Hebrews 11:7 reflects on the faithful life of Noah and says,
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.
I’m not sure how many times I’ve heard the story of Noah’s Ark, but it’s a lot. My 9 and 6 yr old daughters recently memorized Hebrews 11:7, and as they did I’m thinking, y’all need to get this! Turns out I needed to get it too. A recent study of Genesis has helped me see Noah in a new light. Noah has given me an urgency to live life and it’s entirety for God and His glory.
Do you know what an ark is? Not a boat, an ark—that’s what God commanded Noah to build. An ark is basically a box, or a chest. Noah basically built a huge wooden container, 1 1/2 football fields long. It wasn’t a boat. Boat’s have a rudder, or a sail to steer the vessel. Boats, especially big ones, are built near water. Noah was landlocked, no water around him. In the time of Noah it hadn’t even rained. The ark didn’t make sense! Noah was building/acting in pure faith.
Can you imagine how foolish he must’ve looked? We hate that don’t we? –Looking like a fool. It’s why we hate to be lied to. When someone lies to us we typically aren’t filled with righteous anger because someone has broken God’s command not to lie, we are ticked off because we were disrespected, and made to look and feel like a fool. Noah would have had no respect from the people of his day, he was regarded as a fool. But a fool for God is no fool at all.
Do you know how long he spent building this gigantic wooden container? 100 yrs. This wasn’t a weekend project or a 6 month hobby, this was Noah’s life work. Day after day, week after week, year after year, looking like a fool, building an ark. Why did he do all of this? Because he had a word from God. His reverent fear of God was bigger in his heart than the opinion of others. Noah’s present life was completely changed and governed by a future fact—that’s what it means to live by faith.
But, can we REALLY learn anything about how to live from Noah? His circumstances were way different, right? We don’t need to build an ark to be saved. Regarding our salvation, our ark has already been built, by Jesus! Our right standing and relationship with God is made possible by the FINISHED work of Christ done FOR us. Noah’s Ark was just a picture of the perfect salvation that God would bring to us in Christ’s work on the cross, his death, burial and resurrection. (PRAISE GOD!) But still, there is much for us to learn from Noah’s life of faith. Like Noah, our lives ought to be changed, and governed by a future fact of eternal life with God.
What is our version of building an ark? I believe it’s how we live, and what we build our lives around! God tells us to look at all that God has given us in Christ, and respond by giving up our lives to him by showing how much he is worth. He tells us not to be like the world, but rather to have our minds continually renewed so we can live God’s will (Romans 12:1-2). God’s Word talks about the “unseen” eternal realities we should look to, and tells us that things of this world are passing away (2 Cor 4:18). Jesus said to live for, and invest in things, that have eternal value and to fix our hearts on treasures in heaven or not things that are wasting away (Matthew 6:19)? The apostle Paul said “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1Cor 10:31).
It seems the Bible is clear, you and I will either live by faith for God’s glory and build an ark, or live like the world and build a sandcastle. I don’t think I’m overstating things when I say the real question is, will we waste our lives, or will they they mean something? I’d rather look like a fool in the eyes of the world, than to waste my life, in the eyes of God.
Years ago I read a book, Don’t Waste Your Life, by John Piper. It’s hard to explain the impact it had on my life at the time. As I have revisited Noah’s story in Genesis, I’ve been reminded of some of the life-changing Biblical truth brought to light for me in that book. He talks about living in a “wartime mind-set”– living for God and using everything we can to further His Kingdom, and enjoy him forever. Here’s a excerpt from the book:
“I am wired by nature to love the same toys that the world loves. I start to fit in. I start to love what others love. I start to call earth “home.” Before you know it, I am calling luxeries “needs” and using my money just the way unbelievers do. I begin to forget the war. I don’t think much about people perishing. Missions and unreached people drop out of my mind. I stop dreaming about the triumphs of grace. I sink into a secular mind-set that looks first to what man can do, not what God can do. It is a terrible sickness. And I thank God for those who have forced me again and again toward a wartime mind-set.” He goes on to say “…whatever you do, find the God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated passion of your life, and find your way to say it and live for it and die for it. And you will make a difference that lasts. You will not waste your life.”
John Piper is probably best known for saying “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” Man, that is THE TRUTH! And we wont be satisfied in Him until our lives are built by Him, around Him, and for Him! Let’s build an ark!