Noah & Abraham: One Four letter Word – OBEY
[An invitation to faith given on February 12, 2017 by Pastor Ken Durham to the First Baptist Church in New Castle, Indiana, where we exist to see the transformation of stories through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.]
During this last week, I have had several conversations around the service from last week…how wonderful the testimonies of Scott and Tiffany Lee were regarding their marriage…the fact sharing testimonies of Debby Raines and Penny Stevens regarding “The Ark Encounter” and its affects on their lives…and the emphasis Pastor Jerry made on Noah’s ‘reverent fear’ in doing what God had asked him to do (ESV). The website, BibleHub, translates this portion as “moved with fear or with reverential heed”. The NIV calls it “holy fear”, the NASV calls it ‘reverence’, and the NLT simply states “…he obeyed God…” (NLT). There is that word again…OBEY. All too often we define that and use that to imply oppression or suppression, when in all reality, it is liberating. The freedom we have is from our sin, but not to do whatever we want, but rather, what God wants. We are HIS bond servants, or slaves by choice because we love Him!
Both men in the two verses today are prime examples of exactly that…surrendering what they wanted to do to follow after God.
Whether it took Noah 55-75 years (see Answers in Genesis article) or over a century to build the Ark, the reality is that Noah was called by God to build the Ark at a time when God’s command would not have made sense to either Noah, anyone in his family, and definitely not to anyone in his community. They jeered at him and considered him crazy. Think of the taunting, ridicule, snide remarks and overall meanness of the people to Noah AND his family.
Even modern day Hollywood took a spin at this….
(EVAN ALMIGHTY CLIP)
Yes, we know it was the actions that flowed out of Noah’s faith that allows us to see it (the substantial fruit of faith is often called good works), but his faith in and of itself had to have substance within it to motivate Noah to do what he did: it is called “reverent fear.”
Take a look at the next verse: “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.”
I can see it now. Abraham walks into the house where his wife Sarah is and announces, “ROADTRIP!”, to which she replies, “Where are we going? Do you have directions? How much should I pack?” And he could not give her a definite answer. How many of you would agree that if we did that, it would not fly? (a show of hands)
Abraham had a pretty good set up. He was living in the house that his father had built and left him when he died and was well to do, according to the scriptures. But he had a relationship with God that made him not even question or second guess what he was asked to do.
READ ~ verses 4 & 5
This reminded me of the testimony that the Lee’s shared. How God had been at work in their marriage and their love for each other had grown where they would do ANYTHING for each other. And since I have done a lot of weddings, my mind went back to the vows that a couple exchanges on that special day… to love, honor and obey. I had a couple ask me to take out “obey” because she did not want him telling her what to do. But that is not what that is about at all…as we are to serve one another in love! (Galatians 5:13)
We must understand “reverent fear” (obedience) if we want to be like Noah; if we want to be like Abraham; if we want to have the same kind of faith that would compel a man to be crazy for his God in a world that does not accept faith as adequate reasoning for doing crazy, counter-cultural things. As Paul teaches us, “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
How then are we to live by faith and not by sight? What can we learn from Noah? What can we learn from Abraham?
We learn reverent fear from Noah! We learn to want God’s good pleasure above our own because we know His character. Unless you have perverted God’s character in your heart and mind, you would not dare to refuse Him to do anything He asks of you: no matter how crazy, counter-cultural, or controversial.
We learn loving obedience from Abraham! There is no questioning because we can totally rely and trust God. He is with us every step of the way. It isn’t a blind faith, but a reliant faith!
This sounds crazy and wrong, but it is the Bible. Even Jesus, in his humanness, had to learn to trust God enough to obey God to the point of His own death on the Cross.
“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:7, 8)
We learn to live our lives in balance. Our faith requires action, just like our love. When we love someone fully, we obey them…it honors them. The same can be said about our faith…it flows out of our love for God, and we desire to carry out all that He asks us to do.