A Lesson from Noah
by Art Driedger III
Many today scoff at the story of Noah’s ark doubting the fact there was ever a flood that covered the whole earth. Well I must admit that it is an amazing story because the flood was a catastrophic event. Of course, for practical purposes the only evidence for the flood is found in the Bible. In fact, this is why there is much disbelief in the flood because many simply do not accept the Bible as reliable evidence. However as we will see below there are unexpected occurrences in nature whose laws are not understood. Therefore, there is no reason to not believe in the flood (even though this event was miraculous).
Because we live in an age of science and technology where man has made great progress in understanding the laws of nature, many have come up with the belief of “thinking they have to understand some event before believing that it exists”. Because of this reasoning, many will not believe in the occurrence of an event unless they can either see the event itself, or at least see some phenomena resulting from the event.
However, this idea of having to understand an event never appears to have affected Noah because he just went right ahead and built an ark according to God’s specifications. It always amazed me to see Noah’s faith or trust in God’s instruction and his patience for building a structure that was 450 feet long 75 feet wide and 45 feet high.
Let us read a portion of Moses account of Noah in Genesis 6 then see what Jesus as well as other Bible writers said about Noah. The whole account is from Genesis 6:1 to Genesis 9:19; however, I will only quote a portion of it here concerning the construction of the ark.
"Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks. And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark--you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive. And you shall take for yourself of all food that is eaten, and you shall gather it to yourself; and it shall be food for you and for them. Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did" (Genesis 6:14-22).
Hebrews 11 commemorates quite a few men that were faithful to God and Noah is included among that number. “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Hebrews 11:7). This pretty well summarizes the lesson in this paper. As much trouble as the ark was to construct, Noah went ahead with the project even though no one had ever seen a flood before that would cover the whole earth. He had enough faith or trust in God that he proceeded to build the ark regardless of what others thought of him.
In Matthew 24 Jesus is speaking to the Jewish religious leaders about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. but after about verse 36 it appears He is speaking about the end of the world. At the time of this writing no one had yet seen either one of these events and Jesus was simply warning them of events that had not yet been seen, just like God warned Noah in his day of a world-wide flood. "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:36-40). Just like Jesus noted in Noah’s day that even though many were occupied with daily activities of eating, drinking and being married they were oblivious to the flood. Jesus applies this fact of history to the Jewish leaders to point out the destruction of Jerusalem (prior to verse 36) as well as the end of the world (discussed after verse 36) will occur someday. We can make application today in that many are busy with worldly pursuits yet they should be aware of the judgment day. Many today who scoff at Noah’s ark should take note that Jesus not only recognized the validity of Noah’s ark, but used the account to teach that there will be another event no man has ever witnessed, and that is the end of the world.
The next two verses come from the books of first and second Peter and again Noah is mentioned in connection with an event that no man has yet seen, and that is the final destruction of the world (II Peter 3:10). Without taking time to understand all of the details of these verses, one can still see that Peter is warning his readers that they should prepare to meet God on judgment day.
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us--baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 3:18-21). This verse shows the importance of baptism in that Noah and his family were saved from the flood by being obedient to God in building the ark, likewise we can be saved by being baptized.
“For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly” (2 Peter 2:4-5).
Obviously Noah not only believed in God but he believed that God was capable of producing something that no one had witnessed before, namely a world-wide flood. Noah was asked by God to do something before he saw the way it would turn out (Hebrews 11:7).
Jesus who had a part in creating the world, also believed in the flood as well as the inspired apostle Peter. In fact, Jesus uses the flood to illustrate to the Jews (Matthew 24) that Jerusalem will be destroyed as well as the earth someday. So one might ask that if Jesus believed in Noah then why many would doubt the account of Noah.
I work for a company that does research with lithium batteries. We are always trying to make improvements on the various components of a battery such as the anode, cathode, and electrolyte, in order to improve various parameters such as capacity, shelf-life, and increased current.
My boss is always considering new ideas and one day he told me to take powdered copper and powdered tin and mix them together, put them into a ball mill to grind them to a fine powder. The action of the ball mill would be to combine these metals to make an alloy (an alloy is a mixture of 2 or more metals). Then using this alloy he wanted me to build an anode and test it.
My first response was this would not work, in fact I envisioned the metals agglomerating together in one big mass which would not work at all as an anode1. However, I also realized I did not know anything about the metallurgy of these metals so I proceeded anyway to fulfill my bosses command.
I had to fill in some details i.e. decide on the right proportions of tin and copper to use, the weight of the mixture that would go into the ball mill, how long to grind it, etc. But after performing the necessary lab work about a week later I had a finished anode.
After testing it I found it worked reasonably well especially considering it was my first trial. Further experimentation for the next few months yielded results that pleased the customer enough that they gave us more money for further research for the next two years.
Notice that based on my own understanding of copper-tin alloys (which was really not much) I thought this would not work as a lithium battery anode. But just because I do not understand the natural laws for copper-tin alloys does not mean that they will not work. Do I understand all of the laws of chemistry? No, of course not, it is just like I routinely start my car and do not understand everything that happens under the hood yet the car still starts.
This illustration should lead us to some questions to consider. Just because I did not know anything about copper-tin alloys does that mean they do not work as anodes for lithium batteries? If we (man in general) has difficulty understanding alloys of only two metals then how could he possibly understand something as complex as the human body where there are hundreds of chemical compounds? There are plenty of humans on this earth where we can analyze compounds in the blood, flesh, or urine. (It is not like we are extinct and only have fossil remains to study). These are all physical things that can be analyzed in the laboratory. Yet after thousands of man-hours and billions of dollars of research can we still understand everything in the physical body? What about the spiritual qualities of man that cannot be readily analyzed in the laboratory such as love, lust, hate, pride, anger, etc? Since these qualities cannot be measured readily then it appears they would be even more difficult to study and even control.
Therefore, for man to understand these spiritual attributes then doesn’t he need an instruction manual from the manufacturer? In other words, he needs the Bible from God. This is why man has to listen to and submit to God’s word so that he can take advantage of the wisdom from God
God has given man various laws to live by on this earth for man’s benefit, if man follows these laws he is likely to have a better life. The problem is that man often thinks his way is better because he has difficulty seeing the immediate outcome of following God’s way. As we noted at the beginning if man does not understand how something works or sees the immediate outcome, he is not likely to follow that particular command.
Just like I had trouble believing my boss when he told me that grinding copper and tin powder together would give a battery anode, many of us have trouble seeing how following God’s commands would give us a more productive life. For example, there were only 8 on board the ark whereas many drowned because they did not believe God could produce a world-wide flood. Evidently, there was something different about Noah and his family in that they were willing to listen to God and be obedient to his will even though they did not see the immediate positive result of their obedience, at the time they simply knew that obedience was the right thing to do.
A Duke University study has determined that the old idea about venting our anger by punching walls etc. is not good, in fact, they found it only caused ones anger to increase. In contrast to venting anger, they found it better to repress the anger. This is essentially, what the Bible teaches in the passages below, however it is contrary to human nature. “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26) and “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
Notice the Ephesians passage tells us to not let the sun go down on your anger meaning that an argument should be settled before the end of the day so as to not let it fester for any longer. The passage in Proverbs gives advice on minimizing an argument.
In many marriage relationships, many couples believe love is only an emotion and they feel the only way they can love one another is by somehow expecting to “fall into love”, as if it is an uncontrolled emotion. However if we obey God’s commands to love our spouse then emotional feelings will result which is probably this “falling in love” that many seek after. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Notice that we are commanded to love which indicates love is not strictly an emotional thing. We are even told what love is and what love is not. Again indicating love is not strictly an emotion. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away” (I Corinthians 13:4-8).
Marriage versus Living Together
Human wisdom says that a man and a women should live together for a while before marriage so they can convince themselves they are right for each other. Yet a University of Wisconsin study shows that people living together have more problems later on when they finally do get married as compared to those who are living single lives prior to getting married.
“Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (II Timothy 2:22). This is just one verse out of many that teaches one to remain celibate. Only after marriage (I Corinthians 7:2-5) can a man and women have sex.
Disciplining a Child
Man says that a child should not be spanked because spanking would stifle his creativity and hurt his self-esteem. Human wisdom says that if we spank a child we do not love him yet the Bible teaches the opposite. In fact, according to Proverbs, it appears that if we neglected to discipline the child when he needed it, then we would not love the child but hate him. “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Proverbs 13:24).
In all of these cases man was walking by his own wisdom and not trusting in God’s wisdom. Again, man has trouble seeing the outcome when living according to God’s wisdom. This is why we need an external set of instructions namely the Bible. The human mind is simply too complex for man to understand how to live on his own and with other human beings successfully without guidance from God. Consider what God says about our ability to direct our own lives.
“O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Of course don’t be influenced by the so-called ‘’intellectuals” or “experts” in our society, apparently they lived in the first century also, since Paul had to deal with them. Evidently, many in the first century were not simply content with the simple plan God gave to man in order to be saved from his sins. It is because of their arrogance that they rejected God’s plan. I am not against a good education in anyway (I obtained a degree in analytical chemistry and continue to learn all of the time in performing research on lithium batteries) but I firmly believe – honesty and humility are essential for a good education – without these two qualities of honesty and humility, an education is useless. Below are some passages illustrating this point from The Living Bible Translation.
“I know very well how foolish it sounds to those who are lost, when they hear that Jesus died to save them. But we who are saved recognize this message as the very power of God. For God says, "I will destroy all human plans of salvation no matter how wise they seem to be, and ignore the best ideas of men, even the most brilliant of them.
So what about these wise men, these scholars, these brilliant debaters of this world's great affairs? God has made them all look foolish and shown their wisdom to be useless nonsense. For God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never find God through human brilliance, and then he stepped in and saved all those who believed his message, which the world calls foolish and silly. It seems foolish to the Jews because they want a sign from heaven as proof that what is preached is true; and it is foolish to the Gentiles because they believe only what agrees with their philosophy and seems wise to them. So when we preach about Christ dying to save them, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it's all nonsense. But God has opened the eyes of those called to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, to see that Christ is the mighty power of God to save them; Christ himself is the center of God's wise plan for their salvation. This so-called "foolish" plan of God is far wiser than the wisest plan of the wisest man, and God in his weakness-Christ dying on the cross-is far stronger than any man.
Notice among yourselves, dear brothers, that few of you who follow Christ have big names or power or wealth. Instead, God has deliberately chosen to use ideas the world considers foolish and of little worth in order to shame those people considered by the world as wise and great. He has chosen a plan despised by the world, counted as nothing at all, and used it to bring down to nothing those the world considers great, so that no one anywhere can ever brag in the presence of God.
For it is from God alone that you have your life through Christ Jesus. He showed us God's plan of salvation; he was the one who made us acceptable to God; he made us pure and holy and gave himself to purchase our salvation. As it says in the Scriptures, "If anyone is going to boast, let him boast only of what the Lord has done" (I Corinthians 1:18-31).
If you have doubts as to whether these verses hold true then just look at the lives of some of these “intellectuals” who make fun of those following this “2000 year old book”. Many times these same people have trouble with drugs, alcohol, sex, unruly children, poor marriages, poor relationships with coworkers, etc. All of these problems can be eliminated if we follow this “2000 year old book”.
There is quite a bit of evidence that the Bible is God’s word, i.e. through historical, scientific, and archeological evidence, however I really believe the greatest evidence of all is the fact that God is proven right when it comes to the best way for man to live his life as in the examples above. The fact is I have seen it in so many lives of Christians and that is when one applies the Bible principles to their lives, their lives become better.
Of course, someone may say they want to “try living various lifestyles till they find something that works well for them.” One who reasons in this manner should consider the following illustration. Consider how long it takes to perform the following experiments in order to come up with a final result.
Suppose a baker wants to decide which type of flavoring taste the best in a pound cake recipe. He bakes four different cakes and in each one he puts a different flavoring. After baking the four cakes, he takes them all home to his family. Each member of the family takes a slice from each cake and then votes on which one tastes the best. This experiment that includes baking the cakes, cleaning up afterwards, and taste testing, takes one day. If all of the cakes tasted bad then the baker could say that all he lost was one day as well as the ingredients required to make four cakes. Perhaps the only good that came out of the experiment was he knew what flavorings not to use.
A farmer is always trying to improve the quality of his corn as well as the number of bushels per acre. One spring he decides to plant five rows each of eight different varieties of corn. By the time he planted the corn in the spring and harvested it in the fall, seven months has elapsed. Therefore, it took him seven months to perform this experiment. If all of the varieties of corn failed then the farmer lost one growing season to his failed experiment as well as the cost of the seed and his labor. The only good that came out of the experiment was the farmer learned what varieties not to grow next year.
Two young parents decide to experiment with all of the modern methods available to raising their children. It takes 15-20 years to raise children and if they turn out to be bad, disrespectful children then the parents have at least learned how not to raise children. The only problem with this experiment however, is the consequences are too great, unlike the baker and the farmer who lost some materials and a relatively small amount of time, the parents lost their only chance in life to raise decent children. If the baker and the farmer could have each consulted a book as to which products sold the best, undoubtedly they would have done so since this is easier than going to the time and expense of experimenting. We have a book available to us from the manufacturer of human beings (God) namely the Bible.
A teenage boy and girl decide they just want to “experiment” with drugs and alcohol. They agree to not get hooked on them, yet how many young people get addicted to these chemicals, aside from the fact many suffer from accidents and physical or mental problems as a result of continued use. The consequences of experimenting are too great to risk a lifetime of trouble from these substances. We are much better off by taking the Bible advice of never using these chemicals in the first place.
Do we really want to experiment with things where we have a good chance of destroying either our own lives or the lives of someone else? Why not look to the Bible for an answer on how to live our lives instead of experimenting with something so complex that it takes a lifetime to get it right by trial and error. Why reinvent the wheel, God gave us the Bible 2000 years ago so that we can truly enjoy our life on earth serving Him.
If we have the same attitude that the majority had back in Noah’s day then what should we do about it?
Humble ourselves before God.
"At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:1-4). Since children are young and inexperienced, they need parental guidance. Since they are dependent on this guidance, they have the tendency to be trusting in the wisdom of their parents. Therefore, Jesus uses children as an illustration as to what our attitude should be toward God, i.e. one of respect and submission to His will.
Build our faith and trust in God.
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). We can see that faith comes from studying the Bible.
Look how the writer of Hebrews starts out his letter with his description of faith.
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). This describes Noah’s faith as well as that of others mentioned in Hebrews 11. Study the other Old Testament examples that are mentioned in Hebrews 11, a great example is Abraham in Genesis 22. Again, by studying these historical accounts, we can see how men were faithful to God in times past, and these should serve as examples for us today.
Be obedient to God’s will.
Notice the New Testament teaches us to be obedient. “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17). If it were not for Noah being obedient to God then he and his family would have also drowned.
It really did not make sense for Noah to build a ship as large as he did with no body of water in the area to launch it. However Noah realized it was more important to listen to God than to his own understanding, of course once it started raining he finally understood why the ark was important. This same logic applies to us today which is what is taught here: “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (II Corinthians 5:7). Walking by faith means to live according to the Bible since this is where faith comes from (Romans 10:17). Whereas walking by sight means to follow what we can see in this world in terms of human wisdom.
We have to learn to put way our pride and realize that God’s way is right and that we must trust that what he tells us to do will lead us to a better life here on earth as well as a home in heaven. We may not see the outcome in this life but someday we will see the final outcome. Remember Noah trusted in God even though he did not see the final outcome until it started raining and the flood waters started rising. Many in his day ignored God and as a result, they drowned in the flood. This is a lesson for us to simply trust in God and to trust in what His word says is accurate.
Author’s Personal Note
It is not my intention to discourage one from getting a good education. In fact, while growing up my parents always encouraged us children to learn as much as you can in life. As a result, I received a B. S. degree in chemistry and a Ph. D. in analytical chemistry. Currently I perform research on lithium batteries and I learn new things on the job all of the time.
A good education in itself is not the problem but instead it is our attitude toward having a good education that becomes the problem. The attitudes of dishonesty and pride (thinking of oneself more than he should – Romans 12:3) are detrimental to learning new things in life. These attitudes are what caused most people from being open to the possibility that there was going to be a flood in Noah’s day resulting in great loss of life. Likewise, many will be separated from God in the future if they maintain these attitudes and are not open to the possibility of a final judgment. It is not any wonder that God uses the flood as an illustration to teach us today that there will be a final judgment.
Therefore, for any education to be effective say in a research application, humility and honesty are probably the two most important attributes one can posses. Without these two attributes, a good education is useless. In essence, it is these two attributes that enables one to find truth, and that is the goal of any research, whether it be studying the Bible or studying chemistry.
1 Later on I did find that if you used 90% tin then agglomeration would occur, but at the lower concentrations of tin that I started with, the alloy remained a fine powder