Genesis Lessons 6: 11-18; 7:11-14 Make Yourself an Ark
LAST WEEK: Gen. 3:1-7, 15-19, we covered the story of man's fall. We learned that despite being placed in a perfect environment by a gracious God, that Adam and Eve chose to sin anyway, and the world has suffered the consequences of it ever since. From that disastrous narrative we learned four basic truths about life on his planet: (1) Satan is a real force in this world who uses crafty deception to tempt humans into the trap of giving-in to their sinful desires. Satan cleverly put doubt in Eve's mind about the truth of God's Word. (2) Even if Satan tempts us, the sin itself always originates from the desires of our own flesh. Eve coveted the fruit; wanted to taste it, possess it, and become wise from it. (3) Sin always results in consequences that negatively impact our lives. Adam and Even went from perfection to lives characterized by pain, endless toil, and death. (4) Even though we all fall short and sin, we have been spared from God's wrath by the shed blood of Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:9).
THIS WEEK: In Gen. 6:11-18; 7:11-14, we are introduced to the story of Noah, the building of the Ark, and the coming of the great flood. Noah's story begins with his genealogy in Genesis 5 and continues through the listing of his descendants-known as the Table of Nations-in Genesis 10. The story of the flood has its roots in Gen. 6:1-6 (skipped), when God sees the uncontrolled wickedness of humankind in the world and is sorry that He created them. But God then acknowledges Noah as a righteous man and commands him to build an ark in order to save his family and the animal kingdom, and Noah obeys. Chapter 7 continues with the story of the actual flood.
Read Gen. 6:11-12 - THE EARTH WAS FILLED WITH VIOLENCE
11 Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.
v. 11: "Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence." - This verse records the reasons why God decided to destroy mankind. As a whole, mankind had become nothing but evil. God saw the earth as corrupt and ruined. What He had made in Genesis 1 and declared as 'good,' has been entirely dishonored by human sin. The word God uses for "violence," (Heb. hā'mās') implies more than just physical abuse but includes injustice, oppression, and cruelty in the human condition. So, humans aren't only disobedient to God but brutal towards one another.
v. 12: "And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth." - The verse describes the extent of the corruption of sin on the earth: In a word, it was everywhere. And it extended to everyone, and it was self-inflicted. The human population of the of earth, as a whole, was guilty of taking the good things God had made (including themselves) and had turned away from God's intended purposes to use it for entirely selfish and evil actions. The fact that the wickedness of humanity was so widespread explains God's primary rationale for choosing the flood as His instrument of destruction. Left alone, humanity was doomed to fall even further, so that there would be no godly people left on the face of the earth. Therefore, God decided, in effect, to 'reboot' the entire human race except for a tiny godly remnant, and start all over again.
Read Gen. 6:13-16 - MAKE YOURSELF AN ARK
13 And God said to Noah, "I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks.
Note: According to a conservative interpretation of Gen. 6:3, God gave the earth 120 years from the time He pronounced its destruction by flood. Since Gen. 7:6 lists Noah's age as 600 at the time the flood came, scholars estimate that Noah was between 480 and 500 years old when God called him to build the ark, and that the process of construction took 100 years or more.
v. 13a: "And God said to Noah, "I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them." - Here, God begins revealing His plan to Noah, a righteous and blameless man (v. 9). We can only imagine that his must have been devastating news for Noah to accept. He probably agreed wholeheartedly with God's assessment of humanity-that they were "filled with violence"-and he must have chafed at the unrighteous behavior and attitudes of his neighbors. Yet, with relatives outside of his own family and the people he knew personally, he would have been utterly shocked by the prospect that the world as he had known it was about to end.
v. 13b: "Behold, I will destroy them with the earth." - In plain language, God told Noah that He was preparing to destroy all of humanity because of their "violence," and it would include "all flesh," meaning both humans and all air-breathing animal life. In one blunt statement, God's announced both His verdict and sentence on humanity, which He would exercise as creator and judge. Even now, He alone has both the right and power to carry out such a plan.
v. 14: "Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch." - In this section, God begins to give Noah instructions on the building of the Ark according to God's specific design. Many scholars believe that God probably added extra details that aren't recorded in the text. Strictly speaking, God doesn't tell Noah to build a ship but rather a large barge-like, floating habitat. No mention is made of sails, oars, or a steering rudder. The material "gopher wood" is unknown but thought to have a rot-resistant wood similar to cypress or cedar. The "rooms" inside the arks would have consisted of length and width-wise interior walls that not only accommodated the people and the animals but gave strength to the overall structure in terms of rigidity and compression. "Pitch," a resinous waterproofing material, was most likely a form of pine tar that was used to caulk the seams of the hull and coat the planking. Although Noah was harvesting and milling the wood and building the ark with hand tools and hand-labor, he would have had the help of his three sons and might have hired other workers along the way. He had a lot of time.
v. 15: "This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits." - Here, God gives Noah the precise specifications for the layout of the ark. The length of a "cubit" is approximately 1.5 feet, roughly the length from a man's elbow to his fingertips. Using the dimensions specified, the ark would be 450 feet in length, 75 feet in beam, and 45 feet from the hull bottom to the upper deck. By comparison, the ark was 1 ½ times the length of an American football field and as tall as a 4 ½-story building (25% taller than main part of BCMC). And its 6:1 length to beam ratio would give it reasonably good stability on the water.
v. 16a: "Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side." - This structure would have comprised a gabled (or curved) roof standing about 18-inches above the upper deck and open on the sides for water runoff and ventilation. The door for ingress and egress to the ark, would have been set flush with the second deck above the loaded waterline. The location of the door, an elevation of 30 feet, would have required some type of loading ramp.
v. 16b: "Make it with lower, second, and third decks." - The three-deck layout would have given the ark a usable interior space of 4.5 million square feet. Although some Bible illustrations show a tapered bow, that detail wasn't included in any of these specifications.
Read Gen. 6:17-18 - EVERYTHING ON THE EARTH SHALL DIE
17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you.
v. 17: "For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die." - In this verse, God describes how He will destroy all life. As well as humans, the flood will wipe-out all air-breathing, land dwelling animals. In this sense, God is taking the creation back to its primal state when the earth was covered by the waters (Gen. 1:2). It is to be God's judgment against human sinfulness and violence. Yet, God demonstrates His grace by saving Noah's family and the animals to be taken into the ark.
v. 18: "But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you." - This is the first instance of the term "covenant" (Heb. berith) to appear in Scripture but will reoccur over 200 times in the OT. God dictates the terms of the covenant, which always favors the people involved but requires their compliance with its terms; and in this case, it's between God and Noah personally. In exchange for it, Noah was required to build and load the ark. All of the OT covenants were preliminary to the covenant established by Jesus (Mt. 26:28; Mk. 14:24; Luke 22:10). Finally, in verses 19-22, God commands Noah to take two of every living thing, male and female (includes mammals, reptiles, birds, and insects), into the ark, along with all the provisions needed to sustain them, and Noah obeyed all that God commanded.
Read Gen. 7:11-14 - RAIN FELL UPON THE EARTH FORTY DAYS AND NIGHTS
NOTE: Gen. 7:1-10 essentially reports that God gave Noah seven days notice to get the ark fully loaded with people, animals, and provisions and ready to go.
11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. 13 On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah's wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark, 14 they and every beast, according to its kind, and all the livestock according to their kinds, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, according to its kind, and every bird, according to its kind, every winged creature.
v. 11a: "In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month," - This occurs 100-120 years after God first called Noah to build the ark in Gen. 6:13.
v. 11b "on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, " - This implies a great underground ocean or oceans which had been in place since the creation that now, under pressure, suddenly begin discharging great geysers of water into the atmosphere. Even today there are rivers and springs of underground water everywhere that we never see. All it takes is a little heat.
v. 11c: "and the windows of the heavens were opened." - This is the hydrological cycle described previously in Gen. 2:5, where instead of air masses that produce rain from evaporated water vapor, there was a thick blanket of water vapor in the upper atmosphere that formed a vapor canopy around the earth. Here, God tweaks temperature and dew point, and it all comes down in the form of torrential rainfall.
v. 12: "And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights." - Forty continuous days of rain combined with all the groundwater rising to the surface would be sufficient to completely inundate the entire earth all the way over the tallest mountains.
v. 13: "On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah's wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark," - This is the first day, while the ark was still grounded. Noah had been given seven days to complete every single detail of what God required of him, and then and only then, would Noah and his family be permitted by God to enter the ark. The key here is Noah's obedience-He and his family were saved from destruction because he had done all that God commanded. As soon as Noah and his family were safely aboard, the flood began.
v. 14: "they and every beast, according to its kind, and all the livestock according to their kinds, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, according to its kind, and every bird, according to its kind, every winged creature." Noah's ability to gather all these animals up and get them to enter the ark strongly implies that he had significant supernatural help. Moreover, maintaining control and order among such a gathering of that included both predators and prey, of large animals and tiny, all occupying a small space, tells us that Noah must have had divine assistance. Verse 16 reports, "And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the LORD shut him in." Together, these eight people would restart the human race in a new beginning, and all the animals would do their part to repopulate the earth with their kind.
APPLICATION-Judgment with Grace