Within the Ark
Sharon Chang—Brisbane, Australia
In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the
second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains
of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And
the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights. (Gen 7:11–12)
The ark rocked furiously at every
sweep of the gigantic waves. The deafening roar of thunder accompanying the
fearsome storm. Incessant rain pelting the roofs and the windows echoing
through the gopherwood vessel. Huge boulders swept by the raging currents.
Uprooted trees, perhaps even mighty oaks, crashing against each other … yet not
quite drowning out the terrified screams of drowning humanity….
Have you ever wondered what was
going through Noah’s mind?
IMAGINE NOAH’S JOY…
Perhaps his mind was not even on
the external tumult because inside the ark, there was another symphony of
nature resounding ... the sounds of “seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a
male and his female; also seven each of birds of the air, male and female” (Gen
But amidst the turbulence, I
reckon Noah would have been at peace. Despite the cacophony, Noah would have
felt so very blessed …
• … because his beloved wife
was with him within the ark.
There were probably times when Noah got restless from being cooped up for so
long or became frustrated with managing all those animals. But the one closest
to him would understand; she would help him manage the family. Importantly,
because they both worshipped the same God, she would comfort and remind him
that their heavenly Father was in charge and knew what He was doing. She would
tell him that they were so blessed to be safe. And his faith would be restored.
(cf. Eccl 4:9,10)
• … because his sons were
within the ark.
Noah would have been devastated if he himself were in the ark but knew that the
three young men in their prime, whom he and Mrs. Noah had spent so much effort
to bring up, were out there in that catastrophic flood. Though he was snug and
safe, his mind would have been in turmoil imagining his sons struggling,
gasping for breath, and dying, dying … slowly, agonizingly…. But now, he could
see them walking round, helping to feed the animals, doing minor repairs and
keeping the ark clean. He would be proud, thinking, “Good, they are doing their
part to thank the Lord God who saved us.” (cf. Jer 35:18,19)
• … because his daughters-in-law were within the ark.
Had his daughters-in-law refused to go in, his sons would have been so torn—to
stay with their faithless wives or to follow their godly parents into the ark?
Then, after the flood, with the entire human race destroyed, what would his
sons do to establish their families? From where would come godly offspring to
revere and honor the Creator who had delivered them? No, Noah had no worries on
that score. Undoubtedly, Noah’s daughters-in-law would also have had their own
tough decisions to make. Their own families must have been among the unbelieving
multitude who mocked Noah as they built their huge ark amidst dry, good
weather. But like Ruth, who came generations after them, these women made the
right choice to enter the ark. (cf. Ruth 1:16,14–22)
• … because they could gather everyday
to thank God for calling them, preserving them, and continuing to sustain them.
Even living so close to all sorts of animals, with no ‘fresh air’ since the
Lord God “shut him in” (Gen 7:16), they were in good spirits and health. In
fact, since they were all in the ark, any time, anyone of them felt that they
had a good testimony to share, they could just gather together to remember the
Almighty God’s grace. And such frequent gathering together would be a great
opportunity for Noah to really pass on his solid faith to his ‘boys’. He would
tell them again the story they all loved from young—about their great
grandfather Enoch who never died but was just taken up to heaven suddenly. (cf.
• … because they could serve the Lord together.
Noah loved serving his God but it was hard work, first building the ark, and
now, running a ‘floating zoo’. But when the people you love and who love you
work alongside you, somehow the hours fly by.
Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms
in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. And this is how you
shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width
fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. (Gen 6:14–15)
God’s instructions were specific
and plans good—but still it would take energy, time and dedication to make it a
reality. It was a good thing that Noah had his family to help him. In turn,
Noah would have also derived joy seeing each son (or daughter-in-law) put his
(and her) individual talent to good use. Perhaps one started off not being very
good at his or her allocated task; but as the days went by, with Noah’s
encouragement, he or she improved. With familial love as their guiding
principle, they could expect fewer quarrels about who should do more, or who
was shirking or who should be made ‘Captain of the Ark’ and so on. All did
their best because they were going to be on the same boat! (cf. Mt 18:19–20)
• … because they could quickly resolve differences.
Just as we sometimes accidentally bite our tongue or lips, even the closest of
siblings or the mildest or most loving parents and children have conflicts.
Often these blow over. But occasionally, some get blown out of proportion.
Hurtful words are said. Cold wars begin. Noah’s family was not perfect. Little squabbles
would have arisen from time to time; perhaps even a serious bust-up or two. But
the reality was that no-one could throw a huge tantrum and threaten to move out
after these quarrels. Running from the storm within would literally land one up
in the storm outside! As wise patriarch, Noah would then have got the different
parties to calmly sit down, work things out AND forgive each other. “Look,”
he’d say, “we have all types of ANIMALS peacefully coexisting. It’d be
embarrassing if we HUMANS couldn’t.” And they would reconcile. Had they not,
the atmosphere in the ark would have been terrible and no-one knew when they
would be getting out. After all, God just told them the rains would last forty
days and nights. He did not tell them how long it would take the water to
subside. The wonderful thing about being of the same faith was that they could
kneel down together, raise their faces towards that solitary window and ask the
heavenly Father to take away the cold hard knot of anger and reignite the spark
of family love. (cf. Col 3:12–21)
• … because they could ALL look forward to a new world.
It had been almost a year from the day that God had shut them in (Gen 7:11) to
when they finally emerged (Gen 8:13). In that time, there would definitely have
been days when things just became really difficult—uncooperative animals,
unhappy family members and a particularly rocky boat. Perhaps, like children,
Ham, Shem or Japheth had fretted, “How much longer? When will we get there,
Dad?” Perhaps one of the spouses murmured in private, “Is your father really
sure that there will be a better tomorrow for us?”
During such moments of doubt, mutual encouragement to focus on the Lord’s
providence would have been critical. Being of one faith, the stronger would
remind the weaker to focus on how every word of God had been fulfilled thus
far. Those who had mocked and jeered them as they built the ark were no more.
Those who had caroused and sinned while the Noah family practiced self-control
had been swept away. Brought up to worship one Lord, they would remind each
other of the stories of the beautiful garden of Eden.
God had created vastness from emptiness once. He was going to do it again. And
they—blessed above all families—had been chosen to be the first family in this new
Then it happened! The ark finally
docked at Mount Ararat. But patience was still needed. It would be another
forty days before the waters sufficiently subsided.
“Not long now, not long now…” you
can almost hear Noah reassuring them as he released his weekly bird, “God has
already brought us so far. Trust Him. It’ll be worth it.” (cf. Heb 11; 12:1–3,
And finally the day came—the
long-awaited sound of His voice and the words:
Then God spoke to Noah, saying, “Go out of the
ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you.”
So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and
his sons’ wives with him. Every animal, every creeping thing, every bird, and
whatever creeps on the earth, according to their families, went out of the ark.
(Gen 8:15–16, 18)
The Noah family must have oohed and
aahed as they emerged—How bright! How fresh the air! How beautiful the new
And when God painted the first
rainbow … they would have been stunned into silence, clutching each other in
excitement. The pleasure of a beautiful sunset or a special event would be much
reduced if there were no-one to share it with. For the Noah family, the
pleasure was 7-fold!
LESSONS FROM WITHIN THE ARK
There are many lessons to be drawn
from the flood at Noah’s time. But a critical one is the great comfort and joy
that can be derived from sharing with one’s family one Lord, one faith, one
baptism, one Spirit and one hope. A loving earthly family provides
irreplaceable warmth and emotional fulfillment. But a loving earthly family in
the Lord can additionally supply spiritual ballast—intercession in times of
difficulty, mutual encouragement and motivation to reach the eternal heavenly
At this point, some of us do not yet
have our entire family within the ark. Some of our families may still
vehemently oppose our faith; some others are tolerant but do not want us to
evangelize to them. It is natural to be discouraged if we are rejected (or even
persecuted) whenever we try to share the gospel. But we cannot afford to give
up. We must remind ourselves that those not in the ark have
zero chance of survival! Puny humans were no match for the gigantic waves in
Noah’s time; they are no match for the tsunami of sin and wickedness in our
world today. So we have to tirelessly try to bring them in. Cling on to the
biblical promise that our loving Father does not want anyone to perish, and
continually intercede for them. Abraham had no qualms respectfully bargaining
with God because Lot and his family meant so much to him. Surely, our families
mean just as much, if not more!
While continuing our efforts, let us
not focus on immediate results. The Lord Jesus Himself had to overcome his
siblings’ disbelief slowly through His unceasing love and ultimate sacrifice.
So He knows exactly what we have to go through and, if we cast our burden of
bringing our unbelieving families onto Him, He can do marvelous things for us.
However, we should also imitate Him
by being a shining example of Christian virtues within our families. Human
beings are wont to compare. It will be much more difficult to convince our
family of God’s love if our atheist or Buddhist relative behaves so much better
than us—be it in word or deed. It may be stressful feeling that we cannot even
relax and ‘be ourselves’ at home but, if we submit to Him, the Holy Spirit can
truly transform us into the flavorful salt of the earth.
This is also where church
members—the larger family in Christ—can play a part. When our brethren bring
their non-believing family members to church, we should go out of our way to
make them feel at home. They may not be very friendly towards us given their
preconceived notions of Christians and the True Jesus Church. Again, the Lord
Jesus understands. When He first approached the Samaritan woman, her response
was somewhat sarcastic. But He persisted in drawing her out of her shell. So
when we too persevere in this work of supporting our sole-believer brethren,
the Lord will help us in this task.
For those who do have their families
in the ark—never, never take such grace for granted. Ancient sages believed
that family wealth would not last beyond three generations—the first generation
earns the wealth, the second grows it, the third spends it all! It may not
literally be three generations but the implicit warning is that affluence may
breed complacency, and if not managed, deteriorates into wastefulness. The same
holds true for the precious asset of our faith. We may be the fourth or fifth
generation of True Jesus Church believers in our families but we shall be the
last generation if we do not make sure that our children believe that being in
the ark is better than being outside.
Some members are puzzled why their
teenage children are disengaging from church although they have gone through
the full Religious Education system. There are many factors leading to this
outcome. But the most common one is the parents’ own manifestation of faith at
home. What is our behavior signaling to our children? Do we tell them it is
fine to skip Sabbath service to study during examination periods? Have we been
too busy to keep an eye on the company they keep, the websites they visit and
even the language they use? Remember the warnings from the stories of Eli’s and
If our whole family enjoys the
Lord’s grace, thank God constantly for preserving our faith so far. But labor
diligently so that our faith and the faith of our fathers will truly become the
faith of our children and their children. It is not just the duty of the
religious education teachers to grow our children’s faith. Like Noah, we all
have to make the effort to keep everyone within the ark.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by
prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to
God. (Phil 4:6)