GOD LOOKED with sorrow on these human creatures He loved. He was so displeased at their refusal to abide by His rules for happy living that He decided to do an awesome thing. He would blot them out of existence by a worldwide Flood! (Gen. 6:7). God knew that if human beings were to continue in their evil ways, they would destroy themselves more painfully. His way would be more merciful. Then He would bring them back to life thousands of years later when Jesus Christ would be ruling Earth. They would then realize how much wiser it would be to obey their Creator. At that time God saw only one man who was willing to live according to His laws. His name was Noah. (Gen. 6:8.) He warned the people who lived around him that their lives depended on their turning from their evil ways and obeying God. His warnings were ignored. One day he was startled to hear the Eternal speaking to him. Said God: "Because men have disobeyed me and become so evil, I am going to take away their lives. But because you have obeyed me, I am going to spare your life and the lives of your family. All other people will be drowned in a great flood that will cover the whole planet.,' "But how can my family and I escape such a flood?" Noah asked. "I will instruct you in building a large ship," God answered. "It will be of such size that it will hold at least one pair of every kind of creature on Earth." (Gen. 6:14-16.)
Noah Builds an Ark
Although Noah was four hundred and eighty years old when he and his three sons later started the task of ship-building, old age wasn't a drawback in very early times when human bodies were probably closer to being as perfect as the bodies of Adam and Eve.
When people heard what Noah and his sons were doing, they came for many miles to stare and laugh at what was going on. "Noah must be crazy!" they jeered. "Who ever heard of building a ship that size? There isn't even any water around here to float it in!"
"He thinks there will be a sudden big flood!" others scoffed. "He's going to have all that work and expense for nothing!" Years passed. The ship, or ark, grew larger. The closer it came to being finished, the more onlookers ridiculed the patient Noah and his three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, who carefully carried on for nearly a hundred years, probably with many other men helping them, to work by the ship plans through which God directed them. Meanwhile, Noah continued reminding his scoffers that the Flood would come in due time because of their disobedience, but that those who would repent and obey could be spared. No one outside Noah's family believed what he said. "You've been saying that for a hundred years, and there still isn't the slightest sign of a flood!" people sneered. "You are only a religious crackpot!,'
The Ark Is Finished
Twenty more years passed (Gen. 6:3) while onlookers jeered at the sight of a mammoth ship sitting far from any place where it could float. God had patiently given them one hundred and twenty years to think about their sins and decide to live differently. (II Pet. 2:5.) People must have admired Noah and his sons, however, for their ability to build such a craft. It was higher than a four-story building, and ten times as long as it was high! It was designed to be a huge, floating zoo. The interior was divided into stables and cages for the many creatures that were to be loaded into it. There were runways, ventilator shafts, feeding troughs and everything that would be needed for the strange, live cargo. By the time the ship was finished and smeared with waterproof pitch, Noah was almost six hundred years old! His sons were then far older than most people are today when they die of old age. But more work had to be done. There was the task of gathering and storing in the ark the many tons of food that would be needed by the animals. Hay, grain, dried fruit and dried meat were hauled from the surrounding country and stowed aboard along with huge tanks of fresh water. People continued to laugh at this activity. They wouldn't believe that worldwide disaster was at hand. Instead, they felt that there was a glorious future for man as he spread out to conquer the whole Earth. It was much as it is today, when a few men chosen by God are warning all nations of a great calamity that will sweep the world within the lifetime of most people living today. Instead of heeding these warnings, people are looking forward to an increasingly easier life with more money and less work. And just as foolish hopes were shattered in Noah's time, so will
they be shattered again. Even a little child who will heed the warnings is wiser than the so-called educated man who shakes his head at them. "Where are all the animals you plan to take for a boat ride?" was the question jeeringly put to Noah so often. Then the scoffers would add, "It will take you another hundred and twenty years to round up enough creatures to fill that thing you've built!"
The Animals Seek Shelter!
It wasn't easy for Noah to listen to these taunts decade after decade. But he believed God. He was so sure that his live cargo would somehow soon be on hand that he built a ramp up to a large door in the side of the ark, so that the animals could walk in. This was just another act of faith in the hundred and twenty years of trusting God while the ark was being built and the people warned. One day those who came to scoff stood and wordlessly stared at what they saw. All kinds of animals and birds were gathering around the ark! (Gen. 7:8-9.) If the amazed onlookers expected Noah and his men to have trouble getting the creatures into the ship, they were wrong. God had given the creatures an impulse to seek shelter here. They entered the ark in an orderly manner, even though many were ferocious by nature!
A day passed. Then another and another. Still there was no sign of a flood. Almost a week went by. (Gen. 7:4.) Many of the onlookers went away laughing. Others joined the crowd for the first time. News of this great ship on dry land had spread everywhere, and there was growing curiosity. Noah and his sons had built a door to shut up the opening in the side of the ark. God caused it to be closed and sealed. (Gen. 7:16.) If onlookers saw this happen, they must have been quite startled. Of animals and birds clean enough to be eaten by man, seven pairs went into the ship. Of unclean creatures, only one male and one female
entered. Soon they were in the stables and cages that would be their homes for many months. Then Noah and his wife and Noah's three sons
and their wives entered the ark. The growing throng of onlookers was still jeering, but some of the people were so amazed at having seen the animals
entering the ark that they began to wonder if Noah's predictions from God were true. But most of them simply refused to take Noah's warnings seriously. Then, as now, people couldn't recognize the truth because they didn't want to obey God.