For years I’ve thought about something relating to the story of The Great Flood and Noah’s Ark. Whether you accept this as history or myth, just consider what I’m going to present. I will go ahead and express that I hold to an historical interpretation of this story, although I’m not interested in debating it. I’m no expert on it. I simply believe it to be true, as did Jesus. So, please just grant the premise and consider something very grave…
Most of us have heard or read this story. We are familiar with the concept of what it says happened. God saw that humanity was wicked upon the earth and chose one man and his family to save while destroying everyone else. He also instructed that man to get a sufficient amount of each animal for the purpose of preserving its species. When we see this story in books or illustrated Bibles, we may see beautiful images of a ship on the water and perhaps even some animals looking out. In children’s Bible’s we see images of a smiling Noah along with all kinds of animals that seem happy and peaceful. Like this:
These images are terribly desensitizing in respect to what really happened according to the story. The Scripture tells us that humanity had gotten to such a wicked place that God saw no good in us. He sent a cataclysmic flood that wiped out all of mankind, save eight people, and the overwhelming majority of land dwelling animals. This is anything but a “sweet” story. It’s quite horrific. I’m not saying that God was wrong. I don’t mean that at all. In fact, the Scripture seems to indicate that He was heartbroken, so to speak, about what He was going to do.
Now…let’s get inside the story a bit…imagine you are Noah, or his wife, or one of his three sons, or one of their wives. Think about what was going on. You see the world around you spiraling downward. From Noah’s perspective, you’re “hearing a voice” or “getting a feeling” that tells you to build this massive ship to preserve your family and some animals. You would probably feel like you were losing your mind, but you go ahead with it anyway. When you are finished, and the animals and family are loaded, the storm gets worse and the door to the ark is closed and supernaturally sealed. This is a critical point in the story. You cannot let anyone else in. You’re not able. The ship is closed off. As the waters start to flood around the ark…imagine what you hear and think about. On the outside, you probably hear screams. You hear babies crying and desperate mothers trying to get you to save the children. You hear the pounding of fists on the sides of the ark. You hear the terrified screams and howls of animals as they panic. As the ship begins to come off of the ground, perhaps some were holding on to its sides…just doing whatever they could to survive. How long did they hold on? Did they get attacked by aquatic creatures? Did they scream until they no longer could? Outside…there is no hope…there is no peace…there is only death and a living hell. People and animals either had to endure the pain and horror of drowning or being eaten by sharks or some other sea creature. Inside…you feel guilty…because you couldn’t save anyone else…you couldn’t get to the mother with her baby or the old man that could barely walk. You couldn’t rescue your cousin or your father or grandfather. You can only sit inside and try to tune out what’s really happening out there…suffering the torment of grief over countless deaths and indescribable suffering. You can only endure your own private hell.
I don’t believe for a minute that Noah wasn’t heartbroken. I don’t think for a single second that he wouldn’t have tried to save as many people as he could. If he was a “righteous man” as the Bible refers to him, then he would have cared about his fellow man. I believe he did. In these types of situations, it’s about survival. It’s not about us-against-them.
I bring this up because I fear that we have lost sight of that reality. I fear that we lose compassion for others. One particular Christian celebrity (for lack of a better term) was commenting a while back on a catastrophe that happened to a third world nation. His thoughts were that they deserved what was happening because they had “made a deal with the devil.” I nearly broke my screen when I watched him say that. I wanted to choke him. That’s just the truth of it. In Ezekiel 18:23, God declares that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He would rather see them repent. How have we, as Bible believing Christians, become so very calloused in reference to our fellow man? I wonder how many of us would react if something terrible happened to a hostile Muslim nation. Would we be heartbroken from “inside the ark” that so many of our fellow men, women, and children were to fall prey to some horrific event? Or would we say, “They had it coming!”
In Noah’s Ark, no one else was allowed in…but I would bet everything I have that Noah would have allowed some in if he could’ve…and there were undoubtedly many that saw the sealed up ark as their only chance of hope…yet they had none.
How many people today are looking for hope? How many are banging on the sides of an ark that they don’t know how to enter? Jesus said He is the Way. The way to peace and hope is in and through Him…and as many as want to enter in may do so. As believers, we should never look at any human as someone deserving of death any more than we are. We should all realize that “there, but for the grace of God, go we all.” We should never be against anyone. We should never look to people as our enemies…even if that’s what they are doing.
Images taken from: https://www.wikiart.org/en/gustave-dore/the-dove-sent-forth-from-the-ark-1866, http://beginningingenesis.net/noah’s_ark.htm, and https://yeldaba.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/noahs-ark-the-best-darn-childrens-story-ever/, respectively.