Noah and the Ark

Genesis 6:9-22
Robert Murray M’Cheyne, a great Scottish preacher, once asked a circle of friends the following question, “Do you think Christ will come back tonight?” They all answered “I think not.” M’Cheyne then quoted this text from Matthew 24:44, “The Son of Man is coming at a time when you think not.” Jesus also said earlier in that same chapter that the situation before Hs Second Coming will be exactly like the situation before the Flood. People will be blindly going about their sinful business, not realizing the signs of the times. They will be marrying and giving in marriage, not realizing their peril until it is too late. The passage in front of us today has the most serious consequences for us, who need to live in daily expectation of the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Last time we saw that the people on the earth had become quite wicked in every imagination of their hearts all the time. The Lord said that He would wipe out all living things from the face of the earth, except Noah, who had found grace with the Lord. The word again means unmerited favor. Noah did not deserve the favor that the Lord gave him. Let us keep that in mind as we continue.

We start a new section in Genesis with that word “account” or “generation.” This marks the beginning of God’s dealings with Noah. First we see a description of Noah: what was he like? He was like Enoch. Noah walked with God just as Enoch did. There was something different about Noah. He was not like the rest of humanity that loved to fill the earth with violence. Noah was righteous and blameless. In his generation, or among the people of his time. Moses is not saying here that Noah was perfect. Rather, Moses is saying that Noah, upon whom God had showered His grace, was righteous and blameless compared to those around him. You could say that Noah had integrity.

Noah also had three sons. Why does Moses mention this here? Moses means for us to see that Noah’s righteousness has implications for his three sons. Noah’s righteousness probably rubbed off onto them. But also, God made a covenant with Adam, which He is going to re-establish with Noah, a covenant of grace. That means that Shem, Ham, and Japheth are going to have those benefits applied to them. That is why Moses mentions them here: they will be saved along with Noah. As Peter says, “Repent, believe, and be baptized, and you will be saved, you and your household.” The promises of salvation belong to the children also.

The rest of the world had other ideas, however. It was corrupt, and full of violence. The word for violence there means a violence that views the law with contempt. It means a violent destruction of an orderly society. We remember that God’s command was to multiply and fill the earth with people. Well, these people multiplied and filled the earth with violence. They were so ungrateful to God for God’s grace given to them, that they repaid good with evil. The other word used here, meaning “corrupt” is used four times in just three verses. It is the same word that God uses when He says at the end of verse 13, “I am going to destroy them.” God is always just. He is going to destroy what was already destroyed. It is a case of the punishment fitting the crime. God is going to take the wicked people’s actions to their logical conclusion by destroying them along with the world, for that is the direction in which the people are headed. This judgment spells the end of all people. The language here is what is used when a king has a matter brought to his attention, and he must give a ruling on it. He must decide between two parties. Which party is innocent, and which party is guilty? Here we have two parties compared and contrasted. Is Noah right, or is the world right? Based on numbers alone, we might think the world was right. After all, it was only one family out of all the families on the earth that was standing for the truth. We learn here that when God is on Noah’s side, God outweighs the world. God outnumbers the world. We cannot think that numbers determine what is right. Jesus was deserted by all as well. Even His disciples left Him when He was crucified. And yet, on the third day, God vindicated the single righteous man, just as He vindicated Noah.

We cannot think that morality is determined by the majority. “Well, everyone else is doing it, therefore it must be right.” But as my band director indicated when I was in college, “This is a perfectly democratic college band: there is one vote, and I have it.” With regard to what is right, there is one vote, and God has it. God cast His one ballot into this book called the Bible, which points to Jesus Christ, who is truth. Jesus Christ is the King. God has cast His ballot on Jesus Christ, with Whom He is well pleased. We must believe in the truth of the Scripture, though the entire world call us a fool.

Don’t be deceived: the world can creep into the church as well. The world can creep into our hearts. But who is right? The world, or God? The flood proves that God is always right. And He was supremely right in the judgment He brought on the world in Jesus Christ, especially in the resurrection from the dead, which declared Jesus to be in the right, and the power of sin and death to be in the wrong.

So we see Noah, a man righteous and blameless, standing against the tide of the entire world. Henrik Ibsen once said, “The strongest man on earth is the one who stands most alone.” It is not strength to cave in to the world’s way of doing something. We can see this today in the popular world,. First they tell us to be our own person. Then they tell us that we have to be just like the world. Do you see the contradiction here? They tell us to flout authority, but then they tell us that they are the authority. They tell us that we have to be individuals, especially in how we dress, behave, talk, and think. Then they tell us that Christianity is intolerant. Do not those two statement contradict each other? Kids, peer pressure is enormous in schools these days. Do you not feel the pressure to dress just like those around you? How many times have parents heard this line, “But everyone else has this brand name of shoes!” Kids, realize that the world is not helping you here. If you want the right kind of “peer pressure,” then read the Bible. Remember that God is the majority. The Bible tells us to dress modestly, to act modestly, to treat our body as a temple of the Holy Spirit, and to fear God rather than man. It can feel very lonely to resist the world and the world’s pressures. That is when you need to know that God is with you. God is “Immanuel,” and that God is supremely with us in Jesus Christ.

Noah must have felt very alone as well, while he was busy being righteous, and preaching a message no one wanted to hear. He must have felt even more alone when God told him to build the most unlikely carpentry job imaginable. An ark! What is an ark? It is a floating house. It is not a ship. It does not have a rudder, but depends on God to steer it. The ark symbolizes many things. It is a heavenly sanctuary where God meets man. In it is all life. It is the kingdom of God Let’s take a close look at this ark of salvation.

First, the word “ark” is used only one other place in the Bible, and that is in Exodus 2, where Moses as a baby was hidden in an ark made of papyrus. Interestingly, Moses’ mother coats this ark with pitch and tar. In writing the story of Noah, Moses has his own story in mind! In both stories, there is only one to be saved: in Noah’s case, only one family out of all families; in Moses’ case, only one male out of all the Hebrew males. God directs where both arks go, such that salvation is the result. The ark then is like the later tabernacle, where only one person can go into the most holy place. The same is true of the later temple. Finally, Christ Himself calls His body the temple, when He said, “Destroy this body, and in three days, I will raise it up.” That is the baptism that Jesus talks about, the baptism of death and resurrection. The same thing happens to Noah. Noah is about to go through a baptism, which is a picture of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The new creation is only possible inside the ark. The ark, then, is a type of Jesus’ body. We can only have salvation by being united to Jesus Christ. Our baptism symbolizes the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We participate in that when we come to faith. Some of the details about this ark are very suggestive.

First, we see how big this ark is. It is smaller than the QE2, but it is far larger than any other wooden boat that has ever been built. It is five times as large as the Mayflower. The ark has 1,518,750 cubic feet capacity inside, minus the space that the floors took up. Each floor was 15 feet high. We can see here how wide and deep and broad and high is the love of Christ.

The ark is to be coated with pitch or tar. The Greek translation has “asphalt.” We are not to think of our modern kind of asphalt, but rather of “tar.” The Hebrew word is the same word used for the sacrifice of atonement. The sacrifice “covers over” the sin of the person sacrificing. In the same way, Christ’s sacrifice covers over our sin, preventing God’s judgment from leaking in, just as the tar prevented the water from leaking in to the ark.
Noah is to make sure that air and light come into the ark. Probably the language here indicates that the sides of the ark were not to come up all the way to the roof. There was to be a space of about 18 inches between the top of the walls and the roof. The roof, then, would extend beyond the wall, to prevent water from pouring in. We can see here God’s concern to preserve life.

Noah was also to put in a door in the side of the ark. This door points to only way in which we can be saved. Just as Noah could only be saved by going through this door. Jesus says, “I am the door.” He also said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, except through Me.” The door is in the side of the ark. Just as Christ was pierced in His side, we must enter by the blood of Jesus Christ. Any sinner can enter here. But he can only enter here.

There are three levels in this ark. These levels represent heaven, the earth, and the underworld. This reminds us of the second commandment: we are not to make an image of anything in heaven, on earth, or in the waters below. That means also that we are not to find anything to worship besides God. We cannot find anything in this entire universe that is more worth worshipping. For us, it now means that in heaven, there is no other name by which we are to be saved than that of Jesus. We are to worship no one else but God, and Jesus is God the Son. We are to worship Jesus, the bringer of salvation.

We all know and love the following verses, which talk about the animals coming in two by two. What I want us to consider about this is that the lambs would have to be in the place as the wolves. They would have to get along. Notice in verse 20 that the animals will come to Noah. Noah did not have to go out searching and searching for that second ostrich, that he never seemed to able to catch. God would bring the animals to Noah. God did that once before, when Adam was naming the animals. Noah is a second Adam.

One issue needs to be discussed here, and that is the question of the dinosaurs. Verse 20 says that every kind of animal made it into the ark. That must have included the dinosaurs. Probably they started dying out after the Flood, when the conditions for life were not what they were before the Flood. The ark was quite big enough, being 1 ½ times as long as a football field. We know they must have survived the Flood, because there have been many sightings of dinosaurs recorded in history after the Flood, the last one being about five hundred years ago.

What we see here is that salvation is only through Jesus Christ. He is the Ark of our salvation. We are baptized with Him in His death and resurrection, being vindicated against the entire world. That has already happened in the throne room of God. It will happen openly at the end of time when God brings the whole world to judgment. Those who are in Christ Jesus will be vindicated, and all those outside of Jesus Christ will be condemned. Are you inside the Ark? Do you trust in Jesus Christ to cover your sin with His own, preventing any leakage? Do you recognize that He is the only door to salvation? Do we realize how deep and wide, high and broad is the love of Christ? What we need to do is to repent, turn away from our sin, and believe in Jesus Christ for our salvation.

Does the state of the world bother us? Should we not be alarmed at the state of the world? Do we not realize that there are many people in our very midst who are living their lives oblivious to the judgment that is coming? Does this not give evangelism an urgency, an importance that cannot be measured by dollars and cents? There are many people who indulge themselves in “Noah jokes.” “How many of Noah’s sons does it take to pound in a nail?” They ridicule Noah by ridiculing Christ, little realizing that Christ is building an ark of His own, made up of us. Board by board, nail by nail, Christ is building us up into an ark that will withstand the fiery judgment that will come at the end of time. Are you one of those boards? Or are you merely deadwood, fit for nothing, since you have born no fruit? Come to the Ark. Come to Jesus, and be forgiven, having your sins covered.

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