The Biblical Account of The Story of Noah
Noah is told to construct an Ark. The word for ark in Hebrew is interesting, it doesn’t mean boat. It literally means “chest or box.” This word is very rare in the Bible. It is used only one other time in the entire Old Testament. It is also the same word used to describe the basket that Moses was floated in as a baby when his mother gave him up in the river in Egypt. . But other than that, it is never used for anything else in scripture. Only after Noah heard the dimensions would he have realized this would be no ordinary box. Why does God call it an ark and not a boat? The simple answer is that a boat didn’t exist in Noah’s day. No one ever built one before. No one never needed one before. And there is no evidence that man has ever ventured off the land. Earlier in the book of Genesis we are told in the creation that all land is in one place and all the water is in one place. So all the land on Earth at this time is still connected, so there is no need to get in a boat. All that will change after the flood as it alters the land masses of the Earth.
There was no where you couldn’t travel by land. Traveling by boat if you could find one and knew how to navigate it only led you back to the same land. And fishing was pointless as well, since people ate only plants. God has yet to open the door at this point to eat anything other than plants. So there was no word for boat, nor would Noah have understood what it meant. We can also assume that the exact manner of construction was something Noah received from God as Noah progressed through the project. Since he did not have a pattern to go by or have a vision in his head what it should look like. He may have had great skill in wood work. But we can assume he still would have needed some outside expertise to construct something on this scale for
the first time. The ark itself is an impressive ship
- It was 450 feet long (1½ football fields), 75 feet wide and 45 feet high (a four-story building)
- With three decks, it had 100,000 square feet and a million cubic space
- Equal to 800 railroad box cars
- In appearance, it was a floating box, very stable and almost impossible to capsize, especially when loaded
- It is made of gopher wood. We don’t know what gopher wood is. So the type of wood is a mystery
- It was to be covered inside and outside with pitch, or “kopher” in Hebrew
- The ark was covered with pitch or tar to make it waterproof and to seal the wood so it wouldn’t become water-logged or leak
- This was an essential step
- If the boat wasn’t water tight, then even after it began to float, it would eventually sink in the judgment waters
Interestingly, the word kopher is the same word for atonement in Hebrew. So the Ark provided salvation for Noah and his family from God’s judgment on the world’s sin. And the key component that made Noah’s salvation possible was the covering (kopher) or atonement that ensured they would remain safe when judgment came. Again, the Ark is becoming a greater picture of Christ. For Christ is our atonement for sin. Were it not for Christ’s atonement, we wouldn’t stand a chance when God’s judgment fell. But if we are in Christ (like Noah was in the Ark), we are protected by Christ’s atonement.
Now about this point in the story of Noah is probably wondering why he needed to build such a large ship.
Genesis 6:17-21 (NKJV)
17 And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark—you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive. 21 And you shall take for yourself of all food that is eaten (edible), and you shall gather it to yourself; and it shall be food for you and for them.”
God’s explanation is that His judgment will take the form of a flood of water on the earth. It must be water, because God is intent on taking away the breath of life. Obviously, breathing will end with the flood comes. Fish and sea creatures will not be caught up in this judgement since they are not dependent on the atmosphere to breathe. As God describes this event, He uses a unique Hebrew word for flood and it is used only of the Noahic event here. There is also a unique Greek word use in the New Testament for Noah’s flood. In the Greek it is “cataclismos“, it is where we get the word cataclysms from. It describes something that is so extraordinary different that it is not considered the same as normal floods. In both cases, the words are not the normal words used for local floods. But, instead they are specific to a worldwide event, something unparalleled in all of history. That fact along with the instructions given to Noah to build the Ark and that all life is going to be extinguish, all these details tells us this is not a local flood. Those who would not accept the authority of scripture and try to dismiss it have come to this story and dismissed it in a variety of ways, but in one way particularly they say this could never have been a world-wide flood. Such things are impossible and it would only have been a local flood and Noah is being told to prepare for a local flood. That does not make any sense. First of all the words don’t work. The words being used is talking about something different than a local flood. Then, secondly what God tells Noah to do would make no sense if it was a local flood. All the land is in one place. If I have 120 years to be ready for a local flood, what is the thing I do. I move! Leave! I take my animals two at a time and walk somewhere where there won’t be this local flood. Why do I need a boat? It makes no sense. Especially a boat this size. The point of the flood is that it is going to effect the entire land mass where you have no choice but to have a boat because that is the only way you are going to survive. This is a worldwide flood. An even harder question to ask and one to consider at this point is why does God use a flood to take everyone’s life? Since Bible says that God must actively uphold life or it would end instantly.
Colossians 1:17 (NKJV)
17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
If God wants to destroy life, couldn’t He just make it happen instantly without using a Flood? People and animals would just drop dead, except for Noah’s family.The answer is yes, of course He could. But, there are at least three reasons why God does it with a flood instead.
- First, the flood gives opportunity for God to create the pictures and shadows for a future event He wants, so He can teach concerning the final judgment.
- Secondly, the flood waters become an effective mechanism to bury the carcasses of so many dead men and animals. The mass burial of all these living creatures becomes the fossils we see today in the geological records.
- Thirdly, the forces required to create the flood will tear apart the world. Continents will be reshaped, climate will change, and natural features like mountains and oceans will become barriers.
These changes along with others that come after the flood will support God’s purpose in making it harder for man’s sin to escalate out of control again. God will eventually bring a permanent judgment against sin, but He intends for men to live on earth much longer
during the current age. So sin cannot ramp up again so quickly.
Since this news must have been disturbing to Noah, God also gives Noah some assurance that all is not lost. God will preserve Noah and his family and says in verse 18, He will establish a covenant with Noah. This is the first use of the word covenant in the Bible. Thought that doesn’t mean this is the first covenant in force. We’ve already seen God make promises, which are the basic elements of a covenant. In this case, God has said He will bring Noah and his family into the Ark
where they will survive the Flood. And God promises He will establish His covenant with Noah. When Noah leaves the Ark, God will entered into a covenant with Noah later in this story. But even the opportunity to enter the Ark beforehand is based on the early promise God made to preserve a line of the seed leading to the Messiah.
Finally, God gives the most memorable and incredible part of the commission. Noah will bring along a menagerie of land creatures and God will ensure that a male and female of each will be included. Notice how God says they will find their way to the Ark
in verse 20. God says these animals will come to Noah. If you’ve ever wondered how Noah could collect so many animals, here’s your answer. God directed animals to Noah once the Ark was ready. Also, remember that all land is in one place, so all animals
lived on the same continent. Some might try to discredit the story of Noah on the question of how he was to fit so many animals in the Ark. We know the world is filled with millions of animals, so could he fit so many in the Ark? Well, the simple answer is no, not exactly. Remember that Noah preserves kinds again in verse 19 the use of kind is a broader word than species and re!ects the way God made animals originally. One kind would eventually diversify into many subkinds or species. So as Noah preserves a given kind, he is ensuring that many subkinds will eventually exist after the flood.
Excluding sea creatures and plants, there are only about 200,000 species of animals and insects in the world. And if we assume that only two species per “kind,” we could easily put 100,000 animals in the Ark and have 30% of the boat left over for the people and food supplies. It’s likely that each Biblical kind represented far more species than just two each, further reducing the number of animals on the Ark significantly. Noah is to gather food for all the animals, including himself and his family. Remember, the animals do not have a predator-prey relationship yet at this point. That will not come about until after the flood. So lions eat plants, for example, and they won’t threaten the other animals.
Finally, we see Noah’s reaction to God’s instructions.
Genesis 6:22 (NKJV)
22 Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.
Noah is perhaps the most remarkable man in the Bible, save Christ Himself. In the three chapters that cover the flood account from front to back in Genesis, God speaks to Noah seven times. And in all that time, the Bible records Noah speaking back to God
exactly zero times. Noah is never recorded to say a word to God in response to His instructions. No other patriarch receives so many revelations from God and says nothing in return. In fact, the only thing the Bible ever says about Noah’s reponse is what we see in verse 22. Noah did all that the Lord commanded him. In fact, the Hebrew of this verse is repetitive to emphasize Noah’s utter obedience. We’ll later see Moses repeat this description of Noah twice more.
In the story of Noah, we can see that Noah is arguably the most obedient man in the Old Testament. Abraham had his failings, as did Isaac and Jacob. Moses falters at points along the way too. And although we see that Noah isn’t perfect, nevertheless Scripture portrays him as completely obedient to God. Even when facing the most extreme and difficult instructions. In a world that had never seen rain, Noah was called to build a giant boat.
And Noah obeyed without hesitation. We could do worse than to model our own obedience after this man. A man saved by God’s favor and who was declared righteous by faith. Who was a godly man, of integrity and blameless. A man who followed the Lord’s direction.
“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”
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