If there’s one story in the Bible most people know, it’s the one about Noah and the ark—even children’s books are written about it. But to understand the real message regarding this event, we need to look a little deeper into the scriptural account. In Noah’s story there’s a message of hope and assurance, but there’s also a warning because it demonstrates that God hates evil.
Genesis 6:5-6 describes the kind of world in which Noah lived: “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. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” Verse 13 adds that the earth was “filled with violence” because of mankind. The conditions were so bad that God decided to blot out mankind and all the animals with a flood—everyone, that is, except Noah and his family (vv. 7-8).
“Then God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood’” (Gen. 6:13-14). In a world where rain had never fallen and plants were watered by mists that arose from the ground, this must have seemed like a very strange instruction. Furthermore, Noah may not have had any building experience, but when God gives someone a task to complete, He always supplies whatever is needed.
The Lord told Noah exactly how to build the ark. It was to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high, with three floors. It was shaped like a shoebox 1.5 football fields long with about 100,000 square feet of space inside. God knew exactly how big it should be, what material to use to build it, how much food was needed, and how many animals would be in it. The ark had one door, which God controlled, and one window, which Noah could control. There was no rudder or wheel because the Lord was the guide. It had no engine or sail. And it didn’t look refined or elegant because its purpose was simply to preserve the lives of Noah, his family, and the animals.
One week before the flood, God told Noah and his family to enter the ark, and He sent animals and birds of every species into the ark as well. Then, after seven days, God shut the door, and it started to rain. It rained for 40 days and nights and the fountains of the deep were opened. The water rose and covered all the mountains and prevailed over the earth for 150 days before it began to recede.
Eventually the ark landed on a mountain. Several months later the mountain tops became visible, and after 40 more days, Noah opened the window and sent out a raven, which never returned. Then he sent out a dove, but it returned to him because the water still covered the surface of the earth. Seven days later, he sent out another dove, and it returned with an olive leaf in its bill so Noah knew there was dry land. After being enclosed for 365 days, the Lord told Noah it was time to leave the ark.
Do you feel like God is requiring you to do something that seems unreasonable or beyond your abilities? If you follow Noah’s example and respond with trust and obedience, you’ll find that God will provide all you need to accomplish His will. You can rely on His promises and act with confidence, knowing that He will see you through to the end.
This article is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “Noah—Blameless Servant of God” which aired this past weekend on TV.