Before I begin this article, I should clarify that I believe that Noah’s flood is a historical fact, not an allegorical myth. It actually happened; a flood that covered the whole earth and destroyed all humanity and all animals on the earth, with the exception of one man, his family, and those animals with him. As I see it, if one can’t believe the Bible about the flood, one can’t believe it about the resurrection either. Noah is included in the ‘cloud of witnesses’ in Hebrews 11:7. These witnesses are to encourage us to ‘lay aside every encumberance and the sin which so easily entangles us, etc.’ (Hebrews 12:1). Hardly the place for a fictional character and story. And I also note that Christ Himself spoke of the flood as an actual historical event (Matthew 24:38-39). So if you share with me the belief that flood did indeed happen, then please read on.
I must also note that much of what we ‘know’ as a culture about Noah’s ark comes from children’s books and songs (“The Loooord, told Noah, to build him an arky-arky”). Noah is usually portrayed as an elderly man with white hair and beard (rather chubby) in a bathrobe, happily enjoying a sail with a bunch of happy animals on deck. The story of Noah always seems to find it’s way into children’s Bible books, while stories about Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) or the Levite’s concubine (Judges 19) are avoided for being too ‘dark’ for a children’s book. This puzzles me. Apart from the fall and the crucifixion, there has not been a darker day in human history than the day the flood began.
This was not a rainstorm, or even a hurricane. The ‘fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened’ (Genesis 7:11). Enough water was released to cover the tallest mountains on earth. Cataclysm. All of humanity was destroyed. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just a few people were lost because the earth was so young and people hadn’t multiplied. There were nine generations between Adam and Noah. And if a typical married woman today, living say 75 years, would be pregnant 10-20 times (without birth control), how many children could a woman living 900 years bear? By my reckoning, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives were lost. And Noah did NOT resemble a chubby Santa Claus. Given that he lived 900 years and was 600 years old when the flood came (we don’t what age he began building the ark), in appearance he would resemble a modern day 50 year old the day he entered the ark. And if he built, by hand, a ship the size of the ark, Noah was NOT chubby. Think: chiseled, scarred, and hard as nails.
As It Was in the Days of Noah
But why write an article about Noah’s flood? First, because Noah’s time is so like our own. Noah’s story really begins in Genesis 6:1 (though most sermons skip to verse 5): “Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose . . . the Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them.” Demons having children with women. The presence of the demonic was visible on the earth. How does this relate to our day? Have you not wondered why there are so many mass murders lately, perpetrated by men with no real explicable motive? Demonic. Why the increasing pressure and influence of drug cartels no longer motivated solely by profit but by a desire for rape, murder, and enslavement? Demonic. Still not convinced? According to the CDC, more than 45,000,000 babies have been murdered in their own mother’s wombs from 1970-2015 in the USA alone. Demonic.
Note also Genesis 6:5: “then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Watch the first episode of the Game of Thrones and imagine playing this show for a theater audience in, say, the 1930s. Imagine the audience’s response. Hysterical screaming, vomiting, and a rush from the theater (followed, no doubt, by a torch-bearing march on the studio). And yet the average American watches five hours of shows like these a day.
And then there is the epidemic of pornography. There is an article in Forbes titled ‘Pornhub 2017 Year in Review Insights Report Reveals Statistical Proof We Love Porn’ that you can Google if you want some insight into American’s use of porn. Fair warning: I couldn’t make it halfway through the article. Just take my word for it: it’s bad, and it’s everywhere. Surely, the thoughts of our hearts are increasingly only evil continually (Genesis 6:5) as they were in Noah’s time.
Finally, though ‘the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence’ (Genesis 6:11), Jesus notes that ‘in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away’ (Matthew 24: 38-39). The culture around Noah saw neither the corruption, nor the impending judgment. Neither does ours.
Noah: The Ultimate Prepper
Second, Noah was the ultimate prepper. Want to save your family from TEOTWAWKI? Noah saved his family from TEOTW (forget the AWKI). Want to provide for your people in tough times? Noah provided for his family and for all land animals on earth for over a year! Want to partner in rebuilding society when the storm passes? Noah did that too.
Let’s take a closer look at lessons from Noah’s story.
- Noah received direction from God. It wasn’t his plan, it was His plan. This lesson can’t be overstated. Take Jim’s advice and pray before you prepare. And don’t think that God’s message to Noah was a ‘bolt from the blue.’ It flowed from his intimacy with God: ‘Noah walked with God’ (Genesis 6:9). Dear reader, I implore you to walk with God and receive His plan for you.
- Noah lived a holy life. ‘Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time’ (Genesis 6:9). Let us follow his example and ‘lay aside every encumberance and the sin which so easily entangles us’ (Hebrews 12:1). Search for sin in your life for sin and ask the Lord to set you free from it. Or, better yet, ask the Lord to ‘search [you] … and see if there be any hurtful way in [you]’ (Psalm 139: 23-24).
- Noah did what he was told. From his introduction in the text to the point where God’s rainbow appears in the sky, Noah doesn’t say a thing. But ‘thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.’ Obedience is what God rewards.
- Noah had a heart of worship. What is the first thing he does once he gets out of the ark? He builds an altar before the Lord (Genesis 8:20). In response, the Lord promises to never again destroy the earth with a flood. He also promised to preserve ‘seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night.’ All that, in response to one man’s worship. I believe that worship is overlooked in our lives and that it brings peace, joy, thankfulness, alignment with God, and a powerful response from the Lord.
- Noah gave up all his earthly existence to follow God. I’m sure that Noah took tools (as many as he could afford!), tents, extra clothes, etc. with him. I’m also sure that his godly life and long hours building the ark left him few (if any) friends. But he lost his farm, his extended family, his neighbors and community (including all the skills they had and he didn’t). Think on this for a moment. Imagine that tomorrow you wake up and all the world has been washed away. All of it. No house, no cars, no buildings, no power, no grocery store, no pharmacy, no hospital, no doctors, no dentists, no Costco, no Walmart, no restaurants, no hardware store, no Starbucks (!), no internet, no phone, no computers, no tablets. Gone. Far worse than an EMP. Just you, your family, and whatever you have in your suitcases. Noah lost his whole existence, with the exception of his nuclear family and his God. But he preserved his life and the lives of his family through a time of God’s judgment. Let me repeat that: all that Noah got was his life, his family’s lives, and the chance to start over. And believe me, God’s judgment is coming again. Do you hope to preserve your family? Then remember the words of Christ: “He who wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake, he is the one who will keep it’ (Luke 9:24). Do not cling to anything that God calls you to give up. Or it may cost you your life, and the lives of those you love. When He says ‘let go,’ let go.
What did Noah accomplish with this foundation? “Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did” (Genesis 6:22). What, exactly, did Noah do? First, he had to design the ark. My best guess, based on Genesis 9:20, is that Noah was a farmer by profession, not a ship builder. He certainly had no experience building a ship of this size. And while the Lord gives Noah the basic dimensions, the number of decks required, the number of doors and windows, and the types of building materials to use, the rest of the design appears to have been up to Noah. He would have had to determine the latitudinal and longitudinal curvature of the ship and the exact curvature of each board in the hull. Each board would have to be carefully catalogued based on its exact position in the ship.
He had to pick (and procure?) a build site close enough to the forest of trees needed for the raw materials. Some system would have had to be designed to move the heavier materials. Can you imagine the size of the beams needed for the girders of a ship this big? Tools would need to be procured en masse. How many pens (and of what type) would be needed to hold every type of animal on earth (mammals, lizards, birds)? For that matter, how many types are there? How much food would be needed for humans and animals? And of what type? And the Lord didn’t tell him how long he would be in the ark. What should he take with him to restart society with only the skills he and his immediate family had? What would you take? What skills would Noah and his family have been scrambling to learn so that those skills would not be lost? Think on this for a moment.
Then it was time to gather raw materials. According to Genesis 6:15, the ark was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high. Estimating a cubit at 18” (roughly the length of a man’s forearm and fist), that’s 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. I realize that the ark was probably not rectangular in shape, but for easy figures, that’s a surface area of 114,750 square feet. Adding in the first, second, and third decks (Genesis 6:16), that’s 216,000 square feet. That’s about 81,000 2x4s. With, at best, bronze really era hand tools, Noah had to cut down and mill 81,000 2x4s. Just for fun, try cutting down one tree and producing 1 good 2×4 using only an axe and a hand plane. Noah then had to manufacture or procure enough fasteners for those 81,000 2x4s. He also had to produce enough pitch to cover the surface of the hull (114,750 square feet) inside and out. How many buckets of roofing tar would it take to cover 2×114,750 = 229,500 square feet?
And then the work really began. Noah built the ark. We don’t know what sort of divine assistance Noah received, or how long the construction took, but the Lord did not build the ark for him. Noah did according all that the Lord had commanded him. Beasts of burden might have been used to move the bulk materials or to lower especially heavy materials into position, but for the most part, the ark was built by hand. 81,000 2x4s people. Fastened together. By hand. Followed by covering the surface with nasty, foul smelling, and very dangerous pitch.
How long did this take? And let’s not forget that Noah still needed to provide for the daily needs of his family during construction. And in a world filled with violence (Genesis 6:11), security would have been a constant concern. Imagine the physical and emotional exhaustion. Imagine the constant fight against discouragement and despair. Will this thing ever get built? Is there really a flood coming? “Doesn’t look like rain to me.” Why are we doing this Dad/Honey? And then there was the spiritual struggle. Do you think Satan wanted that ark built?
Does all of this seem exhausting? It was. But let us take heart. What the Lord calls for, He provides for. Noah did it. And we can do what He asks too.
I stated previously that the Lord’s judgment is coming. Why do I believe this? Because the Lord said so: “the Lord preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.” (Psalm 145:20). The Lord gave the founders of our nation the knowledge of His Son when much of the world was still in darkness. He gave them a virgin country with vast resources and endless opportunity. He gave us a democratically-elected republican form of government and a new birth of freedom and success over our enemies. And what did we do with it? We greedily devoured the resources, took the credit for our success and our victories, turned our back on God, and now seek hastily after every form of wickedness. President Obama was right: we are no longer a Christian nation. Tell me: what nation in the history of humanity has been so blessed, has been so presumptuous, and has so provoked God to wrath?
A new storm is coming, my brothers and sisters. Build quickly.