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Genesis 6:9-22 -

The building of the ark.

I. THE MAN AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES . A common saying, and one possessed of a show of wisdom, that a person seldom rises far above the average goodness, or sinks far below the average wickedness, of the age in which he lives. Yet it is precisely in proportion as individuals either excel or fall beneath their generation that they are able to affect it for good or evil. All epoch-making men are of this stamp. Noah, it is obvious, was not a man whose character was shaped by his contemporaries. In respect of three things, the contrast between him and them was as great and decided as could well be imagined.

1. Legal standing . Noah was a just man, i.e. a sinner justified by his believing acceptance of the gospel promise of the woman's seed; while they were corrupt, or bad declined into infidelity.

2. Spiritual character . Noah was perfect in the sense that his heart was right with God, and his nature was renewed by Divine grace; they were wanting in all the essential characteristics of true being, "alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that was in them, because of the hardness of their hearts."

3. Outer walk . As a consequence the daily life of Noah was one of eminent piety—a walking with God, like that of Enoch; while theirs was one of impious defiance of the laws of God, and ruthless oppression of the rights of men. Learn


1. Appalling in its form . The destruction of a world by a flood of waters. "In the beginning," at God's command, the goodly fabric had risen from the waters ( Genesis 1:2 ; 2 Peter 3:5 ), radiant in beauty, swimming in a sea of light, rejoicing its Creator's heart ( Genesis 1:31 ); now it was about to return to the dark and formless matrix whence it sprang. If the world's birth woke music among the morning stars ( Job 38:7 ), surely its destruction was enough to make the angels weep!

2. Universal in its sweep . Without engaging at present in any controversy as to the actual extent of the Deluge, we may notice that Elohim represents it as destructive of the entire human race (Noah and his family excepted). Considering the impression made upon our hearts by the report of some sudden accident (the explosion of a mine, the sinking of a ship, the collision of a train), in which a number of lives are lost, it is not wonderful that the echo of this stupendous catastrophe should have vibrated through the world (see 'Traditions of the Deluge').

3. Supernatural in its origin . It was not an ordinary occurrence, but a distinctly miraculous phenomenon. "Behold, I , even I , do bring a flood of waters upon the earth."

4. Punitive in its purpose . Its retributive character was distinctly implied in the form of its announcement—" I will destroy." All temporal calamities are not of this description. That all suffering is penal was the mistake of Job's friends ( Job 4:7 , et passim ), though not of Job himself, and certainly it is not the teaching of the Bible (cf. Job 33:29 ; Psalms 94:12 ; Romans 8:28 ; 2 Corinthians 4:17 ). But this was—

5. Melancholy in its occasion— the total, absolute, and radical corruption of the earth's inhabitants. Through unbelief and disobedience they had ruined the moral nature which God had given them; and now there was no help for it but that they should be swept away.

6. Inevitable in its coming . Implied in one interpretation of the words "the end of all flesh" ( vide Expos.). Sin ever carries its own retribution in its bosom; not merely, however, in recoiling upon itself with inward misery, sense of loss, weakness, depravation; but likewise in necessitating the infliction on the part of Elohim of positive retribution.

7. Near in its approach . "Behold, I am bringing I " as if it were already at hand. See here


1. It related to the safety of the Church (verse 18). At that time the antediluvian Church was small, consisting only of Noah and his family ( Genesis 7:1 ), and in all probability uninfluential and despised, by the Gibborim and Nephilim of the day ridiculed and oppressed. Endangered by the immorality and violence of the times, it was likewise imperiled by the impending Deluge. Yet God never leaves his people unprotected or unprovided for ( Deuteronomy 33:12 ; Psalms 34:15 ; Psalms 46:5 ; Zechariah 2:5 ; 2 Peter 2:9 ). The Church of God and Christ is imperishable ( Isaiah 54:17 ; Matthew 16:18 ; Matthew 18:14 ). That was symbolized to Israel by the burning bush ( Exodus 3:2 ), and to all postdiluvian time by the ark. It was impossible that God could be unconcerned about the safety of the believing remnant in antediluvian times. The commission which came to Noah concerned the rescue of himself and children.

2. It was Divinely given (verses 13, 14). Salvation is of the Lord ( Psalms 3:8 ; Jonah 2:9 ). Manifestly only God could have provided for the safety of Noah and his family. Directions from any other quarter, or even expedients devised by himself, must have proved both futile and presumptuous. So, whatever instructions may be given to man with a view to salvation must come from God, if they are to be successful. Schemes of redemption may be beautiful, ingenious, attractive, hopeful; if they are not God's schemes they are worthless ( Isaiah 43:11 ; Hosea 13:4 ).

3. It was minutely detailed (verses 14-16). The plan which God proposed to Noah for the salvation of himself and house was building of an ark according to Divinely-prepared specifications. In its construction there was no room left for the exercise of inventive genius. Like the tabernacle in the wilderness, it was fashioned according to a God-given pattern. And so, in all that concerns the salvation of sinful men, from first to last the plan is God's, admitting neither of addition nor subtraction, correction nor improvement, at the hands of the men themselves.

4. It was believingly received ( Hebrews 11:7 ). Perhaps the last device that would ever have suggested itself to the mind of Noah, very likely ridiculed by his contemporaries as an act of folly, probably at times regarded with considerable misgivings by the patriarch himself, and certainly an undertaking that would involve immense labor, patient endurance, heroic self-sacrifice, it was yet accepted in a spirit of meek and unquestioning faith. And so should it be with us. When God speaks we should hear. When he directs we should obey.

5. It was obediently carried through (verse 22). This was the best test of his faith. Where obedience is absent, faith is not present. Faith always discovers its existence by obedience ( Hebrews 11:8 ). Learn—

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