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Originally published in Creation 21, no 2 (March 1999): 44-47.
By fleshing out the details with reasoned imagination, the Bible’s true account of the flood comes vividly alive.
Every day he was appalled. Every day things became worse. Yesterday it was old Zack down the road, beaten up and killed for a few lousy flakes of gold. Last month, a whole village had been destroyed by a gang of thugs. If things carried on this way, no wonder God would have to act, as he had told Noah a long time ago.
Then there was his family’s safety. His three boys had married nice girls, and it was good they lived in the family compound and worked the family business. Security in the compound had been “beefed up” over the years.
It was just incredible how quickly people had removed God from their thinking. It was only about 1,600 years since the first man, the grand old man of the race, had been created by God in a state of perfection. But Adam and his wife had rebelled against God, and his children and their descendants had also, to varying degrees. Now, it seemed, the rejection of God was everywhere you turned, and it was being lived out in all sorts of horrible ways.
It had been many decades now since God had told Noah that He would not put up with such evil forever. In fact He had set 120 years as the limit, without saying what would happen. Clearly He had something big in mind, and now whatever it would be was getting much closer.
Noah knew that God was God, so He should be served, trusted and obeyed.
Noah knew that God was God, so He should be served, trusted and obeyed. Noah did exactly that. He did all his business honestly and truthfully because he knew God—and his enterprises prospered, bringing him great wealth. He was true to his wife because he knew God. And he worked to suppress evil as best he could—all because he knew God. But fewer and fewer cared—in fact, by now Noah did not know anyone outside his family who really trusted God.
Then God spoke to Noah again, and this time it really blew his mind.1 He told Noah to build a really massive boat—more like a multi-deck barge, actually.
It was to be much bigger than any boats that had ever been built. He was to do this because God said He was going to wipe out all people and land-dwelling animals by flooding the entire Earth. God would send to Noah some of all the types of land animals,2 so the new world could be repopulated after the Flood.
Noah’s construction company had built some big things in his time, but nothing like this. Plans were drawn up to the dimensions God had given him, and materials purchased. The whole neighborhood, in fact the whole country got to hear of it. “Noah’s folly,” they called it—but at least it meant there was no unemployment in the area. Workers were happy—Noah was a good boss, and they didn’t care what old Noah spent his money on, as long as some of it went their way.
So month after month, which stretched into year after year, the boat was built. New technologies were developed, like the tree resin waterproofing system that Noah insisted on.3 But Noah had to be crazy! He was not even building the vessel by a river, and there was no launching ramp to any water. It was just stuck there, out in the countryside, a huge structure weighing thousands of tonnes—with the cranes and scaffolding and workshops all around it.
Noah said that the boat didn’t need to be taken to water—because the water was going to come to it. Who ever heard such a thing? When pushed by reporters, he couldn’t even tell when, or from where, the water was going to come.
The years came and went and it was getting close to being finished. The thousands of animal stalls and cages were going in. Sub-contractors and sawmills were running overtime, and hardware suppliers had never had it so good.
“Mad old Noah” had employed stock feed researchers to work on food requirements and food production techniques. The farmers, too, were busy, producing stockpiles of grain and other produce. Systems of drying and preserving food were researched and refined. As the construction of the huge vessel approached completion, transport firms hauled the mountains of food to the site. It was then craned on board and stored in the special food holds. Food hoppers, water piping and troughs were installed, along with the waste disposal systems.
Even if he was crazy, one thing you had to say about Noah was that he did things in a big way. Many wondered what they would do for a job once it was all finished. Noah kept on saying that there was no point worrying about unemployment, because unless you were on board the boat when the water came, you’d be dead.
When everything was finished, and all the food was stored, Noah had all the cranes, workshops, barns and silos taken down and carted away. He said that when the water came, he did not want to be ramming any building with the boat as it went out of the yard. There would be no future in getting holed in the first few minutes of the trip!
One day Noah announced there were seven days to go. If anyone wanted to join him and his family and miss out on the great dying, then they were quite welcome. A number of his friends were tempted, but weren’t really convinced, and didn’t want to be seen as fools like Noah.
Sure, he was a nice guy and a good friend. He talked too much about God, but he was honest, thoughtful, and he always helped you when you needed it. Seven days to go and not an animal in one of the cages on board that boat! He had to be nuts.
Some began having second thoughts when animals started arriving. Then the countryside seemed to turn into a walking zoo. Animals, including many they had never seen before—and birds flying in from all directions.
It was as though they all had compasses zeroed in on the boat out in the middle of Noah’s property. And they kept on pouring in, day after day. It was rather unnerving. There were no herds of animals. Occasionally there were seven of each type, but in most cases just two—a male and a female. And they were all young — no older than a year or two, so even the brachiosaurs were not much bigger than horses.
After three days, a carnival atmosphere had developed, with fast food stalls and buskers on the main road feeding and entertaining the thousands of onlookers.
And now the day had arrived, and the roads were packed with people who had come to have a real laugh at old Noah. But if the past week had been unnerving with all the animals arriving, it was positively weird today because there were no more—not one!
Just then, Noah came to the great side door, as if to make a speech. “See you tomorrow, Noah!” someone called out. Everyone joined in the laughing and jeering. When it died down, Noah spoke.
“I want to thank those who helped me so much in working on this project. I am deeply grateful. I’ve talked to many of you over these past years about why this boat has been built. I’ve told you that God is patient and kind and does not want anyone to perish, but that His patience was running out. I have urged you to turn from your rebellion against God and from your selfish ways, and to trust God and to join me when the day arrives.
“Relatives, friends and neighbors, the day has arrived! You can come and join me and my family now if you believe what God has said. If not, I’m sorry but I have to say goodbye. You will never see me again.”
And he went out into the crowd and shook hands with those he’d known for so many years. He tearfully hugged his brothers and sisters, who also thought he was crazy. His grandfather Methuselah hadn’t thought so. He had encouraged him greatly in building the boat, but had died just a few weeks ago at the age of 969. His name meant “when he dies, it shall come”—that made sense now.
As Noah went through the door opening, one of his design engineers called out, “How are you going to lift the door shut? You’ve got the bolts and locks for when it’s up and shut, but how will you shut it?” “Yeah! How are you going to shut the door, Noah? How ya gonna shut the door?” the crowd chimed in, amidst swelling, mocking laughter.
And then slowly a hush fell over the crowd as first one person—and then another—saw it. The end of the massive door that was resting on the ground began to lift by itself, swinging up slowly and silently until it thudded shut into its opening. In the dead quiet that followed, they distinctly heard Noah and his sons fitting the bars and catches to it.
“Whew, that makes you think, doesn’t it?” someone said. “Spooky,” said another. But as time went on and nothing more happened, the carnival atmosphere and jeering returned. “See ya in the morning, Noah!”
What was that? Did the ground move? There it was again. A mild but distinct movement under-foot. Suddenly pandemonium broke loose! The ground shook and swayed, throwing everyone off their feet. Huge cracks snaked across the countryside. Water began shooting out of the ground like massive fountains, and fire and steam could be seen pouring out of the distant hills.
Panic shot through the crowd as they bounced helplessly on the ground. One of the engineers vividly remembered Noah’s insistence that the ship be built dozens of times stronger than he thought it ever needed to be—but that thought drowned as a wall of water hit him and the others and swept them all away. The sky was now black, and incredibly violent rain began. And in the deepening, surging waters Noah’s boat began to float.
After nearly six weeks, the endless din of pounding rain stopped. Four months later, they felt a bump as the vessel ran aground. Their five month ride on a world without land had finally come to an end. But it wasn’t over yet! Now they could feel earthquakes again, which seemed to go on continually. For seven more months they waited, in which time the land began to appear from beneath the water4 and the shaking gradually diminished. The world destroying cataclysm—God’s judgment on a wicked world, was over.
Three hundred and seventy-one days later, over a year after the door was shut, they opened it and came out along with the animals. They were in a new world.
The buzzing of insects filled the air. Plants were sprouting here and there from under the mud alongside the occasional bone of a dead animal. Many of the hillsides were already draped in vegetation; some of the faster-growing tree varieties were already quite tall. Countless dead things lay buried in the kilometers of mud and sand, already hardening, beneath their feet. But apart from those who had ridden on the Ark with them, there were no people—and no land animals.5
Noah trusted what God said about the Flood, even when no one had ever seen such a thing. Because he trusted God, Noah built the Ark, and in doing so, he and his family became the only ones who were not destroyed.
And because he trusted God all of us are here—because all of us, even the world’s skeptics, are descendants of the families of Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth.
The Great Flood shows us what God thinks of sin. We need a refuge just as Noah and his family did. The refuge God has made available for us is Jesus Christ, who died to take away sin. Just as Noah trusted God, make sure you trust in Jesus, so you can be free from the judgment of God on those who rebel against Him.