Hebrews 11:7 (NKJV) 7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
Last time we began to look at Noah’s place in the Hall of Fame of faith found in Hebrews 11:7. We saw a number of things about Noah’s faith that we can apply to our lives. We saw that Moses believed what God was saying even though the rest of the world thought he was crazy. Second, we found that Noah was willing to go against the flow of his culture and his time even in the face of ridicule or rejection.
If we want to have Hall of Fame faith, we must be willing to do the same. When God speaks it rarely will be in tune with the opinions of the times. We must choose to believe God, including what he says in his written Word, no matter who else rejects it. We must also be willing to go against the grain of culture and the prevailing attitudes if we are going to walk by faith in the invisible God.
There are some other things we can learn from Noah. There is something in verse 7 that we usually do not want to talk about. Noah was moved with godly fear. I believe in a loving and accepting God. In Romans 8, Paul says that nothing could separate him from God’s love. I believe that for myself. I may do things that are not pleasing to God. Nevertheless, I can always come home. God always loves me just like the father in Luke 15 loved the prodigal son. He did not follow the son into the pig pen, but he was waiting for him when he returned. The father never stopped loving him and our Father will never stop loving us.
That said, we cannot eliminate the fear of the Lord from the equation. This term appears throughout the bible. What does it mean to fear God and why is as important to our faith as it was to Noah’s?
To fear God does not carry the connotation of being afraid of God as we might interpret it. According to Strong’s concordance the word for fear means to be circumspect. Circumspect means to be cautious. Strong’s goes on to say that this kind of fear is to be apprehensive; religiously, to reverence. Understanding God’s love is vital to faith. Understanding that he is still God is also vital. In the chapter just preceding our study we read this.
Hebrews 10:30-31 (NKJV) Heb 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
That is the New Testament, not the Old. In the next chapter, chapter 12, he reinforces this.
Hebrews 12:7-8 (NKJV) Heb 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.
It is not hard to understand the fear of the Lord if we understand family. I raised six children. My children and I spent wonderful times together. I loved being their Daddy. We played together, worked together and shared life together. My children are all grown now, but to this day when my wife and I are traveling I think of how it would be wonderful to share whatever thing we may be seeing with my kids.
They were not afraid to come into my presence. They are still at home in my house. They know I would do anything I can for them, and they know they will always be my children not matter what. However, even today the fear me in a wholesome and healthy sense.
In this context, fear means to have a healthy respect and awe. They grew up in my house. Today they know that I am flawed and human but when they were in their formative years, I was not just Daddy. I was their father. I was there to care for them, but this included discipline and correction. Because they knew how much I loved them, they knew I would do nothing to hurt them. They wanted to bless me and make me proud. In their awe for the father they learned to trust me, to obey me and to be like me where it counted. That foundation remains.
Paul reveals this dynamic to us in Romans 8:15
Romans 8:15 (NKJV) Ro 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
Sometimes it seems we only want to relate to Abba. That is the word for Daddy in the language of Jesus world. However, Paul says we must cry out both Abba, Daddy, and Father. Our Father is all powerful, all knowing and everywhere present. He sees all we do and hears all we say. He knows every thought, and nothing is hidden from him. He loves me, and yet as my Father I honor and respect him. As my God I hold him in reverence and awe. There is a certain caution in how I approach him. Not because I doubt his love but because I know it is there but I also I understand who and what he is. I fear the Lord.
In Noah’s life, this aspect of God’s love for him and more important his love for God caused him to believe God’s word above his culture. It empowered him to go against the popular flow of his day. He understood the power of God. He understood the holiness of God. To go against that in order to please those around him was unthinkable.
This attitude also enhanced his faith because he had no doubt about what God could and would do. If God said destruction was coming, it was coming. If God said and Ark would save him, he would build and ark. The fear of the Lord is what motivates us to obey his Word when it is uncomfortable, unpleasant or even dangerous. He is our Father. He is God and he does not lie.
Today it is not easy to convey what the bible means by the fearing God. It has been contaminated by religious systems that imply we must “appease” God so he will not do bad things to us. That is not at all the idea here. That thought implies that God is looking for a reason to punish us. Hebrews 11:6 tells us God is a rewarder. He wants to reward us, but when we do not understand who we are dealing with, we will do things that keep him from being able to. We disobey. We take sin lightly. We see God as someone we can “get around” instead of someone we must not be out of sync with.
I have pastored a long time. I have seen children who did not fear their parents. They were rebellious. They talked to Mom and Dad like they would talk to some kid in school. They did not obey because they had no awe reverence or respect for their father and mother. Unless God intervenes, those children generally end up in trouble. The parents, who often just want their kids to love them, find that love without requiring respect will turn into hatred and rejection. I want my children and grandchildren to love me. I equally want them to respect and honor me, not for my sake but for theirs.
We need to fear God to have Hall of Fame faith. We need to know we can come to him and he will never reject us. We also need to have the kind of awe and reverence for him that says, “My Father will do what he says and whatever he requires is for my good. I will not disobey him, and I will trust his word.”