God Directs Noah to Make an Ark - Page 2 (series: Lessons on Genesis)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

15 And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.

The question may be asked, “How could these primitive people make such a sophisticated vessel. My friend, these are not cavemen. Noah was a very intelligent man. You see the intelligence the human race has today came right through Noah, and he happened to be a very intelligent man, and I believe that though the people who lived at that time lacked morals, they did not lack intelligence.

Noah is not making an ocean liner with the capacity to withstand fifty-foot waves. What he is building is a place for life, animal life and man, to stay for a long period of time not to go through a storm, but just to wait out the Flood. For that reason, the ark might lack a great deal of that which you would find on modern day oceangoing vessels, and that would give it a great deal more room.

If a cubit is 18 inches, 300 cubits would mean that the ark was 450 feet long. Using the same conversion factor of one cubit equals 18 inches the width of the ark was 75 feet, and it was 45 feet high. That is a pretty big ship, but the interesting thing is the relative measurements. For instance, the New Mexico was one of our battleships during World War II; it measured 624 feet long, 106¼ feet wide, and with a mean draught of 29½ feet. By comparison the ark had practically the same ratio; so you did not have a ridiculous looking boat at all, but one that would compare favorably with the way they build ships today. A ship constructed to these dimensions would be very stable in the water: impossible to capsize.

16 A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.

“A window shalt thou make to the ark.” The window was not a little slit made in the side of the ark for ventilation and light. Have you ever stopped to think about the stench there might be inside with all those animals in there for that period of time? The window was a cubit high (18”) and went all the way around the top of the ark. The roof must have overlapped the window quite a bit. That is the way they ventilate a gymnasium today. I also noticed that at the Kansas State Fair that buildings in which the animals were housed had that window which goes all the way around at the top. Even with all the animals they had there, it was not an unpleasant place to be. People were setting in there eating there meals and also sleeping. It was not uncomfortable and the odor was not bad. I have heard it said that poor Noah had to stick his head out of this little window in order to live. That’s ridiculous. That’s man’s imagination, and not at all what the record says here.

“And the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof.” The ark only had one door, and that is important. Christ said, “I am the way” and “I am the door to the sheepfold,” and He is the door to the ark.

“With lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.” The ark had three decks (or floors), and then, as I see it, there was one on either the top or bottom which would make four decks. The decks were divided into compartments (v. 14), where the animals would be kept and where Noah and his family would live. Was there a door for each deck? I am of the opinion that the ark had only one door, and not one for each floor, but frankly, that is beside the point.

This vessel was designed for flotation not navigation. It was a huge wooden box that could keep its contents safe and dry. The volume of space in the ark was 1.4 million cubic feet. Dr. Henry Morris calculated that the ark was large enough to hold the contents of over 500 livestock railroad cars, providing space for 125,000 animals. Of course, many of the animals would be very small and not need much space, and when it came to the large animals, God probably sent Noah younger and smaller representatives. There was plenty of room in the vessel for food for both animals and humans (v. 21), and insects and creeping things would have no problem finding places to live on the ark.

17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.

“And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood.” God is bringing the judgment upon the earth for the enormous wickedness of its inhabitants—upon animal, bird, and man.

Trusting God’s covenant (v. 18).

18 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee.

This is the first use of the word “covenant” in the Bible. The word appears often in Scripture because the covenant concept is an important feature in God’s great plan of redemption. (God will explain His covenant with Noah after he leaves the ark; 8.20-9.17.)

God’s words in this passage are addressed specifically to Noah, but God also included Noah’s family in the covenant. Noah didn’t become a father until he was 500 years old (v. 5.32), and he entered the ark when he was 600 (v. 7.6); so his three sons were still young as far as pre-Flood ages were concerned. Ham was the youngest son (v. 9.24) and Japheth was the eldest (v. 10.21), and all three boys were married.

The fact that God had covenanted to care for Noah and his family gave them the peace and confidence they needed as they prepared the ark and then lived in it for over a year. God is faithful to keep his promises, and as God’s covenant people, the eight believers had nothing to fear.

Gathering the animals (vv. 19-22).

19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.
20 Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.

There are fewer than 18,000 species living on the earth today. This number may have been doubled to allow for now-extinct creatures. With two of each, a total of 72,000 creatures is reasonable according to the calculations of verses 15 and 16; the cubic space could hold 125,000 sheep, and since the average size of land animals is less than a sheep, perhaps less than sixty percent of the space was used. The very large animals were surely represented by young. There was ample room also for the one million species of insects, as well as food for a year for everyone (v. 21).

God not only wanted humans to be preserved from destruction but also every kind of creature that would be drowned by the waters of the Flood. But how was Noah to gather such a large number of animals, birds, and creeping things? God would cause these creatures to come to Noah (see also vs. 7.8, 15), and Noah would take them into the ark.

“Two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive.” Noah was not a Frank Buck who went out “to bring them back alive.” He was not a big game hunter. He didn’t have to hunt for these animals and then capture them—they came to him. This would include not only pairs of unclean animals that would be able to reproduce after the Flood, but also seven pairs of clean animals, some of whom would be used for sacrifices (vs. 8.20 and 9.3). Note, the difference between clean and unclean animals became a major point in the Levitical order (Lev. 11.2-23). Noah and his family not only learned about the faithfulness of God, but they also saw the sovereignty of God in action.

In His sovereign power, God brought the animals to Noah and his sons controlled them so that they did His bidding. However, this magnificent demonstration of God’s power didn’t touch the hearts of his neighbors, and they perished in the Flood. The birds, beasts, and creeping things knew their Creators voice and obeyed Him, but people made in the image of God refused to heed His call. Centuries later, God would say through His servant Isaiah, “The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner's manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand” (Isa. 1.3; NIV).

During all this important activity, Noah was serving the Lord and bearing witness to a sinful world. For 120 years (v. 6.3), God was long-suffering towards careless and rebellious sinners; but they ignored his message and lost their opportunity for salvation.

21 And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.
22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.

Here we have Noah doing something very practical. It took a lot of hay to feed these animals. Some people are going to say, “But some on those animals ate meat. They would eat each other.” I don’t think so. Up to the time of the Flood, apparently, both animals and man were not flesh-eating. They just did not eat flesh, there were no carnivorous animals. We are told of a day coming in the millennium when the lion and the lamb will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like thee ox—“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox” (Isa. 11.6, 7). That could certainly come to pass, since that was probably the original state of the animal world.

“Thus did Noah.” He did not delay, but began immediately to build the colossal structure; and in every step of construction he faithfully followed the divine instructions he had been given.

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