Memo 1017: Holy Fear
As I write, I am in the American West in a desert area. Yesterday, a severe rainstorm swept in over the mountains and dumped inches of rain on the parched land. My phone "blew up" with alerts warning me to beware because flash flooding was everywhere but when I read those alerts, I was in the safety of my hotel room. However, the incident caused me to reflect on Noah, who encountered the ultimate flash flood along with his family. Noah received his own flood warning, as did all his peers, but Noah distinguished himself from everyone else by taking action and obediently building the ark. Let's look into that further as we seek insight into how to unlock our own faith as Noah did his.
Let's not look at the flood story but instead the short sidebar concerning Noah found in Hebrews 11: "By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith" (Hebrews 11:7). Here we see that Noah built an ark in holy fear. He was not building the ark because he was afraid personally. He was not hoarding and storing food supplies and water to save himself. Noah was obeying God because He feared God. If you want to unlock the power of your faith, you cannot use your faith only as a means to personal success and prosperity. You must also use it to honor God by acting in a way that is consistent with trust in God.
For example, since you know all riches are temporary and passing away, you can have faith to be generous. You don't hold on to what you can give because you may need it. You give it away because others need it and you are laying up treasures for yourself in heaven. You also know that God wants all people to come to a saving knowledge of His Son, so once you are onboard God's salvation ark, you spread the word to as many as possible that admission is free but vital because the world will be judged. Peter told us something else important to know about Noah:
"For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others . . ." (2 Peter 2:4-5).
Peter described Noah as a "preacher of righteousness." How did Noah preach? Did he have a Bible and a pulpit as the picture with this post depicts? I doubt it, but perhaps he had to answer questions of why and what he was building during the 100 years it took to build the ark. He told his neighbors that a flood was coming but they were not interested. When you carry out your God-assigned life work, you also become a preacher of righteousness even though you may never utter a word. Your faith that you are doing what God wants where He wants it done sends a message to others whose operating system is personal fear while yours is holy fear.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Peter went on to finish his thought in 2 Peter by writing this: "if this is so [the "so" being God rescuing Noah and Lot], then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment." In other words, God knows how to preserve and rescue you in the midst of the corruption among the world's followers. You can unlock your faith by not living in personal fear for your own life and future, but rather living in holy fear that motivates you to carry out God's will regardless of the cost, duration, or response from others.
The bottom line of your faith is not what you can get but what you can give from what you have already gotten. I write books and teach in holy fear and faith that my work will today and one day impact many people. I do my work in Africa out of holy fear that some people's lives there are hanging in the balance, waiting to hear a word that only I can deliver. Where has personal fear replaced holy fear in your life? Where are you not giving, or going, or building, or speaking because you are afraid of the consequences? If you want to unlock the power of your faith, then you must do like Noah did and become a preacher of righteousness even if you never say a word. Your lifestyle of surrender to God will speak on your behalf and more importantly, it will speak on God's behalf too. Have a blessed week!