“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Hebrews 11:7).
Faith and Fear
Noah was born in a time when the human race had sunk to an extremely low and corrupt state. His parents hoped his birth was a sign that reform was coming, yet their hopes were greatly disappointed. “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). God announced to him that He was going to judge the wicked world with a flood. Noah was “moved with fear”, not just because a flood was being sent, but also because of his reverent and humble fear toward God and His judgment and mercy. Noah’s fear was also a sign that he had repented of sin himself. When he first believed that God was going to judge the world for its sin, it forced him to admit that he was a guilty and unworthy sinner too. Therefore, he asked God to forgive him and spare him from judgment. He must have also had a deep sense of what sin is, to be able to acknowledge that God was just in sending a flood in judgment of sin. He showed his faith in God coming from a heart in sorrow for sin. And he proved it by building the ark God would use to save him, and by warning everyone for 120 years that judgment was coming. It was due to his steadfast faith that not only he, but his whole household, was saved.
In that dark and difficult time, Noah was able to hear God’s voice deep in his soul—warning him to get an ark ready to save him and his family before judgment came. Noah could not yet see any indication at all of a flood, but he trusted and believed God nevertheless, and did just what God told him to do to get ready. As Noah was building the ark, it became a public statement that he believed God, while his neighbors and all the others who watched him did not believe God at all. The actions of one man in the midst of all the rest of mankind offered visible proof of what God had warned mankind about, and thereby condemned all the others who would not believe that God meant what He said.
The flood God sent was His judgment on an ungodly world. And His treatment of Noah during this time showed that God knows how to take care of those who believe in Him, no matter how great the judgment may be that falls around them. God told Noah, “Come thou and all thy house into the ark, for thee have I seen righteous before Me in this generation” (Genesis 7:1). God considered Noah righteous because of his faith in Him. Whenever people have real faith in God, their life will line up with the righteousness God has credited to them.
Shelter from judgment
Keep in mind that building the ark was not a short-term project! Noah didn’t work on it for a few weeks and then return to his rocking chair to wait and see what God would do next. He worked consistently for years getting ready, never giving up, never letting the scoffing and scorn of all the others slow him down or make him quit. He was the one who realized that it was “…a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:21). He also saw that he would need somewhere to go when judgment came so he, himself, would not drown. He faithfully held to his belief year after year concerning what God had told him, until it finally came to pass.
Yet how many others in that part of the world around Noah watched him build, mocking him the whole time, saying, “We don’t see any flood coming. It isn’t even raining, Noah!” Then they would slap each other on the back and tell jokes about Noah and go back to their party and laugh some more. Look at the world today, by comparison. People of the world around those who believe God is coming again in judgment laugh at and mock them today too. But Jesus took the time to say, long in advance of our time, “…as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man…” (Luke 7:26). People of that time would eat, drink, marry, and give their daughters in marriage—life as usual—right up to the very day that Noah entered his shelter from judgment (see Luke 17:27)! Remember that the people of Noah’s time had never heard of, much less seen, a judgment like this before. Today we have it in writing in our Bible, verified by Jesus Himself, telling us just what happened to them and why—when the whole world was destroyed in judgment—just as God had predicted!
Heir of everything
It might have occurred to Noah, as he waited for the flood and looked over what he could see of the world around him, that one day he and his family would be the only ones left in the world—and would therefore inherit it all! This example illustrates that our faith is the heir to everything God has also! The people of the world don’t really own anything anyway—all belongs to God to distribute or destroy as He sees fit.
Noah’s positive response to God’s warning condemned the world around him while convicting it of sin. Then he inherited everything that he could receive from his righteousness by faith in God. When Noah walked out of the ark, his eyes surveyed a world that was now all his, as its ruler, its master, its lord! All of this because he both believed God, and acted upon what he believed.
Condemning the world
“For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:17-19 emphasis added).
Those living today who have given their lives to God and believe in Him are already citizens of heaven. “…He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24 emphasis added). Jesus will be coming soon, “…in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:52), to take us to be with Him in heaven, away from all the trials of earth. We should therefore be like Noah, eagerly anticipating our removal from earth before God’s fulfillment of prophecy concerning final judgment on the world around us. If we also have righteousness by having faith in God, then we can confidently declare to all around us: “Flee from the wrath to come” (Matthew 3:7)!