Depicting the pre-Flood world at the Ark Encounter in northern Kentucky presents a challenge for designers. How should a world “filled with violence” where “all flesh had corrupted their way” (Genesis 6:11–12) be displayed in a family-friendly atmosphere? Undoubtedly, Noah’s contemporaries engaged in all sorts of sinful behaviors, such as idolatry, sexual immorality, and murder. It’s important to show why the world deserved such a harsh judgment, but designers still must be tactful.
A large exhibit area will focus on life in the pre-Flood world, exploring what an antediluvian city may have been like. On the one hand, people were “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,” as Jesus described (Matthew 24:38). On the other hand, “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and . . . every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). The exhibits and scenes must be compelling so visitors will stop to comprehend the enticement—and danger—of evil.
Fun is an important element of the Ark Encounter, but it isn’t the ultimate purpose. Noah’s society deserved the cataclysmic judgment it received, so we must make that clear in a way that grabs people’s attention and keeps them focused on the message.
The answer? Help people understand that today’s world may not be so different from the world Noah knew. Believing that wickedness is fun, many people live for pleasure, and the thoughts of their hearts are continuously evil. Paying no heed to God’s Word and despising the love He demonstrated by sending His Son to be sacrificed for our sins, they chase after every kind of sinful behavior and store up for themselves God’s wrath (Romans 2:5). We desire that people will recognize the similarities and see that our quickly degrading world also deserves judgment.
Visitors will be reminded of the coming judgment, when instead of sending a Flood the Lord will destroy the world with fire (2 Peter 3:10). Wickedness may seem fun for a season, but ultimately it leads to destruction. The primary purpose of the Ark Encounter is to entreat visitors to turn for salvation to the Savior, who bore God’s wrath toward sin upon Himself at the Cross.