Noah’s Ark

Sermon for September 9, 2018–Noah’s Ark

Genesis 6:5-22, 8:6-12, 9:8-17

When I think about this story in the Bible, I always have questions. Like, “How could all of those animals fit on the ark? How did Noah feed them all? Did it smell really bad?” or “Were Noah and his family the only good people left on earth? Why did God choose him? Weren’t there other “good” people alive? There had to be, right?”Did you know that the story of Noah’s Ark can be found in the Bible, the Koran, and the Torah? But does that make it real? According to the BBC Documentary Noah’s Ark-The Real Story that I watched on YouTube (and because everything on YouTube is real, this must be true), scientists have been trying to prove or disprove the story for over a hundred years.

BOAT: 

  • The Bible says God ordered Noah to build a boat out of wood and line it with pitch (similar to tar), inside and out. He told Noah to build it with three decks, a roof, and a door.
  • In the Bible, God commands Noah to build the ark by cubits=length of man’s forearm, 1.5 ft) 300 cubits long x 30 cubits wide x 30 cubit high (almost as big as modern day cruise ship)
  • Scientists do not think it could have been this big without sinking. The wood would not have been able to keep its shape. It would have pulled away from its seams creating holes for water to seep into. Most likely, the boat would have been smaller than stated in the Bible.

ANIMALS:

  • There are about 30,000,000 species on earth. Noah had 7 days to find all the animals and get them on board. That’s 50 pairs of animals per second. More realistically, it would’ve taken Noah at least 30 years. Does that make the story a myth?
  • It could’ve meant load all the animals in Noah’s part of the world.
  • Bible states Noah was to take 7 pairs of “clean” animals. This meant animals that were ceremonially suitable to be sacrifices to God.
  • Leviticus and Deuteronomy state 10 different species are clean (sheep, antelopes, cattle, goats, and deer), so 7 pairs of 10 animals=140 animals
  • Then it states to bring pairs of impure animals and birds (pigs, hares, lizards, snails) over 30 different kinds = about 60 more animals
  • Load 7 pairs of the clean birds (doves, ducks, and cockerel-chicken)
  • Total 260 animals
  • Is that the truth? It would certainly be more realistic, but are these the real facts?

QUESTIONS I certainly do not know the answers to my questions, but I do know this. Instead of getting caught up in the details of it all, I need to step back and look at the big picture. What does this story teach me about God? ANGRY GOD Before this, God was looked at as all powerful, easily angered, and hard to please. It was custom to offer sacrifices to God in order to please him. There were rules on how to correctly offer sacrifices. You had to follow the rules or you might not please God. I don’t know about you, but that sounds extremely stressful. What if I mess up? Am I doomed forever? (Believe me, I don’t always follow directions well. Just take a look at my cooking. Right boys?) SECOND CHANCES In the story of Noah’s Ark, God looks at the earth and is not pleased by what he sees. He destroys all of mankind with a flood EXCEPT for Noah and his family. They were looked upon by God as good. Was God hoping to start over and get it right this time?Have you ever been given a second chance? Second chances are amazing, aren’t they? No one likes to fail, but it’s how we learn. In school, I try to teach my students to embrace failure. That failure teaches us how not to do something. It teaches us that we just need to try it again a different way. Is this what God was trying to do? Start over and try it a different way with Noah? Podcast I Love to Tell the Story (Genesis 6, 8, 9)Isn’t it odd that the story of Noah’s is used as a children’s story? It’s an awful story of the whole world being destroyed except for those in the ark. A little gloomy, don’t you think?Most kids know this story. I think it’s because of the animals and maybe the rainbow, but I think the animals make it seem more kid-friendly. It’s certainly not the people.What you might not know is that in the Hebrew Bible, the same root word (sh-kh-t) used for corruption is used for destruction, one in the same

  • The destruction of the earth results from the violence and corruption of human beings.

EVIL There is so much evil in the world. Turn on the news. It’s all around us. When the boys were younger, we stopped watching the news in front of them because it was causing so much anxiety in their little minds. They were scared about things that were out of their control. But aren’t we all? As humans, it’s easy for us to say there are good people and bad people. This will date me now, but as kids we used to play cops and robbers. Good guys vs. Bad guys. The theme of good vs. evil is ever present in books, movies, the world. But I don’t think it’s that simple. I think everyone has good inside them, but their actions tend to show us what’s taken over their hearts. Law and Order. I used to love that show. Thinking back, I think I liked it so much because the bad guys usually got what they deserved. They were caught by some really smart detective work.  Or how about this scenerio: A car speeds past you on the highway and you think, “I hope that guy gets pulled over.” And I’ve seen it happen sometimes. I hate to admit that I’m happy they got what they deserved. But is that what God wants us to think? Are we supposed to be happy at bad things happening to bad people? In the story of the flood, God does a terrible thing. Why does God send a flood? Because God is struggling with the same thing. Within God, there is a struggle between God’s sense of righteousness/justice and His faithfulness/mercy. Terrible things were happening. God’s sense of justice was so tried that he considered starting all over, but God’s sense of faithfulness and mercy wins out (but just barely). I think the pivotal point of story is Genesis 8:1 when God “remembers” Noah and his family. He hadn’t forgot about them, but rather God is moved to act on their behalf. God sends a wind to dry up the waters and bring forth life out of death. And God doesn’t save just Noah and his family. He uses Noah as an agent for renewing creation. Focus of story is not on human sin but on God and God’s commitment to all living things. Humans have not change. They still bring evil and corruption to this world, but God changed. God knows that we won’t always be faithful to Him, but He still pursues a relationship with us. After the flood in Genesis 9:9 God makes a covenant with Noah and all of his descendants AND all of the animals of the earth, every living creature. This is where it comes back to the animals, right kids?  Isaiah 54:9-10 Just as I swore that the waters of Noah would never again go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the LORD, who has compassion on you. And when human sin and corruption have become so great that they threaten to overwhelm the world again, it is God himself who enter the world. Rather than starting over, God commits to God’s self to take on the evilness, to renew and heal creation in a different way, which ultimately becomes God’s son, Jesus Christ. God takes on the brokenness of creation by becoming flesh.  God sends the flood, and then promises never to do that again. The sign of the covenant is a sign to God’s own self, not to remind us. In Genesis 9:14 It says, “When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh.” He commits to loving us, not destroying us. In the Bible the stories that follow are about, “What will God do instead?” It’s about second chances. It’s about dealing with evil differently, different than total destruction: His call Abraham and Sarah, His call to the Israelites to be a “priestly kingdom and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6) Yes, God judges, but God also redeems, over and over and over again. So it’s not about how big the ark was.  It’s not about how many animals fit on the ark. It’s about God’s love for us. He’s committed to loving us forever no matter what we do or do not do. Humans did not change, but God changed. Isn’t this the best news you’ve ever heard? On a personal note, I think the message is also this: It’s not all about you, you have a broader calling, to seek the welfare of the wider world and where we find ourselves. Noah is called beyond saving his own skin. What can we do to show God’s love to all of creation? Because this is what God has called us to do. And we say, “Thanks be to God.”

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