Dr. James C. Denison
President, Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, TX
May 25, 2011

When did you board the boat?
The story of Noah’s Ark communicates the clear message that God offers his grace to all who admit their need of his mercy and accept his forgiveness. But is the story true historically?

The biblical text is written as historical narrative rather than poetry, with no hint that it intends to be seen as symbolic. Other ancient documents also tell of a universal flood, as we would expect if such an event did indeed affect the entire human race.

It is difficult to understand how representatives from every species alive in Noah’s day could make their way onto a single boat and cohabit its space for such a long time. But if God could send a flood to destroy the earth, it seems to me that he could make a lion and a lamb get along and transport a caterpillar aboard a ship. If God made the universe, he certainly possesses the power to perform the miracle this story describes.

Noah obviously believed in such a God of power. It is likely that he built his ark against the coming flood when no one had ever seen rain; God initially watered the earth from streams or mists which “came up from the earth” (Genesis 2:6), so that “rain” is not mentioned until Genesis 7:4. He spent 100 years at the task, with no record that anyone helped him. And no one outside his family believed him: he was a “preacher of righteousness” to the world, but none accepted his offer of salvation (2 Peter 2:5). He persevered, and received the grace God intends for all.

The New Testament treats Noah’s story as historical: he is listed in Luke’s genealogy (Luke 3:36); Jesus spoke of the “days of Noah” as a real event (Matthew 24:37); the writer of Hebrews described Noah’s faith in literal terms (Hebrews 11:7). Peter spoke of God’s patience in the days of Noah (1 Peter 3:20) and commended Noah’s ministry of compassion. What are your thoughts on the historicity of the Ark?

Today we “find favor in the eyes of the Lord” exactly as Noah did. We obey his word as we know it, positioning ourselves to receive the grace he intends for us all. And he offers us a place in the ark of his salvation, protection from the coming flood of justice and judgment, and eternity in a new land filled with promise and peace.

If Jesus is your Savior and Lord, think back to the time when you asked him to forgive your sins and make you God’s child. That date for me was September 9, 1973. When was it for you? That was the moment when you boarded the Ark of salvation. If you’re not sure you’re aboard, please don’t miss tomorrow’s essay. If you are, please pray for those who will read Thursday’s devotional and respond to its invitation to eternal life.

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