October 29, 2013

Commentary on the Book of Genesis

By: Tom Lowe


Lesson I.D.3: God Directs Noah to Make an Ark. (Gen. 6:13-22)


Genesis 6.13-22

13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.

15 And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.

16 A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. 17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.

18 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee.

19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.

20 Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.

21 And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.

22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.


Introduction

“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him and He will show them His covenant” (Ps. 25.15). When you walk with God, He speaks to you through His Word and tells you what you need to know and do. Christians are more than just servants who do His will; we’re also His friends who know His plans: “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15.14, 15). God’s plan involved three responsibilities for Noah and His family. The study of this section will be built upon those three responsibilities, which are:

I. God confides in Noah (v. 13)

II. Building an ark (vv. 14-17).

III. Trusting God’s covenant (v. 18).

IV. Gathering the animals (vv. 19-22).


Commentary


Part I. God confides in Noah (v. 13)



13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.


God is going to send a Flood, and I would like to mention here several reasons why the Lord chose that method:

I. God is sovereign over all creation and frequently uses nature to judge mankind.

II. The Flood was the most effective way of purging and cleansing the world. It would wash it clean so that not a trace of the wicked would be found.

III. The Flood was used by God to start a “new creation.” The first Creation with Adam is paralleled here by the second with Noah. The dry land appeared as the water receded, and eventually the ark came to rest on Ararat (Ge. 8.4). When Noah was finished with the arc God commissioned him to be fruitful and multiply (Ge. 9.1) and to have dominion over the earth (Ge. 9.2), just as He had told Adam (Ge. 1.26, 28). Noah planted a garden (Ge, 9.20), whereas God planted a garden for Adam and Eve (Ge. 2.8). But sin had tarnished the race. Adam and Noah were contrasted; whereas Adam’s nakedness was a sign of righteousness (Ge. 2.25), Noah’s was one of degradation (Ge. 9.21) and He ended up cursing his grandson, Canaan (Ge. 9.25-27).

Man had a promise of a Redeemer and he was told that there was coming a Savior on the earth. That is what man should have been looking for; instead of that, he turned from God to do whatever he wanted to do.

God had provided a sacrifice for Adam and Eve, and we find that a great, eternal principle was put down with Cain and Able. These two boys, Cain and able, stand as the representatives of two great systems, two classes of people: the lost and the saved, the self-righteous, and the broken spirited, the formal professor and the genuine believer. That is what the human race consisted of at this time.

And then we find that the patriarchs were living so long that the lives of Adam and Methuselah bridged the entire time period from creation to the Flood. They certainly could have given a revelation to all mankind, which they did. Then we’re told in Jude 14 and 15 that Enoch preached and prophesied during that period. We are also told that Noah preached during that period as he was building the ark. When Enoch disappeared that should have alerted the people to the intervention of God in human affairs. They also knew about this man Methuselah and the meaning of his name; and when he died, they should have known the Flood was coming. Finally, there was also the ministry of the Holy Spirit. God said His Spirit would not always strive with man. The Spirit of God was striving with him, but, when man totally rejected God, the Flood came as God’s judgment upon the earth. God could have destroyed all mankind as he destroyed all the first-born of the Egyptians, and the camp of the Assyrians; and perhaps all He would have to do to preserve Noah and his family would be to put a mark on them, as He did Cain. But God chose to do it by a great Flood which would drown the world.

The entire human family had turned from God, and the result was that they turned against God. “. . .There is none righteous, no not one” (Rom 3.10). There are just a few, though, who do believe God—Noah and his family. Here is one man who walked with God; he believed God, and he led his family in prayer, insisted they make the proper sacrifices, and by his example he showed them how to live a godly life. Here is a man who still trusted God—“By faith Noah.” Here is a man, who was willing to risk ridicule by building a boat on dry land during a time when it had never rained. If the rains did not come he certainly would be the laughingstock of the community. I think he was just that for 120 years, but Noah believed God.

God made Noah His confidant, communicating to him His intention to destroy the wicked world by a Flood. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him” (Ps. 25.14). He informed His servants and prophets of His plans and purposes by a Spirit of revelation. He gives to all believers a Spirit of wisdom and faith which enables them to understand and apply the general declarations and warnings found in the written word. How startling the announcement of the threatened destruction must have been to Noah and his family. There was no outward indication of it. The course of nature and experience seemed against the possibility of such a thing. The public opinion of mankind would ridicule it. The whole world would be arranged against him. Yet, persuaded that the communication was from God, through faith— “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. . .” (Heb. 11.7), he set about preparing the means for preserving himself and his family from the impending calamity.


Part II.Building an ark (vv. 14-17).

14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.

God told Noah what his task was: to build a wooden vessel that would survive the waters of the Flood and keep Noah and his family safe. Also, God made Noah a savior to the inferior creatures to keep the many kinds of them from perishing in the Flood. This was a great honor put upon Him, that not only would the human race be preserved through him, and that from him a new world would advance, the Church, the soul of that world, and Messiah, the Head of that Church; but that he would be instrumental in preserving the inferior creatures.

It was also an act of obedience to the command of God; if Noah had consulted with flesh and blood many objections would have been raised to this tremendous undertaking. For him to build a structure which no one had ever seen its likeness before, so huge and to the exact dimensions given him by the Lord, would require from him a great deal of care, and labor, and expense; it would take a long time to complete. His neighbors would ridicule him for his gullibility. But Noah did overcome these and a thousand other objections by faith; his obedience was immediate and resolute.

“Make thee an ark of gopher wood.” Gopher wood is an almost indestructible wood somewhat like the California redwood. But some say that what is referred to as Gopher wood is probably cypress or cedar remarkable for their durability and found in abundance on the Armenian mountains.

“Rooms shalt thou make in the ark.” The word translated “rooms” has the idea of nest. The elephant and the giraffe would need a room, but the mole would not need quite that much space. He would do fine with just a little dirt in the corner, and that is all he would need.

“And shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.” The ark was to be made waterproof with mineral pitch, asphalt, naphtha, or some bituminous substance, which when smeared over and after it became hardened, would make it perfectly watertight.


15 And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.

The question may be asked, “How could these primitive people make such a sophisticated vessel. My friend, these are not cavemen. Noah was a very intelligent man. You see the intelligence the human race has today came right through Noah, and he happened to be a very intelligent man, and I believe that though the people who lived at that time lacked morals, they did not lack intelligence.

Noah is not making an ocean liner with the capacity to withstand fifty-foot waves. What he is building is a place for life, animal life and man, to stay for a long period of time not to go through a storm, but just to wait out the Flood. For that reason, the ark might lack a great deal of that which you would find on modern day oceangoing vessels, and that would give it a great deal more room.

If a cubit is 18 inches, 300 cubits would mean that the ark was 450 feet long. Using the same conversion factor of one cubit equals 18 inches the width of the ark was 75 feet, and it was 45 feet high. That is a pretty big ship, but the interesting thing is the relative measurements. For instance, the New Mexico was one of our battleships during World War II; it measured 624 feet long, 106¼ feet wide, and with a mean draught of 29½ feet. By comparison the ark had practically the same ratio; so you did not have a ridiculous looking boat at all, but one that would compare favorably with the way they build ships today. A ship constructed to these dimensions would be very stable in the water: impossible to capsize.

16 A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.

“A window shalt thou make to the ark.” The window was not a little slit made in the side of the ark for ventilation and light. Have you ever stopped to think about the stench there might be inside with all those animals in there for that period of time? The window was a cubit high (18”) and went all the way around the top of the ark. The roof must have overlapped the window quite a bit. That is the way they ventilate a gymnasium today. I also noticed that at the Kansas State Fair that buildings in which the animals were housed had that window which goes all the way around at the top. Even with all the animals they had there, it was not an unpleasant place to be. People were setting in there eating there meals and also sleeping. It was not uncomfortable and the odor was not bad. I have heard it said that poor Noah had to stick his head out of this little window in order to live. That’s ridiculous. That’s man’s imagination, and not at all what the record says here.

“And the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof.” The ark only had one door, and that is important. Christ said, “I am the way” and “I am the door to the sheepfold,” and He is the door to the ark.

“With lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.” The ark had three decks (or floors), and then, as I see it, there was one on either the top or bottom which would make four decks. The decks were divided into compartments (v. 14), where the animals would be kept and where Noah and his family would live. Was there a door for each deck? I am of the opinion that the ark had only one door, and not one for each floor, but frankly, that is beside the point.

This vessel was designed for flotation not navigation. It was a huge wooden box that could keep its contents safe and dry. The volume of space in the ark was 1.4 million cubic feet. Dr. Henry Morris calculated that the ark was large enough to hold the contents of over 500 livestock railroad cars, providing space for 125,000 animals. Of course, many of the animals would be very small and not need much space, and when it came to the large animals, God probably sent Noah younger and smaller representatives. There was plenty of room in the vessel for food for both animals and humans (v. 21), and insects and creeping things would have no problem finding places to live on the ark.


17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.


“And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood.” God is bringing the judgment upon the earth for the enormous wickedness of its inhabitants—upon animal, bird, and man.

  1. Trusting God’s covenant (v. 18).


18 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee.


This is the first use of the word “covenant” in the Bible. The word appears often in Scripture because the covenant concept is an important feature in God’s great plan of redemption. (God will explain His covenant with Noah after he leaves the ark; 8.20-9.17.)

God’s words in this passage are addressed specifically to Noah, but God also included Noah’s family in the covenant. Noah didn’t become a father until he was 500 years old (v. 5.32), and he entered the ark when he was 600 (v. 7.6); so his three sons were still young as far as pre-Flood ages were concerned. Ham was the youngest son (v. 9.24) and Japheth was the eldest (v. 10.21), and all three boys were married.

The fact that God had covenanted to care for Noah and his family gave them the peace and confidence they needed as they prepared the ark and then lived in it for over a year. God is faithful to keep his promises, and as God’s covenant people, the eight believers had nothing to fear.


  1. Gathering the animals (vv. 19-22).


19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.

20 Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.


There are fewer than 18,000 species living on the earth today. This number may have been doubled to allow for now-extinct creatures. With two of each, a total of 72,000 creatures is reasonable according to the calculations of verses 15 and 16; the cubic space could hold 125,000 sheep, and since the average size of land animals is less than a sheep, perhaps less than sixty percent of the space was used. The very large animals were surely represented by young. There was ample room also for the one million species of insects, as well as food for a year for everyone (v. 21).

God not only wanted humans to be preserved from destruction but also every kind of creature that would be drowned by the waters of the Flood. But how was Noah to gather such a large number of animals, birds, and creeping things? God would cause these creatures to come to Noah (see also vs. 7.8, 15), and Noah would take them into the ark.

“Two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive.” Noah was not a Frank Buck who went out “to bring them back alive.” He was not a big game hunter. He didn’t have to hunt for these animals and then capture them—they came to him. This would include not only pairs of unclean animals that would be able to reproduce after the Flood, but also seven pairs of clean animals, some of whom would be used for sacrifices (vs. 8.20 and 9.3). Note, the difference between clean and unclean animals became a major point in the Levitical order (Lev. 11.2-23). Noah and his family not only learned about the faithfulness of God, but they also saw the sovereignty of God in action.

In His sovereign power, God brought the animals to Noah and his sons controlled them so that they did His bidding. However, this magnificent demonstration of God’s power didn’t touch the hearts of his neighbors, and they perished in the Flood. The birds, beasts, and creeping things knew their Creators voice and obeyed Him, but people made in the image of God refused to heed His call. Centuries later, God would say through His servant Isaiah, “The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner's manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand” (Isa. 1.3; NIV).

During all this important activity, Noah was serving the Lord and bearing witness to a sinful world. For 120 years (v. 6.3), God was long-suffering towards careless and rebellious sinners; but they ignored his message and lost their opportunity for salvation.



21 And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.

22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.


Here we have Noah doing something very practical. It took a lot of hay to feed these animals. Some people are going to say, “But some on those animals ate meat. They would eat each other.” I don’t think so. Up to the time of the Flood, apparently, both animals and man were not flesh-eating. They just did not eat flesh, there were no carnivorous animals. We are told of a day coming in the millennium when the lion and the lamb will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like thee ox—“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox” (Isa. 11.6, 7). That could certainly come to pass, since that was probably the original state of the animal world.

“Thus did Noah.” He did not delay, but began immediately to build the colossal structure; and in every step of construction he faithfully followed the divine instructions he had been given.



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