By Faith, Pt. 3
Hebrews 11:7 • Jeff Crotts •
Last week we covered the first three heroes of the faith from Hebrews 11:4-7.
- Abel, Enoch, and Noah.
- Three men grouped from the Antediluvian period.
- Post fall of man and Pre-Flood.
- Prepatriarchal period.
Hebrews starts here to prove that being right with God and drawing near to God has from the beginning been nothing more than or less than “by faith.”
- Both Abel and Enoch model true faith.
- Abel’s faith in death still speaks!
- Enoch’s miraculous departure, speaks to us!
For Noah, allow me to ask:
“Who here has heard the story of Noah, his ark, the animals gathered two by two and the great flood?” Most everybody.
“Who would admit whether or not you have ever been affected, influenced, or challenged by Noah or his story at all? Most everybody.
- God’s Word tells that Noah is someone who should! deeply affect us!
- No one but Noah makes faith this practical.
- No one but Noah, had his assignment, demanding this extraordinary obedience.
Turn back to Genesis 6 but keep your thumb on verse 7 (Heb. 11:7).
“Why was Noah’s obedience so extraordinary?”
1. Noah’s obedience was “sight unseen”
It is important to observe verse 7 begins and ends with the words, “by faith” (v. 7).
- The story of Noah and God destroying the world by flood is incomprehensible.
- Relegated to children’s storybooks, we often fail to see the magnitude of God’s wrath and grace in it!
- This was no fairytale and likewise, when our LORD with finality destroys the earth by fire, this too will be no fairytale (cf. 2 Pet. 3:10).
- As awful and glorious as these events were, Hebrews 11:7 zeroes in on Noah’s faith.
Unpacking this single verse with Genesis 6 and 7 filling in the gaps, reveals a depth of faith that takes us where we want to be. To live.
Noah was “warned by God concerning events as yet unseen” (v. 7).
- How extraordinary was warning? Verse 7 says, the “warning” is “concerning events as yet unseen” (v. 7).
- Noah, hearing from God, in and of itself is extraordinary.
- What Noah hears, deals with what had never happened.
- Rain? Flooding?
ESV Genesis 2:5 When no abush of the field1 was yet in the land2 and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up--for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man bto work the ground
- Constructing a massive ship?
- The express purpose of “not being destroyed?”
- While everyone else on earth will be.
Noah probably lived in Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, a long way from any ocean or sizable lake. So, what is rain?
Look back with me to Genesis 6.
ESV Genesis 6:11-22 Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence.
12 And God asaw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, bfor all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.
13 And God said to Noah, a"I have determined to make an end of all flesh,1 for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood.1 Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch.15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits,1 its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits.16 Make a roof1 for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks.17 aFor behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die.18 But aI will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you.19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female.20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them." 22 aNoah did this; he did all that God commanded him.
The pre-flood atmosphere made for a different than we experience today.
Genesis 1:7 in the creation event describes the “expanse” (“land”) separating the waters.
ESV Genesis 1:7 And God made1 the expanse and aseparated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were babove the expanse. And it was so.
- Separation not only across but also above. Above and below.
- A canopy of water, affecting UV sunlight, propagating the multi-generation lifespans chronicled up through Genesis 6.
- When God released this flood it came top-down and bottom-up.
ESV Genesis 7:11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the afountains of the great deep burst forth, and bthe windows of the heavens were opened.
- As we see in Genesis 7:11 (cf. 7:6), Noah was 600 years old when God directed him to do this great task!
- Having lived long, Noah could have thought, “I have seen it all” but this was not his attitude.
- In fact, Genesis 6:22 says otherwise.
ESV Genesis 6:22 aNoah did this; he did all that God commanded him.
- A few verses later is the same refrain!
ESV Genesis 7:5 aAnd Noah did all that the LORD had commanded him.
Someone said of Noah, “One of the greatest practical acts of faith in all history was Noah’s cutting down the first gopher tree for wood to make the ark.”
“How big was this task?”
- Aside from the animals, just focus on the ark itself.
- Exact cubit size is not certain, but the lowest number would be seventeen and a half inches.
- The ark was 438 feet long, 73 feet wide, and 44 feet high.
- One and a half times the length of a football field and as wide as a football field, and more than four stories high.
- Three decks, a deck area being 96,000 square feet.
- Naval engineers report the dimensions and shape prove for stability not maneuverability.
- Protection from a bunker in cataclysmic meltdown!
- A floating fortress bigger than a pro-football stadium.
- Visit northern Kentucky for the replica.
Evolutionists debate the validity of a vessel as described here.
Bill Nye jeers, “A worldwide flood, 500 foot wooden boat, eight zookeepers for 14,000 individual animals, every land plant under water for a full year? I ask us all, is this really reasonable?”
Yes, only if you believe in what Scripture expressly says! Noah believed God’s revelation. What God said to him. Sight unseen!
“Only that is true faith which believes everything that is revealed by the Holy Spirit, whether it be joyous or distressing…Noah believed what seemed highly improbable, if not absolutely impossible…there was no sea where Noah laid the keel of his ark…I do not even know there was a river there…He was to prepare a sea-going vessel and construct it on dry land. How could water be brought there to float it?” [Spurgeon]
2. Noah’s obedience was in the context of a world as bad as it has ever been
Building my points from Hebrews 11:7, by de facto means we are working backward (at times) in Genesis 6-7.
This brings us to Noah’s attitude when he obeyed “by faith.”
Noah’s faith and act of faith was “in reverent fear” (v. 7).
- Noah was not literally afraid of God, as if being sentenced to “death row.”
- There is no sense of that here.
- Noah was personally pious, “Blameless” (Gen. 6:9).
- Careful to obey.
- Why Noah was chosen to survive as recorded in Genesis 6.
ESV Genesis 6:1-8 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them,
2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.3 Then the LORD said, a"My Spirit shall not abide in1 man forever, bfor he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years."4 The Nephilim1 were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.5 aThe LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every bintention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.6 And athe LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it bgrieved him to his heart.7 So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them."8 But Noah afound favor in the eyes of the LORD.
Noah was chosen because he was godly.
- The world was as bad as it has ever been, “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD” (Gen. 6:8).
- Genesis 5:21-22ff you chronicles Noah’s godly lineage tracing back to Enoch.
- One who first “walked with God” (Gen. 5:22, 24).
- Massive lifespans between, Enoch fathered Methuselah, who fathered Lamech, and Lamech, Noah.
- With Noah’s birth came Lamech’s prophesy in Genesis 5:29.
ESV Genesis 5:29 and called his name Noah, saying, "Out of the ground athat the LORD has cursed this one shall bring us relief1 from our work and from the painful toil of our hands."
“Relief” came from Noah’s godliness.
- Godliness for hundreds and hundreds of years, fathering “Shem, Ham, and Japheth” at the age 500 (Gen. 5:32).
“How godly was Noah?” Like Enoch, whom God swept in to heaven, Noah also “walked with God” (Gen. 6:9).
ESV Genesis 6:9 These are the generations of Noah. aNoah was a righteous man, bblameless in his generation. Noah cwalked with God.
Where Enoch was raptured out of this world, Noah’s mission was far different.
- Staying here, saved from God’s wrath, while literally being poured out all around him.
- Noah in effect is the marked contrast to a lost and dying world.
“How bad was the world at this time?” You say, “It is pretty bad now!”
- I concur, but also believe Genesis 6 argues it was far worse than it has ever been up to today.
ESV Genesis 6:1-4 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them,
2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.3 Then the LORD said, a"My Spirit shall not abide in1 man forever, bfor he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years."4 The Nephilim1 were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came into the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.
Genesis 6:1 reports how the population began to rapidly increase.
As the population grew, so did it’s sin!
Genesis 6:1-4, describes “sons of God” a term for “angels” (virtually everywhere in Scripture), in this case, “fallen angels.”
- Taking the male form, as depicted whenever angels interacted with humans.
- Remember the degenerate scene at Sodom and Gomorrah, when the mob came to Abraham’s house, who by force wanted to have relations with “angels” who appeared as men (Gen. 18).
- Here in Genesis 6:2 cohabitation transpired and a race who I believe to be the Nephilim is born.
The Nephilim (Heb. “the fallen”) were on the earth in those days, meaning pre-flood but come up again “also afterward” (Gen. 6:4).
- The Nephilim, mentioned post-flood in Numbers 13:33, are “the sons of Anak.”
- Sons of Anakim were the “giants in the Land” whom the wilderness generation compared themselves as grasshoppers (Num. 13:33).
- This has to be another post-flood round of a demon-influenced race.
- Moses successor, Joshua, devoted to wipe out the Anakim race, left some in Gath (cf. Joshua 11:21-22).
- Therefore, later in biblical history, a 9-foot giant, Goliath, from Gath, is a descendant of Anak and this race.
This pre-flood society’s sin was at fever pitch! How bad? Read Genesis 6:5 slowly.
ESV Genesis 6:5 aThe LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every bintention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
- God put a time fuse on his wrath with 120 years! (Gen. 6:3).
3. Noah’s obedience was saving
What does godly “reverential fear” do when society is this bad?
- Taking this passage with the rest of what the Bible Noah, for these 120 years (Gen. 6:3), built an ark, and preached repentance.
Noted earlier, Noah obeyed at all costs.
- Building a huge ark came at great cost. Money and labor.
- Safe to assume Noah could not get others to help him with this absurd task.
- Even his children needed to grow up before they could help to construct from ground up, on dry land.
Noah not only built, he preached.
2 Peter 2:5, Noah was “a herald of righteousness.”
“For 120 years while he labored on the ark, he preached to all who would listen. Perhaps sometimes he preached from the construction scaffolding to the curious “tire kickers” who came out to gawk. Other times, no doubt, he went on preaching missions throughout the countryside.” [Hughes]
Noah as an old man ran his marathon.
We all have some kind of ark God calls us to build!
What were Noah’s results?
- His life and message “saved…his household” (Heb. 11:7).
“Noah preached 120 years and at the end of it not one person was ready to go with him into the ark. His own family was saved, but nobody else-not a solitary one. What at trial!”
“Many may have believed and died before the deluge but not one of them entered the ark with him.” [Spurgeon]
ESV 1 Peter 3:18-20 For Christ also asuffered1 bonce for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, cthat he might bring us to God, being put to death din the flesh but made alive ein the spirit,19 in which1 he went and aproclaimed2 to the spirits in prison,20 because1 they formerly did not obey, awhen God's patience waited in the days of Noah, bwhile the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, ceight persons, were brought safely through water.
- Still, his family was saved.
- Noah lived a life and preached a message that both drew and repelled.
- He drew his family to safety.
- Not only physical but also spiritual safety.
ESV 1 Corinthians 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. aOtherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. (1Co 7:14 ESV)
- We may think that Noah’s passion to obey would be easy.
- 25 years – 50 years – 75 years – 100 years- 120 years.
Back to Genesis 7.
ESV Genesis 7:1-7 Then the LORD said to Noah, a"Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that byou are righteous before me in this generation.2 Take with you seven pairs of all aclean animals,1 the male and his mate, and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate,3 and seven pairs1 of the birds of the heavens also, male and female, to keep their offspring alive on the face of all the earth.4 For in seven days aI will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, band every living thing1 that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground."5 aAnd Noah did all that the LORD had commanded him.6 Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters came upon the earth.7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives with him went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood.
ESV Genesis 7:15-16 They awent into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. 16 And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in aas God had commanded him. And the LORD shut him in.
- The ark (according to Spurgeon) was like a massive coffin.
- Noah dead to the old world and within the enclosure.
- As he floated into the new world.
4. Noah’s obedience was condemning and confirming
Noah’s heart of righteousness and message hardened people’s hearts.
See Noah and his family entering the ark! I do not think I should have selected the ark as a place of residence myself, nor would you have chosen to live in a place pitched within and without with pitch, with only one door and one window to it, and a great menagerie of birds, and beasts, and reptiles inside it. Whether that window ran all round the top just under the roof, so as to let light into the whole structure, I cannot tell; but I have no doubt that the jeering world said to Noah, “Well, old man, you have built a prison for yourself, and the sooner you go inside and shut yourself in the better; for we have had enough of your preaching!” When the good man and his family went in, and the Lord shut the door, they were dead to the world. [Spurgeon]
- Nowhere in Scripture does it say that people openly mocked Noah.
- Still, Peter strongly implies that they did!
ESV 2 Peter 3:3-7 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come ain the last days with scoffing, bfollowing their own sinful desires. 4 aThey will say, "Where is the promise of bhis coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation."5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth awas formed out of water and through water bby the word of God,6 and that by means of these the world that then existed awas deluged with water and bperished.7 But by the same word athe heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and bdestruction of the ungodly.
“He who does not believe God will punish sin, will not believe that he will pardon it through atoning blood…I charge you who profess to the Lord not to be unbelieving with regard to the terrible threatenings of God to the ungodly. Believe the threat even though it should chill your blood.” [Spurgeon]
This passage puts us right in the same situation as Noah.
“What is our disposition toward the world?” “Do we simply let our hearts grow cold?
2 Peter 3 goes on…
ESV 2 Peter 3:8-9 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and aa thousand years as one day. 9 aThe Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise bas some count slowness, but cis patient toward you,1 dnot wishing that any should perish, but ethat all should reach repentance.
- Scripture is silent on the content of Noah’s sermons.
- Noah’s message, life, and ark condemned the world.
Noah was a fool for Christ who “…became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” (Heb. 11:7).
This righteousness differs from Noah’s “reverent fear” and obedience.
- He walked with God, feared God, and obeyed God but was saved “by faith.”
- When you are saved “by faith” God’s Word promises that you receive “the righteousness of Christ!”
- This righteousness is called “alien” righteousness.
- Bestowed or imputed by God to us.
ESV Romans 4:5 And to the one who does not work but abelieves in1 him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness
- Noah was “righteous” but not perfect.
ESV Genesis 9:20-21 Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard.1 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent.
Why are these postscripts put part of Scripture? Postscripts are part of everyone’s story.
- The Bible is quick to humanize all of its heroes.
- If you have every looked toward any man or woman as your personal hero then in a short period of time you have been let down.
- We call Hebrews 11 “Heroes of the faith” – “…of whom the world was not worthy” (v. 38).
Even still, Christ is the Hero. Our righteousness is a gift. Is grace. Is our inheritance!
- Still, remember, we are living in a very similar situation as Noah. While our world grows worse, we know why and we look to our Savior.
- As believers, made righteous, we too walk with Jesus.
- Moreover, we look to our inheritance while the world remains largely unaware of what’s coming.
- Our faith means we live our life for Jesus and we preach Jesus.
- Matthew’s Gospel tells us why!
- Jesus describes our situation in Matthew’s Gospel.
ESV Matthew 24:36-39 "But concerning that day and hour ano one knows, not even the angels of heaven, bnor the Son,1 cbut the Father only. 37 aFor as were the days of Noah, bso will be the coming of the Son of Man.38 aFor as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, cmarrying and giving in marriage, until bthe day when Noah entered the ark,39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, aso will be the coming of the Son of Man.