NOAH WARNED OF GOD (Hebrews 11:71)
The warnings of God are to be heeded by His servants, both by the prophets and by others! These warnings of the LORD are quite different from those of men, especially His predictive warnings concerning the judgments of the world and concerning the ultimate salvation of the Church of Christ in the world. It is the Son of God Who gathers and defends His church, elected unto everlasting life, in the unity of faith. And His ways are in the Sanctuary. His footsteps are seen in every day of the world’s existence in His secret providence. And if ever we saw this Word of God fulfilled in the cataclysmic judgment, it was in the days of Noah. Forever afterwards the sacred record speaks of “as it was in the days of Noah.” This became the divine pattern of the final catastrophic overthrow of the world in the last day!
Hebrews 11:7 says that Noah was “warned of God.” The term here employed in the Greek ischreesmatistheis. This term is employed by the writer to the Hebrews also in Hebrews 8:5 and Hebrews 12:25. In Hebrews 8:5 the writer speaks of Moses being warned of God. He is warned by the Lord that he make the tabernacle according to the pattern shown him on the mount, (Exodus 25:40). Moses was to be very meticulous in building the tabernacle and its furnishings; he was in no case to follow any design of his own ideas and fabrication. Moses was in no sense of the word to design the divine symbolism of the covenant of the Triune God. When we turn toHebrews 12:25, we notice that the author of the Hebrews warns the church by way of comparison. He points out how God spoke on earth to men with His warnings. It may have been a less perfect revelation of God to Moses and Israel when compared with the final and heavenly, but it was nonetheless a “warning,” a divine oracle which was heeded. These warnings and threatenings were the words of God entrusted to Israel. And that was Israel’s chief advantage, (Romans 3:1-3)
The timing of this warning was according to the divine time-table. It was one hundred twenty years before the actual fulfillment in the Flood. Unbelief, as we see in the world of Noah’s day, would not accept the Word of God. But the veracity of the event lies exactly in the prediction, and that it comes to pass according to it. It proves to be no mere happenstance, a freak of nature, a breaking of the harmony of the Deistically conceived Universe which runs according to positive “laws of nature.” But this is the warning Word, the oracle of God, spoken from His holy throne, summoning men and women, all the godless, into His court, and proclaiming to all that the “end of all flesh is come before Him.” Noah was to heed this summons of God when all the world comes and stands in the fury of God’s mighty judgment! We do well to notice this announcement as proof that the Flood was the work of God in His mighty judgment.
Besides, this warning, as to its positive instructions, must be carefully noticed by Noah. He must build an ark. And he is instructed in the minutest details how he is to build this ark. He is told who and what will go into the ark. He must prepare an ark for himself and for the animals of every kind, so that in a “new world” there may be survivors. God will not create a new world, but He will continue the world’s history through this ark. The ark is, so to speak, the medium of the new world. Here the church will be preserved in the context of the cosmos! That is the “covenant” which the Lord makes and remembers with Noah. These words to Noah are covenantal words rooted in God’s sovereign love and mercy. Noah found “grace” in the eyes of the Lord. He was a vessel of mercy prepared by the Lord for His purpose in His sovereign love. Noah did not find mercy because he “walked” with God. On the contrary, Noah walked with God because he had found favor with the Lord. Had the Lord not named him “Noah” through his father, as we read, “And he (Lamech) called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed?” Pray, how did Lamech prophesy this? Did he do so by some vague human premonition? That no Bible student worthy of the name will hold. Lamech prophesied here as a divine indication that Noah had been separated for the “comfort” of the church from his mother’s womb. Thus in the covenant of grace for the church from his mother’s womb. Thus in the covenant of graces for the church of God in Noah’s day it is: comfort ye, comfort ye my people.
And then when Noah was five hundred thirty years old, and after he had been a “preacher of righteousness” for centuries, he was told of what God would do for the “comfort” of the church, and what He likewise would do to all the godless because of all the ungodly words which they have spoken. Noah comforted the people of God with divine Eschatology. And, finally, Noah’s preaching receive the “Amen” of God, received this “Amen” in the cataclysmic destruction of the world and of every living creature, (Jude 1:14, 15).
NOAH FEARS WITH A GODLY FEAR (Hebrews 11:7)
The things of which Noah is “warned” of God are as yet not seen. They are for Noah as certain as if they had already occurred. Noah believed God. He had found favor with God and, therefore, believed with a faith which does not fall back into perdition, but believes, to the saving of the soul. His conduct is an example for all the saints, and is a concrete exhibition of “faith as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Hebrews 11:1).
However, because Noah believed God, he “was moved with fear.” The fear with which he was moved was simultaneous withy the “warning.” The hearing of Noah was mingled with faith. And thus Noah profited by the warning; and in this fear Noah translated the warning into action to build the commanded ark. And, therefore, the emphasis falls on “by faith” in the text.
One might become involved in a deep psychological study of “godly fear” here. One might try to trace with his finger the work of God in this wonder of faith as it moves to fear upon hearing the warning of God. However, those who have faith know the spiritual psychological reality of this connection between faith and “godly fear.” The term “godly fear” in the Greek is eulabeetheis.
According to competent scholars the term eulabeia marks that careful and watchful reverence, which pays regard to every circumstance in that with which it has to deal, (Westcott). Trench says that the image on which this term rests is that of careful taking hold and careful handling, as if of some precious yet fragile vessel.
If such be the case, then the writer seeks to teach that Noah’s faith was such in the divine warning and directions that he gave careful heed to them; yea, for one hundred twenty years he held on to this Word of God concerning unseen things and worked while it was day, ere the night come in which no man can work. And this Noah did in spite of the evil men of his day, while the long suffering of God waited! (I Peter 3:20; Luke 17:26, 27) Noah did not hesitate and say, “Whereby shall I know that this will come to pass?” as did Abraham and Zacharias and Gideon. The godly fear was instantaneous with the divine warning. Notice the two aorist participles both alike, showing that the action was contemporaneous. (Pistei . . . chreematistheis. . . eulabeetheis.)
NOAH CONDEMNS THE WORLD AND BECOMES HEIR OF RIGHTEOUSNESS BY FAITH (Hebrews 11:7b)
In the real sense of the word Noah could not condemn the world. That is the prerogative of the Judge of heaven and earth. Noah could only condemn the world by obeying the warning of God concerning the judgment of the Flood. And that is really what the text says. For the “by which” refers to Noah’s faith and the godly fear of this faith. Noah judged and condemned the world by bowing his head in deep piety and reverence, trusting that God would call all his and God’s enemies into hell and destruction, and that God would save him with all the elect in glory. Yes, this would mean many centuries of history yet; nevertheless, Noah looked for the final coming of the King in His glory.
Did he not prepare an ark for the “salvation of his house?” And is this “house” not the “generations of Noah” as they are blessed in the Noahic blessing, which reads, “blessed be the God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant?” For this house, the church of the living God, both Jew and Gentile, Noah prepared an ark. For from the sons of Noah the entire human race developed, and out of all these nations is the church gathered. The human race is saved organically in Noah’s generations. For, according to the flesh, Christ was in that ark. So Noah’s preparing of the ark was not mere “fleeing from the wrath to come,” but it was an anticipation of greater things for the church, a-new world in which the earth would not any longer be cursed for man’s sake. It was for the salvation of his house that he prepared the ark.
Was not this ark and the flood a picture, a type of baptism, which is not merely a putting away of the filth of the flesh but is a question of a good conscience toward God? Was not the church saved in the ark and by the water? When Noah rides on the Flood and in the awful deep in which the entire world is condemned to death and hell—it was then that Noah must have sung a song as did Israel when Pharaoh and all his hosts were drowned in the Red Sea. And riding the waves and the mighty deep, Noah by faith condemns the world! Hallelujah!
And this same Noah also became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. Before the Flood, Noah was simply a voice crying in the wilderness. He buried the saints until he even must commit the aged Methuselah to the earth in the very year of the Flood. The Flood could not harm such. Adam, Abel, and the saints are in their burial places. But the church is gathered, defended, and preserved not in spite of the Flood, but right through the Flood. And Noah has his reward. It is not a mere earthly and temporal reward. It is the reward of a son in God’s covenant. He is remembered with a reward of grace.
Yes, Abraham has the promise of being heir of the world, (Romans 4). In this same sense Noah, too, is an heir. He is the only Patriarch of his kind. He is heir, joint-heir with Christ. But it is according to the rule and standard of faith. It is by grace! Therefore, also Noah is not saved except by the sovereign love of God. Noah, too, was a poor sinner. No flesh is justified before God by the works of the law. Noah was saved by grace through faith, and all his house also, the church in the ark and the holy Christian church which the Son of God gathers out of the entire human race.
Let us, then lift up our feeble hands and strengthen our weak knees, looking at faith of this man of God in the cloud of witnesses.