I think the assumption by the writer is that his hearers know the story.  And that’s a fair assumption because the book is written to Jews and they should have been extremely familiar with the story of Noah.
In fact, none of the people mentioned in Hebrews 11 needed any explanation at all to these Jews.
 
They’re familiar with these characters and their stories. And certainly every Jew was familiar with the story of Noah.
 
Now so far, we’ve have seen the example of Abel and the worship of faith. We’ve seen the example of Enoch and the walk of faith. And now we come to Noah and the work of faith.
 
Now the writer of Hebrews knows they know the story and the Jews knew the story, and most, if not all of us know the story.  But let’s take some time to think about it tonight because it’s a great story!
 
Notice how the author begins. “By faith, Noah being warned by God. . ” Noah had nothing to go go except the Word of God.  And God told him something was going to happen that had never happened in the history of the world. Was Noah going to believe this? Was he going to be committed that what God said was in fact true?
 
When you think about it, the story of Noah is the most remarkable illustration of faith that history records.
 
God comes to Noah and tells him He’s going to destroy the entire earth. About 1500 or more years have passed since the creation, the story of man on earth had just gotten worse and worse and worse and worse since the Fall. Sin is running rampant. It is an ever-increasing escalating offense to God and so God delivers a decree that He’s going to destroy the whole earth and then goes on to specifically say that He is going to drown the human race, sparing only Noah and his family.
 
God saw that the iniquity, the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and was sorry He had created man and decides to erase man from His presence and heHe makes that announcement to Noah.
 
Genesis 6:13
 
This is the first time God speaks personally to Noah. He will speak to him three more times, chapter 7 verse 1, chapter 8 verse 15 and chapter 9 verse 1. And the message that He gives to Noah is this message of massive, complete judgment.
 
It must have been staggering for Noah to hear this. There were millions of people in the world by this time. We can’t know the exact number but I’ve heard everything from eight million to a hundred million.
People were living for several hundred years and you can produce a lot of children in that amount of time.
 
So just to believe that this is actually going to happen is certainly an act of faith on Noah’s part.
 
And if that’s hard to swallow, look at
 
Verse 14
 
Now I want to point out that God hasn’t told Noah how He’s going to destroy the world yet, just that He’s going to.  So He gives him the command to build an ark without an explanation.
 
The explanation doesn’t come until verse 17.
 
So at the beginning, God says to Noah, “Build an ark.”  By the way, an ark is just a big box.   It’s not shaped like a boat, it’s not shaped like a ship. It has no propeller. It has no pilot. It has no sails. It has no rudder. It has no captain. It has no navigator. It’s a box.
 
And, by the way, this word is only used one other time in the Old Testament and it that is in Exodus chapter 2:3 through 5 to describe the box that baby Moses was put in to float down the Nile. God used a box to save Moses so he could save Israel. God used a box to save Noah so Noah could save the human race.
 
In both cases, the box was a refuge from death to provide a future, in one case for Israel, and another case for the human race.
 
So God says, “Make a box.” And then He provides Noah with all the details of how He wants it constructed.  He tells him to build rooms and seal it with pitch so it doesn’t leak.  He provides all the dimensions, and by the way, it is a monstrosity.
It winds up being 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high.
 
That makes it the largest vessel ever built until the nineteenth century when giant ships were built of steel and iron.  And the ark is way ahead of its time. Its length is six times its width to provide stability in the midst of tossing seas. As a rectangle it has more stability than do vessels with pointed ends and rounded sides.  It is one third larger in capacity than a similar sized ship with a hull. The gross tonnage is 1415 thousand tons. The internal space is a hundred thousand square feet. The volume is 1.5 million cubic feet. It’s a massive boat.
 
Thousands of compartments are built in this massive box.  No one knows why yet.  They’re just doing what God said to do.
 
And the reason is given in verse 17
 
God is going to send a world-wide flood.  And when it’s all said and done, God did exactly what He told Noah He was going to do and only eight people survived.  
 
And notice what we find in verse 22.
 
What a monumental act of faith!
 
 
This is a man who believed what God said was true and that sort of gets us to the point of Hebrews chapter 11.
 
Notice the testimony of his faith:
 
. “By faith, Noah being warned by God about things not yet seen.” What are things not yet seen?
 
He was told of a cataclysmic world judgment that would come by means of a flood as a result of rain.
 
Did Noah know the world was corrupt? Absolutely. Did he know that he was different than everybody else? Absolutely. Did he understand that God was holy and righteous and a God of judgment? Of course he did. There was a lot that he knew. Remember now, we’re 1500 years into human history and God has revealed Himself and he knows his God and he walks with his God and he trusts his God.
 
So being warned by God about things not yet seen, he acted.
 
Let me point out three things about his faith that we find in this verse.   
 
1.  He Obeyed God’s Word
 
And by the way, he obeyed God’s Word when it was way beyond anything he could experience or conceive or comprehend. Notice we are told “he moved with Godly fear”.
 
 
For 120 years, he work to build a massive 15,000 ton ship in the middle of the wilderness, for one reason, because God told him to do it and God told him the flood would come and the judgment was inevitable and he obeyed.
 
This is the essence of faith. Faith doesn’t have to understand.  It doesn’t have to comprehend. Faith reaches out for something that is beyond experience, beyond comprehension.
 
And we understand that a little bit. We walk by faith and not by sight also.  We’ve entrusted our eternity to God. We’re living in faith, trusting Christ for a heaven we’ve never seen, to escape a judgment we’ve never seen. The Bible says that all sinners will go to hell. The Bible says that there will be a holocaust of divine judgment on the earth in the future by fire.
 
We believe that, we have not seen that. But we live in faith and by faith we obey the gospel which is the ark of safety for us. God has provided for us an ark to rescue us from future judgment and we have gone into that ark which is Christ.
 
So first of all, he demonstrated his faith by his obedience to God’s Word.
 
Secondly, his faith not only showed up in how he obeyed God’s Word, but also by how
 
2.  He Announced God’s Judgment
 
It would have been understandable if he had believed and obeyed, but not said much about it.
But we are told in verse 7, “He condemned the world”.  The very fact that he was out there building in obedience to God was an announcement that judgment was coming.  Noah was a preacher of righteousness.
 
And as long as he built the box, he was preaching coming judgment. He was declaring coming judgment.  Now I think it important to remember, people back then weren’t ignorant of God.  They knew things.  The institution of sacrifice had been in place since Abel. They knew that sinners need to come to God not by works, but recognizing their own sin and that they are worthy of death and understanding that God will provide a sacrifice in their place.
 
They knew the seriousness of sin because they knew Cain. Cain’s life overlapped. He lived for centuries and the mark of Cain went with Cain and everybody understood the curse of sin, the horror of being cursed by God. Cain was a living illustration of how deadly sin is.
 
By the way, Adam lived 930 years and I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t tell the tragic story of the Fall every day of his life.
 
And then there was the preaching of Enoch who was a preacher of righteousness, according to Jude 14 and 15. And then there was the ministry of the Holy Spirit, “My Spirit will not always strive with man,” which means the Spirit was striving with sinners, doing His work of conviction. And then there was the preaching of Noah. All these lives overlapped.
 
As long as Methuselah lived, he would talk about his father who three hundred years after he was born, after Methuselah was born, took a walk with God one day and walked right into heaven. And to how many people did Methuselah tell his story of a father who walked with God and lived in such a way that he didn’t even die? And Methuselah’s father, Enoch, was an illustration of what will happen to every believer who will someday enter into the presence of the Lord and conquer death.
 
So the generation of Noah’s day had to reject sacrifice and atonement, they had to reject repeated warnings and repeated messages of judgment and righteousness. Divine revelation had to be despised and rejected.  And yet God waited and waited 969 years, in the case of Methuselah and 120 years in the case of Noah.
 
And in stark contrast to that, Noah lived in obedience, doing exactly what God told him to do and his willingness to be a preacher of righteousness and give the message that went along with the work he did, proclaiming the inevitable coming, devastating, worldwide judgment in the drowning of the human race. He was preaching that the only escape is righteousness. And how many converts did he have? Only his family.  He obeyed God’s Word, he preached God’s judgment, and thirdly,
 
3. He Received God’s Righteousness
 
Verse 7c

That sounds so New Testament.  He is an Old Testament illustration of justification by faith.
In covenant relationship with God, he believed God and God accepted his faith and granted him righteousness. He is a righteous man. He is blameless before God.  Is he perfect? Not quite.  In fact, in one of the great paradoxes of Scripture we find him obediently building by faith and preaching righteousness and then just a page or two later, he was caught naked and drunk. Noah’s not a perfect man before men, but he is a perfect man before God because by faith, righteousness was credited to his account.
 
The great doctrine of justification is that to the one who believes God is made right in God’s eyes.  He believed all that God had revealed. In our case, we believe all that God has revealed and that means that we believe the full message, all the way through His Son Jesus Christ. And when you believe that message from the heart, God will grant righteousness and cover you with his own righteousness and view you as blameless. And you will, having been captured into the ark of safety who is Christ, be delivered from all future judgment.
 
Christ is the one who protects us from judgment.  And whether they want to admit it or not, another judgment is coming on this old world.  Peter wrote about that in his epistles. He says, “In the future there’s going to be another judgment, the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in which the heavens will pass away with a roar, the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, the earth and its works will be burned up.”  There’s coming another holocaust of proportions like this and even greater. And the only ark is faith, faith in the Word of God all the way to the complete revelation in Jesus Christ.

 

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