Sermon: Noah and the Ark of Faith – VBS in January

Liturgy: Genesis 6:9-22 & Hebrews 11:1-7 & 32-40

Date: January 16, 2022

Preacher: Lon Kuehn

            Noah’s Ark, these two words bring images to mind, probably dating back to our youngest days of youth. Whether a Sunday Schooler from earliest age, or somebody brought up as a “C and E” churchgoer (those that attend church only on Christmas and Easter), or someone that hasn’t stepped inside a church for many a year, if at all. Noah’s Ark is one of those stories that everyone knows just a little about and can recite some of the details.

Noah built an ark, he took two of every animal onto the ark, a great flood destroyed the earth, and only Noah, his family, and the animals survived. Oh, there’s something about a rainbow and this thing called a cubit, whatever that is.

Yes, its’s got the bases covered, but this wonderous story is all about Faith.

The Bible account of Genesis tells us the genealogy of a group of people that would eventually branch out to the Israelites. The root of this family tree is of course, God, who created Adam and Eve, and their generations follow. In this family line, Adam’s son was Seth, his son was Enos, next came Cainan, after him was Mahalaleel, his son was Jared, next came Enoch, his son was Methuselah (the oldest living human in the Bible that lived 969 years), his son was Lamech, who was the father of Noah. We have nine generations from Adam to Noah, but here we have some fun facts to wrap our heads around.

Someone may ask the question: How many years are there from Adam’s creation to the birth of Noah?

The answer to your question can be found in KJV Genesis chapter 5:

And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years and begat a son in his own image; and called his name Seth: And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos: And Enos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan: And Cainan lived seventy years, and begat Mahalaleel: And Mahalaleel lived sixty and five years, and begat Jared: And Jared lived an hundred sixty and two years, and he begat Enoch: And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech: And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son: And he called his name Noah,…

So, if you add all the years together: 130 + 105 + 90 + 70 + 65 + 162 + 65 + 187 + 182 = 1056 years from the creation of Adam to the birth of Noah.

As regarding Eve, the Scriptures do not give an age when she died.

But now things get interestingly weird!

So, Noah was born in year 1056 after the creation. Adam however lived to be 930 years old as found in Genesis 5:5 And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died. So, if you take the year of Noah’s birth 1056 and subtract the years of Adam’s life (remember he was created in year 0) then you get 1056 – 930 = 126. So, Noah was born 126 years after Adam died. In fact, Adam lived to see eight generations of his offspring born, down through Lamech, Noah’s father.

Let’s look at Methuselah that lived to 969 years of age. He was 187 when his son Lamech was born, 182 years later his grandson Noah was born, he was then 369 years old. The Bible tells us that God sent the Flood when Noah was 600 years old, which means it was the same year that Methuselah was 969. Methuselah’s name in Hebrew מְתוּשֶׁ֫לַח which some Bible scholars translate with the root word form “death” at the beginning of his name and the last part of his name being the root word for “set free.” The Greek form Μαθουσαλά literally means: “when he dies, there shall be an emission.” Methuselah, the only living ancestor of Noah, at the time of building the ark, was not included in the Bible record of those family members entering the ark at the beginning of the flood. I feel that Methuselah died just before the Flood. The name given to him by his father Enoch is considered a prophecy of the Flood, and his death signaled the beginning of God’s plan for the cleansing of the earth and the rebirth of his creation.

Now, let’s turn to the ark. The Bible doesn’t tell us how long it took for Noah and his sons to build the ark, but the timeline tells us that God told Noah that he, his wife, his three sons and their wives would go aboard the ark, so the sons would have to be old enough to have wives of their own, so a rough guess would be around 55-75 years to build the ark. Imagine the amount of heckling and jeering that Noah and his sons had to endure for 55-75 years! We get annoyed if our neighbors spend a week doing construction with all the sawing and hammering for seven days. Picture that for 55-75 years in your neighborhood!

Like the sermon title says, Noah and the Ark of Faith. Unbelievable faith for a 500+ year old man to build this on God’s instruction only.

We know from the Bible that the ark was 300 cubits, by 50 cubits, by 30 cubits, which translates to 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high. If you’ve been to the Ark Encounter in Williamston, Kentucky, you’ll get a firsthand look at just how big the ark was.

You board a bus in the middle of a huge parking lot, in the middle of nowhere, and take the journey out to the ark, when you pass through the hills, it begins to peek through the gaps, until you pull up and disembark, then catch your breath at the view.

This photo shows the ark from bow to stern, and to get the entire ship in frame, I was standing about a half mile away.

This next photo shows the bow of the ark over my head, about 100 yards behind me.

If you get a chance to visit the Ark Encounter, go!

            Genesis tells us that the ark was made of gopher wood, but the Bible is the only reference if this type of wood in Genesis 6:14. Gopher is the transliteration of the Hebrew word from this passage, but the exact type of wood is unknown. A question I’ll definitely ask when I get to heaven. I have a growing list of questions and eternity to learn the answers.

            The Hebrew word for ark is תֵּבָה which is a type of vessel. It is used 23 times in Genesis referring to the ark. It is also used in Exodus 2 to describe the basket used to transport Moses on the river. The same word to describe the ark that protected Noah from the flood, is used to describe the basket that protected Moses from Pharoah’s wrath.

How many animals were on the ark? Even without bacteria, fungi, plants, and sea creatures on the ark, lots of species remain to be accounted for. The key to is to understand the word used in Scripture, “kind.” The Hebrew word מִן (Min).

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. (Gen 6:19)

The Bible does not say God brought every individual or every species to Noah, but two of every kind, and not necessarily the adults of the species. God had already developed a plan to repopulate the world with not only the animals on board, but the eight humans as well. He would keep them healthy, well fed, and alive throughout the Flood.

How would there be enough food on board for every living thing? Do five loaves and two fish to feed the multitudes ring a bell? God would bless them and keep them safe through the Flood.

How long was Noah on the ark?

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. (Gen 7-11)

The day they entered the ark, it rained forty days, and forty nights. After the rain stopped, the water churned another 150 days. The water level slowly began to recede, until the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat. Noah sent out a raven, which only circled the ark and returned. He then sent a dove for three missions total. The first time, the dove returned with no results, the second time, it returned with an olive branch, showing that new growth had begun to sprout. The third and final time, it did not return having found rest outside the confines of the ark.

In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry. 14 In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth had dried out. 15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17 Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” 18 So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. 19 Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark.

Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives, and all the animals left the ark 365 days after the rain began to fall.

Why a rainbow? As a “sign” the rainbow is as a visible reminder of God’s invisible word of grace. “Stretched between heaven and earth, it is a bond of peace between both, and, spanning the horizon, it points to the all-embracing universality of the Divine mercy.” The sign of the heavenly bow is seen in the “clouds,” which is language commonly associated with the Lord’s majestic presence and self-revelation (theophany).Outside Genesis 9 “rainbow” is only mentioned once more in the Old Testament, where Ezekiel sees the radiant glory of God as the brightness of the rainbow (Ezekiel 1:28). Similarly, John’s vision of the “one seated on the throne” entailed a rainbow of emerald adorning the throne (Rev 4:3; cf. 10:1). So, the appearance of the rainbow, while principally a reminder to God of his promises (v. 15), it is also a testimony to the presence of the Lord, who has revealed himself through both destruction and preservation of all that has life on the earth.[1]

Remember, all of this Noah did solely on his faith in God. God provided Noah with all of these instructions, which all come down to two simple words that God was telling Noah, “Trust Me.” Noah was to rely on his faith in God to protect him and his family from the cataclysmic destruction of all living land creatures, both human and animal, on the earth. That is pure faith and trust. We will see that demonstrated with Abraham and his son Isaac on another Sunday.

Our second reading today is from the Epistle to the Hebrews, a letter calling Christians to be faithful to Christ in the midst of persecution. The author focuses on the sufficiency of Jesus Christ to sustain the believer. Church tradition lists Paul as the author of the letter to the Hebrews, and for over 1500 years, that was never questioned, but Bible scholars note glaring differences in this letter from Paul’s confirmed writings in style, content, and source material references, so Hebrews is credited to an unknown author. Yet, another heavenly question to ask when I get there.

Today’s passage begins:  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Heb 11:1). This sentence has been debated by commentators and translators. Should it be taken as a definition of faith? Some think that it is not a formal definition of faith. Others think that it should be viewed as a rhetorical definition of faith. The predominant view of faith in Hebrews 11 is that the word connotes trust in God and reliance on him in the sense of fidelity and firmness.

The letter continues: By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and “he was not found, because God had taken him.” For it was attested before he was taken away that “he had pleased God.” And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith.

By doing everything precisely as God commanded him, Noah condemned humanity to destruction by the Flood. Compare this obedience to Abraham in Genesis 18, when he pleads to spare Sodom.

So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.

 2 Pet 2:5 also tells us that Noah is called a “preacher of righteousness,” which further explains the phrase “he condemned humanity.” Noah is an “heir,” which recalls Heb 1:2, where Christ is the heir of all things; Heb 1:14, where believers “inherit salvation”; and Heb 6:12, 17; 9:15. What Noah inherited was righteousness, a righteousness obtained by means of faith.

The last part of today’s second reading is kind of a summary conclusion to wrap up this part of the letter. The writer realizes that it is out of the question to speak of further individual acts of faith, and he therefore contents himself with giving a kind of inventory of different exploits. He first gives a list of names which are assumed to be so well known that there is no need to mention their doings.

The names mentioned cover three historical time periods: the Judges, early Monarchy (David and Samuel) and the prophets. Gideon’s story is told in Judges 6:33–8:21. The remarkable reduction of his fighting force from 32000 to 300 men and their subsequent victory is one of the Old Testament’s supreme examples of faith. Barak was the military commander of the army of Israel who led them to a great victory over Sisera, the Canaanite commander (Judges 4:4–5:31). Samson’s sordid but intriguing story of victory over the Philistines is found in Judges13:1–16:31. Jephthah (Judge 10:6–11:32) won a great victory over the Ammonites. King David’s exploits are chronicled in 1 Samuel 15–2 Samuel 24. Samuel was, of course, the last of the judges and the first of the prophets. The space devoted to the story of Samuel and David in the Old Testament is a measure of their greater significance in Israel’s history. The special mention of them here may be because Samuel serves as the link between the judges and the monarchy, while David is the most outstanding representative of the latter. The mention of “prophets” is a general reference taking the history down through Malachi, the end of the Old Testament.[2]

“Faith” is our word today. Like WWJD? What Would Jesus Do? Faith can be viewed as an acronym too.

Forsaking All I Trust Him

Forwarding All Issues to Heaven

Full Assurance in Trusting Him

For Anything Impossible Trust Him

For Answers I Trust Him

Fabulous Adventures in Trusting Him

Fear Ain’t in This House!

And a longer one: Fallen Humankind, Adopted by God, Intentional Atonement, Transformed by the Holy Spirit, and Held by God.

Faith, it’s really God telling each one of us at some point, “Trust Me.”

I’ve had several “Trust Me” moments in the past few years. When my I was downsized at my previous job, God said, “Trust Me,” so I put my faith in him, and May of this year is my five-year anniversary with GFS. When God called me to the ministry, I wondered “How am I going to begin my master’s degree in my 50’s? I completed my undergrad studies 33 years ago.” God said, “Trust Me.” I put my faith in him, and I’ve just begun my third year of seminary carrying a Summa Cum Laude cumulative GPA of 3.932 after a 33-year break from school. When working a 50-hour management work week, and fulltime seminary began to wear me down mentally and physically, God said, “Trust Me.” It meant about a one-third cut in my salary, but I put my faith in him, and I’ve been able to adapt my finances to cover my expenses and free up valuable time to concentrate on my studies, which serve and glorify God.

When God says, “Trust Me,” seek his guidance in prayer, and put your faith in him. You may not have to build an ark when you’re 500 years old, but God has plans for each one of us. When God says to you, “Trust Me,” will you have the faith to follow his path he created especially for you?

“Trust Me” in Faith.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

[1] K. A. Mathews, Genesis 1-11:26, vol. 1A, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996), 409.

[2] David L. Allen, Hebrews, The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2010), 564.


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