Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
What kind of picture do we see of Noah and his ark? A prophet who believes disaster is coming on the world and warns people to avoid it and save themselves? The King James Version of Hebrews 11:7 says plainly that his motivation was "fear"--"warned of God, ... [he] moved with fear."
Noah was a type of God's church today, warning the world of disaster yet to come. Does this mean that the motivation in our work must be based on a form of terrorism? Is that what will awaken modern man to prepare for the coming "time of trouble"? Scary pictures and stories? Well, we must say yes, for scary things are surely coming. But wait a moment: does terrorist-fear really work as a converting message? Let's look at the Bible a little more closely here.
In Hebrews 11:7 (KJV) the word that is translated as "fear" is not "phobos," but a different word (eulabeomai) which is translated in the New King James Version as "godly fear," meaning a holy reverence. Peter calls Noah "a preacher of righteousness" (2 Peter 2:5). In other words, his message was not negative; he was not constantly railing against unrighteousness, but preaching positively for righteousness.
If we look a little deeper into what the Bible says, we discover that there is only one kind of "righteousness"--that which is "by faith." Righteousness by works turns out to be unrighteousness dictated by fear motivation. Fear may induce people to become "converts" and be baptized; but such fear seldom if ever can produce a lovable, selfless Christ-like character. It's the insurance policy kind of "assurance." We go on a trip and we don't worry night and day about the house burning down; it's "covered" by the policy. But that "policy" did nothing for our hearts to change us from being selfish to unselfish; it only satisfies egocentric fear.
Was that what Noah wanted to give people--an insurance policy against flood damage to satisfy their egocentric concerns? Hebrews 11:7 makes his message clear: he "became heir of the righteousness which is by faith." He preached "Christ and His righteousness." He understood the gospel as Good News. His entire career was motivated by a heart appreciation of the love of God, for it was "by faith Noah ... prepared an ark to the saving of his house." A response to God's love kept him at his job for 120 years. That's what can keep us busy, too.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 23, 2001.
Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."