Thus did Noah - He prepared the ark; and during one hundred and twenty years preached righteousness to that sinful generation, 2 Peter 2:5. And this we are informed, 1 Peter 3:18, 1 Peter 3:19, etc., he did by the Spirit of Christ; for it was only through him that the doctrine of repentance could ever be successfully preached. The people in Noah's time are represented as shut up in prison - arrested and condemned by God's justice, but graciously allowed the space of one hundred and twenty years to repent in. This respite was an act of great mercy; and no doubt thousands who died in the interim availed themselves of it, and believed to the saving of their souls. But the great majority of the people did not, else the flood had never come.
- Section VI - The Deluge
- XXIII. The Ark
9. דור dôr “age, time from birth to death,” applied either to an individual or the whole contemporary race, running parallel with some leading individual. Hence, the “race” or “generation” living during that time.
14. תבה tēbâh “chest, ark.” It is used only of this vessel of Noah‘s construction, and of the little vessel in which Moses was put Exodus 2:3, Exodus 2:5. The root, according to Furst, means “to be hollow.” אבה 'ēbeh a cognate word, signifies “a reed;” κιβωτός kibōtos Septuagint. גפר goper α . λ ., perhaps “fir, cypress, resinous wood.” קן qēn “nest, room; related: prepare, rear up.”
16. צהר tsohar “shining, light;” not the same as the חלון chalôn Genesis 8:6, or the aperture through which Noah let out the raven.
18. ברית berı̂yt “covenant; related: cut, eat, choose, decide.”
The close of the preceding document introduces the opening topic of this one. The same rule applies to all that have gone before. The generations of the skies and the land Genesis 2:4 are introduced by the finishing of the skies and the land Genesis 2:1; the generations of man in the line of Sheth Genesis 5:1, by the birth of Sheth Genesis 4:25; and now the generations of Noah, by the notice that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. The narrative here also, as usual, reverts to a point of time before the stage of affairs described in the close of the preceding passage. Yet there is nothing here that seems to indicate a new author. The previous paragraph is historical, and closely connected with the end of the fourth chapter; and it suitably prepares for the proceedings of Noah, under the divine direction, on the eye of the deluge. We have now a recapitulation of the agent and the occasion, and then the divine commission and its execution.
Here are the man and the occasion.
The generations of Noah. - In the third document we had the generations of man; now we are limited to Noah, because he is himself at peace with God, and is now the head and representative of those who are in the same blessed relation. The narrative, therefore, for the first time, formally confines itself to the portion of the human family in communion with God, Noah is here characterized by two new and important epithets - “just” and “perfect.” It is to be remembered that he had already found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Adam was created good; but by disobedience he became guilty, and all his race, Noah among the rest, became involved in that guilt. To be just is to be right in point of law, and thereby entitled to all the blessings of the acquitted and justified. When applied to the guilty, this epithet implies pardon of sin among other benefits of grace. It also presupposes that spiritual change by which the soul returns from estrangement to reconciliation with God. Hence, Noah is not only just, but perfect. This attribute of character imports not only the turning from darkness to light, from error to truth, from wrong to right, but the stability of moral determination which arises from the struggle, the trial, the victory of good over evil, therein involved. The just is the right in law; the perfect is the tested in holiness. “In his ages;” among the men of his age. This phrase indicates the contrast between Noah and the men of his day. It is probable, moreover, that he was of pure descent, and in that respect also distinguished from his contemporaries who were the offspring of promiscuous intermarriage between the godly and the ungodly. “Noah walked with God,” like Henok. This is the native consequence of his victory over sin, and his acceptance with God. His sons are mentioned, as they are essentially connected with the following events.
And the land was corrupt. - In contrast with Noah, the rest of the race were corrupt - entirely depraved by sin. “It was filled with violence” - with the outward exhibition of inward carnality. “And God saw this.” It was patent to the eye of Heaven. This is the ground of the following commission.
The directions concerning the ark embrace the purpose to destroy the race of man Genesis 6:13, the plan and specification of the ark Genesis 6:14-16, the announcement of the deluge Genesis 6:17, the arrangements for the preservation of Noah and his family, and certain kinds of animals Genesis 6:18-21.
The end of all flesh. - The end may mean either the point to which it tends, or the extermination of the race. The latter is the simpler. All flesh is to be understood of the whole race, while yet it does not preclude the exception of Noah and his family. This teaches us to beware of applying an inflexible literality to such terms as all, when used in the sense of ordinary conversation. “Is come before me,” is in the contemplation of my mind as an event soon to be realized. “For the land is filled with violence.” The reason. “I will destroy them.” The resolve. There is retribution here, for the words “corrupt” and “destroy” are the same in the original.
The ark. - Reckoning the cubit at 1.8 feet, we find the length to be about 540, the breadth 90, and the height 54 feet. The construction of such a vessel implies great skill in carpentry. The lighting apparatus is not described so particularly that we can form any conception of it. It was probably in the roof. The roof may have been flat. “And to a cubit shalt thou finish it above.” The cubit is possibly the height of the parapet round the lighting and ventilating aperture. The opening occupied, it may be, a considerable portion of the roof, and was covered during the rain with an awning מכסה mı̂ksēh Genesis 8:13. If, however, it was in the sides of the ark, the cubit was merely its height. It was then finished with a strong railing, which went round the whole ark, and over which the covering, above mentioned, hung down on every side. The door was in the side, and the stories were three. In each were of course many “nests” or chambers, for animals and stores. It may be curious to a mechanical mind to frame the details of this structure from the general hints here given; but it could not serve any practical end. Only the animals necessary to man, or unusual to the region covered by the deluge, required to be included in the ark. It seems likely that wild animals in general were not included. It is obvious, therefore, that we cannot calculate the number of animals preserved in the ark, or compare the space they would require with its recorded dimensions. We may rest assured that there was accommodation for all that needed to be there.
The method of destruction is now specified. A water flood shall cover the land, in which all flesh shall perish. I, “behold,” I. This catastrophe is due to the interposition of the Creator. It does not come according to the ordinary laws of physics, but according to the higher law of ethics.
The covenant with Noah. Here is the first appearance of a covenant between God and man on the face of Scripture. A covenant is a solemn compact, tacit or express, between two parties, in which each is bound to perform his part. Hence, a covenant implies the moral faculty; and wherever the moral faculty exists, there must needs be a covenant. Consequently, between God and man there was of necessity a covenant from the very beginning, though the name do not appear. At first it was a covenant of works, in regard to man; but now that works have failed, it can only be a covenant of grace to the penitent sinner. “My covenant.” The word “my” points to its original establishment with Adam. My primeval covenant, which I am resolved not to abandon. “Will I establish.” Though Adam has failed, yet will I find means of maintaining my covenant of life with the seed of the woman. “With thee.” Though all flesh be to perish through breach of my covenant, yet will I uphold it with thee. “Go into the ark.” This is the means of safety. Some may say in their hearts, this is a clumsy way to save Noah. But if he is to be saved, there must be some way. And it is not a sign of wisdom to prescribe the way to the All-wise. Rather let us reflect that the erection of this ark was a daily warning to a wicked race, a deepening lesson of reliance on God to Noah and his household, and a most salutary occupation for the progenitors of the future race of mankind. “And thy sons, etc.” Noah‘s household share in the covenant.
And of all the living. - For the sake of Noah, the animal species also shall be preserved, “two of each, male and female.” They are to come in pairs for propagation. The fowl, the cattle, the creeping thing or smaller animals, are to come. From this it appears that the wild animals are not included among the inmates of the ark. (See Genesis 7:2-3, Genesis 7:8.) The word “all” is not to be pressed beyond the specification of the writer. As the deluge was universal only in respect to the human race, it was not necessary to include any animals but those that were near man, and within the range of the overwhelming waters. Fodder and other provisions for a year have to be laid in.
The obedience of Noah and the accomplishment of his task are here recorded. The building of so enormous a fabric must have occupied many years.
After Noah had done all in his power to make every part of the work correct, it was impossible that it could of itself withstand the violence of the storm which God in His fierce anger was to bring upon the earth. The work of completing the building was a slow process. Every piece of timber was closely fitted, and every seam covered with pitch. All that men could do was done to make the work perfect; yet, after all, God alone could preserve the building upon the angry, heaving billows, by His miraculous power. SR 64.1
A multitude at first apparently received the warning of Noah, yet did not fully turn to God with true repentance. There was some time given them before the Flood was to come, in which they were to be placed upon probation—to be proved and tried. They failed to endure the trial. The prevailing degeneracy overcame them, and they finally joined others who were corrupt in deriding and scoffing at faithful Noah. They would not leave off their sins but continued in polygamy and in the indulgence of their corrupt passions. SR 64.2
The period of their probation was drawing near its close. The unbelieving, scoffing inhabitants of the world were to have a special sign of God's divine power. Noah had faithfully followed the instructions God had given to him. The ark was finished exactly as God had directed. He had laid in store immense quantities of food for man and beast. And after this was accomplished, God commanded the faithful Noah, “Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before Me.” SR 64.3Read in context »
The period of their probation was drawing near its close. The unbelieving, scoffing inhabitants of the world were to have a special sign of God's divine power. Noah had faithfully followed the instructions God had given to him. The ark was finished exactly as God had directed. He had laid in store immense quantities of food for man and beast. And after this was accomplished, God commanded the faithful Noah, “Come thou, and all thy house, into the ark, for thee have I seen righteous before me.” Angels were sent to collect from the forest and field the beasts which God had created. Angels went before these animals and they followed, two and two, male and female, and clean beasts by sevens. These beasts, from the most ferocious, down to the most gentle and harmless, peacefully and solemnly marched into the ark. The sky seemed clouded with birds of every description. They came flying to the ark, two and two, male and female, and the clean birds by sevens. The world looked on with wonder—some with fear, but they had become so hardened by rebellion that this most signal manifestation of God's power had but a momentary influence upon them. For seven days these animals were coming into the ark, and Noah was arranging them in the places prepared for them. 3SG 67.1Read in context »
As time passed on, with no apparent change in nature, men whose hearts had at times trembled with fear, began to be reassured. They reasoned, as many reason now, that nature is above the God of nature, and that her laws are so firmly established that God Himself could not change them. Reasoning that if the message of Noah were correct, nature would be turned out of her course, they made that message, in the minds of the world, a delusion—a grand deception. They manifested their contempt for the warning of God by doing just as they had done before the warning was given. They continued their festivities and their gluttonous feasts; they ate and drank, planted and builded, laying their plans in reference to advantages they hoped to gain in the future; and they went to greater lengths in wickedness, and in defiant disregard of God's requirements, to testify that they had no fear of the Infinite One. They asserted that if there were any truth in what Noah had said, the men of renown—the wise, the prudent, the great men—would understand the matter. PP 97.1
Had the antediluvians believed the warning, and repented of their evil deeds, the Lord would have turned aside His wrath, as he afterward did from Nineveh. But by their obstinate resistance to the reproofs of conscience and the warnings of God's prophet, that generation filled up the measure of their iniquity, and became ripe for destruction. PP 97.2
The period of their probation was about to expire. Noah had faithfully followed the instructions which he had received from God. The ark was finished in every part as the Lord had directed, and was stored with food for man and beast. And now the servant of God made his last solemn appeal to the people. With an agony of desire that words cannot express, he entreated them to seek a refuge while it might be found. Again they rejected his words, and raised their voices in jest and scoffing. Suddenly a silence fell upon the mocking throng. Beasts of every description, the fiercest as well as the most gentle, were seen coming from mountain and forest and quietly making their way toward the ark. A noise as of a rushing wind was heard, and lo, birds were flocking from all directions, their numbers darkening the heavens, and in perfect order they passed to the ark. Animals obeyed the command of God, while men were disobedient. Guided by holy angels, they “went in two and two unto Noah into the ark,” and the clean beasts by sevens. The world looked on in wonder, some in fear. Philosophers were called upon to account for the singular occurrence, but in vain. It was a mystery which they could not fathom. But men had become so hardened by their persistent rejection of light that even this scene produced but a momentary impression. As the doomed race beheld the sun shining in its glory, and the earth clad in almost Eden beauty, they banished their rising fears by boisterous merriment, and by their deeds of violence they seemed to invite upon themselves the visitation of the already awakened wrath of God. PP 97.3Read in context »