Devotional of the week: Hebrews 11:4–7 (3 in series)

Holy fear

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 11:4–7, TNIV)



St Michael defeating Satan, a sculpture at Coventry Cathedral

The unknown writer of the book of Hebrews was warning his readers, who were Jewish converts to Christianity, not to give up on their new faith. The first flowering of their enthusiasm had died down, and now they were wondering if the sometimes hard life of faith was worth the slog. Yes, says the writer resoundingly.

Just look at Noah, he says. Here’s a man who acted in holy fear, obeying God’s instructions. The flood was far away, and yet Noah endured the whispering campaigns of the townspeople who thought he had gone crazy or was weirdly overzealous for his faith. Noah kept on building, gathering the materials and then the animals for the great escape. By obeying – by an active exercise of faith – he became an heir of righteousness. That is, he and his family inherited the good things that God had set aside for them.

Holy fear – just two words, but they seem to shout out from this passage. Often today we don’t think of holy fear when we think of God, as we join our children in singing that “Jesus is my best friend” or when we see God as the lover of our souls. I don’t want to dismiss intimacy with God through these and other expressions, but rather to hold them in tension with a holy reverence for the God who is without blemish or impurity. When we worship God in his holiness, we bow down in humility and offer up our hearts to him in obedience.

Today may we fall on our knees before God, literally or figuratively. Though his holiness could consume us, yet he beckons us onto holy ground, drawing us near. May his purity fill and transform us this day.


Think and pray over Genesis 6:9: “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.”

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