Let me begin this morning by asking you a question, "How many animals of each kind did Moses take on the ark?" The answer, of course, is "None." It was Noah, not Moses, who brought the animals on the ark. Most of you knew that because "Noah and the ark" is probably one of the best known stories in the entire Bible. From songs written about Noah and the ark to Bill Cosby's memorable monologue on Noah, to Noah's Ark Theme Parks at places like Wisconsin Dells, to modern expeditions to find Noah's ark in the mountains of Turkey, the story of Noah gets lots of attention.
Let me give you a brief overview of the biblical story for anyone who may not be familiar with it or who maybe has forgotten some of the important details. Noah was a man who lived long ago. We don't know exactly when, but it was about six thousand years ago. It was a time of great wickedness and evil upon the earth. Because of that, God decides to destroy the entire human race, except for a man named Noah and his family.
Genesis 6:12-13 (NKJV) So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
The Lord had Noah build a huge boat, an ark, and then had him gather seven pairs of the clean and a pair of the unclean of every kind of animal and bird and bring them into this ark.
Genesis 7:2 (GWT) Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal (a male and a female of each) and one pair of every kind of unclean animal (a male and a female).
Then it started to rain, and it rained and rained for forty days. This great deluge that the Lord had sent resulted in a flood that destroyed every living creature on earth, except for Noah, his family, and all the animals and birds which were in the ark.
Genesis 7:21-23 (NKJV) And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man. 22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died. 23 So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive.
You talk about a catastrophe; this flood destroyed everybody except for eight people.
Then, after over a year, the waters finally receded and Noah, his family, and all the animals and birds left the ark and went out to repopulate the earth.
Whenever the Flood is mentioned a dozen questions come rushing to our minds. Did the Flood really occur? How widespread was it? Was it universal, or only partial? Was there really an ark? Where did all the water come from? These, and a dozen more like them, seek an answer when we come to this subject. But the primary question usually raised with respect to the ark is whether a barge of this sort and size was adequate to hold the requisite number of animals. Without giving the question much thought, most people are inclined to dismiss it as preposterous; there are simply too many types of animals on the planet.
To answer this question, let's look for a moment at some statistics of the Ark.
Its Size: It is given in cubits as being 300 cubits long by 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high. A cubit in the Old Testament was generally about 17.5 inches. However, an Egyptian royal cubit measured about 20.5 inches. Since Moses was educated in Egypt, we must allow for the possibility that the longer measurement was meant here. The Ark, therefore, could have measured from 437 feet to 512 feet in length! It was not until the late 19th century that a ship anywhere near this size was built.
It's Ratio: The Ark had a ratio (length x width x height) of 30 x 5 x 3. According to ship-builders, this ratio represents an advanced knowledge of ship-building since it is the optimum design for stability in rough seas. The Ark, as designed by God, was virtually impossible to capsize! It would have to have been tilted over 90 degrees in order to capsize.
Its Volume: With the shorter cubit, the Ark would have an internal volume of 1,518,750 cubic feet, or the equivalent of 569 standard railroad boxcars. If the average sized animal was the size of a sheep, it means the Ark could hold over 125,000 sheep. (Assuming the shape of the Ark to be rectangular there would have been over 100,000 sq. ft of floor space!)
The Number of animals: Only air-breathing animals needed to be included on the Ark. Authorities on taxonomy estimate that there are less than 18,000 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians living in the world today. We might double this to allow for extinct species. This would gives us 36,000 species times 2, or 72,000 animals. Adding for the clean animals, we might say there were as many as 75,000 animals. Earlier we said there was room enough in the Ark for 125,000 sheep, but most animals are smaller than a common house cat. There appears to be plenty of space for the preservation of the animal life. However, some creationists believe there may have been far fewer animals if Noah only took on board pairs of "kinds" as the word is used in Genesis 1. God created these "kinds" with potential for rich genetic diversity. For instance, at the time of Christ there existed only two types of dogs. All the diversity we see in the modern breeds of dogs came from these two!
The Care of the animals: Noah was instructed to include food for the animals (Gen. 6:21). How Noah and his small family could have cared for this large menagerie is unknown, not to mention the sanitation problem! What we must remember is that this event, i.e., the Flood, had supernatural elements. For instance, the animals came to the Ark against their natural instincts (Gen. 6:20). It is therefore reasonable to assume, as some creationists do, that the animals' metabolism may have been slowed down during their confinement, even to the point where some of the animals may have gone into a state of hibernation.
In his book, Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study, Mr. Woodmorappe answers many questions which both scientists and laymen have about the function of Noah's Ark. It shows that the Scriptural teachings on the global Flood and the Ark are completely reasonable. The book itself contains a bibliography of approximately 1,200 references. In it, all of the arguments against the Ark are systematically examined, and all are found wanting. In fact, the vast majority of the anti-Ark arguments, at first superficially plausible, turn out to be easily invalidated.
Let me just say that I believe this story is not a fairy tale. This event really happened just as the Bible describes. Some Biblical scholars claim Genesis is describing a local flood in Palestine, but I think it is much more extensive than that. It is interesting that references to a flood are found in ancient traditions and myths in all parts of the world. Though they vary dramatically in detail and credibility, they do suggest that somewhere in the human experience there was a flood. Over the generations the record of such an event was corrupted for the most part. But the earth bears evidence of a flood. The Bible gives an accurate record. Some scientists believe certain geological evidence can best be explained by a catastrophic flood. Some folks claim that the remains of Noah's ark can be found on a mountain in Turkey. I don't know about that, but I do believe this is a true story.
So, what are the lessons we learn from Noah?
1. People tend to ignore the reality of judgment. This is true in every age. The first reference to Noah in the New Testament is when Jesus is speaking in Matthew 24:
Matthew 24:37-39 (NKJV) "But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 "For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 "and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
Jesus is here making a comparison between His coming in judgement on Jerusalem and Noah's flood. As the flood came and took them all away, so the judgement on Israel will take them all away. The unbelievers of Israel, just like the unbelievers in Noah's day, will be taken away in judgement.
In the days of Noah they were eating and drinking, and marrying and giving in marriage, with no sense of apprehension of the coming flood, so also would it be in those days prior to the destruction of Jerusalem.
Jesus is here validating the flood of Noah and reiterating that it was a judgement of God on evil men. The biblical record presents the flood as a distinctly moral judgement:
Genesis 6:5 (NKJV) Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Genesis 6:11 (NKJV) The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.
This could be said of our day as well as Noah's. The moral decay in our society is obvious. Sexual immorality has become so common that many folks no longer think it is a big deal. Honesty, simply telling the truth is becoming a lost virtue. Many young people seem to be unable to distinguish between right and wrong. A big reason for this type of epidemic of immorality is that people ignore the reality of God's judgment. They were breaking every one of God's commands, but did not even consider the possibility that the Lord would punish them for their disobedience. They were like a man today who continually drives 20 mph over the speed limit, but would be absolutely shocked if the police ever stopped him for speeding.
It is clear, in our day, that many people want nothing to do with God, they never go to church, and never read the Bible. They don't hesitate to violate God's commands. Most people today never seem to consider the possibility that God will punish them for their behavior. Some who do even joke about it. Ted Turner once said, "If indulging in wine and women means you end up in hell, that's where I want to go." Do you really, Ted? Listen to a biblical description of hell:
Luke 16:23-24 (NKJV) "And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 "Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.'
In churches, many folks are uncomfortable with the topic of God's judgment and even the concept of hell. They prefer a nice, loving God who is always trying to help everyone. But God will punish evil. That is an important part of His character.
Exodus 34:6-7 (NKJV) And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 "keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation."
We need to realize the importance of judgment. Parents know that both rewards and punishments are essential parts of raising children. No society could exist by simply rewarding citizens for good behavior. Giving everyone $100 a week for being good would not eliminate the need for policemen, fines, and jails. Punishment is a necessary part of restraining evil. Sometimes we expect God to exercise judgment. Whether it is Hitler and the Nazi atrocities, or the terrorists who bomb our embassies, we want God to punish these evil people. Something inside of us would think it very unjust if God did not punish Adolph Hitler. When someone who has wronged us goes unpunished, we can even become angry with God. Yet, if we wrong God, which is something we do every time we sin, we somehow conclude that punishment would be inappropriate. Friends, God's judgment is fair and just. Without it the world would not be a good one. Though people may deny it, doubt it, or ignore it, God's judgment is a reality. He will not let the wicked go unpunished. One day, every human being, no matter who they are or what they are like, will stand before the Lord. This is a fact. And people living in 2001 need to remember this just as much as the people who lived in Noah's day and in Jesus' day did.
We as Christians need to remember it too. I'm afraid many Christians today have forgotten that the church is here to evangelize. Billions of people on this planet are in danger of experiencing God's judgment, not in a flood but, in plain English, eternal hell. Friends, here at Berean Bible Church we emphasize a positive message. We trumpet God's grace for us in Jesus Christ and glory in the hope that it gives. But, the reality of God's judgment is something we cannot ignore. We cannot pretend verses like Revelation 20:15 do not exist:
Revelation 20:15 (NKJV) And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
If we have friends or family members, or even people we barely know, who are ignoring the reality of God's judgment, we need to tell them the truth and warn them of the consequences of rejecting Jesus Christ.
The second lesson that we learn from Noah is that:
2. People will only be spared from God's judgment by faith:
Genesis 6:9 (NKJV) This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.
How did Noah become righteous or just?
Genesis 6:8 (NKJV) But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
Noah didn't find favor because he was a righteous man, but rather he became righteous because he found favor from the Lord. Like everyone else in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, Noah is a righteous person because of God's grace alone, and he experienced that righteousness through faith alone.
Noah was saved from destruction because he was a righteous man. We become righteous only by faith in Christ.
Romans 4:5 (NKJV) But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Romans 8:1 (NKJV) There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
When we understand and believe that Christ died for our sin and place our trust for eternal life completely and only in Him, we are given Christ's righteousness. None of us can ever earn God's favor. If God were looking for men and women who on their own, without any help from the Lord, were living righteous lives, He would come up empty. Those people don't exist. As God so clearly tells us in Romans:
Romans 3:10 (NKJV) As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one;
Romans 3:23 (NKJV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
All are sinners, no one is righteous. Yet, in His grace, God chooses to show favor to many. He enables people to stop trusting in themselves and put their trust in Jesus Christ. That is how someone becomes a Christian, a child of God. When, by God's grace, we trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, we escape eternal hell and find God's protection in the midst of judgment. Friends, there is nothing more important than making sure our faith is truly in Jesus Christ. Because if we are not a believer in Jesus, a Christian, we are in just as much danger as those people standing outside the ark when the door closed. No matter how good they were as swimmers, they were not going to make it through the flood. No matter how religious or good a person we may be, we are never going to be good enough to escape God's judgment. We can only experience God's salvation by turning to Jesus Christ. If you have not done that, that is what you need to do today.
The third lesson that we learn from Noah is that:
3. God's people will be protected from judgement.
Genesis 7:7 (NKJV) So Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons' wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the flood.
Genesis 7:23-24 (NKJV) So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive. 24 And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days.
Genesis 8:1 (NKJV) Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided.
Though the flood destroys the entire population, Noah, his wife, three sons and their three wives are safe and dry inside the ark. God protects His people from judgment. How does this apply to those of us today who are Christians? Two ways:
A. God rescues us from eternal judgment, from hell. This is the most terrible of God's punishments, the one which lasts forever and ever. It is not a topic many of us like to think about, but it is reality. And whether the Biblical descriptions of the fires of hell are literal or symbolic, the bottom line is that hell is a total, absolute, permanent separation from God. And, do you know what? That is something which God's people will never experience.
John 5:24 (NKJV) "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
How often do you thank God for rescuing you from hell? We thank God for His blessings, for family and friends, for protection and provision, for peace and joy in Jesus Christ. But often we forget to specifically thank God for rescuing us from hell. I suspect one reason for this is because we forget the reality of God's judgment. We forget that without Jesus Christ we would be destined for hell.
Many years ago, when American troops went to the island country of Grenada and rescued the medical students there, one of them was interviewed on TV and said, "I will never forget those who rescued me." God's people must never forget that He has rescued us from eternal judgment.
I received this e-mail this week:
As I was thinking about how terrible I felt and how much I wish this sickness would leave, I started thinking about hell. Eternal Damnation. I thought about those two words for a while during my misery this morning and realized that what I am going through will pass thus providing hope that I will someday feel better. Eternal damnation will never ever pass. There is no hope. Misery 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, forever. I got a small glimpse this morning for the first time in a long time as to what we have been saved from. All because of God's mercy on whom He will have mercy. Wow!
Let's not forget that without Jesus Christ, we would all be destined for hell.
B. The story of Noah shows us that God protects His people when adversity strikes and when difficult times come. Now, it certainly would have been more convenient for Noah and his family if there never would have been a flood. The ark was a big place. But to be stuck in it for over a year with all those animals could not have been a pleasant experience. I'm sure it got pretty crowded, pretty fast. Whenever I go to a zoo, I always notice some very unpleasant odors. I can't imagine the smell on the ark. God's protection of Noah and his family didn't mean life was easy, but it did mean they would survive the flood. Their affliction was temporary. Within a year, they could take a deep breath and smell the fresh air.
This illustrates a very important point. Nowhere in the Bible does God promise His people freedom from adversity. Whether we like it or not, Christians sometimes have trouble paying their bills, Christians sometimes get fired from jobs, Christians sometimes get D's on their report cards, Christians sometimes play for teams that don't win a game all season, Christians sometimes have terrible conflicts in their marriage, Christians sometimes get sick, Christians sometimes die. But, like Noah, our afflictions, our troubles, are all temporary. God will be with us and will protect us in the midst of our trials. That is a testimony we hear over and over again from those Christians in other countries who have suffered persecution for their faith in Jesus. Friends, if you are a Christian, the good news is that no matter what you are going through, no matter how hard it is, it's going to be okay. You are going to make it. It may not be fun, but God is with you. It was not fun in the ark, but it was a lot better inside the ark than outside. It is much better to be going through a tough time with God beside you, than to be going through an easy time without the Lord.
There is one more thing I want us to see as we conclude our story.
Genesis 9:14-16 (NKJV) "It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 "and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 "The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth."
The Lord sends a rainbow to remind us of His promise never to destroy the world again. As Christians, we need to look for the rainbows and remember what they mean. Next time you see a rainbow, be reminded that, as a Christian, you will never experience God's wrath. Oh, we will go through tough times, but we will never experience His wrath. And when you remember that, rejoice. Even if you have serious health problems, rejoice, because that rainbow reminds you God will spare you from His wrath. Even though you may have a very difficult situation at home, rejoice, because that rainbow reminds you God will protect you while others experience that wrath. Even though you may be lonely, and frustrated with difficult situations in your life, rejoice, because that rainbow reminds you that you are eternally safe, not in a wooden ark, but in the most secure shelter of all, our Lord Jesus Christ. Look for the rainbow, and rejoice in what it means.
People, the story of Noah teaches us that God punishes sin. God is just and His wrath will be experienced by every human being who does not put their trust totally and completely in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Ark of safety for all who realize their sin and put their trust in Him. Trust Him!