Daily Thoughts on Hebrews: Reverent Fear

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. (Hebrews 11:7, ESV)

There is a wonderful movie (wonderful to me, though not to many others apparently, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evan_Almighty) called Evan Almighty about Evan Baxter (played by Steve Carell), a news anchor turned politician, who is asked by God (played by Morgan Freeman) to warn his community about a coming flood.  He is given instructions and material to build an ark and rescue a whole host of animals.  And of course, his neighbors and at first even his family think he is crazy.  He has to overcome his own doubts but is finally persuaded by God’s relentless demonstration to him that this is real.

I like this movie because it gives me a visceral sense of what it must have been like for the real Noah.  He was told by God to build a massive boat in preparation for a massive flood that would destroy all life.  We’re not told how long it took to build the ark but it could have been a very long time.  Nonetheless, can you imagine what his neighbors and community must have thought and said to him?  He was warned of events as yet unseen but did not let that stop him from obeying the Lord.

As a result Noah did two things: 1) he condemned the world, something akin to our turning our backs on what the world would tell us is the answer to life, always centered in something that can be seen; and 2) he became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith, something the author of Hebrews is concerned that his readers also experience.

To pull away from Christ is to forsake the only ark available to us to escape the destruction of the world in the judgment of God.  Jesus is our refuge, our rescue from the coming deluge of judgment coming upon the earth.  One day the door of that ark will be shut and no one else will be allowed to enter.  All aboard!

Erik H. Erikson, psychoanalyst, in a 1976 letter to Hope Curfman:  I also like your formulation that I seem to “put emphasis on health as wholeness,” and I agree with your diagnosis that such wholeness to me does not seem possible without some pervasive faith – although I would not, as you suggest, call it “therapeutic.”  Anxiety may call for therapy; dread demands faith.


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