Receiving a Divine Warning

receiving divine warning (3)

4) Heb 11:7: With this verse, the author of Hebrews concluded the account of heroes of faith who lived prior to the flood.[1]

Just like Noah, the recipients of this letter lived in a hostile environment and required encouragement.[2] They needed to believe the Lord would do what he promised (Heb 10:32–39).[3]

This verse begins by stating, “By faith Noah, receiving a divine warning concerning [things] not yet seen, showing reverence, he constructed an ark for the salvation of his household.”

Although Gen 6–9 never describes Noah’s faith, the flood account does attest that Noah pleased God (Gen 6:9).[4] His obedience proved his belief.[5]

Some translations state simply that “Noah was warned” (chrēmatizō). Yet, whenever this verb appears in the passive tense in the New Testament, it implies that the person received a divine revelation (Matt 2:12, 21–22; Acts 10:22; Heb 8:4–5).[6]

What was “not yet seen” refers to the deluge (Gen 7:12–13), a catastrophe never before experienced by the people of the Ancient Near East.[7] This phrase points to the forward-looking aspect of faith.[8]

Noah believed that what the Lord disclosed in advance would certainly occur (Gen 6:13–22).[9]

As a result, Noah serves as another exemplar of Heb 11:1–2.[10] Like the other heroes of old in Heb 11, Noah could pursue the correct course of action because he saw beyond the visible world of material senses (Heb 11:13–16).[11]

He trusted in the divine revelation so firmly that he acted as if the flood was imminent.[12] Belief in the word of God always results in action (Heb 6:10–12; James 2:14–26)

We can translate the word which the author of Hebrews used to describe Noah’s emotions (eulabeomai) as “to have fear” or “to have reverent awe.”[13] In the context of faith and the emphasis upon worship, “showing reverence” fits best.[14]

This term also occurs in Heb 5:7 and Heb 12:28.[15]

Noah’s expressed his reverent faith by obeying the divine revelation.[16] He constructed an ark. The word used here (kataskeuazō) often referred to the building and equipping of ships.[17]

For example, during the Maccabean revolt, the king wrote a letter, saying, “Whereas certain scoundrels have gained control of the kingdom of our ancestors, and I intend to lay claim to the kingdom so that I may restore it as it formerly was, and have recruited a host of mercenary troops and have equipped (kataskeuazō) warships” (1 Macc 15:3, NRSVCE).

Noah’s obedient trust provided salvation for his household, for the ark he built kept them safe through the storm (Gen 8:13–19).[18]

Furthermore, his reverent act was the means “by which he pronounced sentence on the world.”[19]

Although the term “world” (kosmos) has multiple meanings in Greek, the sense here refers to “humanity” (Cf. Heb 11:38).[20]

Jewish and early Christian sources contended that Noah accomplished this by preaching to people who rejected his message to repent (2 Pet 2:5).[21]

According to Clement of Alexandria (150–215 AD), “Noah preached repentance, and as many as listened to him were saved.”[22]

Since only eight people received salvation, no one believed him apart from his immediate family and their wives (1 Pet 3:20).

Josephus (ca. 37–100 AD) also reported:

Noah was very uneasy at what they did; and being displeased at their conduct, persuaded them to change their dispositions and their acts for the better: but seeing they did not yield to him, but were slaves to their wicked pleasures, he was afraid they would kill him, together with his wife and children, and those they had married; so he departed out of that land.[23]

Despite that tradition, the author of Hebrews did not seem to have preaching in mind, for the letter merely implies a call for bold witness.[24]

Instead, Noah judged his contemporaries by his example of faith and faithfulness (Cf. Heb 11:4–5).[25]

By building such an enormous boat so far from the sea, Noah must have endured ridicule from his neighbors.[26]

As a result of persevering through the loss of prestige among those who watched him work, Noah attained honor in God’s sight,[27] and he delivered a prophetic rebuke to his detractors.[28]

After all, the construction of the ark served as a warning of the judgment to come.[29]

Similarly, we who live in faithfulness to the Lord call others to consider their ways simply by the way we conduct ourselves in their midst (Phil 2:14–15; 1 Pet 2:11–17; 1 Pet 3:13–17).[30]

At the same time that Noah was judging the world, he “according to faith, was made an heir of righteousness.”

This implies that God effected the change in Noah.[31] The author of Hebrews asserted that righteous people trust in God as they persevere through difficult trials which refine their character. As a result, they become truly upright (Heb 10:32–39; Heb 12:7–14).[32]

Those who respond to the Lord in faith receive the righteousness which God bestows upon his people.[33]

The concept of inheritance comprises a major theme of Hebrews. Jesus has become “the heir of all things” (Heb 1:1–4). Christians are “heirs of salvation” (Heb 1:14) and inheritors of God’s promises (Heb 6:10–12, 17–20; Heb 9:15).[34]

Consequently, the author of Hebrews invites us to imitate Noah, calling us to trust God for salvation from the coming wrath and to witness to the world by living out our faith. As we prepare for that great day when we shall see Jesus face-to-face, may we too prove faithful.[35]

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

Read Heb 11:7. How does this verse relate to Heb 11:1–2? What had Noah not yet seen? How did he respond to the revelation he received? In what way did building an ark simultaneously judge the world and make him an heir of righteousness?

 

 

 

 

 

Go to Introduction to Chapter 7

 

[Related posts include By Faith (Heb 11:4); Noah Found Favor (Gen 6:8); Righteous and Blameless (Gen 6:9–10); The End was Near (Gen 6:13); Specifications for an Ark (Gen 6:14–16); A Deluge to Ruin All Flesh (Gen 6:17); God Establishes a Covenant (Gen 6:18); Two of Every Kind (Gen 6:19–22); New Creatures in Christ (2 Cor 5:17); Receiving Christ’s Righteousness (2 Cor 5:21); Minds on Earthly Things (Phil 3:17–19); and Citizens of Heaven (Phil 3:20)] 

[Click here to go to Chapter 6: The Promise of a Covenant (Genesis 6:9–22)]

 

[1]deSilva, Perseverance in Gratitude: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Epistle “to the Hebrews,” 390.

[2]Lane, Hebrews 9–13, 339.

[3]Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, Rev. ed., 287.

[4]Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary on the Greek Text, 577.

[5]Lane, Hebrews 9–13, 339.

[6]Bo Reicke, “χρηματιζω” (chrēmatizō) TDNT 9:480–2, 481. Confirmed by a Logos 7 word study.

[7]Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, Rev. ed., 287.

[8]Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary on the Greek Text, 578.

[9]Lane, Hebrews 9–13, 339.

[10]Lane, Hebrews 9–13, 339.

[11]deSilva, Perseverance in Gratitude: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Epistle “to the Hebrews,” 387.

[12]Lane, Hebrews 9–13, 339.

[13]Rudolf Bultmann, “εὐλαβεομαι” (eulabeomai), TDNT 2:751–4, 753.

[14]Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary on the Greek Text, 578.

[15]Bultmann, “εὐλαβεομαι” (eulabeomai), TDNT 2:753.

[16]Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary on the Greek Text, 578.

[17]Danker et. al., “κατασκευαζω” (kataskeuazō), BDAG 527.

[18]deSilva, Perseverance in Gratitude: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Epistle “to the Hebrews,” 391.

[19]Danker et. al., “κατακρινω” (katakrinō), BDAG, 519.

[20]Hermann Sasse, “κοσμος” (kosmos), TDNT 3:867–95, 890.

[21]deSilva, Perseverance in Gratitude: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Epistle “to the Hebrews,” 391.

[22]Clement, Clement 1, 7:6, https://archive.org/stream/antenicenefather01robe#page/6/mode/2up.

[23]Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, 1.74, http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0146%3Abook%3D1%3Awhiston%20chapter%3D3%3Awhiston%20section%3D1.

[24]deSilva, Perseverance in Gratitude: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Epistle “to the Hebrews,” 391.

[25]Lane, Hebrews 9–13, 340.

[26]Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, Rev. ed., 287–8.

[27]deSilva, Perseverance in Gratitude: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Epistle “to the Hebrews,” 388.

[28]Guthrie, Hebrews, 377.

[29]Lane, Hebrews 9–13, 340.

[30]deSilva, Perseverance in Gratitude: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Epistle “to the Hebrews,” 391–2.

[31]Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary on the Greek Text, 580.

[32]deSilva, Perseverance in Gratitude: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Epistle “to the Hebrews,” 392.

[33]Lane, Hebrews 9–13, 341.

[34]Lane, Hebrews 9–13, 341.

[35]deSilva, Perseverance in Gratitude: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Epistle “to the Hebrews,” 391.