Stories and parables are things we remember our entire lives. Sermons come and go rather quickly. I always enjoyed hearing stories from the Old Testament and especially about the heroes; I wonder why more preachers do not tell the old stories about Samson, Goliath, Moses and Noah. So for the kids and the kids at heart, I would like to tell you the story of Noah’s ark and share with you some interesting things that we can learn from Noah.
Noah was called by God to build the ark when he was 500 years old. Never think you are too old to be of use to God and His redemptive work. He calls men and women, well beyond what was perceived to be their prime years, to do incredible work. He also calls young girls and young boys, like the Virgin Mary, and a little boy named Samuel, to do incredible things. God looks at the heart, not the wrinkles. The word retirement does not exist in the Hebrew or Greek texts.
It took Noah over 100 years to build the ark. They used wood from an extinct tree-gopher. It must have been like our present day cypress. To our knowledge, there were no power tools or Home Depots. All was done by hand. Imagine toiling away for 100 years to build something, the likes of which you have never seen, and to get up every morning, day in and day out, and build this monstrously large wooden ship on dry land. We celebrate men and women of faith who obey God despite how absurd they might appear, but back while he was doing this building he was not applauded. Rarely are Christian heroes acclaimed during their lifetimes. Has He called you or me to be absurd? Are you willing to obey Him and be forgotten by the world?
The ark was the largest ship ever built till the 1850s. It was 1/3 the size of the Titanic! At 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high, the volume of the ark was about 1.5 million cubic feet. That big boat had about as much space as 250 railroad stock cars, which could comfortably hold every land roving/roaming species on the face of the planet—- and then some.
There are more than 270 stories about a catastrophic flood from cultures around the world. Most of these stories bear similarities to the biblical story of Noah and the ark. But since eight different humans survived the flood and provided eye-witness accounts to future generations, it’s understandable that some versions evolved before the Holy Spirit inspired Moses to write down the precise account. But think of it, almost 300 stories about the great flood from cultures all across the globe.
It’s interesting also to note that the ark was built only to float, not to sail anywhere. It had no rudder or sails or means of propulsion. The length-to-width-to-height ratio of 300 to 50 to 30 is what shipbuilders use today. This is the best ratio for stability in stormy weather. When Moses wrote these words to describe the ark he had no knowledge of shipbuilding or engineering. It’s as if a master builder was guiding his plans. Right now, if the land was flat, there is enough water in the oceans to cover the earth 8,000 feet deep.
But think about these lessons for you and me:
It took the man 100 years to build a ship—-the first ever built—on dry land. What he was asked to do by God looked like lunacy! And for 100 years this lunatic never let up! He toiled to build something based solely up his faith in God—-he was 100% sure of what God had said and he accepted the commission to do it—there was no turning back. What has He commissioned you to do—-and how many days does it take for you or me give up if we don’t see immediate gratification? The closer we are to Him, the more we will heed His call, the more we do precisely what He says, and, perhaps, the more idiotic what we do and are becoming will appear to the rest of the world.
It’s strange that Noah’s wife’s name is never mentioned. But I wonder if this was because she did not share in his vision. It’s tough to be in a relation, marriage or fellowship where you’re not supported by the ones you love in your vision from God. But Noah’s first love—-as with Abraham, David and the other real heroes was their love of God.
For 100 years he must have been the butt of jokes and constant ridicule. How quickly would most folks today give up and walk away after the first few snide remarks. We look too much to others for confirmation that what we’re doing is right! If God calls you to do something difficult, the worst thing you can do is look to another man for confirmation!
There is no record that anyone helped him—-not a single soul in 100 years of work. How do you keep at it, for years and years, when no one lends a hand or stands with you or offers you a word of encouragement? He was not working for man or serving as some sort of humanitarian purpose—otherwise he would have given up or became bitter. He was a master builder for the King of Kings. Are you an ark builder—-called by God to do something extraordinary? Or are you the kind that throws stones at the ark? Do you look to man, or for God’s hands for your provisions, your charter, your blueprints and His the pat on the back? Look to God for these things! If you are depending upon others you will never finish your ark….
The assignment God gave Noah was to build a boat that was unsurpassed in the history of the world! It was the largest, man-made, movable object until at least the middle of the 1800s. It required at least 4000 trees for its construction…the boat was enormous! Imagine yourself not only building this collossus, but also living on it with the same three sons, daughters in law and your spouse for one year on a boat 1/3 the size of the Titanic and taking care of a lot of animals and their messes! We have eleven ducks, four dogs and a wolf in our home—-it’s time consuming and a mess most of the time. This man took care of tens of thousands of animals! Noah was a superman——a special person and God knew it.
It’s said that the medieval churches were meant to represent the inside of an upside down ark—-a place of safety! The ark was a place of safety from the storm kept them secure from certain death. Who knows how many people perished because they were not in the ark, some say millions, some say billions, but Noah and the seven were saved. The architecture of the early church reflected that idea—-we are in the ark of God—safe from certain destruction.
It took 15,000 men to build the Titanic and about 900 to service it once at sea. Granted, the ark was not a cruise ship, but only four men and four women took care managing the boat along with tens of thousands of animals and their own meals and needs for a year! These folks worked on that ark. If you’re in Christ’s church—the ark of God—you work. It’s not a cruise ship.
When Noah built the ark he used “pitch”, something made from burned wood or charcoal. The pitch made the ark water tight and able to keep the folks inside alive. But the word “pitch” also means “atonement”. The word for “pitch” (Hebrew transliteration: kopher) in Genesis 6:14 is different from words used for pitch elsewhere in the Old Testament. It means, literally, “to cover” and, in the noun form, means simply a “covering.” However, it is also the regular Hebrew word for “atonement.. In essence, therefore, this is the first mention of “atonement” in the Bible. Whatever the exact nature of this “pitch” may have been it sufficed as a perfect covering for the Ark, to keep (out) the waters of God's judgment on the world outside, just as the blood of the Lamb provides a perfect atonement for the soul and allows us in.
Noah build the ark—not God. God gave him the tools, God called the animals into the ark and God even gave him the blue-prints, but Noah had to do the work. That’s the way God does things. He could have snapped His fingers and made the ark or the Titanic. He could similarly have winked His eye and created Solomon’s temple. He could also wave His hand and make all men perfect creatures—-but that’s not how He does things. He gives us will power, arms and minds and the ability to choose. He calls us to do the work—-and there’s something good about doing it like He said—-and with excellence and godliness. The ark did not leak, sink or function improperly. It is said that the ark may even still exist, frozen solid, on the mountains of Turkey to this very day.
The Hebrew word for ark is “TEVAH” , תבה. That word only appears in two places in the entire Old Testament. The first place is Genesis in reference to Noah’s big boat—the ark. The second place is in Exodus where the baby Moses is placed in an “ark”. We translate the same word for ark as “basket” in Moses’ narrative, but it’s the same word. The basket preserved the life of the most important man in the Hebrew nation. Two times an ark was used as the divine instrument for God to deliver His chosen people.
In Genesis, mankind was to be destroyed by a flood of water. In exodus God’s chosen were being destroyed by water—-babies drowned in the Nile river by Pharaoh. But God saw to it that Noah and his family, as well as Moses, would be saved by placing them safely in an ark to protect them from the waters.
By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.-Hebrews 11:7. Has there ever been a more urgent time for a Noah in our nation and Noahs in our communities?! Divine warnings…..Godly fear….salvation for those who will turn to God.
One last point friends: God shut the door to that ark—-once the folks were inside, they were sealed, safe, secure in that ark. Nothing could snatch them out and they could not accidentally wander out either. In Genesis 7:16 we read that once Noah, his family and all the animals were on board, “God shut him in.” The point is that God shut and sealed the door. In other words, once God shut Noah and party inside the ark, no one was going to open the door. When God shut the door, God’s people were protected and those on the outside were destined for judgment and death. Once in the ark, no one can take us from His hand. Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29).
If you are in, you’re safe and secure within the ark and you have no fears. If you are not in the ark, you’re going to drown.