It has been decades in the making and preparations. Now it’s time to load the ark with the animals, provisions and people.
Noah had undertaken this task from God not knowing on what day the rain would come. He didn’t know if he should be rushing trying to finish this task or leisurely taking his time. I believe he worked steady at it throughout all the years. His wife also worked steadily at preparing the food that they were to take. His sons helped him on the building project and their wives helped Mrs. Noah on food preparation and storage. The eight of them made an awesome team!
We aren’t told how many days the ark had been finished before God told Noah it was time to get on board. Maybe they had just finished. Maybe it stood empty and waiting for several months or years. Noah never gave up on God’s promise. He KNEW he had heard from God and was willing to wait Him out. I imagine they started packing the ark with provisions as soon as possible. The fresh stuff would have to wait until the last minute though.
The day has finally arrived! God told Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate, and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate, and seven pairs of birds of the heavens also, male and female, to keep their offspring alive on the face of all the earth. For in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground” (verses 1-5).
These were God’s final marching orders to Noah regarding the ark. Some say that they were in the ark for seven days before the rain actually started. I think this last seven days was FULL of getting everyone and everything on board. There is NO WAY Noah and company could have gone out and rounded up all the required animals God told them to bring along, especially not in seven days’ time. God did this job for him.
If I were rounding up the animals, I might have accidentally or on purpose missed some. I would NOT have brought the snakes and certainly not some of the bugs we have. Imagine not having to deal with cockroaches because they didn’t make the boat. But it wasn’t up to man to decide what got to come on board. God said to bring two of EVERY LIVING THING, including the things that creep on the ground.
I wonder what that parade looked like during that final week. Did some of the passengers arrive early? Were some last minute stragglers? How was the decision mad as to where all the different groups would go? Was it size directed? I imagine there was a need to evenly distribute the weight so the ark wouldn’t tip. Just some of the myriad details that Noah and his family had to work out.
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As the end of the seven days approaches, everyone and everything begins to settle in their places. “This shouldn’t be too bad; just over a month cooped up with these animals”, thinks Shem’s wife. She looks at one of the many stockpiles of food and laughs to herself. “Well, we won’t starve, that’s for sure!”
Noah looks over at Japheth as his son is settling a lion and his lioness into their temporary home. “He handles them with such ease. There is no fear in him. Thank You Lord for protecting him and for keeping the lions calm.”
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And YES, I believe that these were wild animals God brought onto the ark. God said that ALL flesh had become violent. I don’t believe He was just referring to man. God calmed ALL the animals for this voyage. They were NOT going to eat one another.
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Noah’s wife finishes stowing her cooking pots, brooms (Noah made several new ones for what was sure to be a messy ship), clothing and bed linens. She looks around one more time to make sure she hasn’t missed something. “There will be no going back for a forgotten item this time” she chides herself.
All is ready. Everyone assembles at the inner edge of the door for one last look around. There are a few people walking by and laughing at the group. One shouts out, “How are you going to close that door? I guess someone will have to ‘stay behind!’” His traveling companion laughs and slaps him on the back in good humor. Noah shakes his head at them. He tried telling people what was coming but they refused to listen. There is nothing more he can do for these people.
Closing the door was an issue that Noah and his sons had discussed. They would use ropes and pulleys to get it raised but they had no way of sealing it from the outside. Noah prayed the door gap would be above the water line. They had pitch to seal it from the inside but no way to deal with any outer gap. God whispers, “Don’t worry, I got this.” Noah smiles and nods.
God shuts the door and the family wanders about checking on the needs of the animals. There are so many of them that this is going to be a full time job. Then a new noise is heard. It started quietly but quickly began to build. This is a sound that no one has ever heard before. It is rain hitting on the roof. It is surprisingly soothing after you get used to it.
Half a day goes by and the ark begins to shift. It is lifting off the ground as the fountains of the deep pour their water onto the face of the earth and the heavens send theirs to meet them. It is startling at first but it too becomes soothing; this slight rocking motion.
Ham is keeping count of the days of rain with tally marks on a plank in the family dining area. It has been raining for 38 days. “Two more to go” says Shem.
“Then we can finally go out again” comments his wife. She too has been counting the days. She is looking forward to returning to her garden and getting on with the planting. She contemplates her flowers and the vegetables she planted before leaving. “I hope I’m not too far behind on getting my seeds in the ground. If I wait too late, I will not get a good harvest this year.”
The rest of the family concur with her desire to see the sun again but Noah is thinking about all the provisions they have not even touched yet. “I have a feeling our time here is far from over. God would not have had us prepare so much for such a short stay. Let’s wait and see what He has in store for us.”
“Something is different” thinks Noah’s wife as she rises to begin the morning meal preparations. She turns to Japheth’s wife and says, “Listen!”
“Listen to what? I don’t hear anything.”
“That’s the problem. I don’t either. Where is the sound of the rain?”
“It’s over!” She runs to find Shem who is cleaning some of the animal’s areas. “It’s OVER Shem! Praise the Lord it’s finally over!” Her face is radiant as she tells him the good news.
The family gathers by the small window in the upper deck. Noah lifts off its cover so everyone can look at their newly clean world. Noah’s mouth drops open as he surveys his surroundings. “I think that garden is going to have to wait a while daughter.”
“What do you mean?”
“Here; come take a look for yourself.”
She steps to the window and looks out. There is nothing to see but water everywhere you look. She steps away from the window and drops her head into her hands. “This just keeps getting better and better” she says with not a little sarcasm in her voice.
Shem looks out the window then turns to her and says, “At least you won’t have to worry about the weeds this year. You know how they make you so irritable.”
His wife smiles slightly as his remarks but is still contemplating the sight she just witnessed and wonders how long it will take before they can once again step foot on dry land.
Noah turns to his family. He recognizes the disappointment they are all feeling. But he also knows of God’s faithfulness. “Remember, the Lord is the one who commissioned this journey. He has been faithful all along. He is still faithful. And He will faithfully deliver us back to dry land. It’s all in His timing. We have plenty to eat and good company.” The others nod in agreement, even if they are not jumping for joy. “Let’s thank Him for keeping us safe and for the end of the rain.” They all gather around and begin to give thanks to God for all He has done for them. This lightens all their hearts and renews their hope for the future.
“Ok everyone; let’s get busy. These animals are not going to muck out their own stalls” says Shem as he grabs his shovel and heads for the ramp to lead him back into the bowels of the ark.
“He’s right, and the morning meal isn’t going to make itself either” says his wife as she heads for the cooking area. A smile once again on her face because, after all, God IS Good!
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Father God, thank You that I KNOW You ARE faithful. Everything else in life WILL fail but You WON’T. Your promises are as true today as they were the day You uttered them. Circumstances don’t matter. What my eyes see doesn’t change who You are. Noah and his group had no idea how long their cruise was going to last. I can imagine them looking out the window that morning and seeing nothing but water, then returning to that same window time and Time and TIME again. How many times did they go look before their eyes finally saw a difference? Did they get discouraged like I often do? Sometimes I wish You would put a date on your promises, like You did for that last week for Noah.
Thank You that You have increased my patience in many areas. I am NOT going to pray for patience though because I don’t enjoy the lessons necessary to learn to get that prize. Thank You that You are faithful even through those lessons too though. Keep me trusting in You ALL the time!