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Noah's Faith Is Our Faith


Hebrews 11 is often called "the Hall of Faith."  This chapter shows how certain men and women have trusted God with their lives.  Such trust is what we call faith.  As an experiment,  read your Bible and every time you read the word "faith", replace it with the word "trust." You might end up with a clearer understanding of what faith is.  It surprises me how many Christians don't understand something so fundamental as faith.


Hebrews 11:7 tells us about Noah and how and why he trusted his life to God.   The verse reads, "by faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.  By this faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith."  We learn lots about Noah in this one verse, that should be an example for us. 


We see the words "by faith when warned."   God warned Noah of impending doom that He would bring on the earth.  How did Noah respond to this warning?  He trusted God that God would indeed do as He said.    


We also see the words, "not yet seen."  God warned Noah of a flood of water that would cover the whole earth.  Many scholars believe that it had never rained to this point in history, so when God spoke of a massive rain storm, Noah might have scratched his head in confusion.  Nevertheless, if God said it would rain, Noah knew it would rain.  Even after entering the ark, the rain held off for seven days.  One might imagine Noah's wife pulling him aside and asking, "I hate to question your ability to hear from God, Noah, but come on, are you sure you heard Him right?  The sky is blue and everyone is laughing at us out there.  I feel so stupid. You spent one hundred years building this thing and now where's the water. "  Of course God told Noah that he'd be in the ark seven days before the rain came, so he knew better.


The next important words in this verse are "holy fear."  Why did Noah trust His life to God?  It was because He feared God.  Noah didn't just reverence God, he was afraid of the consequences if he didn't trust his life with God.  Fear is more than reverence.  Holy fear is fear, that is, "being afraid".  Let's not reduce fear to simple reverence, as we often do.  And we also might want to think about putting the idea of "holy fear" back into our preaching as well.


The next group of words are, "save his family."   Noah's trust in God extended beyond himself to the rest of his family.  He trusted God that He would rescue his family from the flood too because he had trusted his life to Him.   


Noah's trust in God "condemned the world".  How did Noah's faith condemn the world?  I thought God was the one who condemned the world.  Well, it was God's idea to condemn the world in judgment, but He used Noah in the process.  Because Noah trusted what God told him, he obeyed God, as foolish as it appeared.  His obedience and participation in God's plan of judgment in itself was a demonstration of condemnation to the world.   


The last important phrase in this verse states that because Noah worked with God in condemning and judging the world, he would be an "heir of righteousness."   This is the final result of trusting God.  A special righteousness came to Noah.  God viewed him as being a righteous man.  This righteousness had consequences not only in this life for Noah but in the next life. 


So here is an Old Testament guy with what looks like a New Testament faith, but really, faith is faith.  There's no real difference between Old and New Testament faith, except for our clearer understanding of the role Jesus plays in our faith.  Trusting God is trusting God no matter what age we live in.  We'll be trusting our lives to God throughout eternity. 


We learn a lot from Noah's example. We learn that we must trust God with our lives, and at times this trust is tested through severe hardships.  Finding faith doesn't mean living happily ever after in this life.  We'll live happily ever after in the next life.


We also learn that our trust in God is based partially on us being afraid of the consequences of not trusting God.  As it says in Hebrews 12:29, "our God is a consuming fire.  Once again, fear is more than reverence.  Fear is being afraid of the fire.


Another thing we learn is that we can trust God for our family.  I do believe that each and every person must come to Jesus on his own.  It's often said that God has no grandchildren, but to you godly fathers out there, be like Noah.  Trust God that He will clearly provide many opportunities for your family to find His salvation, because He will certainly do that for you.  It's still their personal choice, but a choice heavily influenced by Jesus.      


We also learn that we might have the opportunity to participate in God's judgment that comes from time to time and that will be clearly seen by all at the end of this age.  Some of us might be alive when Jesus returns for that last great judgment.  Other's might return with Him in the sky when He brings this last judgment to the earth.  We can at least participate now by preaching as Noah did (2 Peter 2:5), and warning people of the impending judgment to come. 


The last thing we learn is that we will inherit a  righteous life.  This means that by trusting Jesus, God views us as being totally righteous, even as He Himself is righteous, even though we are still far from righteous.  This life of righteousness begins right now and extends into eternity.  We will inherit a life that is beyond our wildest imaginations. We won't simply be viewed as righteous by God, we will in fact be righteous.   Imagine that, human beings finally acting righteously.  No matter how hard that is to believe, it will be so .  What God says will happen, will certainly happen.  We can trust Him for that. 


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