Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Windows, Yet Door

"One door and only one, and yet its sides are two?  I'm on the inside.  On which side are you?!"1

Why do you suppose there was only one door into the Ark?  Pictured above is the representation of Noah's Ark found at The Ark Encounter, in Williamstown, Kentucky.

16Make a roof for the ark and finish it, leaving 18 inches from the top. Put a door in the side of the ark, and make lower, middle, and upper decks.
Genesis 6:16 (NET)

The "cubit" of space between the top of the Ark and the roof allowed for windows of light and ventilation, but it was not enough space to permit water to overwhelm the Ark during the many tempestuous days of the Great Flood.  The windows figured prominently in determining when the judgment was concluded.  (See Genesis 8:6-12.)

There is little we actually know about the door of the Ark, other than God commanded Noah to set it in the side of the large boat.  However, it would make sense for the door to be located "on the middle deck".  In The Ark Encounter photo, you can see a ramp that extends diagonally up the side of the Ark, to a door in the middle deck.  There were so many animals to load, though....why only one door?

We see, further, in Genesis 7:16 that the Lord shut the door to the Ark, sealing inside all the human and animal and plant life.  This is significant.  Why mention the shutting of the door at all?  Or, why did Noah or his sons not shut it?

When we think of a miracle, what comes to mind?  We need to remember that not all of God's miracles were miracles of healing or of restoration.  Some, as in the case of the Flood, were miracles of judgment.  The Flood was not just some "natural disaster".  This was a supernatural judgment of God (and a foreshadowing of the work of Jesus Christ).  How else could this overgrown boat, albeit impressive, have survived such catastrophic upheaval, where the very "fountains of the deep" burst open? (Genesis 7:11)

God Himself shut the one-and-only door to keep the living inside safe through the year-long cataclysm.3  In Revelation 3:7 we read that when God opens a door no man can shut it and when He closes a door, no man can open it either.

There is a symbolic meaning in the Flood judgment.  As He did in the case of the Ark and the Flood judgment, God provides a way for people to escape eternal judgment through Jesus Christ.  Jesus referred to Himself as "the door", in John 10:9.  In that specific instance, Jesus was referring to the door or gate of the sheep pen, but the principle is the same.  He is the one and only way God has provided to "enter in" and receive salvation, eternal life.

The italicized quote at the top of the page is from a song I learned as a child.  It asks the question, "On which side of the door are you?".  Have you entered through the Door into God's Ark of eternal security?  If not, please enter in today!

Through the writing of the apostle John, Jesus uses the "door" metaphor again, in a slightly different way.  Open the door of your heart to Him today!

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Revelation 3:20 (ESV)





Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Gopher Wood

Many ancient earth cultures have flood legends in their oral and written histories.  You can read some of them here:
Scientists tend to dismiss a worldwide flood as causal factor for much of what we observe in the fossil record today.  However, if it did not happen, why would there be so many legends from all parts of the world testifying to its occurrence?
Furthermore, why would there be so much observable evidence for a "young earth"?

As Christians, our authoritative source is neither observable evidence, nor ancient literature.
We are going to look at the Ark as it is described in the Old Testament scriptures, since the Bible is our supreme authority as Christians.  Let's start with Genesis 6:14 NET) - -

Make for yourself an ark of cypress wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it with pitch inside and out.

The Hebrew word translated "ark" here is "tebah" and is used only 28 times in the Old Testament.  Every time, it is used to refer to either Noah's Ark or the woven basket used by Jochebed to house Moses, when she (his mother) set him afloat in bullrushes along the edge of the Nile River (Exodus 2:3 and Hebrews 11:23).
There's a reason I chose the NET translation of the preceding verse.  Translators of this version have extrapolated to say "cypress wood", whereas most older translators/translations say "gopher wood". (Gopher wood bears no relation to the prairie rodent pictured above, far as I can tell!)

Gopher wood no longer exists today.1  It was apparently so well known in the antediluvian world Noah knew what it was.  The Hebrew word translated "gopher" is used only once in the Bible, and that is here in Genesis 6:14.  The NET translators used "cypress" because it is a very hard, durable wood that could theoretically withstand brutal winds and rain.  But, bottom line, none of us knows beans about the wood used to create the Ark.

There are other speculations.  One is that there was a scribal error made in that word, between the Hebrew letters translated "g" and "k", because both look very similar to a backwards "c".  If the "g" was supposed to be a "k", then the resulting word "kopher" means "pitch", and the passage would read, "Make for yourself an ark of pitched wood."  In that case, it could have been any of several types of wood, as long as they were treated inside and out with pitch.

Still other scholars believe the word refers to the processing of the wood, that the planks were squared off with some sort of lamination process applied, in order for the planks to accommodate the dimensions of the overall structure.  We tend to assume that life before the flood was terribly antiquainted; I think that is a mistake.  It is very likely that antediluvian world was actually more advanced than is ours.

Isn't that something?

Moving on . . .

15This is how you should make it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. 16Make a roof for the ark and finish it, leaving 18 inches from the top. Put a door in the side of the ark, and make lower, middle, and upper decks.
Genesis 6:15-16 (NET)

If you have not visited the Ark Encounter in Williamston, KY, you should really go.  The replica of Noah's Ark they have created really brings to life this part of human history.  No longer must we imagine the scope of the Ark, because we can see a replica of its dimensions, before our very eyes.  As you pull up to the Ark Encounter complex, you can easily spot the massive boat,  perched on a hilltop in the distance.  The unit of measurement in the Hebrew text is "cubit".  No one is totally sure what the length of a cubit was, as there is some discrepancy between the Egyptian royal cubit and the typical OT cubit, which was about 3 inches shorter.  Using the Egyptian measure, the Ark would have been close to 512 feet in length; using the OT cubit, it would have been closer to 437 feet in length.

The dimensions of the Ark were a ratio of 30 x 5 x 3.  (Did you know that, according to ship-builders, this is the optimum ratio for stability of a vessel in rough seas?2  Furthermore, it was not until the late 1800s that a post-Flood sea vessel of this size was attempted.)

Even going with the shorter cubit, the Ark could have held the equivalent of 569 railroad boxcars.  If you use as an average that each animal was the size of a sheep, the Ark could have held over 125,000 animals.  We will examine passengers and cargo in an upcoming post.

Before we leave these verses, however, we will, in the next post, examine the roof vents and the door of the vessel.




Wednesday, January 16, 2019


What does it mean when something or someone is "ruined"?  Not a pleasant thought, is it?
Today's text is Genesis 6:11-13 (ESV).  Notice the word "corrupt" in this passage, because a more accurate translation of it would be "so corrupt that it was totally ruined".1  (The NET version, in fact, uses the word "ruined".)  We've now returned, here in the blog, to the book of Genesis!

11Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh,c for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

Some of us question God's actions in this story, because we cannot fathom how "bad" things were.  Surely, we reason, things could have been turned around or repaired.  After all, the Bible is filled with other stories of how God took the most extremely sinful people and the most horrible, seemingly-irredeemable circumstances and did miraculous spiritual transformations.  But, to make this wrong assumption is to demonstrate misunderstanding of how bad things actually were.

In their lust for knowledge and power, mankind had "sold out" to the fallen angelic beings who had come to live among them, after their expulsion from Heaven, after their failed rebellion against Jehovah Sabaoth, (the God of Angel Armies, the Lord of Hosts).  Being thoroughly evil, these beings had intermarried with humans, thereby ruining the human bloodline of every family making that irreversible choice.  And yes, they had a choice.  We see this from the deliberateness of the phrase "had corrupted their way".  The Fallen surely provided a strong temptation, but God never leaves Man without a choice.  (It was the exercise of free will in the Garden of Eden that started this downward spiral, after all.)  The legacy of the "ancient aliens" (to borrow the title of a popular TV show here in America), the demonic Nephilim, the gibborim (Genesis 6:4), was complete, pervasive violence.  They were not a benevolent group of entities.  No, they were hell-bent on destroying the human race, in order to prevent a pure human bloodline through which Messiah would be born.  And, they very nearly succeeded.

Satan and his minions (thankfully, the major architects of the pre-Flood world's ruination are currently locked up tight in Tartarus....2 Peter 2:4) are today still at work, trying to convince us that we are all hopelessly ruined.  Perhaps you have felt that way.  I know that I have . . . and, from time to time, still do.

There is good news, though - - such incredibly good news!  Because of Jesus, and His finished work, NO ONE is hopelessly ruined.  As long as there is breath in the body, there is the potential for God to turn things around, to redeem the broken. There is only one sin which cannot be forgiven2 , and that sin is a deliberate decision on the part of the person who willfully commits it.  (If you don't know what that unforgivable sin is, click on Source 2 below, because it is a whole blog post, in itself.)

When we feel hopelessly, irrevocably ruined, the best thing we can do is to look at the Word of God and cling to His promises.  Here's one of them, that the Lord brought to my mind just now.  Perhaps it was meant not only for me today, but for you also.

12What do you think? If someone owns a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go look for the one that went astray? 13And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14In the same way, your Father in heaven is not willing that one of these little ones be lost.
Matthew 18:12-14 (NET)

And, one more....

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
1 Cor. 10:13 (NASB)

Yes, God IS faithful!  In the next post, we will examine Noah's Ark and God's promises to Noah, which still apply to us today.




Friday, January 11, 2019

A New Moon

The truth is . . . I had to drag myself here this morning.  As the extended hiatus I've been on since just before Christmas stretched on and on, each day made me less inclined to return to this blog and write.  There are a couple of reasons for my absence, well, three if I'm honest.
The first is that my last child left home and I have been trying to adjust to that new void.
The second is that my house was (I felt) physically in such disarray I could no longer cope by ignoring it.
The third is that I have been, quite honestly, in a state of spiritual funk, where I just felt there was no point, that I have nothing worthwhile to say, etc.
Taken altogether, these kept me away, as I walked through the recent days of both growth and grief.

If God gives you the grace to be an "emptynester", there is some adjusting to do regarding how quiet the house becomes.  You realize that your job, as parent, is largely done - - at least, you realize that if your children are as independent as mine.  That is a sobering and saddening thought.  You acknowledge you should be giving thanks for all God has done in your life and the life of your children.  Knowing something intellectually, however, does not equate to feeling it in real time.

On the bright side, my laundry room, pantry, home office and more generally the rest of the house has been restored to some semblance of order and peace.  I'm not a fastidious housekeeper, preferring usually to do things of more "value" (a deeply personal construct).  It gets to a point, though, where the disorganization is overwhelming.  I reached that point just after Christmas.

Don't ever make the mistake of looking at anyone and believing that they have it easy or "all together".  I am supremely grateful to "giants of the faith" like Charles Spurgeon, who was open about his emotional struggles.  I've not been doubting my faith, although God forgives even that.  I've just been sad in my deepest heart of hearts, and I'd appreciate your prayers about that.

Well now, after that rather lengthy (and probably distracting) introduction, let's examine some Scripture together.  Presently, we will return to the book of Genesis in this blog's ongoing exegesis.  However, today is not that day.

19He made the moon to mark the seasons;
the sun knows when to set.
Psalm 104:19 (BSB)

Earlier this week, leaving the house after nightfall, I spotted the new moon in the night sky...just the tiniest sliver!  Some have compared the people of God to the moon.  This is because, although there are times the moon is not visible, yet it is still there.  Some nights are "dark as night" as a result; others are nearly as bright as midday, when the moon is full and in close perigee to the Earth. 

The Jewish calendar(s), {and of course, there is debate about which "one" is "the one"}, share this feature in common.  They are lunar calendars, whereas the Western, Roman calendar is a solar calendar.  And, the beginning of each month is marked by the spotting of the new moon, Rosh Chodesh.  However, in the more ancient times, Jews would search the night skies for that sliver of hope, that new moon, to declare a new month had begun.  "In ancient times Rosh Chodesh was declared by the beit din (Jewish court) only after two credible witnesses would testify that they had seen the new moon. Since the fourth century, however, it has been determined by a preset calendar."1

This week's most recent new moon has ushered in the Jewish month of Shevat (or Shvat).  Although it occurs in the dead of winter, it is seen as a time or rebirth and new beginnings - - a harbinger of spring.  Thanks be to God that the days are gradually "getting longer"!

If you feel you are wandering in the dark today, look for the new moon.  If you are a Christian, you are not immune from apogee and perigee.  There will be times you will feel like you are stumbling in darkness, others when you are dancing in the light.  God, your Father, Christ, your Savior, and the Holy Spirit within you are no more "with you" or "far from you" at either time.  His presence is not dependent upon your cares or your moods or even your legitimate life circumstances.

He has promised to "be with you always", if you have accepted and trusted Him as your one and only Savior.  On that His children can always depend.