Hebrews 11:7, “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of righteousness that comes by faith.”
Noah’s example follows the theme of faith—”the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (v. 1). Like Abraham, as we’ll see in the next example, Noah believed God even though he could not see any physical evidence, which this faith was credited to him as righteousness. The Greek makes what’s written about Noah far more interesting. God warned Noah, but how was he warned? In the Greek, the word used here is χρηματίζω (chrematizo), which literally means to receive a divine message, or what we would call an oracle. In receiving this oracle, Noah acted with “reverent fear.” The Greek word used here is εὐλαβηθείς (eulabetheis), which is to show such reverence for something to the point of obedience. So, because of the divine message he received from God, He revered God so much that he felt obligated to obey Him. As Christians, we understand this fully. We experience the same reverence when we pray for our enemies rather than speaking ill will toward them. And what did Noah feel obligated to achieve? To construct an ark to save his household as the Lord commanded, which we know from Genesis 6:8-9:17. In other words, God spoke to Noah, and Noah believed Him (had faith), acted on that faith, and his faith (not his act/works) was credited to him as righteousness.
As the purpose of this chapter in Hebrews is to define faith while providing examples of faith, the writer is using Noah as an example to re-emphasise the point that we are justified by faith, not by works. Like Noah, when we hear God’s Word, we either believe Him or we don’t. When we believe Him (have faith), He justifies us (credits His righteousness to us), which this justification drives us to action according to God’s will. Remember, however, that this faith is gifted to us, not something we somehow generate ourselves (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Stay tuned for next time when we look at our next example of faith: Abraham.