One day God said to Noah “So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; put rooms in it….” (Genesis 6:14) Because there was a storm coming. A really, really bad one. Forty days and forty nights of continual rain. Never letting up. A rain that would cover the earth, and wipe out every living thing. And the water would stay for 150 days! That’s five months, after the first month and ten days of constant rain.
God had obviously had had enough. He was starting over with his creation.
So He told Noah exactly how to build the ark. What kind of wood to use, and how to waterproof it. What size it was to be.
He also told him to save the animals. “You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you.” (Genesis 6:20) God wanted the animals protected. They were also a part of his creation to be protected.
“You are also to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.” (Genesis 6:21) God knew they’d all have to eat during their stay on the ark, but He also reminded Noah, because He knew Noah had a lot on his mind right then, and He wanted to be sure everyone was provided for and had enough to eat.
“Then the Lord said to Noah, ‘Go into the ark, you and your whole family….’ ” (Genesis 7:1) And they did, along with all of those animals. It must’ve been really crowded!
In fact, let’s think about that for a minute. The ark was about 510 feet long, the length of one and a half football fields! It was more than 50 feet tall, a bit taller than a modern four story house, and it had the storage capacity of about 500 semi trailers. That’s pretty big, right?
But to hold eight people…AND all those animals? Plus enough food for everyone for over SIX months???!!!!
“…on the seventeenth day of the second month – on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.” (Genesis 7:11-12)
The first couple of days were probably not too bad. Everyone was getting settled in. A schedule of chores was most likely made, with everyone being assigned a specific task. Food had to be prepared daily, without the luxury of a stove or refrigerator, not only for Noah and his family, but ALL of the animals had to be fed every day as well. Cooking and eating utensils had to be washed by hand after each meal. There were no days off. No rest for the weary.
And even if there were times to relax, what would they have to do? There were no books or magazines, no newspapers, no radio or television. No card games or board games.
We don’t know what the temperatures were during this time, but I’m sure it got rather hot inside the ark, and there was certainly no air conditioning. Maybe a few windows to open, but they certainly wouldn’t make that much difference in that whole huge ark!
What if they got sick, or injured? There was most likely no medicine, and certainly no doctor to take care of them. Surely during all that time at least some of the animals got sick, and Noah had to make sure they all stayed alive to repopulate the earth! Of course, most likely many of those animals gave birth while they were on board the ark, adding even more creatures to the overwhelming ark animal population!
And the smells….unwashed bodies for six months, as well as those dirty animals. Can you imagine how they must have felt? Ugh. And what did they do about hygiene and sewage?? I have no idea but probably don’t want to know.
And most likely, after several months, they were all getting on each others’ last nerves!
I’m sure there were times they were all afraid. Every one of them, including Noah. How could they not be? Even though the Lord had told them what to do, and why, and assured them they’d be okay, I’m sure there were many times they wondered if they’d really heard from God, and if He really was taking care of them, or if they, too, were going to perish in the floodwaters. And when they were finally able to leave the ark, they had the enormous task of starting their lives over completely, starting with building a roof over their heads. Surely they wondered how they’d ever be able to do it all.
No matter how strong our faith, there are always moments of doubt.
So let’s compare this story to ours from last week. We had rain starting on Monday. It kept raining all day Tuesday, in fact it rained over 13 inches in one day! And it rained all day Wednesday, so much so that it flooded all over our area, in places it had never flooded before! It was a huge mess. We were basically trapped in our house, unable to go anywhere, for two days.
Our garage flooded, and there was over 3 feet of water in our culdesac. Cars were ruined, and the ones that weren’t ruined had lots of water damage inside the vehicle. We had food to eat, although there were items we were running low on because we had planned to go grocery shopping that first day we found ourselves stranded. So maybe we weren’t too thrilled about the choices….
But we had food. We had fresh water, and coffee! We had showers for bathing, and the bathrooms worked fine! We had books and magazines, radio and TV. We had our cell phones and the internet. And we weren’t in fear for our lives because we knew the water would go down and even though we’d have a cleaning up to do and some repairs to make, we knew we’d be all right. We fortunately didn’t have to rebuild anything.
Of course we were all a bit stir crazy by the end of that second day when the water finally receded enough so that some friends in a high car could come get us and take us to dinner. We felt like we’d been released from prison!
After only two days. Noah and his family waited almost a year.
“…At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down.” (Genesis 8:3) And we were complaining about two days!
And Noah and his family still had to wait several more months before they could leave the ark, because the water was still receding.
Two days in comparison to almost a year. Two days in relative comfort. Compared to almost a year of mostly discomfort, smelly animals, and a much harder life than anything they’d experienced before.
In retrospect, I don’t think we had nearly that much to complain about.
But we did.
Writing this made me stop and think how lucky we were, even during that storm. Much luckier than many others. Many people have gone through such storms and flooding and lost everything they owned, all their valuables and worldly possessions, including their vehicles, and like Noah, had to start completely over. With money from their insurance company, of course, but that doesn’t begin to replace the irreplaceable.
And Noah’s only insurance was the Lord. But that was enough for him and his family.
We do need to remember to think about the Lord that way as well. He’s not only our Heavenly Father, but our assurance that He will pull us through the storms in our life, and we will survive!
Sometimes He removes the storms from us, and sometimes He has us build an ark and ride them out.
And what was the first thing Noah did when he and his family were able to leave the ark? They thanked the Lord for saving them, for pulling them through the storm.
Thank you, Lord, for pulling us all through.