In this series, we are examining examples in the Bible of men and women who left their lives behind in order to follow Jesus. Last week, we talked about Abraham and how he left his family and his entire way of life to follow the call of God. God used his act of faith to establish his kingdom. Hundreds of years before Abraham, there was an ancestor of Abraham named Noah who also left his life behind to follow God’s call.
As the earth was becoming more and more populated, the effect of Adam’s sin began to take its toll upon society. Genesis 6 talks about how even the thoughts and intentions of the heart were upon evil continually. God made a decision to wipe out all of humanity, but God chose Noah to carry on the line of Adam. God commanded Noah to build an ark. This might have been strange given that no such event has happened before in the past. We’re not told about Noah’s thinking or his attitude toward this strange command. And yet Noah obeyed. We’re only told that Noah “did this” and that “he did all that God commanded him” (Gen. 6:22). Why? What gave Noah such an obedient faith to simply obey God’s calling?
In the New Testament, we’re told a little bit more about Noah’s thinking. We’re told two reasons in particular. In Hebrews 11:7 tells us that Noah, “being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household.” We’re also told in this passage that Noah was warned by God. He heard God’s warning and respected it. He honored it. In other words, his understanding of God’s word that it was true, it was serious and that God could be trusted to bring about what God says He would do. We’re told that Noah obeyed out of “reverent fear”. This reverent fear has to do with respect, honor and awe.
The second thing that we’re told in the New Testament was that in Noah acting the way he did, he became a “herald of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). In Noah revering God and obeying his commandment, Noah proclaimed that God is a good God. His actions served as a sign and embodied what a God who loves good looks like. He also demonstrated what faith and what pleases God. Noah’s proclamation wasn’t just for his day. His proclamation is true for us today as well.
What does Noah’s action have to do with us today? Here are three things to consider. First, Noah is listed in Hebrews 11 as an example of faith that we are called to follow. Hebrews 6:11-12 says, “And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (ESV)” Scripture points to how Noah persevered and trusted in God’s promises. How do we respond when God calls us to obey? Do we put up excuses? Do we try to find a justification for our disobedience? The example of faith we see is not one that equivocated. Noah obeyed. When God calls us to obey- do we ignore it? There may be something in your life that you have not yet surrendered. The problem is that we are not objective in our considerations of obedience. In our sinful nature we don’t want to obey. The question we must ask is are we truly surrendered?
Second, Noah’s obedience calls us to seek to obey God with eagerness. Hebrews challenges us to pursue obedience with eagerness. Obedience is not meant to be a sluggish response done out of resentment or bitterness. It is meant to be zealous and full of joy. This does not mean that it will not be difficult or costly. This does not mean that obedience will come naturally. But it means that we are called to examine our hearts to ask, do we desire Him? Do we honor God out of love and respect for Him?
Lastly, we are called to trust his promises. The writer of Hebrews was encouraging his hearers not to abandon the promises given to us in Jesus. Do we trust in God’s promises? The greatest promise is that if we look to Jesus he will rescue us and unite us to Himself. Not only will he rescue us from eternal condemnation, but He will also rescue us from the sin we face today. We do not have power to face down our temptations. But God is willing and able to rescue us to seek to obey Him. He promises to walk with us throughout our lives until we see God face to face. Sin and temptation do not have the last word, God does. His Holy Spirit is dwelling within us to overcome our failures. His cross was big enough to erase our sin. His Spirit is dwelling within us to meet us in our weakness.