Saturday, March 29, 2014

Noah: How Long Did It Take To Build The Ark?

Noah was a righteous man, perfect in all his generations, called by God to build an ark to save a remnant of mankind and beasts of the field into the postdiluvian world. Once called, Noah set about doing exactly what God called him to do. 
How long did it take him to build the ark before the floods came? 


I've heard it said many times that the ark was 120 years in the making based on this passage in Genesis -

(Gen 6:3 KJV) And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. 

The conclusion that is drawn from this one scripture is that God was telling us how long it would be before he destroyed mankind in the flood. So, it must have taken Noah 120 years between the time God called him and the time God sealed him and his family inside with the animals and the rains began. But is that really so? Let's examine a couple more scriptures that may serve to clarify.

The very first mention of Noah is back in Genesis chapter 5 when his birth to Lamech is called out in a delineation of his heritage all the way back to Adam.

Gen 5:28-32 KJV  And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son:  (29)  And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.  (30)  And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters:  (31)  And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died.  (32)  And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Lamech was 182 years old when his wife gave birth to Noah and he lived another 595 years to the age of 777. After Noah turned 500 years old he had 3 sons of his own, Shem, Ham and Japheth. Japheth was the elder (Gen 10:21), then Shem and Ham was the younger. (Gen 9:24)

Amidst a corrupt and violent world, Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord in Genesis chapter 6 and verse 8 - 

Gen 6:8-10 KJV  But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.  (9)  These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.  (10)  And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Noah is one of only two men of whom it is said in the Bible that he "walked with God". The other is Noah's great-grandfather, Enoch. (Gen 5:24) Beginning in verse 11 is where God gave Noah his instructions. Noah immediately set about doing all that the Lord had commanded him. Noah began to have sons after that, after the age of 500.

Gen 6:11-22 KJV  The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.  (12)  And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.  (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.
  
Noah was 500 years old when God called him and gave him the instructions to build the ark. When did the flood start?

Gen 7:6 KJV  And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.
Gen 7:11 KJV  In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

Imagine the faith Noah must have had to believe what God said, not knowing how or when He was going to do it but went about his business building an ark according to God's instructions despite the jeering he must have endured from everyone around him.

If Noah was 600 years old when the rains came, and was 500 years old when his first son (Japheth) was born and God called him, how many years did he spend building the ark? 100 years, not 120. Further proof is found in Genesis 11:10 - 

Gen 11:10 KJV  These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood:

If Shem was born after Noah was called but before the flood and was 100 years old just 2 years after the flood, then it couldn't have taken more than 100 years to build the ark.

Side bar - God is merciful. When did Noah's father, Lamech die? Remember Gen 5:30 where it says he lived 595 years after the birth of Noah? The flood came when Noah was 600 years old. In God's mercy, He allowed his father to die 5 years before the flood.  And Noah's grandfather, Methuselah lived 5 years after Lamech's death, right up to the time of the flood before he too died. [or did he die in the flood?]

So let's go back to Genesis 6:3 where God says he will not always strive with man yet his days shall be 120 years? What did God mean by this if it wasn't the time remaining until the flood?

(Gen 6:3 KJV) And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. 

Some have said that this means man will no longer live into the hundreds of years like Noah (950 years) and others born before the flood but that man's life will now be limited to 120 years. One can easily reach this conclusion as we rarely if ever hear of anyone achieving this age and even then there's usually some doubt about the accuracy of the record keeping. But if the lives of men born after the flood were to be shortened to 120 years, how does one explain the descendants of Shem outlined in Genesis 11 living to be hundreds of years old several generations into the future? 
Further, King David, a man after God's own heart, (Acts 13:22) so he must know what he's talking about, stated that man's years are ONLY three score and ten, (70) four score if he has strength (80). (Psa 90:10) So this passage in Genesis must not be telling us how old a man's life will be. It must be something else. Let's read the entire passage again.

(Gen 6:3 KJV) And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

God didn't say a man's life would be but 120 years. He said His spirit will strive with man but 120 years, meaning that God will allow him 120 years to run his course and have dominion over the earth. How can that be? Man has been here way beyond 120 years! Let's look further and see what God meant by this.

When did God begin to strive with man? The Interlinear translates this phrase as "contend with man". Originally God made man in His own image and blessed him. (Gen 1:26-31) He gave him everything he needed to eat and flourish and told him to be fruitful and multiply and to have dominion over the earth. What happened?

Genesis 3.

Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Deceived or not, God held them responsible. God rebuked them, put pain in the birthing process and cursed the ground upon which they would toil to get their food. God began to strive with man when He drove him out of the Garden of Eden for disobedience in approximately 3975 BC. So what about the 120 years then? 

God thinks of time very differently than man does. God is eternal and time is forever. A day is but a blip in the overall scheme of things to God. Look at how man views time and compare. When we look at our lives do we think in terms of seconds or even minutes? We think in those terms only if we're focused on a particular task or event but we don't think of our lives in those terms. We think more in terms of years, or decades, or a span of time such as when "we were kids", or "when we were in elementary school". We have a tendency to group years into chunks that are related to each other to make them more relevant, like the years "when we were in high school" or the years "when our children were growing up". 

Suppose God does the same thing. Suppose God groups years together into meaningful blocks that are more relevant to Him. God thinks in terms of His perfect calendar and does everything according to His plan. God thinks in broader terms than we do, in aeons or ages, such as the age of man or the Millennial reign of Christ. A day is as a thousand years to God (2Pet 3:8) so His tendency may be to think in larger blocks of time. 
One such block of time on God's calendar is a group of 50 years that culminate in what God calls a Jubilee year, described in Leviticus chapter 25. A Jubilee year would be a nice mark of time, regularly spaced, that would be significant enough to serve as a means for God to count toward some future event. The Counting of the Omer from the wave sheaf offering between Passover and the fiftieth day of Pentecost is a type of this marking of time moving toward the future event of the Feast of Weeks, (Shavuot) or Pentecost. Pentecost has even been described as a "mini-Jubilee" as it represents counting 7 times 7 weeks and then the 50th day when God poured out His Spirit at the beginning of the Church.

Suppose, then, that the 120 years God spoke of in Genesis 6:3 are Jubilee years, 120 blocks of 50 years each? How many years total does 120 Jubilee years equal? 

120 Jubilees x 50 years each = 6,000 years

God has consistently given us a model to go by in order to understand His plan for mankind. When God created the heavens and the earth, He worked 6 days and rested on the 7th day, the Sabbath day of rest. The age of man's rule over the earth, the time he was allotted to have dominion has often been ascribed to be 6,000 years. We're told a day is as a thousand years with God, (2Pet 3:8) so the first 6 days are equal to the 6,000 years of man's reign on earth. The 7th day represents the 1,000 year Millennial rest of Christ's reign on earth. (Rev 20:6)

Man turned his back on God, in essence saying, he will do things his own way and doesn't need to listen to God. God's plan from the beginning was only to strive with man for 6,000 years allowing him time to prove for himself that he cannot make it on his own without destroying himself. (Matt 24:21-22) God in His infinite loving mercy allowed in His plan a way for man to reconcile himself to God through our Lord Jesus Christ if we will repent and turn our lives over to Him.

God is a God of perfect timing and the hourglass is quickly running out. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. (Rev 22:20) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

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