by Don R. Richards
Back to Index 1996
Back to April 1996
The story of Noah and the Ark is one of the most popular stories in the Bible.
Almost everyone is generally familiar with the story of Noah; it is a popular story for children, and the theme of the Ark and its animals is used quite a lot in our daily lives in such things as gifts, decorations, children's songs, artwork, etc.
The story of Noah is one way we have of explaining the reason for one of nature's most beautiful offerings -- the rainbow.
The story of Noah and the Ark is contained in four chapters of Genesis 6-9. There are additional verses about Noah, his sons, and the following generations of men after the 9th chapter of Genesis. The story of the Ark, the Great Flood, and the creation of the rainbow are in chapters 6-9 of Genesis.
Chapter 5 of Genesis tells us that Noah was a descendant of Seth, brother to Cain and Abel. Noah was the son of Lamech and the grandson of Methuselah.
In the generations of men, the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, the Lord saw a lot of evil and wickedness in the earth. The Lord noted that the thoughts of man's heart "was on evil continually." Genesis 6:5. We learn that the earth was corrupt and filled with violence. Seeing all this wickedness, it repented the Lord that he had made earth. He decided to destroy his creation in man and beast and all bugs and birds. 6:7.
But as we learn in Genesis 6:8, something unusual happened in God's examination of the men on the earth:
"Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord."
We are told that Noah was a man who "walked with God."
The Lord approached Noah and informed him of God's plan to destroy mankind, other than Noah and his three sons (Ham, Shem and Japheth) and their wives -- eight people.
The Lord instructed Noah to build an "ark of gopher wood" complete with numerous rooms and to make it waterproof with pitch (tar). In today's measurements, the Ark was made about 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet tall. It had three stories inside.
Today's engineers tell us that the ark was much the same size as a modern day tanker, but looked more like a barge. A boat of that size should be able to hold up to about 522 railroad stockcars, thus is was fully large enough (in a worldly understanding) to have carried its intended load.
The Lord had Noah install a window and a door and then make plans to take his family into the ark along with "with of every sort", male and female, including fowl, cattle, and every creeping thing "to keep them alive" when the Lord brought his "flood of waters."
The Lord instructed Noah to bring in sevens "every clean beast" and by two every unclean beast. Fowls were also brought by sevens.
Noah took his family into the ark and were there a week when it started to rain for 40 days and nights. Genesis 7:4., and "the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened." The earth was covered with water, rising above the mountain tops 7:19-20. Every living thing on dry land that was not in the ark died.
Water covered the earth for 150 days. At the seventh month of the flood, the ark finally rested in the Ararat Mountains and in the 10th month the tops of mountains became visible again.
During the stay in the Ark, Noah sent out birds as he checked the status of the flood. First, he sent out a raven which flew around unable to find a place to land. A dove was sent next, but returned when no place was found to land. Seven days later Noah sent another dove, which returned with an olive leaf. Genesis 8:11.
A third dove seven days later did not return.
Eleven months after entering the Ark, Noah opened it up and saw dry ground. In the next month Noah let all animals out of the ark. Genesis 8:14-19.
Noah built an altar unto the Lord and made a sacrificial offering of clean beasts and fowl in which the Lord "smelled a sweet savor." 8:21 and promised "I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake". The Lord then promised the earth would have seasons, cold and heat, and day and night.
At the beginning of chapter 9 of Genesis, the Lord told Noah and his family to "be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. God allowed man to have control of all living creature for food, but reminded of the instruction not to murder fellow mankind.
God established his covenant with Noah and his descendants that there would be no more worldwide floods to destroy the earth. As a "token" of his covenant, the Lord set his "bow in the cloud;" and "when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: and I will remember my covenant." 9:13-17.
Thus, we have a reminder today of God's promise -- the rainbow.
It is a promise we should remember each time we seen a rainbow, and it is a promise we should tell our children and grandchildren.
Next: The Tower of Babel
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