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And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark
The ark completed; or, the termination of definite moral service
THE TERMINATION OF AS ARDUOUS TASK.
1. This termination would be a relief to his physical energies.
2. This termination would be a relief to his mental anxieties.
3. This termination would inspire a sad but holy pride within his heart. And so Christian service often reviews its work, its calm faith, its patient energy, and its palpable result, with sacred joy, but when it is associated with the judgments of heaven upon the ungodly, the joy merges into grief and prayer. The best moral workman cannot stand unmoved by his ark, when he contemplates the deluge soon to overtake the degenerate crowds around, whom he would fain persuade to participate in the refuge he has built.
II. THE INDICATION OF ABOUNDING MERCY (verse4).
1. This indication of mercy was unique. Its occasion was unique. Neither before or since has the world been threatened with a like calamity. And the compassion itself was alone in its beauty and meaning.
2. This indication of mercy was pathetic.
3. This indication of mercy was rejected. The people regarded not the completion of the ark, they heeded not the mercy which would have saved them at the eleventh hour.
III. THE SIGNAL FOR A WONDROUS PHENOMENON (Genesis 7:8-9).
IV. THE PROPHECY OF AN IMPORTANT FUTURE. LESSONS:
1. Let the good anticipate the time when all the fatigue and anxiety of moral service shall be at an end.
2. Let them contemplate the joy of successful service for God.
3. Let them enter into all the meaning and phenomena of Christian service. (J. S.Exell, M. A.)
God’s invitation to the families of the good
I. THAT THE FAMILIES OF THE GOOD ARE EXPOSED TO MORAL DANGER.
1. This danger is imminent.
2. It is alarming.
3. It should be fully recognized.
4. It should be provided against.
II. THAT THE FAMILIES OF THE GOOD ARE INVITED TO MORAL SAFETY.
1. They are invited to this safety after their own effort, in harmony with the Divine purpose concerning them.
2. The purpose concerning them was--
(1) Divine in authority;
(2) merciful in intention;
(3) sufficient to its design.
III. THAT THE FAMILIES OF THE GOOD SHOULD BE IMMEDIATE IN THEIR RESPONSE TO THE DIVINE REGARD FOR THEIR SAFETY. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
The house in the ark
I. AN EXHIBITION OF DIVINE CARE.
II. A MANIFESTATION OF PARENTAL LOVE.
III. THE IDEAL AND JOY OF DOMESTIC LIFE. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
The ark; a word to parents
I. THERE IS AN AWFUL PERIL HANGING OVER YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN.
1. Divinely threatened.
2. Generally disbelieved.
3. Absolutely certain.
II. THERE IS SALVATION PROVIDED FOR YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN.
1. Divinely constituted.
3. Popularly neglected.
III. THERE IS A SOLEMN OBLIGATION RESTING UPON YOU IN RELATION TO YOUR CHILDREN.
1. If you do not care for them, who do you expect will?
2. If you cannot induce them to come, who do you expect can? (Homilist.)
I. THE GLORY OF PURITY.
1. Uncontaminated in the midst of impurity.
2. Intrusted with the Divine intentions.
3. Employed in warning others of their danger.
4. Safe in the midst of dangers.
5. The true mark of distinction between man and man.
II. THE POWER OF EVIL.
1. Rapid in its increase.
2. Complete mastery over the heart.
3. Terrific in its results.
III. THE SAVING POWER OF GOD.
1. Employed wherever faith is found.
2. Employed in conjunction with man’s efforts.
3. Employed only in the ark. (Homilist.)
A whole family in heaven
I. GOD IN THE SCRIPTURES DEALS WITH FAMILIES BOTH IN SAVING AND DESTROYING.
II. SPECIAL OBLIGATION ON HEADS OF FAMILIES TO BRING THE HOUSEHOLD TO CHRIST.
III. UNSPEAKABLE JOY OF THE FAMILY REUNION AFTER THE STORMS AND SEPARATIONS OF EARTH. What greetings--memories--unalloyed fellowship--blissful employments. (The Homiletic Review.)
A family sermon
I. THE CALL.
1. It was a call from the Lord.
2. A personal call.
4. A call to personal action.
“Come thou.” Noah must come, and he must come to the ark too. For him there was only one way of salvation, any more than for anybody else. It was of no use his coming near it, but he must come into it. Come, make the Lord Jesus your refuge, your deliverance, and your habitation. Now it would have been of no use for Noah to have gone on making preparations for his dwelling in the ark: that he had done long enough. Neither would it have done for Noah to go round the ark to survey it again. No longer look at Christ externally, nor survey Him even with a grateful eye for what He has done for others, but come now and commit yourself to Him. There stands the door, and you have to go through it, and enter into the inner chambers, or you will find no safety. Neither would it have been of any use for Noah to go up to the ark and stand against the door and say, “I do not say that I am not going in, and I do not even say that I am not in already; I have got one foot in, but I am a moderate man, and like to be friendly with both sides. I am in and yet not in. If the door was shut I do not know but that it would cut me in halves; but, anyhow, I do not want to be altogether out, and I do not want to be quite in. I should like to stand where I could hurry in as soon as I saw the water coming up; but, still, while there is another opportunity of taking a walk on the dry land I may as well avail myself of it. There is no hurry about it, is there? You see, if a man keeps his finger on the latch of the door he can pop in as soon as ever he sees the first drop of rain descending, or the water coming up anywhere near him; but is there any reason for being so decided all at once? No, that would not do for Noah. God said to him, “Come into the ark,” and he went in at once. Noah must not hesitate, or linger, or halt, but in he must go: right in. Again, Noah must come into the ark never to go out again. “Come thou,” saith God, “into the ark.” He is not to make a visit, but he is to be shut in. As far as that world was concerned, Noah was to be in the ark as long as it lasted. When the new world came, then he walked out in joyful liberty. But you and I are in Christ, not to be there for a time, but to abide in Him forever and ever.
II. THE OBEDIENCE (Genesis 7:7).
3. Once for all. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
Safety in the ark
I. THERE IS A DELUGE OF WRATH COMING UPON SINNERS.
II. THERE IS AN ARK PROVIDED FOR PRESERVATION.
III. GOD GRACIOUSLY INVITES SINNERS TO COME INTO IT. (G. Burder.)
Noah and the ark
I. His INGRESS, or entrance into it.
II. His PROGRESS, or safe entertainment in it.
III. His EGRESS, or joyful departure out of it. (C. Ness.)
The eve of the flood
1. God gave special notice to Noah, saying, “Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous.” He who in well-doing commits himself into the hands of a faithful Creator, needs not fear being overtaken by surprise. What have we to fear, when He whom we serve hath the keys of hell and of death?
2. God gave him all his household with him. We are not informed whether any of Noah’s family at present followed his example: it is certain that all did not; yet all entered with him into the ark for his sake. This indeed was but a specimen of the mercy which was to be exercised towards his distant posterity on behalf of him, as we have seen in the former chapter. But it is of importance to observe, that though temporal blessings may be given to the ungodly children of a godly parent, yet without walking in his steps they will not be partakers with him in those which are spiritual and eternal.
3. It is an affecting thought, that there should be no more than Noah and his family to enter into the ark. Peter speaks of them as few; and few they were, considering the vast numbers that were left behind. Noah had long been a preacher of righteousness; and what--is there not one sinner brought to repentance by his preaching? It should seem not one: or if there were any, they were taken away from the evil to come. We are ready to think our ministry has but little success; but his, as far as appears, was without any: yet like Enoch, he pleased God.
4. The righteousness of Noah is repeated, as the reason of the difference put between him and the world. This does not imply that the favour shown to him is to be ascribed to his own merit; for whatever he was, he was by grace, and all his righteousness was rewardable only out of respect to Him in whom he believed; but being accepted for His sake, his works also were accepted and honoured. (A. Fuller.)
The closed ark
We can conceive an angel anxious for the rescue of the world, but unknowing of the exact time for the fulfilment of its doom, looking curiously down each morning of the seven days, and saying, as the open door presented itself first to his eager gaze, “Thank God, it is not yet shut”; and how, while the evening shadows are closing down around the ark, the door still stands inviting any to enter within who are willing, and is the last object of which he loses sight, he again exclaims, “Thank God, it is yet open.” But conceive his sorrow when the seventh day arrives, and when, as he looks, lo! the door is shutting! The ark has folded itself up, as it were, for its plunge, and the bystanders and the shore are being left behind; the day of grace is about to close. No! one other offer yet, one other cry, one other half-opening of the half-shut door, but in vain; and then the angel shrieks, and returns to heaven, as he hears the thunder of the closing door, and as, alas! he perceives in the blackening sky, that while the ark shuts, the windows of heaven open. (G. Gilfillan.)
Christ not an insecure refuge
Some parts of the coast abound with caves. In one of these was found the body of a poor Frenchman. He had been a prisoner and had escaped from prison, and for a long time concealed himself there, probably in the hope of escaping by some vessel which might pass. Many a weary day passed, however, and he still remained a prisoner, till at last, not venturing to leave his retreat, he perished from want. So it is with those who seek refuge in insufficient places. “They make lies their refuge, and under falsehood hide themselves.” Alas! how often they find out their mistake when it is too late. (G. S. Bowes.)
The family in the ark
I should like to see every father in this room safe in the ark; and then I should like to see each one of you fathers bring your children in. There is no safety for them or for you outside. They will not come in unless someone tell them of the danger of remaining outside. Who can tell them so well as you? Who can teach them that sin biteth like a serpent, and that its fangs are deadly, but you? They need your help, your prayers, and your influence. I would say to each father as God said to Noah, “Come thou, and all thy house.” Come in yourselves, and be sure not to forget to bring your children in with you. (D. L. Moody.)
The whole family in the ark
“Come thou and all thy house into the ark.” You can’t spare any of them. Think of which one you would like to spare. On a western lake in America there was a father journeying with two daughters, and they were very poor. Their appearance told the story without a word of explanation. A very benevolent gentleman in that part came up to the father and said, “You seem to be very poor.” “Oh!” said the other, “if there’s a man in this world poorer than I am, God pity him, and pity me, and help us both.”--“Well,” said the benevolent man, “I will take one of those children and bring her up and make her very comfortable. I am a man of fortune, and you may find great relief in this way.” “What,” said the poor man. “What!--would it be a relief to have my hand chopped off my arm? Would it be a relief to have my heart torn out from my breast? What do you mean, sir? God pity us.” Ah! no, he could not give up either of them, and you cannot give up any of your family. Which one would you give up? The eldest? Or would it be the youngest? Would it be the one that was sick last winter? Would it be the husband? Would it be the wife? No, no. “Come thou and all thy house into the ark.” Let us join hands anew and come into the ark. Come father, come mother, come sister, come brother, come son, come daughter. It is not the voice of a stormy blast, but the voice of an all-loving God, who says, “Come thou and all thy house into the ark.” The Lord shut him in. (T. de Witt Talmage.)
Entering into Christ as into an ark
When I was in Manchester, I went into the gallery one Sunday night to have a talk with a few inquirers, and while I was talking a business man came in and took his seat on the outskirts of the audience. I think at first he had come merely to criticise, and that he was a little sceptical. At last I saw he was in tears. I turned to him and said: “My friend, what is your difficulty?” “Well,” he said: “Mr. Moody, the fact is, I cannot tell.” I said: “Do you believe you are a sinner?” He said: “Yes, I know that.” I said: “Christ is able to save you; “ and I used one illustration after another, but he did not see it. At last I used the ark, and I said: “Was it Noah’s feelings that saved him? Was it Noah’s righteousness that saved him, or was it the ark?” “Mr. Moody,” said he, “I see it.” He got up and shook hands with me, and said: “Goodnight. I have to go. I have to go away in the train tonight, but I was determined to be saved before I went. I see it now.” I confess it seemed almost too sudden for me, and I was almost afraid it could not live. A few days after, he came and touched me on the shoulder, and said: “Do you know me?” I said: “I know your face, but do not remember where I have seen you.” He said: “Do not you remember the illustration of the ark?” I said: “Yes.” He said: “It has been all light ever since. I understand it now. Christ is the ark; He saves me, and I must get inside Him.” When I went down to Manchester again, and talked to the young friends there, I found he was the brightest light among them. (D. L. Moody.)
For thee have I seen righteous before Me
True moral rectitude
I. TRUE MORAL RECTITUDE MAINTAINED IN DEGENERATE TIMES. Sinful companions and degenerate times are no excuse for faltering moral goodness. The goodness of Noah was--
II. TRUE MORAL RECTITUDE OBSERVED BY GOD.
1. It is personally observed by God.
2. It was observed by God in its relation to the age in which the good man lived. “In this generation.”
III. TRUE MORAL RECTITUDE REWARDED BY GOD.
1. Rewarded by distinct commendation. God calls Noah a righteous man.
2. Rewarded by domestic safety. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
The illustrious one
I. THE CHARACTER WHICH NOAH SUSTAINED. “Righteous.”
1. Few of the ancient worthies are more frequently or more honourably mentioned than Noah (Ezekiel 14:14; Luke 17:26; Hebrews 11:7).
2. The faith of Noah was a lively, active faith; it produced obedience to the Divine command.
3. He was a man of deep piety.
4. He was a genuine philanthropist (2 Peter 2:5).
II. THE TIME WHEN HE SUSTAINED THIS CHARACTER. “In this generation.”
1. This generation was completely given up to infidelity and iniquity.
2. In this generation it is probable that Noah would meet with opposition and insult from all quarters.
III. THE CONSEQUENCE OF HIS SUSTAINING SUCH A CHARACTER. “Come thou and all thy house into the ark.”
1. While the flood was teeming upon the ungodly with dreadful impetuosity, Noah was safe in the ark, instructing his family, and communing with his God.
2. While the evil-doers were swept from the face of the earth and their names buried in eternal oblivion, Noah came safely out of the ark, became the father of a new race, and finally died in peace.
1. Noah heard, believed, and obeyed God. Do we imitate him?
2. Noah was righteous in that generation of universal degeneracy, when he had every difficulty, and no encouragements. Are we as righteous in this generation, when we have but few obstacles and many advantages? (Benson Bailey.)
For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth.
The Divine threat of destruction
I. VERY SOON TO BE EXECUTED.
II. VERY MERCIFUL IN ITS COMMENCEMENT.
III. VERY TERRIBLE IN ITS DESTRUCTION. “And every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.”
1. The destruction was determined.
2. The destruction was universal.
3. The destruction was piteous.
IV. VERY SIGNIFICANT IN ITS INDICATION. The Fatherhood of God is not incompatible with the punishment of sinners. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
1. That they will surely be executed.
2. At the time announced.
3. In the manner predicted.
4. With the result indicated. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
Noah did according unto all that the Lord commanded him
The obedience of Noah to the commands of God
IT WAS OBEDIENCE RENDERED UNDER THE MOST TRYING CIRCUMSTANCES.
II. IT WAS OBEDIENCE RENDERED IN THE MOST ARDUOUS WORK.
III. IT WAS OBEDIENCE RENDERED IN THE MOST HEROIC MANNER. (J. S.Exell, M. A.)
Safely kept by God
When Paul was in danger from the forty men who laid wait to kill him, Providence shut him up in Caesarea, where he was free from the peril. When Luther would probably have been slain by wicked Papists, he was taken by force to a strong castle, where he was in good keeping till it was safe for him to go abroad. Jesus, too, as a babe, was taken into Egypt for His preservation from death.
The entrance of the animals into the ark
At last the allotted time is fully or nearly expired. Noah has laid the last planks of the ark, which now stands up like a mountain, relieved against the sky. But that sky is as yet serene and cloudless, and there seems as little prospect of a deluge as there was a hundred and twenty years ago. The general interest in the matter has languished and nearly expired, when it is suddenly awakened into an intense glow by an extraordinary occurrence. The people bad laughed at the immense size of the ark, at its many rooms, at the quantity of food Noah had collected, and had asked, “Whence are the animals to come that are to fill these corners and to consume these stores?” But now a strange rumour flies abroad; it is, that a vast and motley throng of birds, beasts, and creeping things are thronging from every quarter toward the ark. There are cries, indeed, in contradiction to this “It cannot be, it is a mere report got up by Noah”; but soon it forces itself as a fact upon the conviction of all, and the most obstinately incredulous have to stand dumb beside; and worse, have no power to obstruct the passage. It is a sight the sublimity of which they are compelled to admire, even while they tremble thereat; being, indeed, a repetition on a larger scale of the passage of the animals before Adam. The lion and the lioness come, loth, it would seem in a degree, to circumscribe their wild freedom and majesty, yet unable to resist the pressure of the power above. The tiger and his mate, like fiends chained, but the chains not seen; the rhinoceros, buffalo, and mammoth, causing the earth to groan beneath their tread; panthers and leopards swiftly advancing; the slow-moving bear and the “solemn” elephant; the bull, the stag, and the elk, with their flashing horns; the horse, the glory of his nostrils terrible still, although tamed somewhat in the shadow of his unseen rider, God; the antelope and the wolf met together; the fox and the lamb embracing each other; the hyena, horrible even in his transient tameness; besides fifty more forms of brutal life, clean or unclean, beneath whose ranks you see thick streams of reptile existence, from the serpent to the scorpion, from the boa constrictor to the lizard, wriggling on their ark-ward way. And high overhead are flights of birds, here all oracular of doom, winging their courses--the earnest eagle, the gloom glowing raven, the reluctant vulture, the heavy kite, the fierce-eyed falcon, the high-soaring hawk, the lark with her lyric melody, the dove with her spotless plumage, the humming bird with her sparkling gem-like shape, the nightingale with her sober plumage and melting song, the swallow with the dark-light glance and shivered beauty of her wing, and a hundred more of those skiey demons or angels now sweep past to their prepared nests in the ark, even as spirits from a thousand deaths on a battlefield find their winged way to the “land of souls”! Surely you might have expected that such a throng of nature’s children, all subdued into one harmony, aiming at one mark, and animated by one spirit, as by one supernatural soul, should have not only awed, but convinced and converted the multitude who saw their passage. But it was not so. In what way or through means of what sophistry they contrived to evade the impression made by such a startling event, we cannot tell; but evade it they did--proving that there have sometimes been hearts so hard and consciences so seared that the most stupendous miracles have been unable to move them or melt them into repentance. (G. Gilfillan.)
The ark open for all
On the morning when the ark door was opened you might have seen in the sky a pair of eagles, a pair of sparrows, a pair of vultures, a pair of ravens, a pair of humming birds, a pair of all kinds of birds that ever cut the azure, that ever floated on wing, or whispered their song to the evening gales. In they came. But, if you had watched down on the earth, you would have seen come creeping along a pair of snails, a pair of snakes, and a pair of worms. There ran along a pair of mice; there came a pair of lizards; and in there flew a pair of locusts. There were pairs of creeping creatures, as well as pairs of flying creatures. Do you see what I mean by that? There are some of you that can fly so high in knowledge that I should never be able to scan your great and extensive wisdom; and others of you so ignorant that you can hardly read your Bibles. Never mind: the eagle must come down to the door, and you must go up to it. There is only one entrance for you all; and, as God saved the birds that flew, so He saved the reptiles that crawled. Are you a poor, ignorant, crawling creature, that never was noticed--without intellect, without repute, without fame, without honour? Come along, crawling One! God will not exclude you. (C. H.Spurgeon.)
Because of the waters of the flood
Popular reasons for a religious life
There are many motives urging men to seek the safety of their souls.
I. BECAUSE RELIGION IS COMMANDED. Some men are good because God requires moral rectitude from all His creatures, they feel it right to be pure. They wish to be happy, and they find that the truest happiness is the outcome of goodness.
II. BECAUSE OTHERS ARE RELIGIOUS. Multitudes are animated by a desire to cultivate a good life because their comrades do. They enter the ark because of the crowds that are seen wending their way to its door.
III. BECAUSE RELIGION IS A SAFETY. We are told that Noah’s family went into the ark “because of the waters of the flood.” Many only become religious when they see the troubles of life coming upon them; they regard piety as a refuge from peril. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
Noah and the ark
I. THE WARNED ACCEPTING ADMONITION. The warning we have corresponds with the warning Noah had, in--
1. Its source;
2. Its medium;
3. Its subject;
4. Its design.
II. THE IMPERILLED SEEKING REFUGE.
1. The urgently-needed refuge.
2. The divinely-appointed refuge.
3. The wisely-adapted refuge.
4. The only-existing refuge (Acts 4:12).
III. THE INVITED TRUSTING PROMISE.
IV. THE OBEDIENT SECURING SAFETY. (J. Poulter, B. A.)
The same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened
The deluge; or, the judgments of God upon the sin of man
THAT THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE DIVINE JUDGMENTS IS IMPORTANT, AND SHOULD BE CAREFULLY NOTED AND REMEMBERED.
1. The chronology of Divine retribution is important as a record of history.
2. The chronology of Divine retribution is important as related to the moral life and destinies of men.
3. The chronology of Divine retribution is important, as the incidental parts of Scripture bear a relation to those of greater magnitude.
II. THAT GOD HATH COMPLETE CONTROL OVER ALL THE AGENCIES OF THE MATERIAL UNIVERSE, AND CAN READILY MAKE THEM SUBSERVE THE PURPOSE OF HIS WILL. “The same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up.”
1. The Divine Being can control the latent forces and the unknown possibilities of the universe.
2. The Divine Being can control all the recognized and welcome agencies of the material universe, so that they shall be destructive rather than beneficial.
3. That the agencies of the material universe frequently cooperate with the providence of God.
III. THAT THE RETRIBUTIVE JUDGMENTS OF GOD ARE A SIGNAL FOR THE GOOD TO ENTER UPON THE SAFETY PROVIDED FOR THEM. “In the self-same day entered Noah,” etc.
IV. THAT THE DIVINE JUDGMENTS, THE AGENCIES OF RETRIBUTION, WHICH ARE DESTRUCTIVE TO THE WICKED, ARE SOMETIMES EFFECTIVE TO THE SAFETY AND WELFARE OF THE GOOD.
V. THAT IN THE RETRIBUTIVE JUDGMENTS OF GOD WICKED MEN ARE PLACED WITHOUT ANY MEANS OF REFUGE OR HOPE.
VI. THAT THE MEASURE AND LIMITS OF THE RETRIBUTIVE JUDGMENTS OF GOD ARE DIVINELY DETERMINED (Genesis 7:20; Genesis 7:24). LESSONS:
1. That the judgments of heaven are long predicted.
2. That they are commonly rejected.
3. That they are woefully certain.
4. That they are terribly severe.
5. They show the folly of sin. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
An important and eventful day
1. The fulfilment of the promise.
2. The commencement of retribution.
3. The time of personal safety.
4. The occasion of family blessing. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
I. THE DELUGE ITSELF.
1. Its reality.
(1) Christ refers to it (Matthew 24:37).
(2) It rests on the traditions of all nations.
2. The means by which it was effected. Some suppose it was effected by a comet; others, that by one entire revolution of the earth, the sea was moved out of its place, and covered the face of the earth, and that the bed of the ancient sea became our new earth. There is one simple means by which it might have been easily effected. Water is composed of two gases or airs, oxygen and hydrogen--eighty-five parts of oxygen, and fifteen hydrogen. An electric spark passing through decomposes them and converts them into water. So that God, by the power of lightning, could change the whole atmosphere into water, and thus the resources of the flood are at once provided. But read carefully the account given by Moses Genesis 7:11, etc.).
3. Consider its universality extended to the whole earth.
4. Consider its terrific character.
II. THE PROCURING CAUSE OF THE DELUGE.
1. Universal wickedness.
2. Impious rejection of Divine influences.
3. Final impenitency.
III. THE DELIVERANCE OF NOAH AND HIS FAMILY. APPLICATION:
1. Learn how fearful is the wrath of God. See a world destroyed.
2. How dreadful is a state of carnal presumption and security. It is a deadly opiate, destroyer of the soul.
3. The distinctions and rewards which await the righteous. (J. Burns, D. D.)
Chaldean narrative of the deluge
In general we may say that we have two Chaldean accounts of the flood. The one comes to us through Greek sources, from Berosus, a Chaldean priest in the third century before Christ, who translated into Greek the records of Babylon. This, as the less clear, we need not here notice more particularly. But a great interest attaches to the far earlier cuneiform inscriptions, first discovered and deciphered in 1872 by Mr. G. Smith, of the British Museum, and since further investigated by the same scholar. These inscriptions cover twelve tablets, of which as yet only part has been made available. They may broadly be described as embodying the Babylonian account of the flood, which, as the event took place in that locality, has a special value. The narrative is supposed to date from two thousand to two thousand five hundred years before Christ. The history of the flood is related by a hero, preserved through it, to a monarch whom Mr. Smith calls Izdubar, but whom he supposes to have been the Nimrod of Scripture. There are, as one might have expected, frequent differences between the Babylonian and the Biblical account of the flood. On the other hand, there are striking points of agreement between them, which all the more confirm the Scriptural account, as showing that the event had become a distinct part of the history of the district in which it had taken place. There are frequent references to Ereeh, the city mentioned in Genesis 10:10; allusions to a race of giants, who are described in fabulous terms; a mention of Lamech, the father of Noah, though under a different name, and of the patriarch himself as a sage, reverent and devout, who, when the Deity resolved to destroy by a flood the world for its sin, built the ark. Sometimes the language comes so close to that of the Bible that one almost seems to read disjointed or distorted quotations from Scripture. We mention, as instances, the scorn which the building of the ark is said to have called forth on the part of contemporaries; the pitching of the ark without and within with pitch; the shutting of the door behind the saved ones; the opening of the window, when the waters had abated; the going and returning of the dove since “a resting place it did not find,” the sending of the raven, which, feeding on corpses in the water, “did not return”; and, finally, the building of an altar by Noah. We sum up the results of this discovery in the words of Mr. Smith: “Not to pursue this parallel further, it will be perceived that when the Chaldean account is compared with the Biblical narrative, in their main features the two stories fairly agree; as to the wickedness of the antediluvian world, the Divine anger and command to build the ark, its stocking with birds and beasts, the coming of the deluge, the rain and storm, the ark resting on a mountain, trial being made by birds sent out to see if the waters had subsided, and the building of an altar after the flood. All these main facts occur in the same order in both narratives, but when we come to examine the details of these stages in the two accounts, there appear numerous points of difference; as to the number of people who were saved, the duration of the deluge, the place where the ark rested, the order of sending out the birds, and other similar matters.” We conclude with another quotation from the same work, which will show how much of the primitive knowledge of Divine things, though mixed with terrible corruptions, was preserved among men at this early period: “It appears that at that remote age the Babylonians had a tradition of a flood which was a Divine punishment for the wickedness of the world; and of a holy man, who built an ark, and escaped the destruction; who was afterwards translated and dwelt with the gods. They believed in hell, a place of torment under the earth, and heaven, a place of glory in the sky; and their description of the two has, in several points, a striking likeness to those in the Bible. They believed in a spirit or soul distinct from the body, which was not destroyed on the death of the mortal frame; and they represent this ghost as rising from the earth at the bidding of one of the gods, and winging its way to heaven.”
The seventh king of the Hindoos was Satyavrata, who reigned in Dravira, a country washed by the waves of the sea. During his reign, an evil demon (Hayagriva) furtively appropriated to himself the holy books (Vedas), which the first Manu had received from Brahman; and the consequence was, that the whole human race sank into a fearful degeneracy, with the exception of the seven saints and the virtuous king, Satyavrata. The divine spirit, Vishnu, once appeared to him in the shape of a fish, and addressed him thus: “In seven days, all the creatures which have offended against me shall be destroyed by a deluge; thou alone shalt be saved in a capacious vessel, miraculously constructed. Take, therefore, all kinds of useful herbs, and of esculent grain for food, and one pair of each animal; take also the seven holy men with thee, and your wives. Go into the ark without fear; then thou shalt see God face to face, and all thy questions shall be answered.” After seven days, incessant torrents of rain descended, and the ocean gave forth its waves beyond the wonted” shores. Satyavrata, trembling for his imminent destruction, yet piously confiding in the promises of the god, and meditating on his attributes, saw a huge boat floating to the shore on the waters. He entered it with the saints, after having executed the divine instructions. Vishnu himself appeared, in the shape of a vast horned fish, and tied the vessel with a great sea serpent, as with a cable, to his huge horn. He drew it for many years, and landed it at last, on the highest peak of Mount Himavan. The flood ceased; Vishnu slew the demon and received the Vedas back; instructed Satyavrata in all heavenly sciences, and appointed him the seventh Manu, under the name of Vaivaswata. From this Manu the second population of the earth descended in a supernatural manner, and hence man is called manudsha (born of Manu, Mensch). The Hindoo legend concludes, moreover, with an episode resembling in almost every particular that which resulted in the curse of Ham by his father Noah. (M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)
The whole human race was corrupted, violence and impiety prevailed, oaths were broken, the sacredness of hospitality was shamelessly violated, suppliants were abused or murdered, and the gods mocked and insulted. Infamy and nefariousness were the delight of the degenerated tribes. Jupiter resolved, therefore, to destroy the whole human race, as far as the earth extends and Poseidon encircles it with the girdle of the waves. The earth opened all her secret springs, the ocean sent forth its floods, and the skies poured down their endless torrents. All creatures were immersed in the waves, and perished. Deucalion alone, and his wife Pyrrha, both distinguished by their piety, were, in a small boat which Deucalion had constructed by the advice of his father Prometheus, carried to the lofty peaks of Mount Parnassus, which alone stood out of the floods. They were saved. The waters subsided. The surviving pair sacrificed to Jupiter the flight-giving, and consulted the gods, who again, through them, populated the earth by an extraordinary miracle. This tradition appears in a still more developed form in Lucian. There was a very old temple in Hieropolis, which was universally asserted to have been built by Deucalion the Scythian, when he had been rescued from the general deluge. For it is related that enormous crimes, prevalent through the whole human race, had provoked the wrath of Jupiter and caused the destruction of man. Deucalion alone was found wise and pious. He built a large chest, and brought into it his wives and children; and when he was about to enter it, boars, lions, serpents, and all other animals came to him by pairs. Jupiter removed all hostile propensities from their breasts, and they lived together in miraculous concord. The waves carried the chest along till they subsided. After this an immense gulf opened itself, which only closed after having totally absorbed the waters. This wonderful incident happened in the territory of Hieropolis; and above this gulf Deucalion erected that ancient temple, after having offered many sacrifices on temporary altars. In commemoration of these events, twice every year water is brought into the temple, not only by the priests, but by a large concourse of strangers from Syria, Arabia, and the countries of the Jordan. This water is fetched from the sea, and then poured out in the temple in such a manner that it descends into the gulf. The same tradition assumed, indeed, under different hands a different local character; Hyginus mentions the AEtna in Sicily as the mountain where Deucalion grounded; the Phrygians relate that the wise Anakos prophesied concerning the approaching flood; and some coins struck under the Emperor Septimius Severus and some of his successors in Apamea, and declared genuine by all authorities in numismatics, represent a chest or ark floating on the waves and containing a man and a woman. On the ark a bird is perched, and another is seen approaching, holding a twig with its feet. The same human pair is figured on the dry land with uplifted hands; and on several of those pieces even the name NO (ΝΩ) is clearly visible. A legend, perhaps as old as that of Deucalion, though neither so far spread nor so developed, is that of Ogyges, who is mostly called a Boeotian autochthon, and the first ruler of the territory of Thebes, called after him Ogygia. In his time the waters of the lake Copais are said to have risen in so unusual a degree that they at last covered the whole surface of the earth, and that Ogyges himself directed his vessel on the waves through the air. Even the dove of Noah bears an analogy to the dove which Deucalion is reported to have dispatched from his ark, which returned the first time, thus indicating that the stores of rain were not yet exhausted, but which did not come back the second time, and thereby gave proof that the skies had resumed their usual serenity. (M. M.Kalisch, Ph. D.)
The sky now at last blackens into pitchy gloom, and hoarse are the thunders which seem to crash against the sides of the sky as if against iron bars. The rain comes down in solid torrents, cleaving the thick air as with wedges. Lightnings
“run crossing evermore,
Till like a red bewildered map the sky is scribbled o’er.”
Rivers rush down in fury, overflowing their banks, sweeping away the crops, undermining the rocks, tearing up the woods, and rising above the lesser hills, till they meet with the streams which have swollen aloft from neighbouring valleys, and embrace in foam and wild commotion on the summit. Oceans are stirred up from their depths, and distant seas on the top of aerial mountains, each bringing the ruin of whole lands for a dowry. The inhabitants of a city have fallen asleep, thinking that it is only a night of unusual severity of storm, till in the morning they find themselves cut off on all sides, and a hungry sea crying with the tongues of all its waters, “Give! give!” and there is no escape for them; and climbing the highest towers and idol temples only protracts for a little their doom; and soon the boom of the waves, wantoning uncontrolled and alone in the market place, takes the place of the hum of men. A gay marriage party, in order to enjoy themselves more, have shut out the gloomy daylight, are dancing to the light of torches, and are finding a luxury and a stimulus to greater gaiety in the lashing of the rain on the roof and the sides of the dwelling, when suddenly the angry waters burst in, and their joy is turned into the howl of expiring women and men. In another place a funeral has reached the place of tombs amidst drenching rains and paths rendered difficult by the storm, and the bearers are about to commit the corpse to the earth, when, lo! the water bursts up through the grave, and the waves gather on all sides around, and instead of one, forty are buried, and instead of a silent sepulchre, there are shrieks and outcries of grief and of desperate sorrow--the sorrow of multitudinous death. A village among the mountains issurprised by the fierce and sudden uprise of the neighbouring stream, and the inhabitants have just time to avoid its avenging path by betaking themselves to the hills. From point to point they hurry, from the wooded steeps to the bald crags, thence to the heathy sides of the larger hills, and thence to their sky-striking summits; and to every point they are faithfully followed by the bloodhound of the flood, too certain of coming up with his prey to be hurried in his motions, and whose voice is heard, in an awful ascending gamut, climbing steep after steep, here veiled amidst thick woodlands, there striking sharp and shrill against craggy obstacles, and anon from hollow defiles, sounding low in the accents of choked and restrained wrath, but always approaching nearer and nearer, and from the anger echoed in which no escape is possible. Conceive their emotions as, standing at last on the supreme summit, they listen to this cry! Inch after inch rises the flood up the precipice, the cry swelling at every step, till at last it approaches within a few feet of the top, where hundreds are huddled together, and then
“Rises from earth to sky the wild farewell;
Then shriek the timid, and stand still the brave;
And some leap overboard with dreadful yell,
As eager to anticipate their grave,
And the sea yawns around them like a hell.”
Husbands and wives clasped in each other’s arms sink into the waves; mothers holding their babes high over the surge are sucked in, children and all; the grey hairs of the patriarch meet with the tresses of the fair virgin in the common grave of the waters, which sweep by one wild lash all the tenants of the rock away, and roll across a shout of triumph to the hundred surges, which on every side of the horizon have mounted their hills, and gained their victories at once over the glory of nature and the life of man. From this supposed peak, “Fancy with the speed of fire” flies to other regions of the earth, and sees “all the high hills under the whole heaven covered; “ the Grampian range surmounted; and Ben Nevis sunk fathoms and fathoms more under the waves; the Pyrenees and the “infant kips” or Apennines lost to view; the Cervin’s sharp and precipitous horn seen to pierce the blue-black ether no more; the eye of Mont Blanc darkened; old “Taurus” blotted out; the fires of Cotopaxi extinguished; the tremendous chasm of snow which yawns on the side of Chimborazo filled up with a sea of water; the hell of Hecla’s burning entrails slaked, and the mountains of the Himalayah overtopt; till at last, the waves rolling over the summit of Mount Everest, and violating its last particle of virgin snow, have accomplished their task, have drowned a world! (G. Gilfillan.)
Flood traditions in America
It is a singular confirmation of the deluge as a great historical event that it is found engraven in the memories of all the great nations of antiquity; but it is still more striking to find it holding a place in the traditions of the most widely spread races of America, and indeed of the world at large. Thus Alfred Maury, a French writer of immense erudition, speaks of it as “a very remarkable fact that we find in America traditions of the deluge coming infinitely nearer those of the Bible and of the Chaldean religion than the legends of any people of the old world.” The ancient inhabitants of Mexico had many variations of the legend among their various tribes. In some, rude paintings were found representing the deluge. Not a few believe that a vulture was sent out of the ship, and that, like the raven of the Chaldean tablets, it did not return, but fed on the dead bodies of the drowned. Other versions say that a humming bird alone, out of many birds sent off, returned with a branch covered with leaves in its beak. Among the Cree Indians of the present day in the Arctic circle in North America, Sir John Richardson found similar traces of the great tradition. “The Crees,” he says, “spoke of a universal deluge, caused by an attempt of the fish to drown one who was a kind of demigod with whom they had quarrelled. Having constructed a raft, he embarked with his family, and all kinds of birds and beasts. After the flood had continued some time, he ordered several waterfowls to dive to the bottom, but they were all drowned. A musk rat, however, having been sent on the same errand, was more successful, and returned with a mouthful of mud.” From other tribes in every part of America, travellers have brought many variations of the same worldwide tradition, nor are even the scattered islands of the great Southern Ocean without versions of their own. In Tahiti, the natives used to tell of the god Ruahatu having told two men “who were at sea fishing--Return to the shore, and tell men that the earth will be covered with water, and all the world will perish. Tomorrow morning go to the islet called Toamarama; it will be a place of safety for you and your children. Then Ruahatu caused the sea to cover the lands. All were covered, and all men perished except the two and their families.” In other islands we find legends recording the building of an altar after the deluge; the collection of pairs of all the domestic animals, to save them, while the Fiji islanders give the number of the human beings saved as eight. Thus the story of the deluge is a universal tradition among all branches of the human family with the one exception, as Lenormant tells us, of the black. How else could this arise but from the ineradicable remembrance of a real and terrible event. It must, besides, have happened so early in the history of mankind that the story of it could spread with the race from their original cradle, for the similarity of the versions over the earth point to a common source. It is, moreover, preserved in its fullest and least diluted form among the three great races, which are the ancestors of the three great families of mankind--the Aryans, from whom sprang the populations of India, Persia, and Europe; the Turanians, and the Semitic stock, who were the progenitors of the Jew, the Arab, and other related races, including the Cushite and Egyptian. These, it is striking to note, were the specially civilized peoples of the early world, and must have learned the story before they separated from their common home in western Asia. (C. Geikie, D. D.)
The extent of the flood
Thoughtful men of all shades of religious opinion have come to the conclusion that the Noachian deluge was only a local one, though sufficiently extensive in its area to destroy all the then existing race of men. In support of this view many arguments have been offered, of which a few may be briefly stated. The stupendous greatness of the miracle involved in a universal deluge seems a strong reason to doubt the likelihood of God having resorted to a course wholly unnecessary to effect the end mainly in view--the judgment of mankind for their sins. There could certainly be no apparent reason for submerging the vast proportion of the world which was then uninhabited, or of raising the waters above the tops of mountains to which no living creature could approach. It is to be remembered, moreover, that the addition of such a vast mass of water to the weight of the earth--eight times that contained in the ocean beds--would have disarranged the whole solar system, and even the other systems of worlds through the universe; for all are interbalanced with each other in their various relations. Then this immeasurable volume of water, after having served its brief use, must have been annihilated to restore the harmony of the heavenly motions: the only instance in the whole economy of nature of the annihilation of even a particle of matter. Nor could any part of either the animal or vegetable worlds have survived a submersion of the planet for a year; and hence everything, except what the ark contained, must have perished; including even the fish; of which many species would die out if the water were fresh, others, if it were brackish, and others, again, if it were salt. Men of the soundest orthodoxy have further urged that physical evidences still exist which prove that the deluge could only have been local. Thus Professor Henslow supports De Candolle’s estimate of the age of some of the baobab trees of Senegal as not less then 5,230 years, and of taxodium of Mexico as from 4,000 to 6,000; periods which carry still living trees beyond that of the flood. There is, moreover, in Auvergne, in France, a district covered with extinct volcanoes, marked by cones of pumice stone, ashes, and such light substances as could not have resisted the waters of the deluge. Yet they are evidently more ancient than the time of Noah; for since they became extinct rivers have cut channels for themselves through beds of columnar basalt, that is, of intensely hard crystallized lava, of no less than 150 feet in thickness, and have even eaten into the granite rocks beneath. And Auvergne is not the only part where similar phenomena are seen. They are found in the Eifel country of the Prussian Rhine province, in New Zealand, and elsewhere. Nor is the peculiarity of some regions in their zoological characteristics less convincing. Thus the fauna of Australia is entirely exceptional; as, for example, in the strange fact that quadrupeds of all kinds are marsupial, that is, provided with a pouch in which to carry their young. The fossil remains of this great island continent show, moreover, that existing species are the direct descendants of similar races of extreme antiquity, and that the surface of Australia is the oldest land, of any considerable extent, yet discovered on the globe--dating back at least to the Tertiary geological age; since which it has not been disturbed to any great extent. But this carries us to a period immensely more remote than Noah. Nor is it possible to conceive of an assemblage of all the living creatures of the different regions of the earth at any one spot. The unique fauna of Australia--survivors of a former geological age--certainly could neither have reached the ark nor regained their home after leaving it; for they are separated from the nearest continuous land by vast breadths of ocean. The polar bear surely could not survive a journey from his native icebergs to the sultry plains of Mesopotamia; nor could the animals of South America have reached these except by travelling the whole length northwards of North America and then, after miraculously crossing Behring Straits, having pressed westwards across the whole breadth of Asia, a continent larger than the moon. That even a deer should accomplish such a pedestrian feat is inconceivable, but how could a sloth have done it--a creature which lives in trees, never, if possible, descending to theground, and able to advance on it only by the slowest and most painful motions? Or, how could tropical creatures find supplies of food in passing through such a variety of climates, and over vast spaces of hideous desert? Still more--how could any vessel, however large, have held pairs and sevens of all the creatures on earth, with food for a year, and how could the whole family of Noah have attended to them? There are at least two thousand mammals; more than seven thousand kinds of birds, from the gigantic ostrich to the humming bird; and over fifteen hundred kinds of amphibious animals and reptiles; not to speak of 120,000 kinds of insects, and an unknown multitude of varieties of ingusoria. Nor does this include the many thousand kinds of mollusca, radiata, and fish. Even if the ark, as has been supposed by one writer, was of 80,000 tons burden, such a freightage needs only be mentioned to make it be felt impossible. Look which way we like, gigantic difficulties meet us. Thus, Hugh Miller has noticed that it would have required a continuous miracle to keep alive the fish for whom the deluge water was unsuitable, while even spawn would perish if kept unhatched for a whole year, as that of many fish must have been. Nor would the vegetable world have fared better than the animal, for of the 100,000 known species of plants, very few would survive a year’s submersion. That a terrible catastrophe like that of the flood--apart from the all-sufficient statements of Scripture--is not outside geological probability, is abundantly illustrated by recorded facts. The vast chains of the Himalayah, the Caucasus, the Jura mountains, and the Alps, for example, were all upheaved in the Pliocene period, which is one of the most recent in geology. A subsidence or elevation of a district, as the case might be, would cause a tremendous flood over vast regions. Nor are such movements of the earth’s surface on a great scale unknown even now. Darwin repeatedly instances cases of recent elevation and depression of the earth’s surface. On one part of the island of St. Maria, in Chili, he found beds of putrid mussel shells still adhering to the rocks, ten feet above high-water mark, where the inhabitants had formerly dived at low-water spring tides for these shells. Similar shells were met with by him at Valparaiso at the height of 1,300 feet. And at another place a great bed of now-existing shells had been raised 350 feet above the level of the sea. No difficulty on geological grounds can therefore be urged against such a catastrophe having happened in the early ages of our race as would have swept the whole seat of human habitation with a deluge in whose waters all mankind must have perished. The great cause, without question, of the belief that the flood was universal has been the idea that the words of Scripture taught this respecting that awful visitation. But it by no means does so. The word translated “earth” in our English version has not only the meaning of the world as a whole, but others much more limited. Thus it often stands for Palestine alone, and even for the small district around a town, or for a field or plot of land. Besides, we must not forget that such words are always to be understood according to the meaning attached to them by the age or people among whom they are used. But what ideas the ancient Hebrews had of the world has been already shown, and the limited sense in which they used the most general phrases--just as we ourselves often do when we wish to create a vivid impression of wide extent or great number--is seen from the usage of their descendants, in the New Testament. When St. Luke speaks of Jews dwelling at Jerusalem out of “every nation under heaven,” it would surely be wrong to press this to a literal exactness. When St. Paul says that the faith of the obscure converts at Rome was spoken of throughout the whole world, he could not have meant the whole round orb, but only the Roman Empire. And would anyone think of taking in the modern geographical sense his declaration that already, when he was writing to the Colossians, the gospel had been preached to every creature under heaven? (C. Geikie, D. D.)
And the Lord shut him in
The door was shut
IT TEACHES US, AS GOD IS THE AUTHOR SO IS HE THE FINISHER OF OUR WORK. God implants in the mother’s heart the desire to teach her children of Himself, but He must apply the instruction. Paul may plant and Apollos water, but God must give the increase. The seeker after salvation may pray, and read the Word, and attend the means of grace, but God only can save the soul.
II. IT TEACHES THAT THEY WHO DO HIS WILL SHALL NOT GO UNREWARDED. Noah built the ark, so God insures his safety therein. Those who put their trust in God shall never be confounded.
III. IT TEACHES THAT THOSE WHO DO GOD’S WILL ARE PRESERVED FROM ALL DANGERS. The Lord shut him in, so that he might not perpetrate any rash act. Had he possessed the power of opening the door, he might have jeopardized the safety of the whole family by bringing down the vengeance of God. Noah’s had been a critical position but for this. Think of him as he hears the rush of waters; the shrieks of the drowning; the cries of the young and old. If you had been in his position, with the knowledge you could open the door and take some in, would you not have been tempted to do so? But God shut him in, and when He shutteth no man can open. So shall God fortify the soul at the great day of final judgment. Mothers, fathers, children, shall see their relatives cast out, and yet be preserved from one rash word or unbelieving act.
IV. IT TEACHES THAT THOSE WHO DO GOD’S WILL MUST NOT EXPECT IMMEDIATE REWARD. Noah becomes a prisoner, for five months he had no communication with God--for twelve months he resided in the ark. But God remembered Noah, and brought him out into a wealthy place.
V. IT TEACHES THAT THE HAND WHICH SECURES THE SAINT DESTROYS THE SINNERS. (R. A. Griffin.)
Shut in, or shut out
I. SHUT IN.
1. Separated from the world. They were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage; but to Noah the dance and the viol, the feast and the revel, called in vain. He could not now hoard up wealth, nor seek for fame among the sons of men. He was shut out, too, from all their possessions; even from his own farm he was now expatriated. Blessed is that man who, whatsoever he hath, hath it as though he had it not; he sets no store by earthly things, and does not lock up his soul in his iron safe. He is shut out from the things which rust and corrupt, so that they are not his god nor his treasure.
2. Shut in by God.
(1) Very close shutting, so as to keep out the water.
(2) The door was shut very fast, to prevent the entrance of enemies from outside.
(3) This divine shutting in of Noah was very necessary; for I suppose that no one else could have moved the gigantic door upon its enormous hinges. It was probably too massive to have been stirred by Noah or his united family.
(4) And the Lord did this not only necessarily, but graciously. I call your attention to the change of the names in the text--a very significant change indeed: “They that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him; and the Lord”--that is Jehovah--“shut him in.” Elohim, as the Creator and Preserver, takes care of living things to preserve them; but the Lord, even Jehovah, the covenanting God, interposes in great mercy to protect His chosen servant. It was Jehovah who entered into solemn league and covenant with His servant Noah that He would preserve him in the ark, and float him into the new world in it; and as Jehovah, the Covenanting One, He shut him in. There is no security like that which is given us by the covenant of grace.
3. Shut in with God. In Genesis 7:1 we read, “The Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark”; and this clearly shows that the Lord was in the ark already. Oh what a joy it is to know that when a soul is buried to the world it lives with Christ. God is in Christ Jesus, and we are in Christ Jesus, and thus we have fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus.
4. Next, notice that Noah’s happiness was all the greater because he was shut in the ark with all his family. This is a great joy, to have all your household brought unto the faith of Christ.
5. Noah and his household were shut in, to be perfectly preserved, and then to come forth into a new world.
II. SHUT OUT.
1. Who they were.
(1) A people that had been preached to.
(2) A people who had been prayed for.
(3) A people who had, many of them, been associated with Noah in his work.
2. What they did.
(1) Took delight in earthly things.
(2) Did not believe.
3. What came of it. Door shut. No hope. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. The first thing we have to consider is THE ARK. And here we must inquire the circumstances which gave rise to its being built. Sin was one cause; and the love of God towards Noah and his family, and His intention to preserve them from destruction.
1. Who commanded it to be built: God. And here we see marks of love, favour, and a determination to preserve him and his family while He destroyed the world.
2. Of what and how was it to be built? Of Gopher wood, to denote its strength and durability. Its dimensions, reckoning eighteen inches to the cubit, were 450 feet in length, 75 feet in breadth, 45 feet in height.
3. Its suitability. This is clearly seen by the number it held; for all that God had appointed entered the ark.
4. The shape of the ark is supposed to have been that of a chest or coffin. And, indeed, by the description here set down, the ark, in shape, was like to a coffin for a man’s body, six times as long as it was broad, and ten times as long as it was high; and so fit to figure out Christ’s death and burial, and ours with Him, by the mortification of the old man, as the apostle applies this type to baptism (1 Peter 3:20-21); whereby we are become dead and buried with Christ (Romans 6:3-4; Romans 6:6).
We must now look at this ark spiritually; and here we are led at once to see the Lord Jesus as set forth.
1. Christ, as the ark, is a place--to preserve life. He not only is the preserver, but He is the author of natural and spiritual life, and He alone can preserve that life, and Cause it to increase in the hearts of His people.
2. To support the soul. For the believer cannot live, in a spiritual sense, upon anything short of Christ. All his spiritual food is in Him.
3. To warm and cheer the heart.
4. A place of safety. “For the name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it, and are safe.” Again, He is spoken of as “a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”
Again. In Christ the spiritual ark there is--
1. Pardon for every sin-convicted and repentant soul; for every broken-hearted subject.
2. In Him there is peace, which flows to us through His blood; which gives ease to the troubled soul, calms the agitated mind, and is “the acceptable year of the Lord.”
3. In Him there is righteousness, which all His people enjoy--
(1) By imputation.
II. THE PERSONS IN IT. Noah and his family, and a portion of living creatures, while the rest were drowned. So it will be again; the world will presently be destroyed by fire, and only those who are in the spiritual Ark will be preserved. Who are the persons in this spiritual Ark, which is the Lord Jesus Christ? Believers in all ages of the world. They are made up of persons out of all countries, tribes, people, tongues, nations, under heaven. And as to their number, I would refer you to Revelation 7:9-10. The ark was open six days, giving sufficient time for all to get in; and which sets forth the spiritual Ark which has been open now nearly six thousand years. But we must consider the creatures going into the ark spiritually.
1. There are many lion-hearted Christians, who are richly blessed with grace and faith, and are great in the divine life; who press through crowds, and ever-come every opposition, and enter fully and firmly into the spiritual Ark, the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. There are many lamb-like ones, gentle in their movements, who proceed by quiet steps, and whose progress is marked by nothing very particular; whose natures naturally are tame, and in whose hearts the grace of God does not shine so conspicuously, but equally effectual. Hence their movements towards the ark are progressive, but yet silent and oftentimes unobserved by others.
3. There are many who fly in the divine life, and, like the hare, pass everyone on the road; they are born again today, in Christ on the morrow, and many steps up the spiritual ladder, while others are only just brought into, and still continue under the convicting operations of the Holy Ghost.
4. There are many weak ones, whose strength at times appears to fails; they see others passing them, while they are so weak and feeble, that their progress to themselves appears to be at an end; but yet, if these weak ones will but look back, they will perceive they have already come a good distance in the divine life.
5. There are many who can only walk in the divine life, but yet their movements towards the Ark are characterized by their evenness, unbroken, and yet firm step: there is nothing out of the ordinary way; the work in their hearts is only to be seen in the path they take, the object they have in view, and the way their faces are turned, which is towards the ark.
6. There are many who go to the Ark broken-hearted and weighed down by their sins; their cry is, Unclean! unclean! Their face, their eyes, their heart, their language, all bespeak the anguish of the soul, and the conflict within. “The Lord is nigh them that are of a broken heart, and sayeth such as be of a contrite spirit.”
7. There are some who are going to the Ark, but it is only by sighing and groaning. If you look at one of these poor souls, you will hear them say, “Lord, save, or I perish!” “God be merciful to me a sinner!” “Will the Lord hear?” But yet the sighing of the prisoner comes up before God; their cry is heard above; and He says to them, “Turn to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope; even today do I declare that I will render double unto thee.”
8. There are some who can only creep towards the Ark, like the tortoise, and there are a great number of this class; and to enumerate the doubts, the fears, misgivings, tremblings of soul, hard thoughts, discouragements, diffidence, and distress, these souls pass through, would be more than I can do; their pace is so slow towards the Ark, that they fear they are making no progress; but they still are enabled to look that way, and sometimes when they look back they are surprised that they have come on so far. But hark! what is that I hear from one of them? “I fear the Ark is closed; I fear all is over, and I am lost.” But the inquiry comes, Shall I get in? Will the Ark door be left open until I am in?--Yes I yes! Let such souls mark for their comfort and encouragement, and to spur them on still to persevere, that the ark was not closed until the slowest creeping thing was in; so spiritually the door of Christ, the Ark, shall not be closed so long as there is a soul on the road.
III. WHO PUT HIM IN? “And the Lord shut him in.” Not Noah, for if he had shut the door perhaps he would have left something out; but God, who knew all about it, shut the door Himself; therefore, what He does is well done. So it is spiritually; God puts poor sinners into Christ, the Ark. How does He do it? By His Spirit, who shows unto them--
1. Their state as sinners, which He causes them to feel in a two-fold sense--in Adam and in themselves.
2. This teaching points out to them the greatness of their danger.
3. This teaching begets alarm and anxiety, for it breaks their hearts, subdues their will, causes tears of genuine repentance to flow from their hearts, and they cry out, “God be merciful to me a sinner!”
4. Then they see that He is the glorious Person who has “blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross.”
IV. THEIR GREAT SAFETY. Being in the spiritual Ark by faith, they are safe--
1. From the wrath of God against sin; for God, having received at the hands of the Lord Jesus a full satisfaction, He having made the great atonement for sin by the sacrifice of Himself, has obtained for His people an eternal redemption from the wrath of God, and the right to all the blessings contained in this redemption.
2. From the malice and rage of Satan, who hates the Lord’s people, and would destroy them if he could; but, blessed be God, they are kept by the mighty power of God.
3. From a wicked world; for the Lord again addresses them, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and the tongue that riseth up in judgment against thee thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord.”
4. They shall be safe when God shall overthrow the world by fire, which will not be till all His people are in the Ark.
1. Learn for information that God has prepared an Ark, in the person of His Son, for the saving of poor sinners.
2. Are we in it?
3. Are we running to it? The steps which lead to and into it are conviction, repentance, and faith in Christ.
4. Happiness of getting into the ark.
5. Misery of being without when God shuts the door. (R. B. Isaac.)
The ark of refuge
I. A PLACE OF SAFETY. The door that excludes the faithless and unbelieving, includes in the safe refuge those who hear and obey God’s Psalms 27:5). Noah and his family were safe, because they used God’s appointed way of salvation.
II. A POSITION OF PEACE. Noah and his family knew that in God was their help.
III. A PLEDGE OF HOPE. Expecting “new world,” where they should have full scope for their energies, and new blessings from God their Saviour. God, who had safely shut them in, and who had preserved them in peace from the universal ruin, would assuredly perfect their salvation. Is it not so with us? (W. S. Smith, B. D.)
The shut door
In the life of the late Hugh Miller, we find the following passage from Mr. Stewart, of Cromarty, whom Miller considered one of the very best and ablest of Scotland’s ministers:--“Noah did not close the door. There are works that God keeps for Himself. The burden is too heavy for the back of man. To shut that door on a world about to perish would have been too great a responsibility for a son of Adam. Another moment, and another, and another, might have been granted by Noah, and the door might never have been shut, and the ship that carried the life of the world might have been swamped. And so it is in the ark of salvation. It is not the church nor the minister that shuts or opens the door. These do God’s bidding; they preach righteousness, they offer salvation, and it is God that shuts and opens the door. Oh! what a sigh and shudder will pass through the listening universe when God will shut the door of the heavenly ark upon the lost!”
Instruction derived from Noah’s ark
I. In God’s dealings with Noah we see THE IMPORTANCE OF INDIVIDUAL PERSONAL FAVOUR. Noah, in all that wicked generation, was one alone. He was one singled out from many. In this singular dispensation of God, in His concern for the security of Noah and those belonging to him, we see paternal care, a fatherly goodness--we see provision made for objects certainly dear and highly valued. Now, to be the subjects of so much paternal attention is no small mercy.
II. IT IS WELL TO MARK SURROUNDING MISERY WHEN WE ARE PROTECTED AND SECURED. Have we not seen in many instances pale disease and pinching poverty hovering all around, while we have been protected, comforted, or even enriched! Look back and recount the mercies of God; call to mind seasons of affliction, of trial, of distress; when, as Noah from his ark, you have seen the descending torrents, witnessed the inundation of woe by which others have perished. God said to you, tear not, be still, my child, it shall not come nigh you. In epidemical diseases, in burning fevers, has not this been literally the case? While we pity these sufferers: while our hearts bleed over these unhappy, these devoted victims, we may, with gratitude, exult in our own security, and give glory to God for discriminating grace.
III. Where God is the protector, as here in the case of Noah, ALL ATTEMPTS OF ENEMIES TO INJURE OR DESTROY ARE PERFECTLY VAIN. When God shut Noah in the ark, He shut all his enemies out; and presently distanced both the young and the old by the descending rains and the separating waves.
IV. TO BE REMEMBERED OF GOD, AND TO BE REGARDED BY HIM IN TIMES
OF PUBLIC CALAMITY, IS AN EXCEEDINGLY GREAT MERCY. (The Evangelist.)
And the waters increased
THAT AFFLICTION IS PROGRESSIVE IN ITS DEVELOPMENT AND SEVERITY.
II. THAT INCREASED AFFLICTION IS THE CONTINUED AND EFFECTIVE DISCIPLINE AND PUNISHMENT OF GOD. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
The judgment on an ungodly world
I. JUDGMENT THREATENED.
II. JUDGMENT DELAYED. God’s forbearance and long suffering. Every day brings judgment nearer.
III. JUDGMENT EXECUTED. God did as He said. This judgment was--
1. Listen to God’s warnings.
2. Abuse not God’s long suffering.
3. Flee from the wrath to come. (W. S. Smith, B. D.)
The destruction of the wicked.
1. Numbers, learning, wealth, combination, could not save. “Though wickedness join hand in hand, it shall not go unpunished.”
2. Their destruction complete and universal. None escaped.
3. They were not without an offer of mercy. In 120 years longer, after the warning was given, they were striven with. This was their day of grace. By word and life, Noah preached to them.
4. At length “the flood came and took them all away.” Consternation, when they saw the ark drifting away, and the water still rising. Despair. A too late repentance. (J. C. Gray.)
Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark
The almost solitary preservation of a good man from imminent and long-continued peril
THEN MORAL GOODNESS IS SOMETIMES A SAFEGUARD FROM THE IMMINENT PERILS OF LIFE.
II. THEN MORAL GOODNESS IS SIGNALLY HONOURED AND REWARDED BY GOD.
III. THEN MORAL GOODNESS MAY SOMETIMES BRING A MAN INTO THE MOST UNUSUAL AND EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES. It may make a man lonely in his occupation and life mission, even though he be surrounded by a crowded world; it may make him unique in his character, and it may render him solitary in his preservation and safety. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
God destroys that He may save
A mariner in a storm would very fain save his goods, but to save his ship he heaves them overboard, a tender-hearted mother corrects her child, whereas the stripes are deeper in her heart than in its flesh. As it was said of a judge who, being about to pass sentence of death upon an offender, said, “I do that good which I would not.” Thus God, more loving than the careful mariner, more tender than the indulgent mother, and more merciful than the pitiful judge, is willingly unwilling that any sinner should die. He punisheth no man as he is a man, but as he is a sinful man; He loves him, yet turns him over to justice. It is God’s work to punish, but it is withal His strange work, His strange and foreign act, not His good will and pleasure. (J. Spencer.)
Noah’s sojourn in the ark
Now, first of all, it was a great mercy to escape the wickedness of a wicked world, to be delivered from the blasphemies, the daring excess of iniquity which abounded openly on every side, to be rescued from sights and sounds that only jarred upon a soul that thirsted for the living God; when the door was closed, and the little Church and family of God were separated from the sinners; when the rain descended and the world began to drown; when Noah and his children felt themselves alone with God, there must have been an inexpressible sensation of release. However awful the scene without, they were able to live without disturbance, and to be at rest. And yet while in this, their awful and most merciful severance from the world, we see some, though lesser, trials. As that calm and holy house moved on from day to day, from month to month, was there not with all its peace, with all its opportunity of undisturbed intercourse with God, the loss of much that had rejoiced the soul? As day rose on day, must not the sense of confinement and restraint have come at times over the faithful Noah and his sons? Must there not have risen some longings for the green meadows and the evening walk, the beauty of the fields and the cheerful sights of God’s excellent works, that give great pleasure to godly men? To be shut in that lonely house, and to see the spring and the summer come round, the changing seasons without any change to them, all watery and blank without, must have been a trial; and yet the very fact of such a cutting off from the world and worldly things, of such loss and privation of pleasures, innocent and allowed, likens this sojourn in the ark to a long and holy fast--a lengthened Lent filling up the circle of a year. But still, we may be sure that Noah looked upon it as a space of retirement, which was to be carefully husbanded and spent for the profit of his soul. The very loss of innocent delights, the very separation from the world, must have led Noah to search for some proper duties and proper work, there providentially assigned, and there to be fulfilled. We cannot but believe that the months were crowded with constant meditations on the things of God, constant liftings up of soul, and constant exercises of faith. No idle space was it to the man of God, and, though inactive as regards the labours of the world, it was a season of spiritual husbandry and of inward toil. And thus when Noah walked forth on that sort of Easter time of the visible material world, he was doubtless all the more prepared for future trials, with a still firmer trust in God, a still sublimer faith, a deeper knowledge of the things of God, and with a larger measure of spiritual strength. And now to turn from the stay of Noah in the ark to ourselves, it is true that, while such a kind of retirement from the world can never be given to us, and that such a length of retirement may never be given, yet God does carry us away, at times, from active life, and shuts upon us the door of our house, as it were the door of the ark. Often in the midst of our life, our hand is forced from the plough, our feet from the crowded ways of the world; and even of the guileless pleasures which good men may find in the works of God, we are for a time deprived.
Surely, in our wiser and more thoughtful hours, we may thank God for these forced seasons of retirement, forced upon us that we may escape the pollutions of the world, study our Saviour’s will and word, give ourselves to fervent and more frequent prayer, commune with our heart and in our chamber, and be still--examine the tenor of our past lives, repent deeply, and at length, of those things which we have done amiss and contrary to the motions of the Spirit of grace, break off evil habits that have been formed, or are beginning to be formed, and by dwelling on all the love and all the truths of Jesus our Lord, be moved to consecrate ourselves afresh to Him, and to make our sickness the beginning of a more holy life. (Bp. Armstrong.)
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Genesis 7". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30