Charles J. Aebi
Noah lived in rough times. God’s men married worldly women because they were physically attractive, and the result over several generations was that sin became the order of the day. God “saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). God said he would allow them only 120 years in which to repent at the preaching of one inspired by His Spirit (6:3). We learn in 2 Peter 2:5 that this preacher was Noah, who was inspired by the Spirit of Christ (1 Peter 3:19) to preach to the disobedient. Some have thought that the 120 years was the figure set at that time as the length of life people could usually attain, but we read that Noah himself lived 350 more years after the flood. He was already 600 when the flood came (Genesis 9:28-29). Shem, Noah’s son, lived for 498 years after the flood for a total life-span of 600 years (Genesis 11:10-11). Arphaxad, Noah’s grandson, lived 438 years (Genesis 11:12-13). Life-spans did decrease, but we conclude that the 120-year figure refers to how long God would give men before the flood came.
God’s decision was to cause a flood to destroy all who would not listen, to save Noah by the water of the flood from the sins of that time, and to save Noah and the animals in a boat called the “ark.” There is a partial model of the ark in the Creation Museum in Kentucky across the Ohio River from Cincinnati; it is worth going to see, along with other things there. Not everything in that Museum is accurate, but it is far more Biblical than any other I have seen.
Noah was given detailed instructions about the ark. It was to be made of gopher wood (a wood unknown to us) and waterproofed inside and out with pitch (tar), which probably would have made it black or very dark. It was to have rooms on its three decks, and to have a roof on top, a cubit-sized window or skylight, and a door in its side. It was to be 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high—similar proportions to our modern oil tankers—or in feet, about 450 by 75 by 45.
Noah was to do all this, and to bring in food for his family and the animals, and to preach to the disobedient while he did it. He had a total of 120 years in which to do this. When the time came, God evidently brought the animals to the ark; we do not need to read into it the idea that Noah became a cowboy at round-up time.
Genesis 6:22 says Noah did all that God commanded him. He did not make the ark 306 nor 293 cubits long; he made it 300. He did likewise with all the directions, specifications, and dimensions God gave him. In other words, Noah obeyed God precisely. The result was that he and his family were saved from the wicked world by the flood and saved from the flood by the ark. He did as he was told! As a result, Noah is listed in the faith hall of fame in Hebrews 11, and Noah is an example for us of one who followed God’s directions completely, “to the letter.” We need to do the same, for we have God’s directions in the New Testament for our lives, for our worship, and for our thoughts and actions. We can experience God’s acceptance just as Noah did if we obey God’s plan for us as Noah obeyed God’s plan for him. —2660 Layman Rd., Vincent OH 45784. firstname.lastname@example.org
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