(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Above is another painting by Guy Rowe, from In Our Image, Oxford Press, 1949. It depicts Noah and his wife surveying a new and strange post-flood landscape. They and their three sons and their wives were given God’s commission to, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:1). So every human being today may trace their genealogical heritage to Noah and his wife!
Our featured Scripture is Hebrews 11:7:
By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness with is according to faith.
Most people raised in a Christian family are familiar since childhood concerning the story of Noah and the ark. So here are just a few of the highlights:
- Genesis 6:5 and 7 – “…the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually….So the LORD said ‘I will destroy man…from the face of the earth…for I am sorry that I made them.’ ”
- Genesis 6:8 – “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”
- Genesis 6:14 and 15 (International Standard Version) – “…make yourself an ark out of cedar, …450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.”
- Genesis 6:19 – “…of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort …male and female…into the ark, to keep them alive with you….”
- Genesis 7:11, 12, 17 – “…on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened….Now the flood was on the earth forty days.”
- Genesis 7:23 – “So [God]…destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping things and birds of the air….Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive.”
It had never rained before on the earth (see Genesis 2:6), and Noah was to build a huge boat – two thirds the size of the Titanic! The building of the ark took 120 years! (see Genesis 6:3). What a man of faith! No wonder he is listed in Hebrews 11!
So what is so special about Hebrews 11? It is called ‘The roll call of heroes of faith’! Or ‘The hall of faith’! Nineteen heros of faith are named in Hebrews 11, and more heroes there are unnamed! And so over the next several Gems, we will look at some of these heros.
But I have entitled this series, Heroes With Feet of Clay! That is a reference to what is recorded in Daniel chapter 2, a dream dreamt by the ruler of Babylon, King Nebachudnezzar. The king in his dream saw, “…a great image…[whose] head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, [and] its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.” (Daniel 2:32, 33). It was the feet of partly clay that were most vulnerable! For we are told in verses 34 and 35:
...a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone...became a great moun- tain and filled the whole earth.
The stone represents the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, which destroys and supercedes all the kingdoms set up by man!
Wikipedia defines “feet of clay” as, “…an expression now commonly used to refer to a weakness or character flaw, especially in people of prominence.” So, as we will find, all the heroes we will examine from Hebrews 11 have ‘feet of clay’…as did Noah!
God said of Noah in Genesis 7:1, “…I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.” A good righteous man! But what were his ‘feet of clay’? In Genesis 9:20 and 21 it is recorded that after the flood, “…Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered [naked] in his tent.” Was this the first time he was drunk? Did he drink multiple times of the wine and was drunk? It doesn’t say. But even the one time, if that was the only time, had devastating results!
...Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japeth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father....they did not see their father’s nakedness. So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him. Then he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a ser- vant of servants he shall be to his brethren. Blessed be the God of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japeth...and may Canaan be his servant. (Genesis 9:20-27).
Why, when Ham was the one who sinned, did Ham’s son Canaan get cursed? Canaan was the progenitor of the Canaanites, the tribes that had long occupied the land promised to Israel. And when Joshua led Israel into the Promised Land, the Canaanites were subjected to defeat and death, or slavery! They were all to be put to death according to the LORD’s command (see Deuteronomy 7:1-5), but Israel did not fully obey God in this matter! So Noah, by God’s leading, cursed Canaan, who is more prominent in future dealings with Israel than his father Ham!
Concerning this incident in Noah’s life – the point of it is that even heros of the faith fall into sin!
Consider what the Bible says about the Noah — what makes him a hero:
- Genesis 6:8 – “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” Paul F. M. Zahl in his book, Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life (Wm. B. Eerdsman Publishing Co.; 2007), defines grace this way:
Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. Grace is love coming at you that has nothing to do with you. Grace is being loved when you are unlovable....The cliché definition of grace is “un- conditional love.”
Unconditional love! There are several New Testament Scriptures that help us to understand this ‘unconditional love’ concept concerning grace:
✞ Romans 3:23 and 24 – “...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus....” ✞ Romans 5:20 and 21 – “...where sin abounded, grace abounded more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through right- eousness to eternal life though Jesus Christ our Lord.” ✞ Ephesians 1:6 and 7 – “...His grace...has made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have re- demption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” ✞ Ephesians 2:8 and 9 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” ✞ II Timothy 1:9 – God “...has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus....” ✞ Titus 2:11 – “...the grace of God that brings sal- vation has appeared to all men.” ✞ Titus 3:7 – “...having been justified by His grace we...become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Perhaps the greatest declaration of grace in the Bible is a verse that doesn’t even mention that particular word – John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
So Noah, even though he was a sinner like the rest of us, “…found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” (Genesis 6:8).
- Genesis 7:1 – “…the LORD said to Noah…‘I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.’ ” How can anyone be righteous before God, since we are all sinners? (see Romans 3:10, 23).
✞ Romans 4:24 and 25 – Righteousness “...shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised be- cause of our justification.” ✞ II Corinthians 5:21 – “For He [the Father] made Him [Jesus, the Son] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
Righteousness, like grace, is given undeserved to us who believe on Jesus Christ as our Savior!
There are other Scriptures concerning this ‘hero’ that show Noah was by grace accepted as righteous before God:
- Genesis 9:1 – “So God blessed Noah….”
- Ezekiel 14:14 through 20 – Noah is four times designated as righteous before God!
- II Peter 2:5 – Noah is called, “…a preacher of righteousness….”
Is Noah a hero of the faith? Yes! Otherwise he would not be listed in Hebrews 11, The Hall of Faith! Did he have feet of clay? Again, yes! But if a sinner such as Noah can be a hero of God, there is room for me, and for you, to be (as it says in Ephesians 1:6) “…accepted in the Beloved…”!
Do not let sin keep you away from Jesus Christ!