When Noah built his ark, he must have had a lot of critics, skeptics, and scoffers. When they asked Noah why he was building that giant boat, at least at first he likely told them that the God of creation had spoken to him, saying he was angry about the widespread moral corruption of human beings he had made and was going to do something drastic about it. Noah may even have quoted God, who told him, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth” (Genesis 6.13 NRSV). Noah probably told them that God was going to do it with a big flood. The people must have scoffed, “You’re crazy,” or “You’re insane,” or “Are you out of your mind?”
And why did God choose Noah to do this? We read, “Noah found favor in the sight of the LORD,” and “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God” (Gen 6.8-9).
We don’t know whether or not Noah told the people the details about God’s instructions to him about how to build the ark. But here it is: “Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and put the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks For my part, I am going to bring a flood of waters 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 come 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 kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. . . . Also take with you every kind of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them” (Gen 6.14-21). Then we read, “Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him” (v. 22).
People must have frequented the outdoor spectacle just to get a few laughs and joke around. Noah must have been the laughingstock of the region. It must have gone on for several years. People lived a long time back then. We read, “Noah was six hundred years old when the flood waters came on the earth. And Noah with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood” (Gen 7.6-7).
We don’t know how long it took Noah to build the ark. It must have taken him a long time to build a 450-foot boat with the assistance of only his three sons and work tools such as hand saws and maybe some hammers and nails. Such a magnificent enterprise shows what great faith Noah had in God and his word.
Then we read, “all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and windows of the heavens were opened. The rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights. . . . the ark floated on the face of the waters. The waters swelled so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. . . . And all flesh died that moved on the earth, . . . everything on dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. . . . Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark. And the waters swelled on the earth for one hundred fifty days” (Gen 7.11-12, 18-24). People like to argue about whether the flood covered the entire earth, but I won’t get into that here.
What I will get into is that Noah’s flood reminds me of these anti- and non-vaxxers who refuse to get the vaccine for this COVID-19 pandemic that has now killed nearly 5 million people worldwide, with 664,000 of them being U.S. citizens. Despite our heralded health care system, due largely to our wealth, the U.S. still has about the highest rate of COVID deaths in the world per capita of population. And why is that. It is mostly since we have a very high rate of people who refuse to get the vaccination.
Only 54.5% of our population have been fully vaccinated for COVID to date. This is despite the fact that for several months the vaccination has been free and easy to get. Why are so many Americans refusing to get the shot? There are many reasons. Some are worried about side effects. Some think they are so healthy and in good shape that they don’t need to get it. Many have searched the internet and become misinformed with conspiracy theories or whatever. But most have foolishly turned this health issue into a political issue, in which Republicans or just ex-President Donald Trump supporters dismiss or criticize the whole endeavor since Trump largely did that early in the pandemic while he was president. And to have most of these reasons for not getting the vaccination(s), you have to argue with the health authorities or just dismiss them as untrustworthy.
Indeed, hundreds of thousands of U.S. health professionals have been telling us Americans for months and months to get vaccinated to protect ourselves from this very deadly pandemic. But they pay no attention to them, not trusting what they say.
I think that is like in the days of Noah. Jesus spoke about it, comparing it to his yet future second coming in his final sermon shortly before his crucifixion. Called his Olivet Discourse, he said (calling himself the Son of Man), “For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they know nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. . . . Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour” (Matthew 24.37-39, 44).
COVID-19 has come upon thousands and thousands of Americans who refused to get the vaccination for it and therefore they have died. So many have who previously dismissed the vaccine have been telling their relatives and friends in their last, dying breath to “get the shots.” They were not “ready” for it, just as Jesus said were all the people who drowned in Noah’s day and he admonished about his future return. Thus, the calamity came upon all of them at an unexpected hour. Just as people dismissed Noah, and perhaps his warning about the imminent flood, so these anti- and non-vaxxers have ignored the many warnings of our medical scientists and other health authorities about this crisis. Besides ignorance and perhaps a lack of education, I think there is a stubbornness, and maybe arrogance, in lot of these people who refuse to hear the truth about these vaccinations and thereby be saved from this deadly pandemic, just like it must have been in the days of Noah when the flood came and took them all away.