What is Faith? Part 6
When Noah built his boat, many scientists believe the earth most probably was watered by mist, like a terrarium. Ever visit the jungle habitat at the zoo? There you have it. Noah built an enormous ark in the middle of the terrarium. Why? Because God told him to. That’s it.
“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 the righteousness that comes by faith” (Hebrews 11:7).
Jesus spoke of Noah as a real person and the flood as an actual event. He and the Scripture writers clearly believed this was fact, not fable. Both Peter and Jesus used this example to describe his return, the last days, and evidence of salvation.
Ironically modern readers have a test of our faith in this example of faith. Do we believe this really happened?
Humanity has “no universal story that begins ‘And then the weather began to grow VERY, VERY COLD.’ At some point during the living, storytelling memory of the human race, water threatened man’s fragile hold on the earth. The historian cannot ignore the Great Flood; it is the closest thing to a universal story that the human race possesses.”
But this post isn’t about scientific evidence supporting the Great Flood. This is about the kind of faith that believes and obeys God, no matter how preposterous his instructions may sound. Today, simply taking this example at face value and believing it might be considered by some to be a great act of faith.
Still, I believe.
Building an enormous boat in the terrarium is crazy. But Noah did it, because he believed God and was terrified to contemplate what God had said was coming. Through Noah’s hard work, God made a way of escape. But only eight people of the entire human population accepted the invitation to get in.
Noah shows us what the actions of people of faith look like. So does Abraham.
God told Abraham to leave home and never return. He was to head out on a trip with no map, no indication of how long it would take, no clarification of how he’d handle the hostile environment or the people along the way, and with no defined destination.
Noah’s and Abraham’s obedience seems ridiculous unless we pause to consider that we’re on the same trip. We must daily choose to act on the same kinds of instructions.
Do we know what tomorrow will bring? Or maybe the next hour?
Recently in my city, two college girls driving back to school late at night didn’t make it. They never even left town, but they died in a car crash on a city street. Did they expect to die that night? No!
We have no idea when our time is up. When we obey the Lord, we don’t know what the results will be. We don’t know what trials we will suffer on the trip as a means of our refining. But we have a better map than Abraham possessed and probably endure less hostility than Noah.
We have the word of God written down for us. Many of the faithful believers listed as our examples in Hebrews 11 did not. In the Bible God tells us to do preposterous things!
Here are just a few of our God’s crazy commands:
- Take care of orphans and widows.
- Feed the hungry.
- Visit those who are sick and in prison.
- Tell others the gospel, no matter their tribe, race, or nation—cross cultural barriers to do it.
- While you’re at it, take the gospel to the entire world.
- Obey authorities.
- Pray for leaders.
- Love one another as Christ loves.
- Forgive one another.
- Pray for those who despise you.
That should keep us busy and completely out of step with most of the people around us! Will it require faith? Yes! Because it won’t be easy or convenient. People will laugh, we won’t know the outcome, and we will suffer along the way, exactly like Noah, Abraham, and all the people of faith in Hebrews 11.
God says to do it. By faith, we can and will.
How is your trip going?
Source of the quote above: The History of the Ancient World by Susan Wise Bauer, W.W. Norton & Company, NYC, 2007, pg. 10-11.