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Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith

Noah: Preacher of Righteousness

It must be understood that the whole of Hebrews chapter 11 revolves around verse 6:
without faith it is impossible to please God. The characters mentioned thereafter serve as
examples of those who pleased God. In some way, they demonstrated faith that caused God to
be pleased with them. This faith was more than a simple “belief” about or in something. It was
faith that caused an action. It caused them to change their entire lives in order to pursue
something they thought of much more importance. That something was God.
Noah was no exception. Like the other people mentioned in this Hall of Faith chapter,
Noah demonstrated and extraordinary trust in nothing more than a word. But it was a word he
knew he could trust for its source came from none other than YWH Himself. He demonstrated
several characteristics of faith that caused God to find favor in [His] eyes. These very
characteristics are what caused God to look upon Noah and his family and rescue them alone
from the coming destruction. And these very characteristics are what we should examine. No
doubt, there will be much more to them then what could be expounded upon here, but hopefully
they will serve to get us started. We will look at the Genesis passages dealing with Noah. There
are other passages that mention Noah but this will be the primary text focused upon.

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every
intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he
had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, "I will blot out
man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and
birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the eyes of
the LORD. These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his
generation. Noah walked with God. And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now
the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the
earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.

There are three key things we are told about Noah in this passage:
A. Noah was righteous—This is amidst the growing wickedness and corruption that
was fast spreading upon the earth. When everyone around Noah was giving into their lusts and
flesh Noah remained steadfast in what he knew was right. Though we are not told the exact
nature of the wickedness we can ascertain two things from it:
1. The wickedness was great in the earth. The idea here is that it was widespread. All flesh
had corrupted their way, is what we are told. In other words, it was not localized to a
single area. Remember though, that the dispersment has not yet taken place so that all
the nations speak one language. This would make it much easier to share their ideas and
perfect any kind of wickedness they wished. We are told that God saw man’s
wickedness. The Hebrew verb gives us a clue just to how depraved man actually was. It
is rendered in an imperfect tense which suggests an incomplete action. The connotation
then, seems to be that man was not through becoming wicked, nor was his intention to
stop spreading his wickedness. A frightful thing to meditate upon!
2. The wickedness was intentional. Or, their actions and intentions, that is, are continually
against God. The Hebrew, once again gives great insight into the meaning. The word
translated as ‘intentions’ or ‘imaginations’ designates a form or framework of sorts. In
Psalm 103:14 David uses this word as the reason for God’s mercy: For He knows our
frame. He remembers that we are dust. This passage points to the general “framework”
of man so to speak. It tells us that man without the Holy Spirit is built for and to a
wicked life. If ever a verse there was to point to the total depravity of man then this
verse would serve well.

I point to the wickedness of man in order to contrast it with the righteousness of Noah.
He stood as a beacon to his generation though they did not recognize him as such. He was, as
Hebrews 11 tells us later of all the great people of faith, not worthy of this world. He was a
righteous man. What exactly is being righteous? I believe we can sum it up with two simple
explanations:
1. Righteousness is knowing what is right. This calls for discernment. Many people today
don’t really understand how to distinguish between right and wrong. The usual method
is to go along with the majority. And as is demonstrated in this passage the majority
was way off. In fact, the majority were the ones who got killed. But neither can
Discernment merely be “guessing” at what God wants. Many people have ventured in
this area and have fallen even shorter than those of Noah’s day. True discernment
comes only from the Holy Spirit, which in turn comes from a daily seeking of Him and
His power. In fact, Hebrews 5:14 gives us the answer of how to discern: It is by
constant use (i.e, practice) of what we are learning. This is why “solo” Christianity is so
wrong. God has given His Church pastors and teachers in order to equip us. And the
more we use what we have been equipped with the more discerning we will become.
2. Righteousness is doing what is right. Merely knowing a fact is not enough. There must
be a purposeful intent to act upon that knowledge. Even more so, is the intent to act
upon what God has declared as right for this is the true meaning of righteousness.
Renegade “Christians” run amuck in the world today, trying hard to look and act as the
world in order to reach them. They say that relevance is the key to winning them. Yet
we see clearly in this passage that Noah shunned relevance and continued to do
everything that he already knew was right. As a popular evangelist once said, “Do right
‘til the stars fall.”

B. Noah was just and blameless. A second characteristic we find in Noah is closely connected
with his righteousness. He is called ‘just’ and ‘blameless.’ It is interesting that the word for
‘just’ also indicates one who loves truth (Gesenius H6662). One who is wicked rejects truth.
This is what primarily causes him to be wicked. Because of his hatred for truth he does that
which is contrary to truth. In this context, the contrariness is God who is, through Noah, calling
him to repentance. Noah, on the other hand, is a lover of God’s truth and therefore seeks to
know and understand it. This points us to the ‘perfect’ aspect of Noah. Please note, that perfect
in this context does not indicate sinlessness. Tamiym indicates a wholeness or completeness,
much like the Greek word ‘telios.’ It signifies, as Gesenius states, “altogether given to God.”
Both of these words fit together to describe Noah’s conduct and his attitude towards God and
His laws.

C. Noah walked with God. One last characteristic of Noah needs to be examined in the Genesis
6 account. It is the personal and relational aspect of fellowship with the Creator. We are told
that Noah walked with God. Exactly what that looked like on a tangible level we are not told.
He did not possess a Bible, so he could not have read it. It was hundreds of years before the
establishment of the Law, so he would not have known it. All we know of his relationship is
that he pleased God and knew what God required of him even before he was instructed to build
the ark. Otherwise, he would not have found favor in God’s eyes by going with the flow. He
knew God on a personal level. He was intimate with Him, and God with him. There are,
however, two key things about the verbal aspect of this verb ‘walked’ that we may attempt to
draw a conclusion about his relationship.
1. The Hithapel stem—this stem in Hebrew is often used in a reflexive sense. The action is
done with a view of affecting the self in some way. Noah walking with God was
beneficial to himself because it allowed him to discern and avoid the evils of his
generation. But this stem also conveys a reciprocal action, which is probably better
suited for this context. Reciprocation always indicated relationship. One cannot
reciprocate for himself but only with another. The relationship, then, between God and
Noah was a personal one where both parties gave, rather than take from one another.
2. The Perfect aspect—The Perfective aspect usually denotes a completed action. But in
Hebrew one very interesting use of the Perfect tense is its pointing to actions that have
repeated events. It is interesting to note that this aspect is used in describing Noah’s
walking with God. It was not something Noah did when he “felt” like it or when it was
convenient. It was something that was repeated over and over again, hence in some
sense, being a completed action. I can imagine that Noah cherished his relationship with
the Creator. I can easily see him meditating for long periods of time on who God is and
His perfect and just nature. And then, after meditating on it tried to imitate it. What a
lesson we could all learn from this man!

Conclusion: Application—Knowing all these things about Noah will not benefit us
unless we bring to a level of modernity and applicability. Noah is mentioned in Hebrews 11 as
a person of faith that pleased God. But what does his faith have to do with us and what is it
about Noah that we are supposed to imitate so that God then, will be pleased with us? What of
his own characteristics can we apply to our own faith? I believe the faith of Noah can be
relevant for us in three ways:
1. We must remain steadfast in an ever- changing world. Just as wickedness was great
and growing in Noah’s day, we too are seeing an explosion of immorality and personal
scruples. The world is begging us to be molded to its ideologies. Everyday it tries to influence
us through television, radio, and materialism. More than this, it excels in winning some areas of
our lives that we are not probably aware of. For example, think about the words to the next
song you may hum to yourself. Are they godly words or merely words that got stuck in your
head from hearing them over and over? Or think about what you watched on television the
other night or even before you came into church this evening. We find ourselves being
influenced by the small things that we do not recognize. We, like Noah, must resolve not to
allow our guard down. We must always be thinking about what is right and just and pure, and
like Noah we must discern what is right and then act upon that knowledge.
2. We must rebel against what society has now deemed as “normal.” The world has
gone so far right that the most heinous of sins is now considered okay. Despite the so-called
normalcy in Noah’s day he acted contrary to everything around him. In essence he was salt and
light to a generation that was fast dying. We are called to be the same. The culture around us
should be affected by what we do rather than us being affected by what it does. Light is meant
to show us the path and salt is meant to preserve. If we play copycat with the culture we will be
the only ones who come out changed—changed by the world instead of God.
3. We must pursue God with undying passion. Noah understood his relationship with
God was crucial. We must pursue God with the same relentless attitude if we are to find favor
in God’s eyes. Although it sounds cliché to say this, nevertheless it is worth repeating a
thousand times. Noah’s relationship caused him to be a preacher of righteousness as Peter tells
us. He did more than walk with God. He called others to repentance amidst the pending
judgment that was about come. Part of a passion for God is a passion for what He desires. He
desires that sinners come to repentance. Though God could choose to save sinners in any way
He chooses to use us as vessels. If our passions lie elsewhere other than in unrestrained
devotion to our Savior we will fail to please Him. Let us imitate the faith of Noah in every area
of our lives.