The Faith of Noah

Hebrews 11:7

If you brought a copy of scripture with you this morning, you can find Hebrews chapter 11 as we continue in our Hall of Faith series.

And today… by the way, before I go there, I want to thank those of you who prayed for my wife and I while we were away for a couple of weeks in Spain, ministering alongside of our missionaries, the Messmers. Had a wonderful time both ministering with them, to them and they ministered to us as well! It’s something we love to do, minister to our missionaries on foreign fields. They need to be encouraged. It’s a blessing to be able to do so. Thank you for your prayers.

So Hebrews chapter 11, and we are talking about Noah. And if you’re… you can’t really even invoke the name Noah from a biblical perspective, without thinking about the ark, right? I mean, it is what it is. They go together, right? And so many of you have been to Kentucky. You’ve been, you know, you’ve been to the Promised Land there and you’ve seen the Ark Encounter. We have too. It’s an amazing thing! You got your photoshoot with the iconic picture and we even got our family, or not family,,, My wife and I there, as well. So, and you probably, it is an impressive site, is it not? But you expected me to break your bubble, didn’t you? So actually, the ark didn’t look like this. It looked more like this. [a cartoon picture of the ark is shown on the screen. Congregation laughing] At least that’s the picture that I looked at with my kids anyway! And actually… one of the debates about the ark and really the materials. Where did Noah get those materials? That’s been cleared up as well. [Another cartoon of Noah is shown with a BIG box in a shopping cart] And so all that’s taken care of here, okay?

Now as we focus on chapter 11, you need to remember this in this series. The writer of chapter 11 Hebrews is focusing not so much on the events surrounding the faith of these heroes as much as he is the faith itself of these heroes, the faith that they have. These are individuals we’re looking at and the faith that they exhibited. That’s why we’re calling it the Hall of Faith series. The writer actually gives us a bunch of little vignettes, their little summaries of their lives. Have you noticed that? I mean, he was writing to Hebrews, right? These were Jews. I had a professor that said,

“Hebrews was written to Hebrews to tell the Hebrews to quit being Hebrews.”

Pastor Pat’s professor

But these are Hebrews. They knew the stories. They knew these stories. And so this chapter sort of serves up as a kind of both of rebuke and an inspiration to those who were the original recipients of this letter, and to you and I today. And that is, that the faith that saves us is not new. He wanted the original readers of Hebrews… now this faith wasn’t new. Their heroes exhibited this kind of faith as is seen repeatedly, and will see in the life of Noah.

And so without further ado, our reference one verse, Hebrews 11, verse seven, and here it is.

Hebrews 11:7, “By faith, (and it would be nice if I actually was in Hebrews, there we go, by faith) Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an the heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

So, one verse covering four chapters in the Old Testament; One verse covering 96 verses in the Old Testament. Now we’ll look at some of those verses in the Old Testament, but we’re not gonna spend a lot of time there because the focus is on the character rather than the events. And we’re talking about faith. Do you have the faith of Noah? That’s the question before you today.

I was on a, couple of years ago, on a flight back from a mission’s conference that I had been speaking at. And my wife and I were both exhausted. We were on the plane. We just wanted to rest, but God put us right next to a couple of young people and he was a rapper. And I got nothing against rappers… not my jam, but he was a secular rapper and we entered into just a fervent gospel conversation. He was super interested in the gospel! We just had a fantastic time as I talked to him about the veracity of the Bible, the truth of Jesus, His death and resurrection, and he was just totally locked in! And in the process, he said, “My music…” he goes, “My life and my music are not really good.” And we were just about ready to land and he looked at me. I was so taken by what he said, I wrote it down. He said,

“If I visited your church, what would your people really believe?” (I mean, he said) “Do they really sense the gravity of their faith?” 

A rapper in a conversation with Pastor Pat

And I thought to myself, “Do they? Do I really sense the gravity of my faith?”

Well, we’re talking about the gravity of Noah’s faith here, and this whole thing began, if you remember, in the first verse.

Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith (faith) is the assurance of things hoped for, (the evidence or rather) the conviction of things (that are what?) not seen.”

Remember that, because if you want the faith of Noah, with Noah’s faith, let’s just assume, with Noah’s faith you’ll believe the unseen. Now, we’re not going to be able to go into these four chapters… take us forever to go back to Genesis 6 through 9, but just so in case you’re not familiar with this, God creates the world … and the world starts spinning out of control as soon as the sin in the Garden takes place, so much so that in chapter 6 of Genesis something diabolical, something so evil, so virulent, so ugly, so despicable to God, He says, ‘I’m going to wipe the whole thing out!’ How bad did that have to be? But this is what the heart of God… noticed, He doubles down on His own personal regret. Here’s what God says.

Genesis 6:5-7, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that He had made man on the earth, and grieved Him to his heart. 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.

Notice He doubles down on His own personal grief! How bad must things have been? Now, then he tells Noah in chapter 6, verse 17,He’s going to do this.

[Genesis 6:17, “For 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.”]

He’s going to destroy the world with a flood! Well, what’s a flood? He’d never seen a flood. And he tells us in chapter 7 and verse 4, ‘This is how this flood is going to take place. It’s going to rain for 40 days and 40 nights.’ ‘It’s going to what?

[Genesis 7:4, “For in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.”]

As we heard from Pastor Curt a week ago, the earth was very uniform, probably in its temperature, I think that’s really good. Archeology affirms that as well. Back in that day, and there was a mist that came up from the ground. It probably had never rained. He’d never seen rain! And by the way, when we talk about having the faith of Noah, and that, if you have that, you’ll believe the unseen. We’re not talking about blind faith. That’s a popular expression. It’s been around for hundreds of years. Blind faith. This is not blind faith. Blind faith by definition requires no reason. Requires no reason. You just believe because somebody told you. There’s nothing, there’s no substance behind the comment or the belief. That isn’t the case, Noah’s faith operated on reason, and the reason being the very character of God. God is true, God is faithful, God cannot lie, amen? He can’t lie! So whatever God has said is going to take place, whether you see it or not. And in fact, speaking of that, believing without seeing is one of the common, the things that all of these heroes have in common, and this is why the writer wants to tattoo us with this idea. We don’t have to see to believe with fullness of belief. It’s the same kind of faith that God is calling you and me to today. “We walk by faith, not by sight,” [2 Corinthians 5:7] right? And even later on, look at, let’s scoot all the way down to verse 13.

Hebrews 11:13, “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar…”

So we might not have the eyes that see, but our hearts do just fine. That’s the idea here. If you have the faith of Noah, and this is what God wants us to have, then you do see with your heart. This is what was behind Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians. Remember, he said,

[Ephesians 1:18, NIV] “”I pray that the eyes of your heart will be opened [enlightened]…”

And that’s where true faith comes from. It has to come from your heart.

Now, to the text, it says,

[Hebrews 11:7]By faith Noah, being warned (warned by who?) by God…”

We’ll just stop there for a moment, because how often do we heed the warnings of men? I mean, the so-called experts that are out there on health, and environment, and finances like the guy who’s accurately predicted the last five economic downturns in our country. And yet without seeing, we make life decisions, do we not? — on these things? I mean, how about the weather? I mean, when I was a kid, The weatherman got it right, you know, like 20% of the time… and he still had a job! Nobody gets that except the weatherman. But today, it’s different. I mean, just the other day, just the other day one of my grandson’s games were all shortened because of an impending storm which never came! I mean, we literally plan, or we cancel events by the forecast, albeit imperfect, because they’re so amazingly accurate these days. I mean, seriously, seriously folks, how much more? How much more should we heed the storm, warnings of God who is 100% accurate every time? We don’t have to see to believe. We don’t have to see to love the living God. And this is what Peter meant when he said,

[1 Peter 1:8] “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory…

If you want the faith of Noah, with Noah’s faith, you will, you will believe the unseen. And with Noah’s faith, you’ll endure. You’ll endure. You will endure in obedience to God.

Back to the text.

[Hebrews 11:7, “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”]

He’s “warned by God.” And look again what it says. He’s warned by God of “events yet unseen.” That is the coming catastrophic flood. “In reverent fear constructed in an ark…” This expression “reverent fear,” I really like the way the ESV translates it. It’s the only time this word’s ever used in the New Testament. “Reverent fear.” Whenever there’s reverent fear, there’s reverent obedience that follows. You do something with it. And now think about what God told Noah. It’s gonna take 120 years! And now if you’ve been around Saylorville [Church] for any amount of time, we’ve been through many over the last quarter of a century. We’ve had a lot of constructions, a lot of build-ons, a lot of additions, a lot of remodels. The last one took over a year. Can you imagine the patience we had to have? Are you kidding me? God gave Noah a task that would take 120 years! Think about this; 120 years of cutting, and carving, and shaping, and pounding, and building a vessel so large… it would be as big as one and a half football fields with three floors in a wooden box basically. Here, the word for “ark” just means “box.” I don’t think it looked like the one that we’ve many of us have visited, but that’s neither here nor there. Had three floors, one million four hundred thousand cubic feet to be able to house one hundred and twenty five thousand sheep. That’s the way they measured things back then, but it actually was able to hold two of every land animal in the world which came to him. But imagine, remember this is about Noah, not that ark itself, but imagine the endurance of Noah’s faith to carry all of this out on dry land, no less. over 120 years amidst the effort, and the scoffing, and the waiting… and the waiting! You think you wait? I mean some of us, your whole life, you just feel like you’re waiting all the time. I get it. But consider the faith of Noah.

[Isaiah 40:31] “…but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

…if you wait like you’re supposed to. Enduring faith in obedience is actually the proof that your faith is real to begin with. Remember where Jesus said in John 15, He said,

[John 15:16 ESV] “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide…”]

“I’ve come that you might bear fruit and that your fruit would remain, would continue, would endure.”

[Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that] He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Right? Now mind you, Noah was 600 years old when he went into the ark. He lived to be 950 years old! I mean, I know that sounds crazy, and people stumble over this all the time. People lived incredibly long, incredibly long lives. There’s estimations there were one to two billion people in the world at that time! It took thousands and thousands years just to get up to a billion people after this. And again, our Pastor Curt last week speculated as to why people lived so long. He talked about that uniform, you know, temperature, the ultraviolet rays are being kept out and all this kind of thing. Let me tell you something right now, with all due respect, I don’t doubt that there is something to that, there may even be, that might be the reason, but I’m telling you, you take out the ultraviolet rays in my life, I’m not living another 800 years! I think it’s a lot simpler than that. I think it’s God finally said, ‘You’re done living that long!’ And he put a cap on it. He tells it, ‘120 years. No more. Done.’ And if you think about it, before the flood, you might have a couple hundred years to think about trusting Jesus. Can you imagine a conversation? ‘Yeah, you know, I talked to Frank about 250 years ago. He’s still not interested in the gospel.’ What? And some of you don’t even have two years left. You don’t even have a guarantee beyond this moment! And James told us that, right?

[James 4:14b, “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.“]

What is your life anyway? It’s a vapor. And so God just shortened things. That’s all He did. And if you want the faith of Noah, you have to obey God in an enduring way. And … if you’ll do that, you will establish, confirm that your faith is real.

There’s one more thing with the faith of Noah. Not only will you see what’s not seen, and you’ll endure in obedience, but you will condemn an unbelieving world. You will condemn an unbelieving world, because that’s what the Bible says. Think about this. 120 years of cutting, and curving, and shaping, and pounding, and building, and (wait for it) … preaching! Yeah, preaching!

Now we’re gonna take the balance of this time to look how Peter, ’cause Peter’s second epistle is all about the end times, all about the end times, all about the return, and what’s gonna happen in the light of the return. And he’s encouraging these scattered out people. Look at it says in second Peter, chapter three,

2 Peter 2:4 ESV, 4 “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;”

Wait a minute, by the way, this is why I believe in those first several verses in Genesis 6…

[Genesis 6:1-7, “When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim 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.

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 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.”]

…something really nefarious was going on there. This wasn’t just normal, ugly, sinful activity. I think there was something demonic. I think there was an interaction between evil angels and human beings, and it was creating offspring that were probably unredeemable. This was really ugly! Why else would God be so grieved to destroy the entire world? And you notice that there are angels involved here, which, these are not good angels, by the way. These are demons we’re talking about here. Back to the text;

2 Peter 2:5a,If He” (if God) did not spare the ancient world, (when he brought the flood on its ungodly people) but protected Noah, a herald (a preacher) of righteousness and seven others…”

So now we know that Noah preached. And I actually have a collection of all of his… No, there’s nothing in there on that. So we don’t know what he preached. We know that he preached about God. We know that he preached of the impending judgment to come. And we know that no one listened to him! Imagine the patience, you think of the patience Jeremiah, oh my goodness… 120 years! And so he, we know he preached and we know by preaching, he condemned the world. That’s what the text says. He condemned the world!

Now just hold off there for a moment! Wait a minute. I thought God condemned the world. I thought God destroyed everything. I thought God brought the flood that inundated everything over the highest mountain the entire world. Didn’t God do all that? Yes, he did. So why does the writer tell us that Noah condemned it? Do you know what the answer is? Because he did… By his faith, by his unquestioning, unwavering obedience to God, along with the message that they were to repent, a message the world never listened to. This is why Charles Spurgeon looking at the life of Noah, he saw in him the principle that…

“Every act of faith condemns the world.”

Charles Spurgeon

That’s today as well. When you demonstrate your trust in God, when everything is going unravelled in your life, when cancer hits, when your kid rebels, when you have a child born with a deformity or worse, dies of an accident, if your spouse leaves you, if your job is taken away. And instead you say with the Psalmist

[Psalm 73:25-26, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”]

Whom have I other than you in heaven and on earth? I don’t have anyone else. My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart. He is my portion forever. When you do that. You condemn the world! You do that, because the world doesn’t think like that. And when you call others to repent and believe the gospel, and when you boldly speak out against ungodliness and unrighteousness and sexual perversion, and when you stand up for the right to life, the sanctity of life, not just the unborn, but the elderly as well, you condemn the world. The world doesn’t think like that. And the preaching of Noah reminds all of us that this world is coming to an end.

And Peter, as we have been spending the balance of our time, Peter brought together both the judgment of the flood that destroyed the world then with water, and he brought it in juxtaposition of the judgment which is yet to come where God will destroy the world by fire. Remember, the promise of God not to destroy the world in Noah’s time was just… He wouldn’t do it by a flood. He’s gonna do it by fire. And here’s how Peter puts it.

[2 Peter 3:3-4]Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing (because that’s what scoffers do. They scoff) following their own sinful desires.

4 They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming?’ (‘You guys are always talking about it’s coming.’) “For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”

This is uniformitarianism. This is no change.

And by the way, as for the scoffing, as for the mockery of those who believe Jesus is coming again… guilty is charged. I was one of them. A man once walked into a restaurant, who loved Jesus and sat down to eat his meal. And right next to him was a couple of teenage punks who were blaspheming God, dropping all kinds of vulgarities and making a mockery out of religion. And the man just couldn’t take it any longer. He leaned right into those two boys and said, “Do you believe Jesus is coming again?” And one of them said, “I’ll believe He’s coming again when you walk through that brick wall!”— And they both just mocked Him and laughed. That was me. That was me! And I look forward to meeting that follower of Jesus someday and I’ll ask him to forgive me when I do. But because of that experience and many others, God then created in me this insatiable desire to understand what the Bible taught about Jesus coming back! And I became enamored with the promise of Jesus’s soon return. God would use that to save my soul! But that was 40 years ago… 40 years ago! I better come up with a new definition for “soon” ’cause He hasn’t come back yet! And I believe it as passionately today as I believed it then. And the scoffers are still out there.

So what do you do about that? We have a promise. He even said, “I am coming quickly.” “I am coming soon.” [Revelation 22:20] And yet it’s  been a whole generation for me. It’s not here. What do we do about that? I’ll tell you what we do. We go back to God’s word. We go back to Peter in context who says this;

2 Peter 3:5-6, “For they (the scoffers) deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, (not evolution)

6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged (That’s a huge word. Deluged with water is exactly what the word means. And it what? It what?) With water and perished” (which means “to be utterly or entirely destroyed.”)

And archaeology and history confirm this flood was universal and catastrophic! In fact, did you know that there are over, like, I think it’s like 200, there are over 200 legends of the flood in virtually every culture around the world. Now, it’s a little bit like the telephone game because they’re all kind of bizarre, weird legends, you know, some are like a seven day rain. They’re not… the information isn’t all accurate. But the very fact that these people groups, these tribes, these people groups that came out of the tower of Babel spread around the world. They took with them these stories is actually a confirmation that it had happened! I think that’s really cool! And then you add fish fossils on mountains, animals buried intact, because that’s what happens during a flood. Bang! The whole thing gets buried! And in 2013, in the Russian tundra of the, toward the pole, there is a woolly mammoth they found… a woolly mammoth found intact! — and they were able to get into it and find seaweed, seaweed in its intestines! And last I checked, seaweed doesn’t grow real well in the poles. Now, how does that happen? It happens if there’s a universal flood that just catastrophically changes everything!

And what is Peter trying to tell us? He’s telling us from God and talking to all the scoffers, ‘I did this before. I’ll do it again!’ That’s what He’s saying. And by the way, it’s very fascinating to me that Jesus, Himself, gave us a glimpse. This is really rare. Jesus gave us a glimpse into the lives of the people in Noah’s day right up to the time God shut the door. In Matthew 24, look at it, here it is. Jesus said,

Matthew 24:37-39, 37 “For as were the days of Noah, (so there’s your context) so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (He’s talking about His own coming)

38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, (So what was going on at the time of the, just before the flood? Answer? Normal living; eating, drinking, getting married, giving your kids over to being married… That sounds pretty normal to me. And all of this right up to the time the door gets shut)

39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”

And if you don’t fear God, which I know some of you don’t, but if you don’t fear God, this should make you fear Him! — Because it’s going to happen in normal… I mean, we think of our world getting more immoral, more insane… and it is. And yet there’s all kinds of normal stuff happening, right?

Now, I tried to think, “How can I illustrate this with you?” I mean, just the other day, not six hours from where we live in Alton, Illinois, just north of St. Louis, on an artificial turf soccer field at 9:15 a.m., exactly one week earlier, there were 70 kids sitting in this very spot. I want you to look in the upper left hand side of this little video here. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a 100-foot wide sinkhole, 30 feet deep appears… right where those kids were sitting!

Now why would I share this with you? Well, because I want to scare you, of course! No, that’s not…! I mean, if it does, so be it. The point is, this is just normal stuff! This is what you’re doing, right here! This is where some of your kids are on the soccer field, on the baseball field, wherever normal life is happening and… Bang! That’s where it all ends.

So what are you going to do? Who is on your throne right now of your life?

Our family has our very own Noah. Many of you know him. 20 years ago his life literally hung in the balance, and there was a moment I didn’t think he was going to live. He had a genetic issue that took his dad out of this world and was about to take him out. But God gave him a new liver and a new life! — a new lease on it, anyway. In the middle of it all, I shared with him this Psalm where God says,

Psalm 29:10, “When the flood came, the Lord was on His throne. The Lord sits as King forever.”

When the flood came… the most catastrophic time this world has ever known, that killed everybody except for these eight… where was God? He was in the same place He is right now… on His throne.

The question is, is He on your throne? Have you enthroned Him and received His righteousness in your life? This is how Peter puts it as he concludes his time. He says,

2 Peter 3:11-13, “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to His promise we are waiting for a new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Amen? And that’s how the text ends.

Hebrews 11:7b, “By this he (Noah) condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”

Noah had it. Do you? When Noah came out of the ark about a year afterwards, stepped down to the earth, literally, old things had passed away! Literally, all things had become new! Is it any wonder that this is what Paul had in mind when he said,

[2 Corinthians 5:17] “…if anyone is in Christ, (in the ark, in the safety of the ark) he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, all things become new.”

The faith of Noah… get it and enjoy all that God has for you. Come hell or high water, He will never leave you. He will never forsake you, and He will bring you to safety. Amen?

Our God, we thank you so much for this time we could spend in Your word looking into the faith of Noah. God, give us that faith that sees what we can’t see, that endures with the endurance that You, Yourself give to us. And we realize today, Lord, that if our lives and our message are consistent, (not perfect, but they’re consistent) we will condemn the world and hopefully convert it at the same time. Once someone sees their condemnation, really sees it, sees where they’re headed, sees the destruction that dictates the end of their life, they will flee to you Lord. And so I just ask you, dear friend, you’re here, you’re sitting in here, you’re listening to this, this whole business of a universal flood, it just seems so crazy! — And yet, it happened! And it’s gonna happen again, only by fire. The baptism will be different, but it’ll be real. Will you be protected? Will you be in the ark? Will you be “in Jesus” where there’s safety and salvation? If you don’t have a relationship with Him, would you believe that He died for you? Would you believe that He rose again for you? Would you receive Him as your Lord and Savior right now? For the rest of us, dear God, please grant us the faith of Noah.

We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Let’s stand.


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