Genesis 6-8 Noah’s Ark and Our Salvation

Posted on December 14, 2008. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Redeemer Church Sunday School: Genesis Class

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Crucial Question: How Can We Be Saved from the Judgment of God?

Genesis 6:9- “The Flood part 1”


Read Genesis 6:9-8:19


Introduction: We come now to the Flood Story, which by amount of words, is the central story in Gen. 1-11. It is also one of the most difficult and controversial passages in the entire Bible. We have today and next Sunday to look at this, then on the 28th we do not have Sunday school. Will we pick back up on Sunday the 4th?  Once we get past this story Genesis gets a lot easier and less hazardous to teach.


I am going to keep the same crucial question as last week: How can we be saved from the Judgment of God? This story is still about sin, judgment and grace. Mathews describes the theme this way: “The recurring theme of blessing, threatened by sin but preserved by divine mercy is found in” this narrative (p.349). The main idea I want to communicate is that the flood and the Ark are historical occurrences and another step in Redemptive History but they also point forward to Israel’s salvation in Exodus and, they point forward to Christ is some very strong ways.


Literary Analysis: In seeking to understand the text there are several methods, most have some validity, but there is just so much material that we simply cannot cover them all. One method that is outstanding, but which I have not shared with you yet is the analysis of Hebrew chiasmus. This method of Hebrew writing is very structured and builds a series of points to a climax and then mirrors the points on the other side of the climax. The first half is a de-creation and the second half is a re-creation. It is best shown visually, so here is the chiasmus graph of the flood story:


Transitional introduction (6:9-10)

  Violence in God’s creation (6:11-12)

    First Divine address: resolution to destroy (6:13-22)

      Second Divine address: command to enter the Ark (7:1-10)

        Beginning of the Flood (7:11-16)

          The rising flood waters (7:17-24)

            Climax: God’s Remembrance of Noah (8:1a)

          The receding flood waters (8:1b-5)

        The drying of the earth (8:6-14)

      Third Divine address: command to leave the Ark (8:15-19)

    God’s resolution to preserve order (8:20-22)

  Fourth Divine address: covenant blessing and peace (9:1-17)

Transitional conclusion (9:18-19)


What this shows us is that Moses wrote a very tight narrative in a very complex and beautiful manner that has at its center, God’s amazing Grace- God remembered Noah. This is also a strong argument against the documentary hypothesis that would have Genesis written by four different authors or sources in four different time periods with four different perspectives.  To further show how tightly and beautifully structured this story is, within the first chiasmus is a second one from Gordon J. Wenham in the Word Biblical Commentary vol.1 Genesis 1-15, Word, Inc.:Waco, TX 1987 (p.157):


7 days of waiting for the flood (7:4)

  7 days of waiting for the flood (7:10)

    40 days of flood (7:17a)

      150 days of water triumphing (7:24)

      150 days of water waning (8:3)

    40 days’ wait (8:6)

  7 days’ wait (8:10)

7 days wait (8:12)


In the Flood Story there are some deliberate links with the Creation Story. In 7:11 with phrases like “fountains of the great deep burst forth” and “the windows of the heavens were opened” there is a link back to Gen 1 in that it reverses Creation and brings the chaos of the waters back. In the Flood account we see numerous mentions of the animals, birds and the creeping things, again pointing us back to Creation. Then, with the re-emergence of the land in ch.8 we see a re-creation pointing back to ch.1-2. Noah is a kind of Adam revived, the sole survivor from whom the Earth will be repopulated. Noah is also a foreshadowing of Moses in that the terms “clean” and “unclean” are used in regards to animals and there is a burnt offering in 8:20. Also, the term lifeblood and covenant language is used, again pointing to the days of Moses. The single most notable link between Noah and Moses is the use of the term Ark- teba. Both are a means of salvation, Noah from the flood and Moses from the river Nile. Noah built the ark according to detailed instructions and Moses built the Tabernacle.


Theological Analysis of the Ark: This morning I want to look at the story as a whole but focus on the Ark and its theological significance. The story of the Flood and Noah’s Ark is, I think, very often a favorite Bible story with children, even though it can be a bit frightening. When I was a child we had a family Bible that had a picture of the flood scene. You could see the rain and the storm clouds, the Ark propped up but the water clearly rising, and some people gathered around the Ark beating on the closed door. Then I saw some movie, probably “The Bible” and you could hear the screams of the people as they begged Noah to open the door and let them in. They were very apologetic and sorry for doubting Noah. If you focus on the animals coming to the Ark two by two, as some artists have done, it is not so scary. Sadly though, I think that in Baptist history in recent decades there is a way of telling the OT stories only for the morals and practical aspects. And in our impatience for details we tend to skip over the details of the Ark story. This morning I will bring out some of the significance of the details and show that there are some profound, deep theological truths, sound doctrine here in the story of Noah’s Ark and the Flood. In this story we will see the Gospel.



I. The Ark Reveals God’s Provision for Noah’s Salvation

In 6:13f God warns Noah of impending Judgment and gives him the plan for his salvation- the plans for constructing the Ark. God had a plan for Noah before the flood. God commanded Noah to construct the Ark in plenty of time, some point back to 6:3 as meaning Noah had 120 years to build the Ark. If the construction crew was only Noah and his three sons it would take that long perhaps. But I do not think that is necessarily what the 120 years means. Noah could have had that much warning, but I think he could have contracted out a lot of the work because it would certainly be more labor than 3 men could do. This boat was a magnificent structure, at about 450’ X 75’ X 45’. The dimensions make the Ark seaworthy whereas the ship in the Atrahasis of ancient Sumer or The Epic of Gilgamesh of Babylon is basically square and not seaworthy. Again, there are some similarities with the ancient lit. around Moses, but the differences are stark. The Bible, though it includes the miraculous, is also realistic. The Flood in the Atrahasis and Epic of Gilgamesh is the result of the gods being bothered by there being so man humans and the amount of noise they make. In Genesis, God brings the Flood because he is holy and man is sinful.


As with the Ark for Noah, God had a plan of salvation for man which preceded any judgment. Rev.13:8 “the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.” And Matt. 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, Come you who are blessed by my Father, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”


Nothing takes God by surprise! He is the One who plans everything out and his plans never fail. Isaiah 46:10-11 “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand and I will do all that I please…what I have said that will I bring about, what I have planned, that will I do.” Last week we mentioned the controversy that has been going on for about 15 years or so over the Openness of God- does God really know the future in all details? God announces to Noah that a flood is coming and prepares him for salvation before hand. God knows the future because he has purposed it.


II. God Revealed His Plans To Noah

God told Noah what was going to happen and prepared him for it. Similarly, God revealed to Abraham his plans for judging Sodom and Gomorrah in Gen. 18. Apart from God’s revelation to Noah, he too, would have been destroyed. We are desperately in need of God’s Revelation; that is why the doctrine of the inspiration, inerrancy, infallibility and authority of the Scriptures is so important. Take the Scriptures away and you are left with man’s opinions. In the last week President Bush was interviewed and, when asked if he took the Bible literally, said no. Denomination after denomination has fallen into heresy because they compromised with the Word of God. We need a revelation from God and God has graciously given us the Bible.


Apart from a supernatural revelation to sinners, apart from His opening the eyes of the lost and changing their hearts, we all would remain in our sins and face the Day of Judgment.

III. Notice that Wood Is Used in Scripture for Our Salvation Time and Again

Noah was told to build the Ark out of gopher wood. Before the ironclads of the 19th century all ships were made of wood. True life comes only through sacrifice and death. The lumber used by Noah used to be living trees. His salvation was wrought by chopping down trees, fashioning the beams and boards and fitting them together. Isaiah 53:2 “He grew up before him like a tender shoot- and like a root out of dry ground.” Christ was cut down in his prime, cut off from his people, for his people, crucified on a wooden cross. Throughout the OT the sacrifices for atonement use wood for the fires that burn the sacrificial animals. Salvation and wood go together.


IV. The Ark Was the Only Refuge from Divine Judgment

There are 3 Arks mentioned in the Scriptures- the Noah’s Ark here, the Ark of bulrushes in which the baby Moses was placed, protected and preserved from Pharaoh, a type of Serpent who was trying to kill off the line of Seth and the line of the future Messiah. The third Ark was the Ark of the Covenant which contained the tablets of the Law. Each Ark speaks to us of the great salvation purchased by Christ. In Noah’s Ark we are saved from God’s wrath against sin. In Moses’ ark we are saved from the assaults of Satan. In the Ark of the Covenant we are saved from the condemnation of the Law. Noah’s ark was a place of safety provided by God when death threatened all. It was the only refuge in the Day of trouble. It was the only means of deliverance just as we must rely on Christ alone for salvation. Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”


V. Noah Is Commanded to Enter the Ark

God did not gently invite Noah to enter the ark, nor did he suggest trying the Ark for 60 days or your money back as Rick Warren suggested on Larry King a week ago or so. In 7:9 God commanded Noah to enter the Ark and he obeyed. When Jesus preaches his first recorded sermon in Mk. 1:15 he says with authority, “Repent and believe!” This is not presented as an option Noah should consider. We are commanded to repent and believe. This is the Lord of the Universe commanding us. To fail to repent and believe is to compound our sinfulness with disobedience to the one command that could save us. It reveals a stubborn, willful disobedience. Noah obeyed the Lord’s command to build the ark, supply it, bring in the animals and finally to enter in himself. This obedience was in the face of ridicule, scorn and maybe even persecution in his day.


VI. The Ark Was a Place of Security

Vs.6:14 says to “cover it inside and out with pitch.” It was watertight, sealed and seaworthy. This pictures our being safe in Christ; no leaks. When you are in Christ, you are 100% in Christ, no holes, no leaks. Col.3:3 “For you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”


In 7:16 notice that it was the Lord who shut him in the ark. God sealed the door. You are sealed in Christ by the Spirit in Eph.1:3 . We are kept in Christ by the power of God. Look at 1Peter 1:5. 2Tim.1:12 “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”


In Gen. 8:18f we see that all who entered the Ark were preserved. None perished! Look at john 18:9 and 10:28 “I give them eternal life and they shall never perish.” Once saved always saved is technically a good line but it has been severely abused through the years to claim salvation while also living a horribly sinful lifestyle. A better way to state it is with the idea of the Perseverance of the Saints and the Preservation of the Believers by God. The doctrine of the Security of the Believer is here in the Flood story. There is no revolving door into the Ark, yet in most of our churches as many go out the back door as come in the front. The reason we have so many struggling with assurance is because there is a lack of repentance, there is no follow-up or discipleship, and no teaching and preaching of sound doctrine.


VII. The Ark Had Only One Door

In vs. 6:16 there is only one door in the ark. One way in. John 10:9 “I am the gate (door) whoever enters through me will be saved.” John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. There is only 1 Savior, not many. One plan of salvation, not several. One entry point, the Cross of Christ.  This is another point that pastor Rick Warren waffled on in his interview with Larry King. He really didn’t want to say it until King pinned him down to the mat. This is a doctrine the world hates, and they will turn it against you time and again.


VIII. There were 3 decks in the ark

The number three is one of those numbers, like 7, that is used frequently in the Bible. Obviously for NT Christians we think of the Trinity. When we enter into the Ark of salvation we are chosen by the Father, saved by the Son, and sealed by the Spirit. Our salvation is in three parts: justification, sanctification, glorification. We were saved by Christ in the past, we are being saved by the Spirit today, and we will be saved to dwell with God in the future.


IX. The Ark was furnished with rooms

In Christ we have more than a salvation from judgment, we are adopted into the family of God and in our Father’s house are many rooms. John 14:1-2


X. The Ark is a picture of Atonement

In 6:14 Noah is to cover it in pitch inside and out. The word for “cover” is kaphar and is normally used in Scripture and the Pentateuch as the word atonement. In the atonement of Christ we are covered inside and out with his blood and righteousness.


XI. The Ark is a picture of our Baptism

When Noah enters into the ark, he then passes through the waters. This prefigures Moses, Israel and NT baptism.


XII. There is a link to the Resurrection of Christ in the story of the flood and ark

In 8:4 the Ark comes to rest on the 17th day of the 7th month. Now look at Ex.12:2 and you will see that the Lord himself changes the calendar of Israel. The month that Israel was to be liberated from bondage to Egypt was changed to the first month, Abib. But what month had it been? The other calendar used by Israel was known as the agricultural or civic calendar and by that calendar the month of the Passover was the 7th month. So if Moses was using the older calendar in his reference in 8:4 then the 7th month would have been the new first month, the month of Passover. And according to Ex.12 the Passover was celebrated on the 14th of the month. Well, the Ark came to rest on the 17th, so what is the deal? What day was Jesus crucified? Passover. He arose on the third day which may have been the 17th. I say may have been. As anyone who has tried to date the resurrection knows there are many complications including a difference in the calendars used by Galilee and Jerusalem and did Jesus spend 3 days in the grave or only parts of 3 days. The bottom line is that God gave us a specific date for the ark coming to rest and it is so close to the resurrection date that it might be. I have come to greatly value all the details that Moses included in his Genesis account, including this one.


Conclusion: Yes there was real Noah, a real Ark, with real animals that came into the ark 2X2 and there was a real flood. God preserved for himself a people while judging the wicked world. But this story also points us to Christ in at least these 12 ways, and a couple of more that I left out. Have you trusted in Christ for your salvation?


A large part of this outline came from Arthur W. Pink’s “Gleanings in Genesis” Moody Press: Chicago, 1922 (pp. 103-109)


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