Bible Focus: Genesis 6-9
When the LORD saw that human wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time, the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and he was deeply grieved. Then the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I created, off the face of the earth, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky—for I regret that I made them.” Noah, however, found favor with the LORD. These are the family records of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among his contemporaries; Noah walked with God.
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The mountains were covered as the water surged above them more than twenty feet. Every creature perished— those that crawl on the earth, birds, livestock, wildlife, and those that swarm on the earth, as well as all mankind. Everything with the breath of the spirit of life in its nostrils—everything on dry land died. He wiped out every living thing that was on the face of the earth, from mankind to livestock, to creatures that crawl, to the birds of the sky, and they were wiped off the earth. Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark.Genesis 6:5-9, 7:20-23 CSB
I live in Kentucky. In the northeastern corner of my state, less than an hour south of Cincinnati, there is a huge building made to resemble a life-size Noah’s Ark. It forms the centerpiece of a theme park and museum called the Ark Encounter. I’ve been there twice. The park is well designed, the restaurant is good, and the exhibits are fascinating. But all those details pale in comparison to actually experiencing the Biblical size of the massive boat that Noah built at the command of God.
The Bible does not say how long Noah was at work on the ark, or what methods he employed to build it, or how many people he involved in its construction. But one thing is sure: he could not have done it quickly. Building the ark would have required a massive amount of coordination, labor, and resources in Noah’s day. News of the ark, and Noah’s reasons for building it, would have spread throughout the land for years.
And as people saw the ark slowly taking shape and grasped its sheer size, they would be forced to conclude that either (1) Noah was a crazy fool, or (2) God was indeed going to judge the world’s wickedness through a cataclysmic flood. Apparently no one (except Noah and his family) came to the second conclusion.
In a similar way, if we encounter the story of Noah’s Ark and grasp the magnitude of God’s wrath against sin, we might be forced to conclude that either (1) God’s judgments are harsh and cruel, or (2) human sin is more serious than we can fully comprehend. The first conclusion will eventually lead us to a rejection of God. The second conclusion will eventually lead us to faith.
After the first humans fell to temptation, their sin brought a terrible curse on themselves and on creation. They and their offspring were subject to death, and none of them could overcome the sin in their hearts. For over a thousand years, humans increasingly pursued wickedness. It seems that a few humans did faithfully walk with God, but humanity as a whole walked away from God.
By the time of Noah, things had gotten so bad that God was ready to start over. The Bible even says he regretted making man. That idea seems out of place for an all-knowing, all-powerful, absolutely wise God. But the idea of regret, in this case, doesn’t refer to God’s knowledge and wisdom in making decisions; it points to God’s feelings towards humans and sin. He loves the humans he created. But he hates what sin has done to them and he hates the sins they commit. And at some point, God’s justice must rise up like a flood and take action. He cannot forever allow sin to go unanswered.
Against all this backdrop of increasing sin and impending wrath, there was Noah. Noah was not perfect; but he walked with God. When God told Noah his intentions and told him to build a boat to rescue his family and preserve the existence of animals, Noah did so. Noah’s obedience to God showed his trust in God.
By faith Noah, after he was warned about what was not yet seen and motivated by godly fear, built an ark to deliver his family. By faith he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.Hebrews 11:7 CSB
Despite its reputation as a children’s tale, Noah’s Ark is not a feel-good story. God’s wrath against sin is fully on display, as the flood waters rise and drown young and old, human and animal. However, Noah’s Ark is an important Biblical story, because it is the first story in the Bible to clearly show the pattern of wrath, faith, and rescue. The Bible will frequently return to this pattern. Humans embrace sin, and sin brings God’s wrath; but God saves those who trust him and accept his offer of rescue.
Featured image by Peter H on Pixabay