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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 57 - Hebrews 11:7 - Noah's Faith and the World's Condemnation Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius




Noah's Faith And The World's Condemnation.


     "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of ha house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith."-Hebrews 11:7.



     Here are six things in the life of Noah: (1) The warning; (2) The fear; (3) The ark; (4) The salvation; (5) The condemnation; (6) The righteousness.

     I. The warning.-The word is the same as that used regarding Joseph and the young child (Matthew 2:12, 22); regarding Simeon (Luke 2:26); regarding Cornelius (Acts 10:22). The warning to Noah was a divine one; how given we know not, whether by voice, or vision, or dream, or angel. As the sons of God before the flood worshipped in front of Paradise, where the Shekinah rested, it might be from the glory that 'the God of glory' spoke to Noah, as afterwards to Abraham in Ur. The warning was explicit and unconditional, regarding coming doom. God announced that He meant to bring a flood upon the earth, for total destruction, whereby the world was to perish. There has been a warning sounding through the ages, 'Behold, the Lord cometh;' it is the warning of a more terrible deluge than that of Noah, a fiery deluge, in the day of the vengeance of our God.

     II. The fear.-The word does not mean dread or terror, but pious, reverential awe, at the prospect of divine judgment. God's words,-'The end of all flesh is come before me;' 'I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth,'-had sunk deep into his soul. He was not alarmed, but he was solemnized. He had heard God's verdict on the earth and on man; he knew how God hated sin; he saw the wickedness around; he knew that God would fulfill His word; he knew also that he and his family were safe, for God had said it; he thought of the calamity that was coming, and solemn awe took possession of him. Let us be of those who 'tremble at His word!' Let the prospect 'of the great day of the Lord,'-of the world's destruction and of our own salvation in that day,-make us solemn men. Noah's 'fear' is the contrast of the world's want of fear. He feared, they feared not; they went on in their feasting and reveling without fear, till the flood came. Let us have reverence and godly fear; fear that solemnizes; fear that separates from the unfearing world; fear that leads to forethought, and making ready for what is coming on the earth.

     III. The ark.-This was God's means of salvation in the evil day. It was His way of preserving Noah when He destroyed the rest. It was a thing of difficulty, cost, labour, ridicule. It was to some a stumbling block, and to others foolishness; but to the saved ones it was the power of God. It was the first intimation of deliverance in the midst of danger; as Enoch's translation was of removal from danger. It was a vessel of God's planning and man's making, like the tabernacle; type of Him who was made of a woman. It was a vessel of earthly materials, as was the tabernacle, and as He was who was made flesh. There was nothing supernatural or miraculous about it, yet it was meant to protect against the supernatural and miraculous,-viz. the deluge.

     IV. The salvation.-Its object was salvation,-salvation from the flood,-to Noah and his house. It did not help to save; it saved. It was effectual. Noah built it for this end. He knew what he was doing; for he acted in obedience to God. He was persuaded that it would come because God had said so. He believed in a coming destruction, and he believed in a coming salvation. Both of these might seem dreams to the millions round him, but to his faith they were realities. The ark might seem a piece of folly to the world; to him it was salvation. It was God's ark, not Noah's ark. It was salvation not only to himself, but to his family, for his sake. God saved them because he had found favor in His sight. He is the second specimen of God's representative dealings with man: Adam the first, then Noah, and then Abraham.

     V.  The condemnation.-It was the world that he condemned; the seed of the serpent; they who are elsewhere called 'men' and 'sons of men,' whom Christ calls 'the world,'-the chosen of the evil one. That world Noah condemned. He did so,

     (1.) By his faith.-His faith was the condemnation of their unbelief. His walk of faith was the condemnation of their walk of unbelief. So is it that we, by faith, condemn the world. There is nothing so condemning to the world as the faith of believing men,-that faith which is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

     (2.) By his building the ark.-That ark meant both salvation and destruction. It was Noah's warning to the world, and it was God's warning. For many a year he persisted in his work of building it; and every plank laid, every nail driven in, every stroke of the hammer, was the condemnation of the world. We have no ark to build, but we have to enter one already built,-Christ Jesus Himself; and in doing so, in reckoning ourselves safe simply because of our connection with it, we condemn the world.

     (3.) By his preaching.-He was a preacher of righteousness. Like Paul, he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come. In him, and through him, Jesus Himself went and preached unto those who were disobedient in the day of God's long-suffering. Noah condemned their unbelief, their violence, their licentiousness, their luxury, their worldliness. Let our words so condemn the world.

     (4.) By his life.-He lived what he preached. He kept himself unspotted from the world. His life was a protest against the lives of all around. So let our lives be. Thus let us follow Noah,-let us follow Christ,-being holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from the world; for the friendship of the world is enmity with God.

     VI. The righteousness.-He became heir, or served himself heir, to the righteousness which is by faith. Not that now he first became a justified man,-he was so before.  But now his faith came out conspicuously, and exhibited him as one of the great company to whom belongs the righteousness which is by faith. To him it might be said, 'Thy faith hath saved thee.' His life and actings proved him to be an heir of the righteousness. He acted out what he believed. He lived and spoke in faith. God testified of him that he had found favor in His sight; that he was a justified man.

     Are we of this blessed Company,-the company of the justified? Do we believe, and, in believing, find favor with God? Do we stand by Noah's side as justified men, condemners of the world, witnesses for God in a godless world?