In His instructions for building the Ark, God told Noah to “set the door of the Ark in its side” (Genesis 6:16).1 The Ark had only one door to pass through to escape God’s terrible judgment. By faith, Noah and his family entered the Ark. Once they were all inside, the Lord shut them in (Genesis 7:16).
What is significant about God shutting the door of the Ark? It provides a wonderful demonstration of the twin truths of man’s responsibility and God’s sovereignty that we see throughout Scripture.
After God shut the door, the time of judgment arrived. Only those who had gone through the doorway would be saved; no one else could enter. Noah and his family had to obey God’s command to build and then enter the Ark for salvation—but it was God who had commanded the Ark to be built as the means of Noah’s family being saved in this time of judgment.
The Ark pictures salvation in Jesus Christ, our “Ark” of salvation. Jesus said “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved” (John 10:9).
The Bible makes it clear that we are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Nothing we can do can save us from our sin and its consequence of eternal separation from God. But the Bible also tells us that if we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead, we will be saved (Romans 10:9). It is “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Nothing we can do will save us from our sin—salvation is all of God. Yet our responsibility is to go through the doorway (Jesus), and God will save us.
How do we put all this together? Can we, as finite humans, ever understand the ways of an infinite God? Only God can bring man’s responsibility and His sovereignty perfectly together. We need to live with this tension and accept it—it is what God’s Word teaches.