Here are 5 lessons that I learned from the account of Noah in the Book of Genesis.
Sealing the Ark and the Atonement
When Noah built the ark, he had to make it waterproof of course and what did he use? He used a special tar-like substance that is called pitch. This pitch was a very strong water repellant. God instructed Noah to “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch” (Gen 6:14). The interesting thing about the word used for pitch is that the Hebrew for pitch is “kopher” and it means “price of a life, ransom,” and “a covering.” This was a symbolic picture of the atonement provided by Jesus paying with His own life to save those who would believe in Him. Just as Noah and his family had to voluntarily enter the ark, those who trust in Christ must come to Him and believe. Noah and his family were literally saved from the flood waters of God’s judgment by this pitch (atonement) just as believers today must place themselves under the atoning blood of Christ to escape God’s wrath. The family had to be in the ark in order to be saved and those who are “in Christ” will also be likewise saved (2 Cor 5:17).
God Seals the Door
When Noah and his family entered the ark, there was a problem because apparently there was no way to close it since it opened outwardly so Noah and his family entered into the ark and in Genesis 7:16b it says “And the LORD shut him in.” The word for closed or as most translations say “shut” is the Hebrew word “cagar” and means “to close” or “to be closely joined” so the thought comes to mind that salvation is fully a work of God and a free gift done completely by God (Eph 2:8-9). We did nothing to save ourselves any more than Noah could shut the door of the ark. God’s hand was involved in both circumstances. God is the one who calls (Eph 1), draws (John 6:44), and adds to the church (Acts 2:47). The only thing we contribute is that we must repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15).
The Floods of Judgment
The sea has long been symbolic of death and judgment to the Jewish people who wrote the Bible. The drowning rains came down from heaven during the great flood of Noah’s day just as God will rain down His judgment from heaven on all who refuse to believe. Jesus likened the days just prior to His coming as the days of Noah (Matt 24:37). For one thing, no one expected a diluvial flood coming down out of the heavens and today few people expect the coming judgment of God in Christ coming down from heaven. Just as then people will scoff at the idea of the Son of God coming by saying “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Pet 3:4). Even now God’s wrath is “being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly” (2 Pet 3:7) and “the day of the Lord will come like a thief” (2 Pet 3:10) when hardly anyone is expecting it. Christians are the few that know of this coming wrath of God.
The Patience of God and Faithfulness of Noah
God is so much more patient than we can even imagine. Noah surely gave a warning to those who were wicked on the earth even if it was because he was known to be a righteous man. They had plenty of time to listen to Noah because of the time span that it must have taken to build the ark but apparently no one had believed him. We also must note the faithfulness of Noah during this process. Where the ark was built was a semi-arid place and the last thing that anybody would have expected was a flood that covered the earth and drowned everyone, save Noah and his family. Peter writes “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet 3:9).
The Gopher Wood
The word in Hebrew is the same that is transliterated and appears as the same word as gopher in most translations. We don’t know exactly what type of wood it was; some speculate it was cypress. The word “gopher word” is translated from the Septuagint as “squared timber” so that may be all that the Bible is telling us. It’s not so much the type of wood that was used but the fact that wood was used because the wood is symbolic of the wooden cross. The wood carried Noah and his family safely above the waters, which again, symbolizes the judgment of God. No one believed Noah’s warnings and today God speaks to unbelievers through His word and gives a warning that whoever doesn’t believe in the Son of God has the wrath of God abiding on him or her (John 3:36b). An interesting parallel is that the cross was cut into squared pieces and the two pieces were placed over one another to make a cross shape.
If you are not yet born again let me warn you that there is another flood coming. It is the flood of God’s judgment and someday (soon?) the floodgates will come crashing down on unrepentant sinners. Today God’s wrath is being held up by the dam of His patience and mercy but someday it will burst open and will drown all in its wake so today is a good day to step into the ark of God and place that pitch over it; the ark being the wooden cross and the pitch being the atonement. There will come a day when it will be too late (2 Cor 6:2).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon.