By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house…
Fear and faith do not at first sound very likely companions. It is just because we think this, because we fancy ourselves a little wiser than God's Word, that our fear and our faith fail to act as they ought. Let us try to learn a better lesson now; and it will help us to do this if we set about studying what Noah did a little more closely than perhaps we have done before. We will take his fear first, for I suppose it would come first. He heard the tremendous words of wrath from the God whom he walked with, and he knew He would not speak without acting. He said to himself "Is not God's word gone forth, 'I will destroy all flesh'? I cannot rest easy; what shall I do? what can I do?" I think Noah must have had a longer or a shorter time when fear was overwhelming — but it was not allowed to go long uncorrected. Almost in the same breath with the threat, we hear the voice which called out the faith. Imagine him told to make an ark. He may have said to himself, It is strange — it is what man never did before — but I know that my God would not tell it me and mean me to be a mere laughing-stock to the world. The triumph shall be on my side in the end. So we see his fear made ready for his faith, and his faith told his fear how far it was to go and what it was to do. They showed him his own helpless state — they took him to God for help. And now see what his action was. It was simply doing his little part in God's great plan. And what was the result? A specimen of that great Divine plan — God's strength and our weakness hand in hand; the saving of his house; the keeping at bay of all the terrific onsets of those torrents of rain and buffetings of waves. That is how faith and fear do work together. In the first place the sense of fear is a most necessary thing, and a thing we are not often left to go without. Does it come home to us — the truth of an offended Father who will by no means clear the guilty, and whom it is absurd to think we can satisfy. Faith then comes in and applies this very helplessness, this very sinfulness, this very fear. Faith bids us look within and see the things which are unseen — put present likings, strong temptations, selfish instincts, stifling voices aside, and see that there are joys to come, and there is a wrath to come — that there has been a marvellous work done, which eye never saw the like of, and which mind cannot take in — a work of love whereby God came down from heaven and took upon Him man's lowly likeness and suffered for sin, in order to help the helpless, in order to provide an ark which shall float over the very waves of God's justice and be lifted up by them out of harm's reach. But what will be the working of the fear and the faith? Noah built the ark and entered into it. We have but to do a very little thing, but that we must do — not even to build an ark at God's bidding — but in the first place simply to enter in and be on the safe side of the door which God will close upon us. That entering in is not quite nothing; it means feeling very helpless: but only seek you to be taught your own unsatisfactory self, and can you find it so hard to win safety by casting off all refuges but the only safe one. Now I think we see how faith and fear go together. Fear is not dismay — and faith is not self-security. Safe within the ark of Christ's Church — safe in the love of Christ Himself, you yet "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." That very fear ought to strengthen our faith, to drive us out of any holdfast but the one only one, and make us unite ourselves with Him under whose leadership we are the surer to conquer, the surer we are of our weakness.
(John Kempthorne, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
WEB: By faith, Noah, being warned about things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared a ship for the saving of his house, through which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.