Closing the Gap – Week 5 Study Guide

By February 4, 2018 Small Group Study Guide

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Hebrews 11:7-10, “7 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 comes by faith. 8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”

Commentary on Hebrews 11:7-10

NOAH: The Old Testament story of Noah is in Genesis 6-8. Noah was a descendant of Adam in the line of Seth, and a survivor of the flood. A good and righteous man. God warned Noah that He was going to wipe mankind from the face of the earth. Because Noah walked with God and stood blameless among the people of that time, God gave him specific instructions for building the ark by which Noah and his family would survive the coming flood. Then a week before the flood (Gen. 7:4), Noah led his family and all of the animals into the ark just as God directed. After seven days the rain began and lasted for 40 days. As he sought to know whether it was safe to leave the ark, he sent out first a raven and then a dove. When the dove returned with an olive leaf, Noah knew the water had receded.[1]

Noah followed the building instructions down to every detail. It’s important to understand that Noah was not acting on a hunch or on merely human advice. It was the voice of God that carried conviction to him.[2] Noah believed God for what had not yet been seen. No doubt he was ridiculed for building the ark. Yet he feared God more than he did man—he took God at his word. He was not deterred by the mockery of others. Because Noah took God at his word, he and his family were preserved.

It is interesting to note that Noah is the first man in the Bible to be called dikaios, which means righteous (Genesis 6:9). Noah’s goodness is demonstrated in the fact that he took God at his word. When others broke God’s commandments, Noah kept them; when others were deaf to God’s warnings, Noah listened to them; when others laughed at God, Noah held God in reverence. In an age when people disregarded God, Noah did just the opposite—he stood firm in his faith, regardless of what the world around him thought. He was the supreme reality of what truly matters in the world.[3]

ABRAHAM: Abraham is also one who is presented as an outstanding example of those who live “by faith.” The author now points to Abraham’s faithful response to God’s initial call in Genesis 12.

For reasons of his own, God chose Abram and promised to bless him and make him a great nation—if only he agreed to leave Haran and go to a new land that God would show him. God spoke to Abram, but Abram responded with actions, not words. He obediently left Haran with his household and headed for Canaan (Gen 12:4–5). Once Abram arrived in Canaan, God promised to give the whole land to his descendants, and from there Abram continued moving southward through the land (Gen 12:6–9).[4]

Like Noah, Abraham believed God even though he did not know where he was going. This is no small thing! Men like to know where they are going and to choose their way. But the way forward can be obscure. Abraham was one who could go out, knowing that it was right to do so, but not knowing where it would all lead.[5] Nevertheless, Abraham believed God and stepped out in faith. Take a moment and think about what believing God would have meant for Abraham; it’s likely that he would have been ridiculed by friends and acquaintances for doing what many would have thought to be folly. Yet, he was not deterred, he was determined to walk with God. His walk with God was anything but imprudent and reckless, as some might have thought. His walk with God was based on faith. Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness (Gen. 15.6).

Study Guide for Hebrews 11:7-10

  1. What is it that makes Noah a righteous man? Why did Noah believe God while others did not? What was the difference? What role does cynicism play?
    • In verse 7, the word “holy fear” is used. What does it mean and how does it differ from a natural fear?
    • God spoke to Noah about the reality of coming judgment. Noah’s obedience to God led him to make preparation for the coming judgment.
      • In what way has God already spoken to us about the coming judgment?
      • How is the “ark” story a gospel story?
      • What can we do in preparation today?
    • Think now about your own faith—in what way is your life changed for the better because of your faith?
    • What could you do today to live in holy fear? What steps can you take to refuse to believe in yourself over – and against – God?
  1. Everyone—whether a believer or non-believer—is proving God true. How is this so?
    • When you think of Noah, do you see him as someone with a special endowment from God, as someone who is not like the rest of us? What makes you think this way?
    • It’s important to see Noah as a normal man. His faith was a gift from God. The same is true for us; Your faith is a gift from God! How does this reality encourage you?
    • Like Noah, we receive God’s commendation when we place our faith in Him. How can you live so the words and works of your life allure others to the highest walk of faith and love?
  1. Sometimes the way we view life’s difficulties can cloud our vision.
    • Is there a difference in a “good hard” and a “bad hard”?
    • In what way can your view effect the kinds of seeds you plant?
  1. When called by God, Abraham went immediately. Think about this, God told Abraham, “Go to the place I will show you.” This is a curious thought: how do you “go” (present tense) to the place “I will show you” (future tense)?
    • Clearly God knew where he wanted Abraham to end up. Why didn’t He just tell him?
    • What do you think encouraged Abraham to obey and “go” even though he did not know where he was going?
    • How much faith is necessary for a person to move in the direction God is calling them to go?
    • Consider the following statement: God does not want you to trust a series of directions; he wants you to trust him.
      • Do you tend to want a series of directions rather than simply trusting God? Why?
      • Is it difficult for you to trust God and move to where He wants you next without having a fuller picture?
      • What could you do today to close the gap on trusting God’s direction?
  1. Sometimes catching a vision of faithfulness, of steady plodding with God, can turn into the loss of adventure and expectancy. Why is this and what does it look like when it’s happening?
    • How does becoming a person who lives with a ready “yes” to God, keep them from missing God in the ordinary day-to-day stuff of life?
      • Discuss what it would look like personally for you to say: yes, to plodding with God; Yes, to plunging with God; Yes, to looking forward to life with God beyond this life?
  1. What do you need to do today to close the gap; believe God and act on that belief?

 

[1] Wooldridge, J. (2003). Noah. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (pp. 1194–1195). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[2] Morris, L. (1981). Hebrews. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews through Revelation (Vol. 12, p. 116). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[3]Barclay, William. The Letter to the Hebrews (The New Daily Study Bible) (pp. 168-169). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.

[4] Mangum, D., Custis, M., & Widder, W. (2013). Genesis 12–50 (Ge 11:27–12:20). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Morris, L. (1981). Hebrews. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews through Revelation (Vol. 12, p. 118). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

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