14 Noah’s ark

Please read Gen 6:1-7:16 beforehand

A. INCREASING CORRUPTION ON EARTH (Gen 6:1-12)
  •  Earth’s population greatly multiplied

Adam and Eve had intercourse and initially had three children namely Cain, Abel and Seth, but Seth was born when Adam was only 130 years old and since he lived for a further 800 years, he and Eve must have had many more children since God had blessed them to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth (1:28). Their offspring too, intermarried and had children so that, during the ensuing hundreds of years, a multitude of people must have been born on earth.

 Fallen angels further corrupt mankind

Who were these sons of God that took human women as wives (6:2-4)? Some theologians are of the opinion that they were fallen angels. Let us explore this possibility.

  • Angels are genderless (asexual) and can therefore not have sexual intercourse in their normal state.
  • However, instances are recorded in the Word where angels appeared on earth in human form and ate food with the people to whom they appeared (Gen 19:3). If then, they were capable of acting as human beings in this respect, why not also on the sexual level?
  • In the book of Jude, verses 6 and 7, for instance, the writer speaks of two groups of God’s created beings that had deviated from their God given principle (way of living).  

The residents of Sodom and Gomorrah gave themselves to fornication and went after “strange flesh” in that men had intercourse with men (Gen 19:5) and unwittingly even tried to involve angels in their lust. This deviation is compared with that of angels that had not kept to the principle of no sexual intercourse which God had ordained for them. It would therefor not be far-fetched to tie it up with “the sons of God” that married the daughters of men.

  • The fact that giants (Nephilim), men of renown, were born from these unions, reinforces this possibility. Again we see beings that wanted to be independent, doing what pleased them and moving out of God’s will.

Others are of the opinion that these, “sons of God” were the offspring of Cain who were exceptionally tall, strong, good looking and all round gifted in the flesh, but spiritually totally corrupt and that their intermingling  with Seth’s offspring, led to the corruption of all of mankind.

Whatever the case may be, the fact that this intermarriage is mentioned at this point, indicates that it contributed to mankind’s spiritual decline. Man became mighty in the flesh but poor in the spirit.

(Children of God must never marry non –believers or become close friends with them.)

God then limited man’s lifespan to 120 years (6:3)

This could firstly refer to the human race’s lifespan over the ensuing centuries; if so, it was intended to occur gradually as indeed it did happen for the descendants of Shem still reached the age of 200 to more than 400 years (Gen 11:10 and further).

It might however rather refer to the lifespan of the generation then living that would perish in the flood. During the 120 years, approximately, that the Ark was being built, the Spirit of God was, by the preaching of Noah, pleading with mankind to repent (1 Pet 3:20; 2 Pet 2:5). Now He would withdraw His Spirit.

 God’s evaluation of the situation

  • God saw that man’s thoughts and deeds were thoroughly evil (6:5,12). 
  • Their lifestyle was particularly characterized by violence (6:11); they hated and killed one another.
  • The Lord was sorry that He had made them, and it grieved Him. 

Just like Cain, every person is born with a tendency to be disobedient to God; to sin. The result was that humans went from bad to worse until they were morally completely rotten.

God who is omniscient (all knowing) realized that there was no hope for man to improve. They were like a bag of potatoes; one potato rots and transfers the rot to the rest and more and more rot until the owner is compelled to discard the entire bag in the dustbin. For 120 years, Noah had been preaching, pleading for them to repent, but to no avail.

Had God done wrong by creating Man?

The fact that He was sorry (repented) that He had created man, does not mean that He felt that He had made a mistake by creating them, for He never is at fault and when He had looked at his handiwork during creation, He had repeatedly commented that it was good. His grief rather was for what man had done to himself.

 God resolved to destroy both man and beast (6:7,13)

The situation was desperate but not out of God’s control. He came to the conclusion that there was no other way but to destroy all of mankind (except for eight). If he had not destroyed the wicked, they would have killed the remaining eight righteous ones, plunging this world into everlasting darkness. However, by destroying them and preserving the righteous, He gave mankind another opportunity to multiply and build a new generation of which many would love and serve Him and eventually inherit His new heaven and earth. So, even in judgment He was motivated by love. His plan would work out for the good of mankind.

 B. NOAH BUILDS AN ARK (Gen 6:8-22)
  •  Noah, a shining light in a dark world (6:8-10)

When God wants to do something on earth, He first of all looks for somebody by whom He can accomplish it. Such a person must clearly be on God’s side and not ashamed to show it.

Such a man was Noah; a righteous (right with God), upright person that walked with God; a lonely candle in a window that stood out in a pitch-dark world. All of his neighbours, and their neighbours, and their neighbours, were children of the dark, but he, a child of the Light. Everybody saw it and God noticed it and God’s smile was upon him.

If Noah could, in such a dark pit of sin, not only survive, but walk with God in holiness, each one of us can do likewise (6:9; 7:1). There is this saying that, “In the blackest of mud, grows the whitest lily.”

Using the holy light that burned within his heart, God lighted up the hearts of his three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. What a joy it brings to a parent to see the love light for Jesus also kindled in the hearts of his children and that they even find God fearing wives for themselves.

Had that not been the case with Noah’s wife and children, God would not have taken them into His ark and saved them from His judgment. (Surely, no child can, on account of his parent’s relationship with God, be forgiven his sins and accepted in heaven).

God then told Noah of his decision to destroy the whole world by a flood (6:3,17).

God discloses to mankind, and especially to those that are His, well ahead of time what He intends to do. He informed his twelve disciples of his coming arrest, trial, crucifixion and resurrection so that, when it would happen, they would be well prepared and their faith in Him would be strengthened.

For us too, God drew the curtain hiding the future so that we may know what to expect. Several Old Testament books contain prophecies regarding the end-times, the Lord Jesus himself prophesied in that regard and the Epistles and the book of Revelation contain a considerable amount of information on this topic. We need to study these so that we may be able to discern the times and be prepared.

 Noah receives a command from God

He possibly often prayed for God to punish the wicked, so this was good news that his prayers had been answered. The bad news however was that he and his family would not immediately be removed from this devilish world and transferred to heaven. No, he first had to build a massive ship that would be the means by which they and some animals would be saved from God’s wrath and brought into the new cleansed earth. What a disappointment but also what an honour to be chosen by God for such an important task.

Now then, how is it with our homes: are we ark builders or gold hunters? Are we surrendered to His cause or to our own? Let us give this some thought before seeing how Noah fared.

God provided the blueprint (plans) for the ship (6:14-16)

It was to be built of wood to the following specifications: length 300 cubits, width 50 cubits and height 30 cubits (150 m x 25 m x 15 m). It was to be constructed to have three levels. Gopher (cypress) wood was to be used and it was to be sealed with pitch both inside and out. ( A cubit is about 46 cm.)

God also explained to Noah how he and his family and a variety of animals and birds were to board the ark in order to be saved (6:18-20). He also had to stock the ark with sufficient food (6:21). He did exactly as God instructed him (6:22).

One wonders, should the engineers of our day be instructed to design and build a structure (a ship or whatever) that would be able to survive a catastrophe like the Flood, keeping eight human beings and thousands of animals safe, fed and healthy for  a year, what it would look like, what it would cost, how much and what kind of materials would be used and how many workers would be employed?

 Noah must have had many questions

There were questions such as where he would get all the trees and how he would cut them up into planks; how was he going to join them together to withstand such a violent storm; how to build scaffolding equivalent to that required for a three story building; where would he get the funds to hire craftsmen or would he and his three sons be able to handle the job on their own and were they qualified to design and build a ship of that size? (They must have been a very intelligent and innovative family.)

Then there were all the questions surrounding the animals and their food; such as how they would be able to trap all the many different animals, crate them and transport them to the ship. How to keep the jackal from stealing a lamb. What kind of food and how much would each pair or group require and how would the food be moved around in the ark once they were boxed in.

Little planning but stacks of faith

We nowadays draw up detailed project plans, using sophisticated computers and software, but Noah had to depend on God to provide all the answers as he went along, so he had to keep in close contact with Him all the time.

What a faith he had! In Heb 11:7 it is said that he moved with godly fear. He did not know all the answers but he knew and had a reverence for his Commander and that carried him through for 120 years, until all was completed and all his answers up to that point had been answered.

Modern man is exceptionally adamant to plan ahead and have the answers before he sets his hand to anything. Perhaps that is why we find it so difficult to walk by faith, seeing and hearing the unseen God by our spirit.

Only one ark

A person who believed Noah’s warning as to the coming flood but tried to build himself a raft to escape the judgement of God, would have been foolish for as we will see, the waters would cover all the earth for one year.

Likewise people of our day depend on their own resources and endeavours to provide for their salvation. Millions of people are floating around without direction on the rafts of certificates for church membership but are too proud or self assured to enter into the Ark that God provided, Who is his Son Jesus Christ.

C. THE ARK COMPLETED AND COMMISIONED (Gen 7:1-24)
  •  Task completed

Noah did exactly as he was told. It took him about 120 years to complete the ark – a very long time to devote to one project; a long time for him and his family to believe and to do according to their faith. Obedience to God is a sign of humility and the proof of faith.

Grace offered and scorned for 120 years

As mentioned earlier, Noah was a preacher of righteousness (2 Pet 2:5), so while he was building the ark, he also preached and warned the people against their ungodly, sinful lifestyle. 

One can just imagine how much scorn he had to endure, more so as he kept on for so many years, building a huge ship on dry land. He however persevered to believe God and thus saved himself and his dear ones as well as the entire creation from elimination. 

 D-day finally breaks

At last the ark was ready to be used and stocked with food. Then God told Noah to get into it together with all the animals for within seven days the flood would come.

Again God assured him that he ha found favour in His eyes (7:1).

Now to collect all those animals and coax them into the ark (7:8,9)

It is interesting to note that, at this early stage of the existence of the world, God already made a distinction between clean and unclean animals and apparently it was common knowledge also to Noah, so God could tell him to take one pair of the unclean and 7 pairs of the clean animals. This distinction was later incorporated in the Law which God gave to Moses (Lev 11:47).

Now, to build a ship is difficult but for a man and his three sons to herd huge elephants, rhinos, buffalo, hippos, crocodiles, lions, leopards, puffadders, mambas, frogs, rabbits, eagles, sparrows, etc. into a ship without getting hurt and without them hurting one another, that is impossible.

As this huge task had to be accomplished within 7 days, there must have been a long and heated debate in the Noah boardroom as to how this was to be accomplished. Then, as they were still arguing they heard a cacophony of trumpeting, bellowing, roaring, hissing and bird-callings and as they rushed outside they saw this multitude of animals all moving towards the ark in an orderly fashion as if led by a gentle unseen shepherd, then entering in as if this had been their home for many years.

This continued day by day; then suddenly it was all over, so they went up and cautiously peaked inside. There were all these animals, lying down, perching or standing, some still munching on their last bite of food and staring at them as if to say, “Hi, we’re all here; what are we waiting for; close the door, let’s get going!” (My imagination!).

Noah and his family enter

Now it was the Noahs that had to get a move on, grab the last of their stuff and rush inside for the Lord was waiting to close and lock the door.

Noah’s faith and accompanying God-fearing lifestyle afforded his family the privilege to be saved (to enter into the ark), nevertheless, each one still had to choose whether to enter, or not.

Having God-fearing parents certainly is a great privilege for by their example, teaching and prayers, you are continually positioned right at the Entrance to the Ark, Jesus Christ, but the Lord will not permit your father, mother, brother or sister to pick you up and carry you in, kicking and screaming to let go so you can return to your friends (colleagues) or to your beloved possessions. No, you need to take a good look at the ark (the cross of Christ) decide, “This is for real,” close your ears to the mocking of the multitudes of people and enter in before the door closes.

For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life?” (Matt 16:26).

 After everyone had entered, God locked the door behind them. (7:16)

God does not act impulsively, nor does He miscalculate like we often do or overlook certain facts that should have been taken into consideration. His decision to judge mankind was well-planned, well-thought-through in every minute detail. He had stretched the period of grace to the limit, but then the cutoff point was reached; the last animal had scurried into the ark (the tortoise or the chameleon?), the door swung closed and He himself turned the key in the lock.

The unbelieving masses of people were locked out. They must have been amazed to see the thousands of animals streaming into the ark as if driven by an unseen hand. Even this miracle did not move them to repent.

The entrance to the ark remained open for a period of 7 days, which number is the number of completeness/fullness, but still they did not repent.

God did not stand at the door and did not turn away anyone that wished to enter. He did not step in the way of anyone, saying, “Sorry, you are not elected.”

There was no angel with a flaming sword to keep anyone out like at the entrance to Eden after Adam and Eve had been expelled. Each one chose not to enter. Though they saw the astounding miracle and had heard Noah’s warning that God was going to destroy the world because of their sin, not a single one was willing to face the fact that he too, was at fault and condemned to die. Their hearts had been hardened over a long period and had become like rocks.

Repentance is a work of grace worked by the Holy Spirit and when He is continually resisted and He turns away, man will have no further desire nor hope to be saved (Prov 1:20-33; Eph 4:30).

Then the first raindrops fell …

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