Summary: God is calling us to a life of faith and obedience
How Long Can You Tread Water?
People may not have a Bible or even read one but almost everyone has heard of Noah’s Ark. There are books about it, pictures and paintings of it, movies about the search for the ark, statues, ties, wallpaper, all kinds of things with a Noah’s Ark theme.
Knowledge of the flood is universal. Accounts of the flood are found on every continent and they all refer to a totally destructive flood that happened very early. In fact, this familiarity with the story is the greatest obstacle to our visiting this scripture. We look at this story with our minds made up. We think that there is nothing new about Noah and the Ark.
The earth was in terrible shape. Everyone except Noah and his family had turned away from God. They were all doing their own thing, ignoring God. The scripture says Noah was righteous, blameless and walked with God. Now Noah wasn’t perfect. We find out a little later that Noah had a problem with wine. What made Noah different from everybody else was his faith and obedience.
Let’s take a closer look at Noah here. First, scripture tells us Noah was a righteous man. He was a man who did what God wanted him to do, not what the world expected him to do. He did what was right, earning him the title of “righteous”. He lived his life according to God’s standards.
Secondly, he was a blameless man. Even though Noah lived according to God’s standards, no one had anything against him. He must have had a good relationship with his neighbors. They probably thought he was a little strange but they did not question his sincerity. He was trusted and respected by his friends.
Lastly, he walked with God. This means he spent time daily, maybe even hourly with God. He didn’t just show up at church on Sunday to “check-in” with God. It was a strong and steady relationship that had been built up over the years.
When someone is described as righteous, blameless, and walking with God that says a lot. It says something about the depth of their relationship with God. It means there is a strong desire to actively seek God and be close to Him.
Because of this closeness and their relationship, the instructions Noah received were very specific. This is where the obedience and faith springs into action. There was a clear call from God and Noah had the choice to respond or refuse. Now there is a difference between our accomplishments and “God” accomplishments. Our accomplishments can be done by human strength or knowledge but a “God” accomplishment is always at least slightly impossible. Noah and his family could build the ark. They had 120 years to get it done. It wouldn’t be easy, but it could be done. But then God added the animals. That made it a “God” accomplishment. Noah and his family couldn’t have gathered up all those animals without God’s power. I don’t think Noah was a zoologist.
But Noah’s first task was building an ark. One of the things that jumps out at me from this text are the specific details regarding the Ark’s dimensions and how it was to be put together. The amazing thing about these plans given to Noah about this ark is the detail. God tells him specifically what materials to use, how much to use, and the design of the ark.
God tells Noah to, “Make yourself an ark…” This means that this was Noah’s job alone to complete. No subcontractors. 300 cubits x 50 cubits x 30 cubits. Given that a cubit is approx. 18”, that makes the ark 450 feet long x 75 feet wide x 45 feet tall. This is 1½ football fields by 1/4 the length of a football field, 4 and ½ stories high. This was all done by hand. NO POWER TOOLS!
We are so familiar with this story that we don’t really think about what Noah is being asked to do. Noah was asked to build a boat that had a carrying capacity of 522 standard railroad cars, or eight trains of 65 cars each! The ark was certainly big enough to do the job; if the ark carried two of every species of animals, there would be around 35,000 pairs of animals.
Now that sounds like an awful lot of animals but consider the average size of a land animal is smaller than a sheep. The ark could carry 136,560 sheep in half of its capacity, leaving plenty of room for 8 people and enough food and water for people and animals for 12 months.
So, the ark was big enough to carry everything necessary. God gave Noah the detailed plans on how to build it and what to use to build it. He gave Noah 120 years to build the ark. God also gave Noah neighbors that probably had great fun at his expense. Families on vacation probably made a detour to stop by and see the “guy building the boat in the desert”.