When we think about the Bible account of Noah building the ark (Gen. 6-9), what comes to mind are animals going into the ark two by two. This amazing event was the culmination of more than a century of hard work during which Noah and his family were openly ridiculed by their neighbors. We don’t know a lot about Noah prior to his call by God to build the largest ship ever up to that time. What he was able to do, without all the technology and equipment that we now have, staggers our imagination. Background To understand why such a project was required, we need to review a little of the history of that time. God had created the universe and placed our planet in it. He then created Adam and Eve, and gave them a garden paradise for their pleasure. They disobeyed God, ate the forbidden fruit, and their sin broke what had been a perfect relationship with Him. This resulted in their children being born with sin inherent in them and the verdict of death hanging over them.
Over the years as the population increased, there was a degeneration into immorality, violence and idolatry, which gave Satan control over the minds and actions of people. The Holy Spirit had been striving with mankind to bring them back to God, but there was very little response, and things only got worse. God finally declared, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years” (Gen. 6:3). God was so deeply grieved by the wickedness of the people that He put a time limit on how long He would put up with them. He gave them 120 years to repent and turn back to Him, otherwise He planned to destroy them.
This is where the story gets really intriguing because it states that “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord … was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God” (Gen. 6:8-9). While this is not a lengthy resume of his efforts or qualities, we can’t imagine a better recommendation than that! We don’t know much about Noah, but we do know that he separated himself from the evil practices of that time. He made acceptable sacrifices, practicing what God had originally shown to Adam and his family (Gen. 4:4), and he “walked with God” which means he communed with Him as a normal part of his life. God knew Noah’s heart, called him righteous and was ready to bless him.
God warned Noah about the flood that was to come – the coming judgment that would wipe out all those who were corrupt and full of violence. He told him to build an ark that would be seaworthy enough to withstand the most horrendous storm ever to hit this planet. Noah was given precise instructions for its construction. It was to be a threedeck ship, 45 feet high, 450 feet long, and 75 feet wide. He was told the type of wood to use, how to seal it with pitch inside and out, how to make the stalls for the animals, and where to place the single door – on the side. We can’t imagine what it would be like to start such a project with only three other men, his sons, to help. A tremendous amount of wood had to be cut and shaped for the keel, beams and stays.
Because of Noah’s faith he believed what God told him about the coming judgment, even though it was something that had never happened before, and immediately began this huge building project. Can you imagine the family conference as Noah told them about God’s plans and their future as boat builders? The faith Noah exhibited was contagious, and his family demonstrated their faith by joining in the task. There is no evidence of complaining by his wife, his sons or his daughters-in-law. There are some good lessons for us to learn from what we see in the life of Noah and his family.
Let’s start with fathers. Noah was the spiritual leader and his example was so positive that his family willingly followed his example. Fathers need to set the spiritual standard by good example. We cannot expect to see blessing in our families if we are not believing and obeying God. This means that fathers must read the Bible to know what God’s instructions are for him and for his family. “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).
Next come the wives who submit to their husbands and are ready to work with them, even though the tasks may be hard (Eph. 5:22-24). A wife’s submission does not place her in an inferior position, as it has nothing to do with intellect or abilities. It is rather submission to the biblical roles of men and women established by God after the Fall (Gen. 3:16-19). When she accepts God’s order she can be assured of His blessing.
Noah’s sons and daughters-in-law worked willingly with him, and complied with the directions God had given their father. They were not children, but it seems obvious that they had learned to be obedient to their parents, so it was natural for them to continue to accept their father’s leadership (Prov. 22:6).
The family labored on in spite of the contempt of the people around them. God used the building of the ark as the way to warn the corrupt and wicked world and to give men and women the opportunity to repent and accept God’s way of salvation from the coming judgment. Hebrews 11:7 tells us this: “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.” And 1 Peter 3:20 says that “God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water.”
The story of Noah and the ark gives us a beautiful illustration of the gospel. The world today hates God and is corrupt, violent and wicked. God doesn’t plan to destroy the world with a flood as He did in the time of Noah, but judgment has been pronounced. The gospel message is like the ark – God’s way of escape from the coming judgment. That’s the reason why Jesus came into the world. He paid the price for our sins and took our judgment on Himself when He suffered and died on the cross. Just as Noah and his family had to get into the ark to find protection from the coming judgment, we need to be “in Christ” who is our “ark” of salvation. How do we do this? John 1:12-13 has the answer: “To all who received Him (Jesus), to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent … but born of God.”
Like Noah, we are saved by believing God’s Word and accepting His way of salvation. When we repent of our sin and accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we are born into God’s family and are safe and secure in Him for all eternity. Those who reject God’s offer of salvation are already condemned, because they refuse to believe and be saved. “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (Jn. 3:18).
We who have been made righteous through the work of Christ should be living examples of His promise of salvation, declaring by our lives that we belong to Him and using every opportunity to tell others to “get on board.” The family of eight entered the ark and God shut the door. Those who refused to enter found that it was too late. They were lost! What a warning for those who refuse the gospel message!
Judgment will come on those who reject Jesus’ offer of salvation today, just as it came on those who rejected Noah’s offer of salvation in the ark. To be ready we need to repent of our sins and ask the Lord Jesus to forgive us on the basis of His sacrifice on Calvary.
The ark rode out the storm and after months it finally rested on Mount Ararat (Gen. 8:4). God told Noah and his family to disembark and begin a new life. Those who receive the Lord Jesus as Savior also begin a new life. With the help and power of the Holy Spirit who lives in every believer, the door can be closed to the old way of life and living for God can become the norm. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17).
What About You?
If you have not already done so, now is the time to decide where you will spend eternity. “How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard Him” (Heb. 2:2-3).
By Ian Taylor
The story of Noah’s life involves not one, but two great and tragic floods. The world in Noah’s day was also flooded with evil. The number of those who remembered the God of creation, perfection, and love had dwindled to one. Of God’s people, only Noah was left. God’s response to the severe situation was a 120yearlong last chance, during which he had Noah build a graphic illustration of the message of his life. Nothing like a huge boat on dry land to make a point! For Noah, obedience meant a longterm commitment to a project.
Many of us have trouble sticking to any project, whether or not it is directed by God. It is interesting that the length of Noah’s obedience was greater than the lifespan of people today. The only comparable longterm project is our very lives. But perhaps this is one great challenge Noah’s life gives us – to live, in acceptance of God’s grace, an entire lifetime of obedience and gratitude.
— Life Application Bible, Tyndale House, Wheaton, Illinois, USA.
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org