United Church of God

Building a Spiritual Ark

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Building a Spiritual Ark

MP3 Audio (14.89 MB)


Building a Spiritual Ark

MP3 Audio (14.89 MB)

In the story of Noah and the ark, there are four characteristics that we can use to get us through difficult times. They are stability and security, patience, maintenance, and resources. Let's explore these and determine how we can apply them when we are facing difficulty.

Sermon Notes

These are the notes taken live during services as captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing. This is not a word for word transcript. For the exact wording, please consult the audio recording.


A Modern Day Noah's Ark Story – Author Unknown And the Lord spoke to Noah and said, "In one year, I am going to make it rain and cover the whole Earth with water until all flesh is destroyed. But I want you to save the righteous people and two of every kind of living thing on the earth. Therefore, I am commanding you to build an Ark." In a flash of lightning, God delivered the specifications for an Ark. In fear and trembling, Noah took the plans and agreed to build the Ark. "Remember" said the Lord, "You must complete the Ark and bring everything aboard in one year." Exactly one year later, fierce storm clouds covered the earth and all the seas of the earth went into a tumult. The Lord saw that Noah was sitting in his front yard weeping. "Noah," He shouted. "Where is the Ark?" "Lord, please forgive me!" cried Noah. "I did my best, but there were big problems. First, I had to get a permit for construction and your plans did not meet the codes. I had to hire an engineering firm and redraw the plans. “Then I got into a fight with OSHA over whether or not the Ark needed a fire sprinkler system and flotation devices.

"Then my neighbor objected, claiming I was violating zoning ordinances by building the Ark in my front yard, so I had to get a variance from the city planning commission. "Then I had problems getting enough wood for the Ark, because there was a ban on cutting trees to protect the Spotted Owl. I finally convinced the U.S. Forest Service that I needed the wood to save the owls. However, the Fish and Wildlife Service won't let me catch any owls. So, no owls. "The carpenters formed a union and went out on strike. I had to negotiate a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board before anyone would pick up a saw or a hammer. Now I have sixteen carpenters on the Ark, but still no owls. "When I started rounding up the other animals, I got sued by an animal rights group. They objected to me only taking two of each kind aboard. “Just when I got the suit dismissed, the EPA notified me that I could not complete the Ark without filing an environmental impact statement on your proposed flood. They didn't take very kindly to the idea that they had no jurisdiction over the conduct of the Creator of the universe. "Then the Army Engineers demanded a map of the proposed new floodplain. I sent them a map. "Right now, I am trying to resolve a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that I am practicing discrimination by not taking godless, unbelieving people aboard.

"The IRS has seized my assets, claiming that I'm building the Ark in preparation to flee the country to avoid paying taxes. "I just got a notice from the state that I owe them some kind of user tax and failed to register the Ark as a 'recreational watercraft.' "Finally, the ACLU got the courts to issue an injunction against further construction of the Ark, saying that since God is flooding the earth, it is a religious event and therefore unconstitutional. I really don't think I can finish the Ark for another five or six years!" Noah wailed. The sky began to clear, the sun began to shine and the seas began to calm. A rainbow arched across the sky. Noah looked up hopefully. "You mean You are not going to destroy the earth, Lord?" No," said the Lord sadly. "I don't have to. The government already has." (Laughter.) Genesis 6:13-17 Vs. 17 – Here is the commission that Jesus Christ, the God of the Old Testament, gave to Noah. Vs. 13 – God mentions that all the earth is filled with violence. “Violence” here means an overabundance of cruelty and injustice. God said, clean the slate. H2555 חמס châmâs khaw-mawce' From H2554; violence; by implication wrong; by metonymy unjust gain: - cruel (-ty), damage, false, injustice, X oppressor, unrighteous, violence (against, done), violent (dealing), wrong. BDB Definition: 1) violence, wrong, cruelty, injustice Vs. 14 – Ark in Hebrew means a box. There is no rudder. No sails or other propulsion system. It simply had to float. H8392 תּבה têbâh tay-baw' Perhaps of foreign derivation; a box: - ark. We don’t know what gopher wood was. The best guess is a type of Cyprus tree. Pitch is “Hebrew” bitumen.

It is a sticky substance present in asphalt deposits. H3722 כּפר kâphar kaw-far' A primitive root; to cover (specifically with bitumen); figuratively to expiate or condone, to placate or cancel: - appease, make (an) atonement, cleanse, disannul, forgive, be merciful, pacify, pardon, to pitch, purge (away), put off, (make) reconcile (-liation). A cubit is roughly 18 inches. It means the ark was 450 feet long; 75 feet wide; and 45 feet tall (3 stories). Genesis 6:15; Expositor’s Bible Commentary: “For a wooden vessel, the size of the ark was enormous by ancient as well as modern standards. It would have been about two and a half times the size of the large ‘Byblos-boats’ used by the Egyptians … and would even have been larger than the largest wooden ships in the modern period of sailing. It was a gigantic boat. To put it in perspective, it was 1 ½ times the length of a football field. Cruise liners are about 1000 feet long, so this was half that long. No other ship of this size was known to be built until 1858. Vs. 16 – Do the math. Each deck has about 100,000 square feet of space. So, there were three floors. That is about 20 standard sized basketball courts on each deck. The total cubic volume was 1.5 million cubic feet. That is about 569 modern railroad cars. That train would be five miles long. Vs. 17 – This is not just a flood. In Arizona, we had flash floods. You could have roads washed out in 15 minutes. This is not that. In Hebrew, flood means a deluge. A massive pouring of water. H3999 מבּוּל mabbûl mab-bool' From H2986 in the sense of flowing; a deluge: - flood. Some commentaries say that the earth opened up. The plates shifted and water came from underneath as well as the sky. The purpose was literally to expire life. Animals and human.

Genesis 7:1 The life we live should also be an ark. We should live a life of a spiritual ark. God has asked each of us to build a spiritual ark. He has given us a blueprint. We must lead a life with four characteristics of Noah and the ark: 1. Stable and secure. 2. Patient. 3. Maintain. Don’t slip back. 4. Resources. He expects us to use them. Today, we will look at these four characteristics and see that we need them in our spiritual arks. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 We all just came out of the days of Unleavened Bread; we know that without baptism and the sacrifice of Christ, we are all dead. Vs. 25 – This is the crown we want; the one that lasts forever. We want to be eternal servants to God. That is why we need the ark; otherwise, we will drown and miss the calling.

1. Stable and secure. What was the ark? It wasn’t just a boat. It was a life saving vessel. It was stable and secure. It was protected. The life is in the blood; without breath, there is no oxygen in the blood and no life. Good News Magazine – July/Aug 2003: “The ark was built on a 1:6 ratio. The science of naval architecture reveals that this is an extremely stable width-to-length ratio. Most oceangoing "hopper barges" use this same ratio in their design. It is estimated that the ark could easily have survived even the largest of ocean waves. The design of the ark would have made it almost impossible to capsize.” The ark was stable and secure for its passengers by design. Psalm 18:30 Vs. 30 – “Way” means “journey or course of life. Complete, sound, one of integrity, sincere, without blemish.” Proven means to test and find true. It means also to refine. The word of the Lord has been refined and proven to be true. Strongs uses the analogy of the scaly hide of the crocodile to explain “shield”. God has given us a spiritual ark. It is God’s word and obedience to Him. It is a great shield like the hide of a crocodile. Matthew 7:24-27 God wants us to be stable and secure. When we trust in Him, our spiritual ark is secure. It is like the man who built his house on the rock. By following God’s way and living an unleavened way of life, God’s way is secure. God’s way works. We know that. Know that you know it.

2. Patient. Have you wondered why God ask Noah to build an ark? He could have just dropped it in his front yard. He could have had the animals already inside. Hop in! But God wanted Noah to build the ark. It took him nearly 100 years. Picture the scenario he faces. The jeerings. The herdsmen and farmers coming by every day. The shepherd would come by and poke fun. He is building a big boat in the middle of the desert. What kind of patience do you think that took? Incredible patience. Galatians 5:22-23 Patience is part of the fruit of the spirit. By living God’s way of life and working with His spirit, patience is a by-product. Today’s society has a buy now pay later outlook. You turn 16 and get a credit card. Don’t worry if you can’t pay. You don’t have to have a job to support it. God wants us to practice patience. Why? When Noah had to endure the mocking for 100 years, it proved to God where Noah stood. He knew where Noah stood. It was through that patience of 100 years that God found He could trust Noah. He got to know Noah. He could trust him. There was no doubt a significant financial drain on Noah. Through it all, he remained faithful. He never once turned his back on God. James 5:7-8 (NIV) We as humans don’t find it easy to be patient. We can be patient for a short time, but after that… God, I’m praying for healing. You’ve got one week. Then I’m off to find my own solutions. God wants us to be patient and fully trust in him. Let’s do some math.

Write these down: Genesis 7:1, 4, 10, 11 Read these verses and do the math and connect it with these: Genesis 8:14-16, 18 Hopefully, you will come up with what I did. Noah was a year and 17 days in the ark. As if he didn’t have enough of a test of patience in construction, he had to live about 13 months on the ark. There were the animals and the small group of his family. I’m sure there was no fighting and backbiting. It must have been interesting. Noah was 500 years old when he had his three sons. Shortly after that, he entered the ark. Shortly after, Jesus closed the door. It was a week before the first drop of water appeared. How did that affect him? What would that have done to our patience? It was seven days. It rained 40 days and 40 nights. Noah was 600 years old. Then the water remained for 150 days once it stopped raining. In month 7, the ark came to rest on Ararat. Noah sends out the ravens and the doves. Seven more days the dove returns with an olive branch. Seven more and it never returned. Genesis 8:6 – Noah took the roof off the ark. The total time in the ark is a year and 17 days. What about patience? God wants us to build patience so He can see our attitude. Romans 12:12 Vs. 12 – “Patience” here means to have fortitude. It means to persevere.

3. Maintenance. The ark allowed a way to escape God’s wrath on this world. We all want to escape the future wrath as well. Some have built a deck or a house or a toy with wood. We have an elephant we bought in Kenya at the feast. It is big. We watched the Kenyan carve it. It was fascinating. He had never seen an elephant in his life. But it is spot on; it has the saggy rear end and the whole 9 yards. We took it home to Phoenix. Phoenix is very dry. It began to crack. All over it. We took it from some place very wet and humid and took it to a place very dry. Something permanent has happened. We could fill in the cracks, but we can’t get rid of them. How many coats of asphalt pitch did Noah have to apply? Think about the maintenance to maintain the wood for 100 years. That would have been a full time job. Our relationship with God takes maintenance. 2 Peter 1:9-11 You have to be diligent. It doesn’t mean you do something once and never come back to it again. You don’t study scripture once and never again. You don’t fast once and never again. We have to maintain our husband-wife relationship. We have to maintain and train our children. Our relationship with God takes maintenance. Matthew 25:1-12 The oil is symbolic of God’s spirit. The difference was the extra supply of the spirit. Think of the parable of the talents. We have to maintain what we have. Don’t waste the spirit God has given you. Ask God for more of it.

4. Resources. To be saved, we must be diligent in obedience to God. I feel I’m beating the drum over and over. But it is very important. He has given us resources to do this. He has given us the opportunity to pray. He has given us an outline. He has given us great brothers and sisters to fellowship with. He has given us the tools to be saved from the great flood we face. Think about the resources Noah had to have. He had to have trees. He had to strip the bark. He had to have saws to cut the wood. He had to have blades and nails. He had to have resources to cut, size and shape the lumber. He had to find the pitch in the earth. It is a sticky substance that is water proof and present in natural asphalt deposits. God put the deposits nearby. But Noah still had to go find them and dig them up and get them ready to apply. Imagine working on the top deck. There were no hydraulic lifts. What about finding the animals? God helped. But how did he convince the lions not to eat him. Here, kitty, kitty, kitty… We had a dog once that if you told to go someplace, he went the opposite way. He had to have food and water. He had to have waste systems. He had to have food systems. There were food and water provisions. Noah utilized everything that God made available to him. Building the ark wouldn’t do. Noah needed God to build the ark. Even if God said do, I don’t care how, Noah wouldn’t have been successful. He didn’t know how large it needed to be to fit the animal. God provided the cooperation of the animals to get the big cats on board. Noah needed God. So do we.

BBC March 28, 2006 & ABC News March 31, 2006: Johan Huibers of Holland has used 1,200 trees and spent approximately 1.2 million dollars building a replica of Noah's Ark nearly the length of a football field (not nearly the size of God’s ark). He plans to house 300 farmyard animals in a petting zoo. The ark will be part theme park, part floating Christian mission. It will cost adults $5 to visit Johan's Ark, and half that for kids. The price of admission gets you a cup of coffee from the onboard cafe when you enter and a free copy of the Gospel as you leave. Huibers will need 100,000 visitors to pay back the bank loans. He's built it on his own -- without any blueprints -- except for his 17-year-old sons. Last I checked, it was still in operation. He is off to build a bigger, better ark – the size of Noah’s. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 This is one of the resources God gave us – the ability to pray. We constantly think about Him. We meditate. When we are in business meetings, we can still think about Him and live His way. We should use prayer, Bible study, mediation and fasting. Matthew 6:16 Wisdom and faith don’t just fall in our laps. We have to utilize God’s resources to have them. God has called us to something great. He has called us out of billions to be among the first fruits. He wants us to be sons and daughters of God ruling with Christ. That is our awesome future.

Hebrews 11:7 I like to call this the trust chapter. We have also been divinely warned. God called us. He chose us. We can open the Bible. God gave us the understanding of what will come. We know these world events will transpire at some point in the future. “Moved with godly fear”. Interesting. There are two kinds of fear in the Bible. Noah operated with godly fear. He didn’t build the ark to avoid losing his life; he feared God in a good way. Our life is an example to the world. Our coworkers look at us and say, why him? 2 Peter 2:5 Noah gave the credit to God. He admonished the people to repent and start obeying God. They people refused. It aggravated their offense. But it deepened Noah’s resolve. We must remember Noah and the ark. We must be building our own spiritual ark. Don’t forget the stability that comes from following God’s laws. Ask for the fruit of patience and perseverance. We must build our spiritual ark. We have to deepen our relationship and keep our thoughts, words, and actions set on the kingdom of God. Have fun floating!