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Noah: Saving Your Family in a Dark World: Part 3

If you have ever felt alone in your walk to the Kingdom, the Scriptures are loaded with examples to show us we are not.
Read Time: 8 minutes

A quick reminder to pick up where we left off: Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD and was given 120 years of warning. He had the three kids mentioned by name at age 500, setting up a little math lesson we had been leading up to. Today we will continue at Genesis 6:10 and see what the math reveals to us in the story.

Let’s start with the names. Shem means “name” or “renown” (i.e., v. 4). Ham means “hot” or “desert.” Japheth means “open” or “expand.” Chapter 10:21 tells us Japheth was the oldest of these three, and 11:10 tells us Shem was two years younger, or 98 when the Flood happened. Finally, Genesis 7:6 tells us Noah was 600 years old when the Flood began. Now, let’s put that math to work.

600 – 120 = 480

Therefore, if Noah was 500 when the first of these three children was born, that would be 20 years after the warning from God that the population would be destroyed! Imagine Noah and Mrs. Noah talking to each other and saying something like, “The world is a mess, and God is fed up. The ecclesia is gone, and it looks like everything alive will die. Let’s have some kids, shall we?” What an amazing act of faith! Ready for the tragic part? How many were saved in the ark? Eight.

If you look at the names in Genesis 5 and pay attention to the ages of each listed child, you will see that the range is from 65-187. They also all had other sons and daughters. In fact, we know Seth had at least two older brothers by name (Cain and Abel).

Noah, at 500 years, was almost three times as old as Lamech or Methuselah to have the named child and almost eight times as Enoch! Translation: Noah and Mrs. Noah most likely had other children (grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.), and perhaps many of them would have been lost in the world of darkness and perished in the Flood.

Imagine hearing the taunts of your own children (in addition to your friends and family, including brothers/sisters, aunts/uncles, cousins, and neighbors) while you preach repentance. Then imagine their cries for help as they drown in the waters of judgment. Very sobering thought.

We are not alone in our struggle.

Noah and his wife not only know what it takes to save their children but likely they also intimately understand how it feels to lose them! They would have understood the grief that comes from watching loved ones walk away from the family because they have lost interest in the things of God. 

We are not alone in our struggle. If you have ever felt alone in your walk to the Kingdom, the Scriptures are loaded with examples to show us we are not. Some instances are easier to see than others, but none may be as profound as this one. By its very nature, our topic takes on a somber tone—struggle before glory, or to use New Testament terms, the cross before the crown.

Genesis 6:11 adds, “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” This is the world in which they decided to have more children! Now we can imagine a slightly different version of the conversation as: “Honey, our kids are a mess, and our God has had it with the planet and its sinful ways; let’s have a couple more, shall we?”

The word “corrupt” is the same word translated as “destroy” from verses 13 and 17 in this chapter, and in Hebrew, it means “to spoil or ruin.” This meaning is not soil contamination. It is the flesh running wild as the planet chooses to follow the ways of the lust of the flesh rather than the ways of God.

This situation is an immoral population being inspected and judged, not an environmental study. Verse 12 adds, “for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.” The way to the Tree of Life was proscribed in Genesis 3:24. Access is denied if we follow the way of the flesh instead. We all want to be in control of everything in our lives, but the reality is that we have very little actual control of anything. Recognizing that reality and surrendering to the Father is challenging but critical for all of us.

surrendering to the Father is challenging but critical

Revelation 11:18 says, “And shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.” It is popular today to use this passage environmentally, but that is totally out of context (even if it is not a bad idea to conserve the planet). The most dangerous environmental contamination on earth is the population pleasing itself and disregarding God. Now, give them isolation, funeral news, and advertisements to match their own thinking, and you will have the post-COVID world here in 2024!

There is always a note of mercy in the tragedy of God’s work. He displayed patience in allowing the oldest person ever to have lived Noah’s grandfather (Methuselah) and Noah’s father (Lamech, who died five years earlier) to both die before the waters of the Flood began (more math if you want it in Genesis 5).

Noah preached God’s message of warning, but it had been ignored long enough (Genesis 6:3, 7, 13). Remember, Jesus has warned us too. A few times, we have referenced Matthew 24:37-39. Look at the end of verse 39, “and knew not until the flood came.” “Knew” is the intimate word for knowledge in the Greek.

It is not that they were unaware. They had heard it all before and casually knew the message. Still, they did not intimately understand because they were not concerned with God’s order for their lives and salvation: too busy eating, drinking, and marrying to be distracted by the promises of Almighty God! Sounds like that could describe the state of the world today.

Let’s look at Genesis 6:14. Here, we see some cameos for future salvation and glory. The word “ark” in Hebrew is only used in one other place, Exodus 2:3-5, regarding the chosen vessel to place baby Moses in to float him away from certain death and into the hands of a merciful God.

Both these “arks” depict wood as a type for salvation (connecting directly to the cross). It should be noted that the first word, “pitch,” in this verse is the first use of the word usually translated as atonement. In Hebrew, it means a covering. This use implies reconciliation and forgiveness, the fundamental objective of the Flood (and the crucifixion, for that matter).

Note they were to apply the pitch (or covering) completely within and without, a tie to complete immersion in baptism through waters all around and a protective covering on the wood. Covering of sin requires the shedding of blood to have hope. The symbolism is astounding! This topic is quite extensive and would be a diversion we do not have the time to take, but it does deserve an honorable mention and I hope it inspires you to dig further.

Genesis 6:15 provides specific details: wood type, nests, covering, and dimensions because there were no ark builders by trade. However, what made them special was that they were willing and able to follow instructions from God—a good exhortational point for all of us.

We all have talents and gifts that make us unique, and when properly applied to service toward God and His family, we can be amazing vessels to His glory. Yet even the most talented person is relatively useless if left to their own devices and self-service. Using eighteen inches as a cubit, the ark’s dimensions in feet were 450’x75’x45’. That is the approximate size of a high school football field if you include the track and part of the stands around it. Not bad for amateurs. Compare that to those who assumed that “not even God Himself could sink this ship.” We know how both stories ended.

Genesis 6:16 in the RSV states, “Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above,” which suggests this was a row of windows on the top story for both light and ventilation (recall animals and their nests inside). God thought of everything. God also told them to make a door on the side. There was only one way in (God’s way), which is the theme of this whole episode. Two specific instructions: let light in and only one door—a nice tie-in to John 14:6.

Verse 17 adds a dramatic detail that is quickly lost if we do not stop and ask a couple of questions. How would water come from the sky? What is rain? We take that for granted today, but it was not so during the pre-Flood era. Look at Genesis 2:5-6.

And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

Why do we need a weather report? The first actual occurrence of rain was noted in the story of Noah. Hebrews 11:7 also touches on this: “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet.” Now, this gets even more interesting. This family was asked to build a giant box in the desert because water would fall from the sky!

That would be the equivalent of me being asked to build a giant heat-resistant bomb shelter in the middle of Texas because there was a volcano going to erupt! I would look crazy, as I am sure they did to their family, friends, and neighbors.

Another intriguing and logical clarification at the end of verse 17 is limiting the damage of the Flood to things “in the earth.” Obviously, a rise in water levels would not be a devastating circumstance for fish. Aquatic life would have gone from an apartment to a mansion when that happened.

The animals were not the target of this judgment of God. All animals, save man, are amoral, meaning they are not capable of sin. The animal kingdom operates on instinct, using stimulus and response without the governing pause of morality. People are capable of moral guidance, albeit some behave like they are not. The sinless animals would be condemned with the sinning human population. The blessing of peace to the people who chose God’s way was in grand and direct contrast to the way of the flesh and its turmoil and destruction.

The first use of the word “covenant” appears in verse 18. Like Jesus, Noah had to save himself first to save others (think airplane instructions for parents with small children). A key ingredient for all of us to save our families in this dark world is to personally dedicate our lives to the service of and surrender to our God so that our closest contacts see it as a blessing.

This mindset requires us to defy our nature. We all are naturally inclined to complain when things do not go as planned or expected. Those most likely to hear our complaints are the ones closest to us. How can we inspire our children to seek to be active participants in the ecclesia if we vent to (or even in front of) them at the dinner table?

During the wilderness wanderings, this was the condemnation of a generation. Two different words translated as “murmur” are used interchangeably throughout the record. One literally means “to complain.” The other means “up all night.” Put together, and you have the ecclesia up all night complaining about the provision of God and the workers in His family. That is a little scary in our modern context if we are honest with ourselves.

The covenant relationship we individually share is no different than the one other individuals have access to. That God is working in my life is more evident to me than that God is working in yours. Let’s assume that when challenges disrupt the harmony of the ecclesial setting, God is working to refine all of us by the trial, and our perspective will change as we overcome our nature toward his glory.

The next couple of verses show that Noah was to receive the animals, not collect them, a reminder God does the calling. The ark does not contain an aquarium, as the sea life is preserved naturally in the water. We cannot read this section of verses without commenting on the Gentiles being drawn from the sea of death to the saving wood and covering of God.

In chapter 7, we will see that the remnant is elevated by water and preserved to convert the world to righteousness, which is certainly not a coincidence in these last days.

God brings the animals. Noah gets the food. This happening is a type of Jesus feeding the nations brought to him by God.

Food for thought: at this point, all animals are temporarily vegetarian (Edenic state), or the carnivores are hibernating. It could work in several ways. The critical point is that God was in control because this living arrangement would never work without that.

Like so many other things in life, we need to focus on what the Bible does say and not try to fill the space with what it does not. It is perfectly fine to have an opinion, but we must never be so bold as to make our opinion the only one that would be reasonable unless there is a clear “Thus saith the LORD.” Chapter 7 is a profound example of this. We will get there soon. 

The closing statement from Genesis 6 is, “Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.” From warning to preparation to execution, Noah did all that God required. We pray that we can emulate this same attitude and activity as we see the day approaching. 

Dennis Bevans,
Austin Leander Ecclesia, TX

Suggested Readings
What could a story about a man and his family approximately 4,500 years ago do to help me today? Doesn’t everyone already know about Noah and the Ark?
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