“Today, we’ll be reading a special story, one you probably all know already.”
“The birth of Jesus and the three wise men and drummer boy?” Ginny asked eagerly. “Christmas is coming soon!”
“No, Ginny, we’re still in Genesis. And this is before Jesus came!” Shirlee loved Ginny’s enthusiasm. “A long time ago — four THOUSAND years, more than half the whole age of the Earth! — there lived a man named Noah. His story is told in the book of Genesis, chapters 5 through 8. Would anyone like to tell me how the story goes?”
“Oh, I know this one,” said Ginny. “My mother read it to me from her Big Book of Bible Stories many times. I can tell it!”
Shirlee sat back, looking around the room. Not seeing any other hands raised, she told Ginny to go ahead.
“Well, all the people were ignoring God and not doing what He told them to do, so God came to Noah and told him to build a big boat. Noah and his three sons built the boat, and all their neighbors came around and made fun of them, building a big boat so far from the ocean. Noah invited them to come on the ark with him and his family, but they laughed and told him he was crazy!”
“Interesting,” said Shirlee. “You’re sure that’s what the storybook said?”
“Oh, yes! They even had a drawing of the neighbors throwing rotten tomatoes at Noah!”
“Tomatoes? That’s not possible,” Mark objected.
“Yes, tomatoes, Mark. The book said so, and the picture was definitely tomatoes.”
“Tomatoes are from South America, Ginny. They weren’t even known outside of South America until after Cortés came to the New World.”
“Well, it’s what the book said. Anyway, they all made fun of Noah, and none of them got on the ark. Then God brought two of every kind of animal and they all stayed on the boat while it rained for forty days and nights, and all the evil people who ignored Noah’s warnings drowned. Then God made a rainbow, and Noah and his family re-started civilization.”
“You’re sure that’s what the book said, Ginny?” This time, it was Shirlee asking. “Positive?”
“Oh, yes. My mother read it to me many times. She still has the book, I can bring it if you want.”
“No, no, I believe you.” Shirlee opened her large-print Bible. “How about I tell you the real story now?”
Noah was a very good man; the Bible says he was just, and that he was perfect. He followed every rule God made, not just the ones he liked!(Genesis 6:8-9)
Shirlee paused. “Do you know people who say they are Christian, but only follow some of the rules God gave us in the Bible?”
“Like what, Shirlee?” asked John.
“Do you know anyone (other than Pastor Gardner) who works on Sundays? That breaks one of God’s rules! Do you know anybody who wishes they had their neighbor’s house, or car, or pretty wife? That’s breaking one of God’s rules, too!”
“Well, yes, I guess so . . .”
“Breaking one of God’s rules is called sinning, John. God hates people who sin! The story of Noah and the Ark will tell us just how much He hates them!”
Even though God had decided by Noah’s time that people should only live to be 120 years old (Genesis 6:3), He liked Noah a lot and let him live to be much older.
When he was 500 years old (Genesis 5:32), Noah had three sons. He named them Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
About that time, God looked around the Earth, and saw that there was all sorts of wickedness and sin. People had, in the 2,000 years since Creation, forgotten or started ignoring His rules. There was miscenegation going on — that’s the grownup term for interracial marriage. Giants were marrying normal humans (Genesis 6:4), instead of keeping to their own kind. God hates that!
All the people were thinking evil thoughts all the time. So, God decided to kill them all.
He said, “Noah, I’m sorry I made these people who ignore Me and My rules. I’m sorry I created people at all! I’m going to kill them all, and all the animals and birds and everything else, too.” (Genesis 6:6-7)
Noah didn’t say anything.
God continued talking, telling Noah, “Build a big boat. We’ll call it an Ark. Then take two of every animal on that boat with you, or seven of animals that I’ve told you are clean animals. Only two of the unclean animals, like pigs and crabs. And don’t forget all kinds of food. You can bring your family with you. But I’m going to kill all the other people, and all the animals not on your boat with you.”
“What did Noah say, Shirlee? Didn’t he beg God to spare the people?” Ginny seemed to think Shirlee had forgotten part of the text.
“No, Ginny. Noah didn’t say a word. He just did exactly what God told him.”
“But he warned all his neighbors, right?”
“Lots of people who tell the story of Noah, like in your mother’s storybook, say that he spent 100 years telling people God was going to destroy everyone on the Earth, and that they all laughed at him. Some even say Noah offered to take them on board, in violation of God’s commands. This is found nowhere in the Bible. People made it up!
“Even if people had believed Noah, God’s covenant was with Noah. He had already decided to kill everyone but Noah and his family. It would have been a sin — disobeying God — to bring other people on the ark!”
God gave Noah quite a while to build this really big boat (the Ark). The story starts when Noah was 500, remember. But the Bible says that the rains came when Noah was 600! (Genesis 7:6) Noah spent 100 years building the Ark. His sons, then, were 100 years old when they went onto the Ark.
God even shut the door for them and locked them in, to make sure they’d stay nice and dry. (Genesis 7:16)
Then, God made it rain. He made it rain for forty days, and for forty nights. That’s a long time!
John spoke up. “Well, at least that part of Ginny’s book was right, Shirlee. Raining forty days and forty nights.”
“Yes, it rained forty days and forty nights. That’s more than a month of solid heavy downpour! Imagine a big hurricane, like Katrina in New Orleans, only instead of being over in a day, it went on for forty!
“As the waters rose, I bet all Noah’s neighbors who had laughed at the crazy old man who spent 100 years building a giant boat were beating on it, trying to get in. Noah didn’t let them in, though. God hadn’t told him to let his friends in, just his family. And God had locked the door anyway.
“But do you think that water would all go away in a day, John?”
“Um . . . a few days, anyway.”
“How about you, Mark? A day? A week?”
“It took a long time in New Orleans. More than a week.”
“Let’s continue the story and find out, shall we?”
After the forty days it took to flood the Earth, God waited another 150 days. It took over seven whole months from when the rains started to when the boat rested on Mount Ararat, a tall mountain. I bet it just looked like a tiny island then, though! (Genesis 7:24, Genesis 8:1-4)
“Seven months?” John cried. “How could they have packed food for all those animals for seven months?”
“That’s just how long God let the water stand on the earth, before he started to make it recede, John. There’s more; it was actually a full year before they could leave the Ark. (Genesis 8:5-13)”
“But why Mount Ararat?” asked Mark. “Too bad Noah wasn’t in modern-day Nepal; he might have stopped being seasick earlier. Mount Everest is twice as tall as Mount Ararat.”
“Because God wanted Noah to set down in modern-day Turkey, Mark.” Well, that was an answer.
Ginny had a question. “It must have been crowded and stinky in Noah’s boat, with two or seven of every creature, Shirlee. But how did he keep the lions from eating the lambs? And what about the baby dinosaurs?”
“Baby dinosaurs?” Mark laughed. “What are you talking about?”
“Mark, don’t be silly. The Bible says that Noah took two or seven of every kind of animal. That’d include dinosaurs. Duh!” Ginny secretly loved proving that know-it-all Mark wrong.
“Maybe they ate the dinosaurs,” offered John.
“God didn’t give them permission to eat the animals on the ark, John,” interrupted Shirlee.
“What do you think it was like for all the people not in Noah’s boat? Let’s think about them for a minute,” suggested Mark. “I bet people who lived by the ocean probably got into boats, them and their children and their wives, pregnant with pre-born children who hadn’t had a chance to defy God yet. But God capsized those boats, or let the people in them starve to death over the ten months before the lower mountaintops showed above the water.”
“Shirlee, what do you think the people on those boats, who didn’t have months of supplies stored up, ate?” Ginny’s storybook hadn’t touched on those other people.
“Do you think they ate each other, or their children?” asked John.
“I don’t know,” said Shirlee. “The Bible is silent on the matter.”
Mark continued his musings. “The people who didn’t have boats must have climbed trees and hills, then sat helplessly watching as the water rose. I bet that was scary! They probably tied logs together to try to make rafts, then clung to them hoping to survive, finally getting too tired to stay awake but knowing they and their little babies would die if they fell asleep.”
“Yes, Mark, probably,” sighed Shirlee. This wasn’t glorifying God at all.
“All the animals of the world died, too. Right, Shirlee?” Mark just wasn’t giving up. “Birds flew, landing on whatever they could find, until everything was waterlogged and sank. Then, the birds drowned, just like all the zebras, and dinosaurs, and lions, and chickens, and bunny rabbits. God killed them all, because the people didn’t follow His rules. Isn’t that right, Shirlee?”
“Yes, Mark, that’s right. Exactly like you say, I expect. Don’t you feel like following God’s rules now? Are you worried that God will drown you if you break His rules?”
“A little,” said Ginny.
“Well, don’t worry about that! God promised not to!”
That’s right, when Noah got out of the ark, he took the seventh creature from all the clean animals and birds, and killed it, and burned it on an altar for God. God liked the smell of the burning flesh, and was happy and said:
“I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.” (Gen. 8:20-22)
“That’s a relief,” sighed Ginny.
“That’s right, God will never destroy all life on Earth again! Only select locations, as you’ll see in the story of Lot,” added Shirlee.
“So . . . ”
“Yes, Mark, what now?”
“After this, Noah and his sons, and their wives, were the only people left on Earth. They had to repopulate the planet. So they had to be inbreds.”
“That’s why it’s OK to marry your first cousin, if your state or country follows God’s rules, Mark! States where you can’t marry your first cousin are run by people who hate God.”
“What about towns where they’ve interbred for a few hundred years because nobody else is willing to come there?” John had a smirk on his face.
“HEY!” cried Ginny. “You stop that!”
“Brothers and sisters aren’t first cousins, John. Stop making fun of Ginny’s relatives.” Shirlee looked around the room and shuddered. Aside from John and Mark, they all were Ginny’s relatives.
“It’s almost time to go, so I’m going to give you a sheet of questions to think about for next week.”
“Awwww, homework? From Sunday School? I have a big science project due Friday,” Mark whined.
“Then you should have time to think about these things on Saturday!”
Shirlee passed around the paper, with these questions:
Do the people running your state or country love God? If you’re in the United States, you can look here to find out!
Is God forgiving of all sin, like some Pastors say, or does He punish people for breaking even one of His rules?
Why did God kill off the pre-born babies, and little kids, and animals, in order to punish the people who broke His rules? How many reasons can you think of?
God was sad that He made people, because they wouldn’t obey Him. So, He killed all the people, even the babies, and all the animals and birds and dinosaurs, too. But then after, He said that He realized that people were evil from their youth anyway. So . . . If people are God’s creation, and they’re evil from childhood, doesn’t that mean He made people to be evil? Why would He be mad about it, if they turned out the way He made them?
God planned the Flood for 100 years, giving Noah all that time to build the Ark. Why did God secretly tell Noah His plans and let all the people keep on breaking His rules for a whole century, instead of just telling the people to stop breaking His rules? What reasons can you think of?
Shirlee also handed out an article. “Pastor Gardner got this from the Daily Mail, a very reliable British tabl- . . . newspaper. But since he didn’t want to violate their copyright by making copies, he just provided you a few excerpts, and filled in the rest himself. I have copies for everybody! Emily, don’t eat that. It’s for reading, give it to your parents.”
The article read:
Exciting news! Noah’s Ark has been DISCOVERED! Multiple news outlets report the discovery by evangelical archaeologists:
April 26, 2010: A group of Chinese and Turkish evangelical explorers said Monday they believe they may have found Noah’s Ark — four thousand metres up a mountain in Turkey.
The team say they recovered wooden specimens from a structure on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey that carbon dating proved was 4,800 years old, around the same time the ark is said to have been afloat.
“It’s not 100 percent that it is Noah’s Ark but we think it is 99.9 percent that this is it,” Yeung Wing-cheung, a Hong Kong documentary filmmaker and member of the 15-strong team from Noah’s Ark Ministries International told AFP.
The structure had several compartments, some with wooden beams, which were believed to house animals, he said.
The group of evangelical archaeologists ruled out an established human settlement on the grounds that one had never been found above 3,500 metres in the vicinity, Yeung said.
Unfortunately, the discoverers refuse to release the location, dimensions, or any exterior photos. But there is 4,800-year-old straw!
Christians around the world are hoping it’s not a hoax, like the last time:
Nicholas Purcell, a lecturer in Ancient History at Oxford University, was dismissive of the claims adding that ‘these kinds of stories come along pretty regularly’.
‘The usual nonsense,’ he told MailOnline.
‘If floodwaters covered Eurasia 12,000ft deep in 2,800 BC, how did the complex societies of Egypt and Mesopotamia, already many centuries old, keep right on regardless? And dating Noah’s Flood to 2,800 BC is arbitrary anyway…’
Over the years there have been numerous hoaxes over the search for the ark. In 1993, George Jammal claimed in a programme shown by CBS that he had ‘sacred wood’ from the ark.
It was later revealed that he was an actor and that the wood was in fact taken from Californian railroad tracks which had been baked in an oven with various sauces.