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…
The creed of these Old Testament saints was a very short one, and very different from ours. Their faith was the very same. And that is a principle well worth getting into our minds, that the scope of the creed has nothing to do with the essence of the faith.
I. Look FIRST AT NOAH'S FAITH IN REGARD TO ITS OBJECT. His faith grasped the invisible things to come, only because it grasped the Invisible Person, who was, is, and is to come, and who lifted for him the curtain and showed him the things that should be. So is it with our faith, whether it lays hold upon a past sacrifice on Calvary, or upon a present Christ dwelling in our hearts, or whether it becomes telescopic, and stretches forward into the future, and brings the distant near, all its various aspects are but aspects of one thing, and that is personal trust in the personal Christ that speaks to us. What he says is a matter of secondary importance in this respect. The contents of God's revelations vary; the act by which man accepts them is always the same. So the great question for us all is — do we trust God? Do we believe Him, and therefore accept His words, not only with the assent of the understanding, which of all idle things is the idlest, but do we believe Him, revealing, commanding, promising, threatening, with the affiance of our whole hearts? Then, and then only, can we look with quiet certainty into the dim future, which else is all full of rolling clouds, that sometimes shape themselves to our imaginations into the likeness of stable things, but alas! change and melt while we gaze. Only then can we front the solemn future, and say: "I do not expect only, I know what is there."
II. Still further, notice NOAH'S FAITH IN ITS PRACTICAL EFFECTS. If faith has any reality in us at all, it works. If real and strong, it will first effect emotion. By " fear" here we are not merely to understand, though possibly it is not to be excluded, a dread of personal consequences, but much rather the sweet and lofty emotion which is described in another part of this same book by the same word: "Let us serve Him with reverence and with godly fear." Such holy and blessed emotion, which has no torment, is the sure result of real faith. Unless a man's faith is warm enough to melt his heart, it is worth very little. A faith unaccompanied by emotion is, I was going to say worse, at any rate it is quite as bad, as a faith which is all wasted in emotion. It is not a good thing when all the steam roars out through an escape pipe; it is perhaps a worse thing when there is no steam in the boiler to escape. I am very sure that there is no road between a man's faith and his practice except through his heart, and that, as the apostle has it in a somewhat different form of speech, meaning, however, the same thing that I am now insisting upon, "faith worketh by love." Love is the path through which creed travels outward to conduct. So we come to the second and more remote effect of faith. Emotion will lead to action. "Moved with fear, he prepared and ark." If emotion be the child of faith, conduct is the child of emotion.
III. AND SO, LASTLY, LET ME POINT TO NOAH'S FAITH, IN REGARD TO ITS VINDICATION. "He condemned the world." And so the faith of the poor, ignorant, old woman that up in her garret lives to serve Jesus Christ, and to win an eternal crown, will get its vindication some day, and it will be found out then which was the " practical" man and the wise man. And all the witty speeches and smart sayings will seem very foolish even to their authors, when the light of that future shines on them. And the old word will come true once more, that the man who lives for the present, and for anything bounded by Time, will have to "leave it in the midst of his days," and " at his latter end shall be a fool." Whilst the "foolish " man that lived for the future; when the future has come to be the present, and the present has dwindled away into the past, and sunk beneath the horizon, shall be proved to be the wise, and shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever and ever.
(A Maclaren, D. D.)
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.