After reading the Scripture of Noah and the great flood from Genesis 6:9-9:17, I find myself reflecting once again upon the magnitude of Noah’s fantastic faith and obedience. I replay the scenes in my head over and over trying to visualize all that was taking place and I simply cannot fully wrap my head around it. I feel almost child-like as I imagine in awe the amazing story of Noah and the Ark.
Noah, this 600 year old man, was living somewhere in the Middle Eastern area of the world with his wife. He had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth, who were all married. Noah, who is apparently the only righteous man living on earth at this time, walked in close fellowship with God. God observed that the earth was full of corruption and violence and decided to destroy all living creatures. I can’t even fathom the thought of all the people alive during this era of time and only one person was found to be righteous… just one. A world that was so evil that God wanted to destroy everything! God explained that He would cover the earth with a flood that would destroy every living thing that breathes but that He would spare Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their three wives.
God told Noah to build this humongous boat from gopher wood and waterproof it with tar inside and out. God gave exact specifications on the size and details for construction. I can’t begin to wonder how Noah would come about this vast amount of lumbar that would be needed for this build. Just how much timber would be necessary for a boat that is 450 feet long, 45 feet in height, and 75 feet wide, containing three full decks inside? My gracious, I assume that is a pretty large pile of wood! I didn’t see anywhere in Scripture where it mentioned that Noah had any construction skill whatsoever, so this is quite the endeavor. I can just see 600 year old Noah cutting and hammering away at what would appear to be an astronomical, labor-intensive task without a vast army of builders to help. Other large construction jobs always mention those who helped and what they did to aid or assist, but in this portion of Scripture, no others are mentioned to have lent a hand to old Noah.
I think it would be safe to say that Noah’s neighbors, other family members, and people throughout his town thought that he had completely lost his mind, especially when they saw him tediously and diligently pounding away at this gigantic boat on dry land.
God told Noah to leave an 18 inch opening below the roof all the way around the boat and put a door on the side. The Bible says that Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded. Words can’t even express how I would doubt, hesitate, and spend countless hours in prayer questioning everything about everything! Noah went straight to work, fully trusting in God. I would love to be close enough with God that I would be able to tackle a command of this grandeur, not hesitating, with full on obedience.
God tells Noah to bring not only his family but a pair of every kind of animal both male and female into the boat with them. Every kind of animal: small, large, domestic, wild, and birds to ensure that life would survive after the flood. God said to take seven pairs of the animals that were approved for eating and sacrifice and seven pairs of every kind of bird. God also tells Noah to be sure and take on board enough food for him and his family and for all of the animals. Again, not only has Noah now built this amazing Ark to God’s standards, now he has to pack enough food for animals, some of which I am sure he had never seen before. I can just picture Noah seeing this vast array of animals coming from every direction approaching this ark. This is another thing that sends my vivid imagination soaring. A male and female of every domestic animal breed, a male and female of every wild animal breed coming to Noah. What he must have thought seeing some of those large animals approaching, knowing he had not ever taken care of these types of animals before. Noah probably had never fed a hippo or zebra. He probably had never slept with elephants and lions… and now he and his family was going to board a boat with at least two of every animal in creation. None the less, Noah did everything as the Lord commanded. Knowing this about Noah and his family, I am reminded that they were human and I am sure if not Noah, his family had insecurities, questions, fears, concerns. The Bible doesn’t speak of their righteousness after all. Also, imagine what the community thought as they witnessed these animals boarding this enormous boat, especially when they boarded in such a timely fashion and in pairs.
When everything was ready, Noah, his seven family members, all the animals and food were loaded on board. The Lord closed the door behind them. The ominous clouds start to hover overhead. The underground waters erupted from the earth and the rains started to fall torrentially from the sky. Picture it-as the door closes, the most horrific, astounding disaster of all time begins. Mighty rains falling, hitting all around the ark, the people outside panicked with fear, crying, screaming, trying to find places to go, to climb, the animals on the ark settling in to their selected areas, the family of Noah with lumps in their throats and thoughts swirling about in their heads. This was one massive structure, of which would probably have very little light, and have little circulation of air within this enclosure. Imagine the smells, the sounds, the fears of the unknown and the unheard of taking place at that very moment. The rains are now pouring down upon the earth and will last for forty long days and nights. I am sure that would feel like forever when confined to a boat full of animals. How scary it would be to know everything that they had known would be no more. They would be the only humans alive and it would be up to them to be fruitful and multiply, filling the earth once again with people, their descendants. What an honor and extreme responsibility!
The flood waters would rise and rise until every mountain was covered with water, even rising more than twenty-two feet above the highest peaks. The boat floating to a height at which planes now soar. All living creatures outside that ark-dead, gone, destroyed forever! I can’t comprehend the utter devastation. My family suffered immensely when their property was hammered by floodwaters and this of course is of no comparison. Watching flood waters roll in massive waves, knocking down everything in its path was devastating and seeing the remnants of what was and the pathetic remains traumatizing for many. Any modern day disaster fails miserably in comparison to this great flood.
The rains ceased and the underground waters stopped flowing after those forty long days and nights. God sent a wind to blow across the earth and the flood waters began to recede. Five months have now passed since Noah and his family boarded the ark. The boat came to rest upon the mountains of Ararat, which is where Turkey is today. This massive volcanic mountain rises approximately 17,000 feet. Still the waters are too deep to disembark.
Another two and a half months pass and Noah and his family, and all those animals still remain on board waiting…waiting for the waters to continue to recede and the earth to become dry once again. At least at this point, other mountain peaks are becoming visible.
Forty more days go by and Noah opens a window, and released a raven which flew about to and fro. He also released a dove, wondering and I am sure hoping that dry land is soon to come. The dove found no place to land and returned to Noah. Noah being persistent and hopeful waits another week and released the dove again. This time the dove returns with an olive leaf in its beak. Since olive trees are not tall, Noah knew the floodwaters were almost gone, Hallelujah!
Noah waited another week and released the dove again. This time that dove didn’t come back. I am sure it was just as tired of being confined as the people and the other animals. I can picture the anticipation.
After approximately one year of residing on an ark with such limited quarters and I am sure uncomfortable accommodations, the earth was finally dry. God then commanded Noah to take his family and leave the boat. He was commanded to release the animals to roam or scurry, and release the birds to fly so they could once again be fruitful and multiply. I wonder what mixed emotions this disembarkation brought. I am sure this moment was bittersweet. They now could move freely on dry ground, the light of day shining on their face, the earth beneath their feet, the animals assembling back to nature as God intended. Noah and his seven family members must now rebuild their lives and their homes, starting all over. No friends, no other family, no neighbors, no community, just them alone. The Lord tells Noah that all the animals, birds, and fish will be placed in his power and gave him permission to use them for food.
The Lord made a covenant with Noah and his family and all living creatures for all generations that He would never again bring floodwaters to destroy the earth. He placed a rainbow in the sky as a sign for us to forever remember this promise.
This is one of my most favorite stories of all in the Bible. What courage, trust, faith…immeasurable! The Bible doesn’t speak of Noah complaining or rebelling during this epic event. Noah worked hard, submitted to God’s will and plan, and showed astounding, mind-blowing obedience.