Sermon on Hebrews 11:7

This post consists of sermon notes on a sermon preached today by my former pastor, Rev. Patrick Morgan.

Hebrews 11:7 reads as follows: 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.

Notice in the context that faith is defined by verse 1: “the assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of things unseen.” The faithful exhibit their lives as a testimony to unseen things. Abel did this by sacrificing by faith, trusting in The Sacrifice. Enoch walked with the God he could not see. Noah trusted that the Flood was coming, though he could not see it. Noah, Abel and Enoch all pleased God (that is, found grace in the eyes of the Lord).

Enoch contrasts with Noah somewhat, since Enoch was called out of this world to glorify God (by pre-figuring eternal life), whereas Noah was called to live out his life in the world.

Abel’s faith was persecuted, Enoch’s faith was death-defying, and Noah’s faith was reverent and full of godly fear. What role does a fearing faith play in our lives today?

Fear was the motivation for his faith. Fear in this context is not some kind of craven cowardice, but rather the Isaiah 6 kind of fear. It is the opposite fear to worldly fear, of which we must beware.

Noah’s fear was in accord with God’s righteousness. In other words, we must follow God without regard for our personal preferences, but must rather follow God out of reverent fear.

Noah’s fear was distrusting of himself. He did what God commanded. He did not try to reason in a human way such that his course of action would come more in line with what he thought was reasonable. Rather, he distrusted himself. We need to be unwilling to do things our way. Let’s build our ark the way God says to build it, not adding extra stories or windows. If we try to do things our way (i.e., without reverent fear) we will fail.

Noah’s fear produced obedience. There is the analogy here of Jesus’ mother at Cana. She said, “Whatever He says, do it.” Obedience is not primarily about perfection in this life, though that is certainly the goal which we reach (by God’s grace) at death. Obedience is rather about precision. Noah’s obedience was not an accident. No one can obey God by accident. It comes through a knowledge of the Word.

Noah obeyed God despite opposition. The tremendously evil world at the time of Noah surely opposed Noah, though the text does not say that they laughed at him. Noah also obeyed God when things changed. The ark was safe. So when God told him to get out of the ark, it might have been tempting for him to say, “Well, the ark has kept us safe so far: why should I leave it?” But that is not what he does. Instead, he just obeys. For us, then, we should be willing to change our broken understandings, knowing that God and His Word do not change.

When we obey, we see God’s will being done in our lives. In Noah’s case, for instance, we see his family saved, Noah vindicated (and the world condemned), and Noah receiving the righteousness of Christ.