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Author:Rev. Steven Swets
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Congregation:Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church
 Abbotsford, BC
Title:Noah: Building the Ark
Text:Genesis 6:13-22 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God's Providence

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)


Led by: Rev. S. Swets


                                    Pre-service singing # 452 & # 260      

Silent Prayer

Call to Worship
*Invocation: Minister –
Congregation, from where does our

                                help come?

    Congregation – Our help is in the name of the Lord

the maker of the heavens and the earth.

# 304

The Law
Song # 291

Prayer of Confession 
Assurance of Pardon

*Song # 248

Prayer for Illumination
Scripture Reading:  Genesis 6:13-22

Scripture Text: Genesis 6:13-22

Noah: Building the Ark  

  1. Building
  2. Covenanting
  3. Filling

Prayer of Thanksgiving

*Song # 441:1, 5

Reading of the Form for Lord’s Supper

*Song # 420:1, 4, 5

Celebration of the Lord’s Supper


*Song # 493

*Benediction- followed by a three-fold Amen

*Please stand if you are able.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Steven Swets, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

(The reader is permitted to change local illustrations without letting me know. This might be wise when the size of the ark is discussed and I measured the sanctuary here in Abbotsford.)

Scripture Reading and Text: Genesis 6:13-22

Beloved Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,

            There is a man named Johan Huibers who lives in the Netherlands. He is a Christian and He has built a full scale version of Noah’s ark. This is a tourist attraction. As a believer, Mr. Huibers desires people to see the ark and then start asking questions about God and seek their answers in the Bible. It really is quite amazing. Last year I read that they had planned to build one near the Creation Museum in Kentucky.

            Part of the response that fascinated me was the response from the Atheists. The internet is filled with hatred toward this man’s project as continuing a myth or legend and noting the impossibility of fitting two of every kind of animal and bug on that ship. The irony of the situation, is this is likely how people would have reacted in Noah’s day. Certainly his unbelieving neighbours saw him building a 450 foot long ship. It is often argued that at that point in world history, it had never yet rained and the flood is the first instance of rain. This would have made Noah’s building project even more laughable to the wicked. But, the day is near approaching where there will be no more laughing, then and now. God has pronounced judgement on the earth and that is what is taking place. What we have in our text this morning, is a monologue by the Lord to Noah. He doesn’t say anything. God tells Noah to build an ark, a floating house, to save His family and the animals from the upcoming flood. Our theme is Our Lord commands Noah to build a means to preserve His church amidst judgment. 

  1. Building
  2. Covenanting
  3. Filling

I. Building

            Our text begins with God reiterating to Noah what He has already said back in verse 3 and verse 7, the earth is filled with wickedness and with violence and it will be destroyed. Therefore God tells Noah to build and ark of gopherwood. We are not sure what gopherwood is. Even the Jews of the first century for instance were not agreed on what it was. Some have argued it was cypress wood, some argue for a type of pine, etc., but either way, certainly a wood abundant in the region Noah lived.

            The Lord told him to build and ark. There is only one other time in the Old Testament that this word is used. This is the same word used in Exodus 2 to describe the basket made that held Moses when He was discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter. Aalders describes this term ark as an Egyptian words which, “refers to a specific kind of vessel. It was a ship that was square cornered and chest-like in shape. It was primarily used for transporting grain.” We might think of the broad shape as being similar to one of these barges that goes down the Fraser River carrying gravel or some other resource. Once it was built, it would have to be water-proofed by covering it with pitch.

            So, we have here two great men in scripture who will be saved by an ark, Noah and Moses. I don’t think the parallels are accidental. There are other words that could have been used. (This is not the word for Ark of the Covenant, btw). It would be through these specially crafted vessels that would preserve the life of the individual, but also secure the future of the church. Noah and Moses would be pivotal in the development of Israel as a nation, but even more importantly, of preserving that line of the seed of the women promised in 3:15.

            So, what did this floating, rectangular sea-worthy vessel look like? It was big...really big. Read verses 15-16. A cubit is about 18 inches or the length from a man’s elbow to his fingertips. Therefore, the ark was 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. This was a huge ship containing one and a half million cubit feet of space. An ark of this size would have been very seaworthy, of course, assuming Noah spread the animal weight out properly. This likely is part of the reason God told Noah to build rooms (or literally nests) in the ark back in verse 14. To put this in perspective, I measured our sanctuary this week. The length of Noah’s ark is equivalent to the front to the back of church 6 times. The width is from side to side 2 times, and the height is from our floor to ceiling three times.  

            We are told more about the ark. Verse 16 is a pretty heavily debated verse in the commentaries and writing because a couple of the Hebrews words are obscure. For instance, in our translation, it says you shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above. Can you picture what that means? You likely have a pre-conceived notion because of artists renderings of what the ark looked like. But, that word window, is probably referring to a roof with a skylight. I was in a new house a couple years ago and they had a new technology, in the upstairs hallway, there was a special skylight that prismed out the light thereby making much more effective. Well, that is actually not a new technology, but is thousands of years old. We cannot be exactly sure what this looked like, but it was likely a roof with crystal or something to let in light while keeping water out. The roof also, was likely slanted and not flat, as it would have been on most homes in that period.  

            Finally, we are told that this ark was to have three decks or stories. Though, the word deck is not in the original, it is likely an arrangement of levels in the ark. There is much speculation about how this ark would have been divided for living quarters for Noah’s family and whether they stored the food in the lowest deck and the waste trickled all the way to under the bottom floor, etc., but this is after all, just speculation.

            To, put it into perspective, many trees were felled in the building of this ark, much expense was put into it and certainly hard work. We are not sure how long it took to build, but it was quite the building project. God told Noah to build and Noah built just as God told him to do.

II. Covenanting

            After the instruction on how to build the ark, now in verse 17 God says for the first time how He is going to destroy the earth. The word used is floodwaters. It means devastation and destruction. What verse 17 makes clear is that the flood was not just a prolonged rainfall that just seemed to happen. Rather notice God say, “I Myself am brining...” There is nothing that happens outside of the sovereign providence of God and this flood and all other natural disasters are no different. Whether it is the devastating earthquake in Nepal or a powerful tsunami, God is behind it all, according to His own purposes.

            In verse 17 God reminds Noah that all that has breath He is going to destroy. Verse 18 begins with the word “but.” Thank God for that word. “But I will establish my covenant with you.” This is the first time in the Bible that word covenant is used, though this isn’t the first time the concept is present. Certainly God created Adam in covenant with Him. In Genesis 3:15, the first promise of the Messiah has the covenant in sight, but now with Noah, the term is used. In Chapter 9 this covenant will be explained in fuller detail, but just a couple of quick points about this verse.

            It is God who says He will establish the covenant. This becomes the pattern for all covenants in the Bible. Though there are two parts to a covenant, man is not an equal party with God. For a covenant to be a mutual agreement would be like a human making a covenant with an ant. The human can say, “I will not kill you”, but the ant is unable to carry out anything on his side of the covenant. God establishes the covenant and that is comforting, because if it was up to us, there would be no such thing as a covenant between God and man.

            Also, notice that right after this concept of covenant, the family of Noah is mentioned. God speaks to Noah only and the representative. His sons names are not mentioned (though we know it is Shem, Ham and Japheth...their wives names are unknown, no mention is made of Noah’s wife’s name)...from the large perspective, it is not all that important. The important thing is that since Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, His children are protected under the covenant with Noah.  

            The last sermon we heard on this chapter we noticed that Noah was a righteous man, he was just, perfect in His generations, and He walked with God. Those same things are true also of our Lord Jesus Christ and we saw that typology. Today, notice the parallel between the task God gives Noah and the work God give our Lord Jesus Christ.

            Noah was given an enormous, monumental task by God in asking him to build the ark and filling the ark with two of all kinds of animals. This would be a tremendous task with modern tools. Think about those days. Do you know what it would take to cut down a tree, drag that tree to a work area and make it into boards suitable to build an ark out of? Noah didn’t have a nail gun, He didn’t have a band saw mill to make planks of wood. Not only that, but as we will see in a moment, Noah was going to have to get all of the animals into the ark.  With the task God gave Noah to build the ark, Noah, the one who found God’s favor, was given the task of preserving from God’s judgement representatives from all of creation. To the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s beloved Son, was, in the words of AW Pink, “entrusted with the task of effecting the salvation of lost and ruined sinners.” In the high priestly prayer in John 17, Jesus has this in mind when He says to the Father, “I have finished the work which you have given me to do.” He is speaking as though our High Priest in glory. Noah does the task God gave Him. But, there is one who is greater than Noah.

            Also, we do not have any indication in the scriptures that Noah received any help from anyone. He may very well have had his sons helping him and maybe even some of his neighbours, but the text doesn’t say that. God’s silence is important here. Our text pictures Noah doing this work alone. We see something similar taking place in Leviticus 16:17 (read) When atonement was being made, the High Priest had to do it alone. Clearly, Noah is acting as the mediating priest between God and those who would be saved. But, so it was in our Lord Jesus Christ. I Peter 2:24 says, “...who Himself bore our sins in the His own body on the tree, that He having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.” Christ was mighty to accomplish this work, as Noah and the high priest had foreshadowed. As Noah, Christ worked alone as the redeemer. We come to the table to morning to feast upon Him, for through Jesus Christ we are saved through judgement.

            The strength Noah received to accomplish this task given to Him by the Lord comes in the phrase, “But I will establish my covenant with you.”

III. Filling

            The rest of the chapter deals with how Noah was going to fill the ark. God first tells Noah to bring His family in the ark. After all, they were most important. Contrary to what environmentalists say today, man is given dominion over creation. Trees are not equal to humans. Nevertheless, there will be 8 humans on the ark.

            Also, Noah will bring two of every sort of animal. The word used in our text is the Hebrew word “min” which means kind or species. However, there is a problem here. I searched online to find out how many species of animal there are and the answer was between 3-30 million. The largest family is bugs. There are over 350,000 kinds of beetles in the world. Now, certainly Noah couldn’t have kept all of those straight. That’s right, He didn’t...because 350,000 kinds of beetle did not come on the ark. The problem is that modern science has defined the word species or kind in a different way than the Bible. There are excellent articles on this subject at the Answers in Genesis website. But, just to be clear, when the Bible uses the word “kind” or “min” is can broadly be translated as those animals that can breed together. For instance, there are dozens of species of dogs. There are wolves, dingoes, coyotes, and collies. Each one of those is able to breed together. We do not have to think that Noah brought every “species” to use the modern scientific term onto the ark. From the kinds he brought, we have all the animals today. After the flood, animals spread out and developed into different varieties of a particular kinds. Dogs never become cats, because they are different kinds, but all dogs can trace their ancestry to two animals on the ark.  

            As we notice these last couple of verses in our text, notice first, that verse 20 says that two of every kind will come to Noah. What we should understand this to mean is that Noah is not going to have to go into the jungle and trap animals and bring them onto the ark. God was going to bring them to Him. How this was going to take place is a miracle to us...there might have been a particular means God used, but we do not know. What we do know is that God brought them to Noah. 

            Second, notice that God was giving Noah also the task to secure food. Some have argued that maybe the larger animals hibernated during the flood period while on the ark. There is no scriptural evidence of that, but we should understand Noah to have brought much food, including meat onto the ark.

            Thirdly, read verse 22. Very simple, yet very important. Just like Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac without questioning God, so Noah started cutting down trees to build an ark without questioning God. God was going to do something amazing, something never done before...if Noah would have calculated the scientific evidence for what God was going to do, Noah would have never started that ridiculous building project. But, as Hebrews 11 says, “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, move with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of His household.” Noah was moved with godly fear at the judgement of God.

            May the Lord work the same fear in our hearts as we stand as those condemnable before God, and yet, by faith, found sheltered under the divine protection from the flood waters. Judgement comes to all, but Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. May we secure that truth on the epitaph of our graves as we live our lives before a holy God. Amen.  

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Steven Swets, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2015, Rev. Steven Swets

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