“It was also faith that empowered Noah. He was divinely forewarned concerning the impending deluge, even though there was as yet no visible sign of it. He reverently constructed an ark to deliver his family (his actions served to pass sentence upon the rest of the world) and he became heir of the righteousness which results from faith.” (paraphrased)
The antediluvian world was apparently a terrible place in which to live. We open God’s Word to find Adam and Eve being deceived by Satan and Cain killing Abel. Soon after, we find God referring to His earth as “wicked,” “evil,” “corrupt,” and “violent” (Gen. 6:5, 12). Because the name Noah means “rest,” perhaps his father, Lamech, hoped his son would help bring peace to the tumultuous world (Gen. 5:28-29). Abel, Enoch, and Noah all proved it is possible to live a holy life in a corrupt society.
Nothing is known about Noah until he turned 500 years old. At that time, he conceived children: Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Gen. 5:32). Like Enoch, Noah walked with God (Gen. 5:24 & 6:9). He was mature and obedient; a man whose life was not influenced by those around him (Gen. 6:7, 22). He was the first person in the Bible to be declared “righteous” (Gen.6:9). Ezekiel refers to Noah’s godly life (Ez. 14:14). Peter informs us he was a preacher of righteousness who brought the flood upon the ungodly (II Pet. 2:5). However, he did not “earn” his righteousness by building an ark, for works without faith are futile (Jas. 2:17). Noah found grace in God’s eyes before he began to build (Gen. 6:8). He did not put his faith in the ark, but in the One who ordered its construction.
The difficulty of Noah’s task did not deter him. The fact it had never rained before did not concern him. The length of time he had to wait did not stop him. Public opinion could not sway him. He never questioned God’s motives. He did not argue, complain, or procrastinate. As in our day, there was little in Noah’s era to indicate global judgment was eminent—except the word of God. Heeding His warnings is an essential element of redemption.
Noah was motivated by “fear” (eulabethe). The term does not mean to be afraid, but rather “to act with calculated, reverent forethought.” Noah’s preparations were unprecedented, monumental, extensive, and expensive. It was a task which demanded extreme patience. But without God’s instructions, he would have been clueless concerning his survival. Once Noah received God’s blueprint, he never deviated from His plan.
The ark took over a century to construct (Gen. 6:3). There is no proof Noah had any knowledge of shipbuilding or seafaring. However, little nautical skill is required if a vessel is engineered only to float. It was built for a unique purpose. Although boating was not unknown in that era, no one had ever built one that size, on dry land, miles from the ocean. Nothing would have seemed more preposterous than the concept of a gigantic wooden box, containing humans and animals, designed to float indefinitely on a sea nowhere in sight.
God instructed Noah to “pitch” the ark inside and out with a waterproof sealant (Gen. 6:14). The term “pitch” is kaphar and probably referred to a type of bitumen or asphalt. Kaphar also means “payment or ransom” (Ex. 30:12).The same root word in various forms means “to atone by offering a substitute; to appease; to purge or cleanse from sin” (Ps. 65:3). It can also mean “to cover, hide or conceal”. In Psalms, kaphar is used concerning God’s forgiveness (78:38). It is utilized regarding reconciliation (Ez. 45:15 & Dan. 9:24). In II Chronicles kaphar is interpreted as “pardon” (30:18). A derivation of this term (kapporeth) refers to the mercy seat atop the Ark of the Covenant (Ex. 25:17). The kaphar sealing the ark symbolized the sealing of Noah’s redemption. Kaphar was that which would not allow the waters of judgment to touch God’s people.
Noah made no attempt to make his work appear pragmatic. What may seem improbable or incomprehensible to others should not affect one’s personal convictions. Nothing in his actions suggested he acted from reason or logic. “Prepared” is kataskeuazo, meaning “to equip or make ready.” Taking God’s warning to heart, Noah pursued a specific course of action. His obedience would have a global impact.
Like the tabernacle, the ark was made to God’s specifications. Naval engineers have verified that the ark was perfect for its intended use. While it was not designed for maneuverability, it would have been nearly impossible to capsize. Although the exact shape of the ark is not described, its dimensions suggest it could have held 40,000 tons. It was 525’ long, 88’ feet wide, and 53’ high. In contrast, the Titanic was 883’ long, 92’ wide, and 175’ high. Fourteen thousand workers built the Titanic in three years. Noah and seven family members worked for a century to build the ark. It was large enough for all its inhabitants and a year’s supply of food. The amazing deluge story also includes the miraculous preservation of everything within the ark.
While God prepares for judgment, He also prepares a way of escape for those who serve Him. Only the seven people who heeded Noah’s warning went into the ark with him (I Pet. 3:20). It is noteworthy that Noah’s sons stayed true to their wives. In an era when fornication and adultery were probably rampant, each son had one wife (Gen. 7:13). By his exemplary faith, Noah saved his family. God also used him to conserve the entire human race. Unbelievers dismiss the story of Noah as a legend, but the flood narrative proves God saves families who trust Him.
For more than a hundred years, Noah preached and built his ark. His acts of faith “passed judgment” upon an apathetic world. He “condemned” the world around him by his obedience. If Noah had not preached one word, the ark towering above them stood as a sentinel to protest their ungodliness. Although his contraption was lampooned by the skeptics, it served as a gigantic billboard which plainly foretold God’s intentions. People could not claim they had not been warned. God’s dealings with Noah served to illustrate His interaction with humankind throughout the ages.
Noah received great retribution for his life’s work. “Heir” is not used here in the sense of an inheritance, but rather as a partaker or owner of something. The blessing he received was the result of his continuous faith, proven by decades of perpetual labor. Had people believed him, everyone would have been involved in constructing arks. But only one was built, for only one was needed.
The flood was:
1. Punitive and retributive. It was God’s judgment upon the rebellious (Gen. 6:3).
2. Timely. Humankind was wicked, evil and violent (Gen. 6:5).
3. Inevitable. Judgment follows God’s unheeded warnings (Gen. 6:7).
4. Predicted and deliberate. This was not a natural disaster (Gen. 6:17).
5. Unavoidable. No safe haven remained outside the ark (Gen. 7:21).
6. Universal. All living things died (Gen. 7:23).
7. Scheduled. The waters came and went according to God’s predictions (Gen. 7:12 & 8:3).
The Preaching of Noah
Noah did not remain silent, but preached as he worked. God warned Noah and Noah warned others. The ark was his church, his workbench was his pulpit, and his hammer was his Bible. The day came when Noah cut his final plank, drove the last peg into place, and preached his farewell message. Because Noah’s teaching was received with indifference, God sent the flood of judgment to “cut them down” (Job 22:15-16). In reference to the coming of Christ, Peter uses the flood as an example. He indicates there were scoffers in Noah’s day, just as many in the first century ridiculed the possibility of Christ’s return (II Pet. 3:3-6). Peter said these mockers are willingly ignorant of the lesson taught by the flood (vv. 5-6). He adds that God wants everyone to repent, for He is unwilling that anyone perish (v. 9). The generous amount of time it took to build the ark is emblematic of the ample time God allows for individuals to be born again.
It is easy to imagine that Noah’s neighbors regarded him as an alarmist or a doomsday prophet. To build what was the largest man-made object in the world at that time branded him as a deluded fanatic. It is likely Noah endured insults, jeers, taunts, slander, sarcasm, derision, scorn, and contempt. But the Bible is silent concerning the people’s reaction. Although they were indifferent to his warnings, the ark was an allegorization of Noah’s hope and the world’s hopelessness. The Lord told His disciples this same attitude will characterize the days prior to His return. He describes the end-time world as apathetic as it was in Noah’s day. Sinners were oblivious to the impending flood waters that would come and “destroy them all” (Lk. 17:26-27). Few people believed Noah, for the Word of God is the only evidence of things not yet seen (Heb. 11:1). Just as there was no physical evidence judgment would come, so there is none today. For two thousand years the world has heard the Gospel message, yet only a small number enter the only “ark” of safety God has provided. If Noah was ridiculed, the laughter would have subsided as the first raindrops began to fall.
Noah was assigned the task of building a craft large enough for his family and samples of species of animals. One can only imagine the raging storm outside and the roaring creatures inside. Although we are informed numerous animals entered the ark in pairs, how carnivores were prevented from eating other animals is unknown (Gen. 6:19-22). The mysteries surrounding the survival of these species is an aspect of the story which also must be accepted by faith.
Dew and mist were the only sources of water prior to the flood (Gen. 2:5-6). Although it had never rained on earth before, God said He would send “rain” for forty days and nights (Gen. 7:4). This means Noah and his seven relatives had never seen water fall from the sky.
The concept of a 40-day period in Scripture often symbolizes a trial that results in victory:
<> Moses was on Mount Sinai forty days (Ex. 24:18).
<> In Canaan, the spies spent forty days (Num. 13:26).
<> Both Elijah and Jesus fasted for forty days (I Kgs. 19:8 & Mt. 4:2).
<> Nineveh’s grace period was forty days (Jonah 3:4).
<> The post-resurrection period was forty days (Acts 1:3).
Noah was 600 years old when he entered the ark (Gen. 7:6-7). Although the rains lasted for only forty days, a total of five months elapsed before the ark rested on Mount Ararat (Gen. 8:4-5). An additional seven months passed before the waters finally abated and Noah was allowed to leave (Gen. 8:16). The ark opened to reveal a new world. Peter analogizes the flood as a type of “baptism” that cleansed and renewed the earth (I Pet. 3:20-21). God placed His rainbow in the sky as a perpetual sign of His covenant with Noah: the emblematic link between God and man (Gen. 9:13-17). Noah emerged to take possession of a purified planet. His initial act was to offer a covenant sacrifice to the Lord. His was the first altar mentioned in the Bible (Gen. 8:20). This is remarkable, considering there was no precedent or mandate to build one. Seven times in nine verses, the Lord refers to the covenant He made with Noah (Gen. 9:9-17). He lived for another 350 years after the flood and died when he was 950 (Gen. 9:28-29).
The deluge proves God expects everyone to love and serve Him. But God knew even the flood would not change human nature. He declared mankind was corrupt prior to the flood and makes a similar statement after it was over (Gen.6:5 & 8:21). The ark and the flood contrast salvation and judgment. Today, the human race is again ripe for a global catastrophe. We are obligated to learn the lessons the flood was sent to teach us:
<> We must be determined to walk with God – despite the godlessness that surrounds us.
<> Like Noah, our faith helps us persevere under difficult circumstances.
<> Believers are commissioned to warn others of the impending judgment.
<> As Noah was delivered from the universal waters of judgment, so Christians shall escape the tribulation.
As a small child, my wife wrote this poem:
by Doris Knoles
The ark, O what a place to be,
Safe within its shelter.
It has just one, yes only one
Door by which to enter.
Jesus is your Ark today
For He can take your sins away;
Through His blood we’ve been set free
To live with Him eternally.
QUESTIONS: THE FAITH OF NOAH
1. Prior to the flood, the earth was described as:
E. all of the above
2. The name “Noah” means __________________________
3. Noah earned his righteousness by building the ark. True or False?
4. The preparations for building the ark were:
E. all of the above
5. It is probable that Noah endured:
A. taunts and slander
B. scorn and contempt
C. insults and jeers
D. sarcasm and derision
E. all of the above
6. Noah made determined attempts to make his work appear pragmatic. True or False?
7. The flood proved that God can save entire families who trust Him. True or False?
8. How old was Noah when he entered the ark?________________________
9. What was Noah’s first act upon leaving the ark?__________________________