Noah’s Ark

noahs_ark_on_mount_ararat_by_simon_de_myle

Today I was organizing some old files. I found among them a paper that I wrote my first semester at Southwest Baptist University in 2002! It’s title was “NOAH:  A LIFE OF FAITH AND OBEDIENCE OR WHATEVER FLOATS YOUR BOAT.” I thought I was so clever back then.

I thought I would post it here so you can enjoy some of my early writings.

 

 

NOAH:  A LIFE OF FAITH AND OBEDIENCE
OR
WHATEVER FLOATS YOUR BOAT

CHRIS BASS
NOVEMBER, 13 2002

Introduction 

There are many factual accounts in the Bible that illustrate God moving in an awesome way.  The account of Noah and the flood is one of them. God works through Noah to rid the earth of immoral and corrupt creatures.   Noah provides a model of faith that anyone could follow. Faithful Noah follows God regardless of what others think of him. His faithfulness is crucial in the survival of the human and animal race.  There are four main issues that are to be covered: Background to the flood, Noah’s Divine Call, and The Ark, and the Flood.

Background to the Flood

In Chapter five of Genesis, righteous Noah is introduced.  He is the son of Lamech, and grandson to Methuselah.  While the Bible is silent about Noah’s life previous to the flood, after turning the age of five hundred Noah becomes the father of three sons–Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

In chapter six justification for a flood is given.  As explained in verses one and two,  “When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.”  When there were more men on the earth they were like an “infectious disease” (Henry, 16).  The increase in population was due to God’s blessing, but corrupt men turned God’s had blessed us with to a curse.

Mixed marriages between the sons of God and the daughters of men are discussed in verse two.  The sons of God were not angelic beings, as some critics would imply. Instead, they were the men who had followed after God, the righteous, coming from the line of Seth.  The daughters of men were the people that did not know God–descendents from the evil line of Cain.  They had no desire to obey God at all.  This intermarrying, a direct disobedience to God, broke His heart.  He looked upon the earth and saw man’s wickedness.  No matter how hard man tried, God saw as verse six states, “that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”  This is when God decided that it was time to rid the earth of the plague of sin that infected it like leprosy.  Everything that God had made perfect in the beginning was now decaying all around.

Noah’s Divine Call

Although sin was running rampant throughout the earth, one man, Noah, found favor in God’s eyes.  Noah, the Bible says, “was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.”  Very few men, before or after him, could say this about their lives.  In light of this, Noah had a perfect resume for the job that God had in mind.  He was willing and obedient.  God knew that Noah would be faithful all the way.

Hebrews 11:7 declares, “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.”  The beginning of the same chapter in Hebrews describes faith as, “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  Noah was not the type of person who just sat in his faith he walked in it.  B.H. Carroll wrote, “Now no man could foresee that flood. God said it would come in on hundred and twenty years. [….] But God told Noah that it was coming, and moved with godly fear, taking hold of the invisible things that had been made known to him, by faith he built the ark.” (Carroll, 59).

Noah was given a strange task from a human standpoint. The people did not see that there was going to be any reason for an ark.  Considering the job that God called Noah to do and all the hard work that he put into it, Noah was unsurpassed when looked at in comparison to other Bible figures.  Noah was just a regular man.  He was neither a “man of renown” nor a “mighty man,” as were men in that day such as the Nephilim.  He was just himself. God chose Noah because he was the man God wanted.  Faith was what made Noah standout from his generation.  Where other men had physical strength, Noah had strength in God.

Noah was not only called to build a large vessel to carry himself, his family, and two of every kind of animal; he was also called to bring God’s message to a wicked and perverse world.  For one hundred and twenty years Noah preached to the wicked world around him; and for one hundred and twenty years the wicked world made fun of him.  The people thought this task to be impossible.  One could imagine the spectacle–a five hundred-year-old man building a boat in the middle of a field with no large bodies of water around.  Remember, it had never rained prior to the flood.  Yet, through all the mockers, he maintained his faith that God would remain true to what He said He would do–destroy man and start again.

Noah preached in the same capacity that Jonah and Lot would employ later.  Jonah was to let the Ninevites know that they needed to repent of their sin and turn to God.  Lot did the same with Sodom and Gomorrah.  Noah also preached of certain doom coming and for the people of the world to repent and to turn to God.

However, they would not believe him.  Even up to the day of the flood, the people laughed in his face.  The only ones to be saved were Noah, his wife and three sons, and their wives.  God decided to bring his judgment to the world through a flood, and there was no way it could be stopped.

The Ark 

The flood God brought upon the earth shows that sin is something He is serious about judging. In contrast, the ark shows that God is merciful.  The people who refused the mercy of the ark were judged (Could).

The Scripture clearly relates that Noah only had one hundred and twenty years to complete the ark.  So, one could assume, that Noah hired help to take on this large task.

However, the ark was definitely designed by God, as the Bible clearly points out.   Although an assumption, scholars believe Noah didn’t know his portside from his bow when it came to ships (Facts). He really had no idea how to build the ark.  This is why God gave him all the information that he needed to know concerning the construction of such a large ship.  If he had not given Noah the instructions Noah would not have known what size to make it; or the actual process in witch the construction would take place.  For example Genesis 6:16 states, “Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top…” If Noah would have skipped this step the ark might not have stayed together.

While the NIV Bible states the ark was made of Cyprus wood, other translations, such as the KJV Bible declare it was made of Gopher wood.  This is due to the translation of the Hebrew word used here.  Regardless, the ark was built with the wood specified by God.  The Hebrew word used for ark in Genesis chapter six is “tebah”– translated it means “box” (Facts).  In light of this fact, the ark was not a streamlined vessel. Instead, it was probably shaped more in the likeness of a barge.  It was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high.  In other words, it was about 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.  It had three levels, but only one door in which to enter and exit the ship.  The size that the Bible gives for the ark, when put into volume equations, describes the ark as a little more than a million and a half cubic feet internally.  It also had over one hundred thousand square feet of floor space.

In addition, the very ratios of the ark were of divine inspiration.  The numbers that were used, in cubits, 30 by 5 by 3, show advanced knowledge of shipbuilding.  Ship builders say that the design God used would have been nearly impossible to capsize. To do so, it would have had to be tilted over ninety degrees to capsize (Facts).

The Bible states that the ark was covered with pitch inside and out.  This was to take care of any waterproofing.  Pitch could also have been used to keep the wood from rotting.  Prolonged water and manure exposure to wood would have caused it to begin deteriorating.  And for Noah and his family to be in the boat for over a year would have been very detrimental to their survival.  The boat was not going to sink or rot at all with the treatment that it was given. It was perfectly safe no matter how badly the boat was tossed around.

When studying the size of the ark, and all the different types of animals in the world, it maybe hard to comprehend how they would all fit.  However, if the animals of the world are compare in terms of their size, only fifteen percent of the animal population is typically larger than a sheep.  Meanwhile, the median size for the animal population is the size of a rat.  Taking this into consideration with the volume of the ark, it is evident just how easy it would be to fit the estimated sixteen thousand creatures into the ark (Answering).

The process by which the animals entered the ark was quite unique.  Contrary to popular secular beliefs, Noah did not go around gathering the animals together.  Instead, the Bible states that God caused the animals to come to Noah.  They entered the ark just as God had commanded.  The only part Noah contributed in this process was to make sure that there was enough food for all the animals.

Noah had toiled for so many years to build an ark, persisting against the scoffers, and finally he was able to witness God’s message coming to fruition before his very eyes.

The Flood  

When Noah was six hundred years old, the animals entered the ark. God then told him that it was time for the judgement.  Noah and his family entered the ark and God closed the door behind them.  Seven days later in Genesis 7:11-12, the Bible describes how the flood came.  “[…] [O]n that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.”  The earth exploded with water all around.  The people who had been skeptical of Noah then believed that what he had said was true. For them it was too late.  The judgement had come and all, except those who were in the ark, would be destroyed.

Some critics argue that the flood was “local.”  This is not a feasible explanation though.  If the flood were “local” then there would be no need for an ark the size that it was.  All the animals would not have been destroyed; they would have not had to ride in the ark.  In addition, the Bible uses universal language when describing the flood.

A glance at Genesis 7:20 offers further evidence against the “local” flood theory.  It states that the water rose to a level of more than fifteen cubits.  It was crucial that the flood reach this depth.  The ark would have most likely sank about half of it’s height, fifteen cubits, into the water (Whitcomb, 2).  If the flood was not taller than the mountains by at least this much then the ark would have struck the peaks and been marred.  Therefore, a universal flood is the only explanation for this passage.

Conclusion

After about a year, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.  God had sent His wind over the surface of the waters and they had receded.  When Noah and his family came from the ark, God pronounced a blessing upon them and all of the creatures, to “be fruitful.”  Immediately, Noah built an altar and sacrificed to God.  God was pleased. He then made a covenant with Noah that he would never flood the earth again.  God’s rainbow in the sky would be a reminder between Himself and man of the covenant that was made.

Throughout this historical account, God’s hand was with the man that He had chosen–Noah.  God was with him when he was called from a life of normality into a life of constant faith.  God was also there helping, when Noah was constructing the ark and the people were mocking him.  God continued to be with him throughout the duration of the flood.  Noah was very grateful to God, and expressed it according to the custom of the day, a sacrifice.

The people of the world can learn very simple lessons from this flood account.  First, God is in control.  He chooses his workers by their faith and obedience.  Second, God will do what he says he will do.  Third, where there is sin God will bring judgement.  Fourth, if God calls you he will be faithful through its completion.  God was faithful to Noah, and Noah through faith, was obedient to God.

 

Bibliography:

  1. Answering the Critics of Noah’s Ark. 10 Nov. 2002 <http://www.icr.org/pubs/imp/imp- 273.htm>
  2. Carroll, B.H. Studies In Genesis. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1937.
  3. Could Noah’s Ark Fit all those Animals. 10 Nov. 2002 <http://www.bible.ca/tracks/b-noahs-ark-carried-all-animals.htm&gt;
  4. Facts on Noah’s Ark. 10 Nov. 2002 <http://www.ldolphin.org/cisflood.html&gt;
  5. Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Commentary: In One Volume. Ed. Rev. Leslie F. Church. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1961.
  6. Whitcomb, John C. Jr. The Genesis Flood. Philadelphia: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1963.
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