So, yesterday was Monday, and instead of writing for my series, I spent the day in bed. The first stomach flu I’ve had in my married life struck early Sunday morning, and DH was a dear caretaker all day on Sunday (which, sadly, involved pulling the car over more times than either of us would like to count at short notice on our 5-hour drive home form Dallas). And Monday, while my stomach behaved better, a headache and serious lack of energy kept me away. Better late than never, I figure, so here goes:
God called Noah to a special purpose in a time when “the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). God saw how wicked man had become and determined that he would wipe all flesh from the earth—man and animals alike.
“But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8).
While God was filled with sorrow over the humans he had created, he found one man’s family worth sparing from destruction. Through Noah, God would offer salvation to the species he had created. It was an earthly salvation—a continuation of life—not the salvation that we would later be offered through God’s own son. But a salvation of sorts. And Noah and his ark make an interesting, though imperfect, analogy for Jesus and the cross.
Like Enoch before him, who “walked with God and was no more,” Noah also walked with God (Genesis 6:9). Sometime in their walks together, God let Noah in on his plan to wipe out the wicked while sparing Noah and his sons and their wives.
The plan involved a lot of work on Noah’s part. God provided the directions, but Noah had to make a choice to follow through. Presumably, if God told you to do something to save yourself and your family from certain death you’d be all ears, too. But don’t think Noah just happened to hear God. He made himself available to hear what God had to share with him.
That hits close to home for me. How often am I available to hear what God might want to tell me? How often am I open to hearing his call in my life or his words spoken to my heart? Oh sweet friends, I wish I were always open to hearing. Mostly I’m doing all the talking—and little listening.
So, God directs Noah to build a massive boat, an ark. And Noah does it. God tells Noah he is going to flood the whole earth at a time when rain has never fallen on the planet. The rains of the flood are the first rains from the heavens. Prior to the flood, the ground had been watered by a mist that sprang up from the ground (Genesis 2:5-6).
The Sunday school version of Noah and the Ark devotes at least one chapter to all the wicked people making fun of Noah while he works on this massive boat. Did this happen? Maybe. It’s not in the Bible. But we do know that Noah was preaching to the people in these days (2 Peter 2:5). And we know the people clearly weren’t interested, as we have no indication that any repented. Since he was building a massive floating vessel, it seems plausible that people would have thought Noah was off his rocker and told him so. But this is embellishment.
Either way, it seems clear the task was no picnic. While somehow providing for his entire family, Noah also builds the ark. He then stocks the ark with all of the animals in appropriate numbers (a pair of every unclean animal, seven pairs of all clean animals) and plenty of food for everyone to eat. It’s not clear how long it took Noah to build the ark, but in a time before sawmills and hardware stores, we can assume it took quite a while. Did Noah’s family help? Were they even supportive? We don’t know. But either way, Noah “did all that God commanded him” (Genesis 6:22).
Everybody got on board and God closed the door (Genesis 7:16).
And as the children’s song goes, “The rains came down and the floods came up.” All told, Noah and his family and the animals spent 40 days in the boat while it rained, an additional 150 days on the boat while “the waters prevailed upon the earth,” 40 more days after the ark struck land in the Ararat mountains, a few more weeks, then a couple more days and finally God told them they could get off the boat. Math has never been my strong suit, and I’m not familiar with the ins and outs of the Hebrew calendar, but based on what other people have calculated from the Genesis account, they were on that boat for 364-370 days. That’s a long time afloat.
Did the boat stink? Was everybody getting on each other’s nerves? Did they run out of their favorite snacks halfway through and have to subsist the remainder of the time on less appealing veggies? Did they tire of not knowing day from night for the gloom and rain those first 40 days?
Yet when Noah steps off the boat, he builds an altar to God. It’s the first thing he does.
Noah’s calling was straightforward, and surely God assisted in more than just directions (how else could he have gathered the animals?), but that doesn’t mean it was easy. He had to be available to listen to God. He had to devote serious time and energy to following God’s directions. And he had to choose to do God’s will at any cost. By building the ark, Noah showed that he was willing to leave his present behind him and move forward into a new, unpopulated world. He showed that he valued his relationship with God above any worldly possessions, and his family and their safety above his own leisure. Noah is in the line of Jesus because, well, how could he not have been? But without Noah’s obedience, the human race is lost long before Jesus’ birth.
Noah offers several reminders:
- We should strive always to walk with God, making ourselves available to hear his call and directions, even if (especially if) this means distancing ourselves from the world and its moral codes.
- God will give us choices, and when he asks us to do something we can choose to obey or not. Obedience is the better way, even when it’s challenging.
- God might have a bigger story in mind than we can see (It’s not all about me). Noah knew God planned to destroy all flesh except that which escaped on the ark. But we can’t know if Noah saw the big picture—God’s ultimate salvation of the world through his son. Without Noah’s obedience, was all lost for mankind?
- God equips the called. No one had built such a vessel before the ark. No one, as far as we know, had corralled animals in such a way. But God gave Noah the directions and the ability to accomplish what he asked him to do. God didn’t give Noah an impossible task—nothing is impossible for God and Noah walked with God.
- During and after the storm: Thanks be to God. Always.
In our callings, let us remember that whatever obstacles we face are not impossible to God. And if God has called us, he will make a way. Praise God! But we must continually listen to hear what God’s word is to us and what he has called us to do, lest we miss the blueprints.
This is episode 4 of my “They Were Called” series. If you want to follow along, I will usually be posting on Mondays. For previous episodes, see:
Introduction: Working for My Calling
Episode 1: David Asked, “How Long, O Lord?”
Episode 2: Moses Looked to the Reward
Episode 3: Hannah Took It to the Lord