Monday, July 25, 2016

Genesis 6:13-22 comments: Noah's instructions

13 ¶  And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14  Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. 15  And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. 16  A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. 17  And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. 18  But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee. 19  And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. 20  Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. 21  And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.

    22 ¶  Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.

God announces to Noah what He intends to do and commands Noah to build a ship. The dimensions of this ship, called an ark, depend on what the exact length of a cubit was, a point of uncertainty among scholars. If the cubit was 1 ½ feet long then it was around 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet tall. Perhaps, if the cubit was closer to 2 feet than it was 600 feet long, 100 feet wide, and 60 feet tall. There is no one on earth who can say for sure. Ancient peoples used varying lengths for cubits although it is said that the ancient Egyptians used the length from a man’s elbow to his fingertips.

This gives us a range for a ship large enough to certainly carry representatives of all creatures that were going to perish. It is important to remember, as I pointed out in my comments on chapter one, verse 11 that the kind of the Bible is a much larger classification than the “species” of modern taxonomy, of which there are literally a couple of dozen definitions. For representatives of a modern family or order, in a world where solar radiation had not taken its extreme effects and mutations were probably less frequent than they are now, it does not even take a stretch of the imagination to consider a primal cat family, dog family, or even alligator family having its representatives on the ark. It is foolish to read modern taxonomic classifications back into the Bible as the word, “family,” for instance, wasn’t used for biological classification until a French botanist used it in 1689.

So, there is more than enough room in the ark for representatives of large modern-day classifications of animals and provisions to care for them. God could use the much-changed environment after the Flood to lead to rapid speciation as all of the characteristics required for variation within a kind are included within the genetic code already implanted by God. However, this produced a variety of cats, dogs, alligators, and pea plants and there is no evidence that if you introduce mutations into a group of flies that after thousands of generations that you still won’t have just very messed up flies and not lizards. The only way modern scientists can make their macroevolution happen is to divide creatures up into ever smaller groupings and say triumphantly if a fly develops characteristics of its own due to environmental pressures within the restrictions of its genetic code that it becomes something other than a fly. The fact is, all of the tools required for variation within a kind is already given by God in its genetic code. After all, have we not created many dozens of breeds of dogs within Animal Husbandry over the past 2-300 years and yet they are all still dogs and no new creature has been created?

You are, of course, free to look for the remains of the ark but there is no need for there to be any. It was, like the great fish of Jonah 1:17, specially prepared for a specific purpose. Looking for relics is a poor preference rather than reading and believing God’s word.

There was one door into the ark, the physical salvation of mankind. Christ is the one door by which we can have eternal life and be saved for eternity. There are so many great sermons to be had from this one passage. The ark was the vehicle by which a small remnant of mankind was saved. Christ is the vehicle by which a remnant of humanity is saved for eternity.

Verse 17 tells us that all flesh, wherein is the breath of life will die. Breathing is a significant action in God’s determination of what is living. Think of some things that we call life that do not breathe air, the act of respiration being a foundation of God’s definition of life. Think of things that have no sense of self-identity, no souls, that are driven merely by chemical impulses. Perhaps some things that mankind defines as living are mere biological machines with no soul and no spirit.

But, clearly, some creatures other than man to have a soul and a spirit. Here is one statement about souls.

Job 12:10  In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.

Here is Solomon in his humanity questioning whether there is any difference between a man’s fate and a beast’s.

Ecclesiastes 3:21  Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?

It would be useful to contemplate what God calls living without reading our definitions back into it. But, sadly, mankind all too often creates a God in his own head that is merely a reflection of himself and his own self-worship and has no interest in contemplating how the God of the Bible looks at a thing.

Everything that breathed air that did not have a place on the ark, was to physically die in this deluge. The verse clearly states that everything in the earth that has the breath of life shall die. All air-breathing land-animals die and must be preserved by representatives in the ark.

God makes a covenant, and there are several covenants in the Bible, with Noah and his family, promising them survival. He orders Noah to save at least two of every sort of creature, synonymous with kind, a classification discussed earlier. He also commands provisions to be brought into the ark for them.

Noah, being the man that he was, followed God’s instructions to the letter.

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