A man who lived thousands of years ago is suddenly receiving the sort of attention usually reserved for Hollywood celebrities. With the recent release of the Noah movie hardly a day passes without there being a review somewhere, not to mention comments on Facebook and Twitter. Noah has also stirred up some conflicting emotions among Christians. While some favour the movie, many do not.
If we could be transported back in time to the construction site for the Ark, what would we see? Would we expect there to be a team of naval architects poring over plans? Would there be shipwrights, engineers, electricians, welders and the like, all teaming like ants around the site? No. According to Scripture there was just one man and his family, a load of timber, and a few other somewhat rudimentary materials.
One problem that occurs when we focus on Noah, or on the Ark, is the tendency to forget about the Naval Architect, other than to acknowledge that He was around somewhere. We know that He dictated the plans, closed the door of the Ark, caused it to rain, stopped it raining, and eventually painted a rainbow in the sky.
But what about the miracle of the Ark?
Consider the animals. There is stowage to take into account and stability. How did Noah calculate the centre of gravity of the Ark? Did Lloyd’s Register send a surveyor back in time to check that the Ark was a seaworthy vessel? Did it have a plimsoll line? Did Noah check the draft to ensure that the Ark was not overloaded?
What about navigational equipment? Without an echo sounder or an engine how did Noah avoid running aground as the floodwaters began to recede? Some of my most heart-stopping moments were while keeping watch on a loaded 100,000 tonne bulk carrier after passing through the Sunda Strait into the shallow waters of the Java Sea. Navigation had to be spot on to avoid some of the hazards beneath the keel. GPS did not exist back then.
Here is the true miracle of the Ark. God didn’t just take a landlubber and show him how to build a boat. God’s hand was on Noah from the very beginning of the project. God oversaw the construction of the Ark and God made sure it was seaworthy. Noah could not have done that. He didn’t have a clue about boats. God gathered the living creatures together and God assigned them their places on the Ark, just as He has assigned us our places on His planet at this time. God’s hand was on the Ark in ways we cannot begin to imagine, and at just the right time God gently allowed the Ark to settle in just the right place. But that wasn’t the end. God didn’t just tell Noah to disembark, and then rub His hands together with pleasure at a job well done, and a cargo safely delivered. God didn’t just make promises to Noah and all mankind and illustrate His promises with rainbow colours in the sky. God remained with and close to Noah every moment of every day that Noah lived.
Which brings us nicely to another miracle: God’s love for every one of us. When God promised that He would never send another global flood He knew that in giving this promise He would have to make an unimaginable sacrifice and send His Son to earth, where He would experience life in a human body and suffer the cruellest of treatment before facing an agonising death. It is easy to forget that God is in everything. When we put Noah and the Ark aside and focus on God, we begin to understand how God agonises over each individual person He has created. But God doesn’t ask us most of us to do something big like building an Ark; He simply asks that we hit the deck with our knees. Perhaps that should be our picture of Noah. A man on his knees who enjoyed an intimate relationship with God.
Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honoured.
When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (Ephesians 3:12-19 NLT)