Summary: Noah’s life teaches three lessons concerning faith.
Shiloh Bible Church
Faith’s Hall of Fame: Noah
Let’s play a game of word association. I’m going to give you a word and I want you to say aloud the first word that comes to your mind.
Ready? The word is: Noah.
It sounds like many of you responded by the word “ark.” And that’s what most people would say. When we think of Noah we immediately think of the word “ark” or “flood” or “water.”
When I taught at Washington Bible College, I would collect cartoons and put them on transparencies to use as illustrations in class. For some reason, I have many Noah’s ark cartoons. Here are some of my favorites. [Show cartoons on PowerPoint.]
Well, when most people hear the word “Noah,” the first thing that comes to mind is the word “ark.” However, if you said the word “Noah” to the writer of Hebrews, I think the first word that would come to his mind would be “faith.” That’s because the writer of Hebrews chose Noah as a member of Faith’s Hall of Fame. We read of this in Hebrews chapter 11. Please turn there with me.
As the writer of Hebrews thumbs through the book of Genesis, he comes to a well-worn, dog-eared page that tells the story of a man of uncommon faith—a man by the name of Noah. The writer distills entire chapters of Noah’s life into just one verse in Hebrews 11. In Hebrews 11:7 we read, “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”
Noah’s life teaches us 3 lessons about faith. And we want to consider those lessons this morning. The first lesson is this:
1. FAITH RESPONDS IN OBEDIENCE
Look at that first sentence in verse 7 once again: “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.”
God warned Noah that He was going to destroy the whole earth by means of water. And Noah responded by believing God—even though he had never seen a catastrophic flood before. And that’s the essence of faith—believing what God says, even if appearances seem to dictate otherwise. I remind you of how the writer of Hebrews defined faith back in verse 1: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
Noah believed what God said and responded in obedience to His command. Noah built an ark to save him and his family.
But why was God going to destroy the earth in the first place? To answer that we need to turn to the book of Genesis. Keep one finger in Hebrews 11 and turn back with me to Genesis chapter 6. Noah’s story begins at 5:28 and extends through 9:29.
We read in chapter 6 that mankind had become incredibly wicked during the pre-flood period. So much so that Genesis 6:5 describes them in these terms: “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, ‘I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.’”
Back in Genesis 1:31, God looked over His original creation and saw that it was very good. But now, mankind had become so corrupt and so wicked that God decided to wipe them off the face of the earth. Verse 7: “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.” “But Noah …” In contrast to everyone on earth who was engulfed in wicked living, there stood a righteous man named Noah.
And God revealed to Noah that He was going to judge the earth by a flood. And the only way Noah and his family would be spared is by building an ark. Noah believed God and responded in obedience.
Now, Noah’s ark is often depicted as a small boat with animals crowded on deck. But this isn’t the picture that the Word of God gives us.
The dimensions of the ark are given in verses 16 and 17: “This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.” So, the ark was 1½ football fields in length, as wide as a football field is wide, and 4 stories high. It had 3 decks on which you could fit 20 college basketball courts. And the inside of the ark was over 100,000 square feet. To help you visual it a bit better, when you leave Shiloh this morning, stand in the middle of Church Street, facing the Susquehanna River. From our brick sign out front to the corner of Church Street and Old Berwick Road is the length of Noah’s ark. From our glass front door to the front lawn of Parsonage 1 across the street is the width of the ark. And the cross on top of our steeple is the height of the ark. It was an impressive vessel that took Noah 120 years to build.