Noah Building the Ark, and Noah in the Ark: The Two-Fold Christian Testimony

 •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 9
In the sixth and seventh chapters of Genesis we find Noah in two positions. In chapter 6 he is building the Ark, and in chapter 7 he is in the Ark.
In the first position he was surrounded by a hostile, unbelieving world, to which he was a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2), this was his outward testimony towards it; while in his own personal walk, which was also a testimony to it of approaching judgment, he was building an Ark. “By faith, Noah being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an Ark to the saving of his house” (Heb. 11:77By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)); thus condemning the world. All his expectations, and hopes, and prospects, were centered in this Ark. It was the “one thing” which occupied his hands during that eventful time, when the “long-suffering of God waited” in his days (1 Peter 3). Everything around him had its value according as it served his purpose. Nothing was of use but as it helped him on. The world had corrupted itself, and was filled with violence and the end of all flesh in God’s sight had come. Noah waited for the judgment of the world. He knew that nothing else would close the scene, as soon a God’s long-suffering had come to an end — the world’s iniquity had long since come to the full, nothing now remained but the mo t dire and disastrous judgment, when the moment had arrived in the counsels of God.
In the second position he was shut in by the Lord’s own hand (Gen. 7:1616And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the Lord shut him in. (Genesis 7:16)), and seated in the Ark which floated securely over the waters of judgment, with which the world was enshrouded, as by a funeral pall! For a whole year (Gen. 7:6; 8:16And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth. (Genesis 7:6)
1And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged; (Genesis 8:1)
), while the changes and vicissitudes of season had gone round — storm and calm — sunshine and shower — there he was securely floating over the waves and billows of judgment shut into the Ark. Not a drop of the mighty waters reached him in this secure place, which was pitched within and without with pitch. Ruin and death were all around and under him, the only place where there was life and sustenance of life was in the Ark.
All this speaks to the Christian, with this difference, that he is in a figure in both positions at the same time; and his testimony is defective when he does not witness to this. In Philippians 3, the Christian is building the Ark, and thus condemning the world which runs on to judgment; Christ is his only object and hope. Everything which does not serve his purpose in the “one thing” which occupies him, is “dross and dung.” It is set aside as worthless, savoring of human life and flesh which is about to be engulfed in the mighty waters — or, it is dropped as a hindrance in the testimony of the workman towards a world which Christ has forsaken, and which in rejecting God in Christ, sealed its own doom. The world around is hostile and unbelieving — speaking of progress and improvement, and adornment and beauty; confident in its own powers (“confident in the flesh”) to repair the distance between it and God. To remove the sentence of judgment under which it lies, by plucking up its “thorns and thistles,” and in “buying and selling, planting and building,” ignoring the tide of judgment which has flowed over it at the Cross. The Ark is his object — to “know Him” (Christ), is his aim — human righteousness is cast aside as worthless — confidence in self ignored — “what things” seemed to be gain, are counted loss for the Ark; they would not aid in the “one thing” which governed him. “All things” have got their own value — they are as “dross and dung” to the soul who is thus building an Ark, and by his walk condemning those “whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, who mind earthly things.” All his expectations, his hopes, his prospects, are centered in Christ, and in the desire to know Him in the glory, and the power of His resurrection, which works in him to bring him there, he desires fellowship with His sufferings, and conformity to His death, if by whatever means it may be, he might attain to the resurrection from among the dead. Confidence in flesh — birthright — righteousness by the law — worldly things, were loss; while the power of Christ’s resurrection — fellowship of His sufferings, and conformity to His death were courted and desired, as helping to build the Ark, as it were, in which all his expectations are centered. Nothing was of use but those things which helped him on. All that could not be brought into the Ark was set aside as a weight — all that could was cultivated and prized.
But while the Christian is thus as it were building an Ark, he is also shut in to Christ, and by His resurrection, and that power that wrought in Him, he is raised up together with Christ, and seated together in heavenly places in Him (Eph. 2). God has shut him in. He has a good conscience by the resurrection of Christ (1 Peter 3); and while the world is shrouded in the waters of a mightier judgment than ever it was in the flood, he is in the secure place; not a drop of its waters can reach him — — the vicissitudes of the world, its changes of storm and sunshine — wind and rain, do not affect him, for the entire period, till the judgment is removed. What has he to do with it all around? just to float over it all, enjoying the food and life which is shut into the Ark — “All spiritual blessings in heavenly places” which he possesses in Christ (Eph. 1). Death and destruction are around him and below him, and in the midst of it all he is floating securely above it, and the mighty waters, the waves and billows do not affect him at all. He is above all the ruin and death here below, in Christ, and he finds it is infinite gain. Do you suppose Noah lost anything by being shut into the Ark from the scene of desolation around? Do you suppose he found that he was mistaken when he was actually shut into that which had been all his expectation for many a year — for which he had surrendered all his earthly possessions? They were of but little value when they were sunk beneath the waters of death, while that which was his expectation and hope was riding triumphantly on the waves! Not a single living blessing was wanting in the Ark with him; not a single nourishing thing of “all food that is eaten” was absent. People talk as if they would lose a great deal if they were thus shut up to Christ. Not a beauty in all the creation was outside the Ark. — Every beautiful living object was shut into it with Noah; while every deathful thing was shut out of it in the flood of waters. People are afraid to drop the things which hinder them enjoying Christ — fearing that after all they would not be recompensed an hundred-fold if they did so. People try too, to realize that they are seated together in Christ in heavenly places, and at the same time hold on to all that savors of that which is under judgment here below. Would you think well of Noah if he had the desire, after God had shut him in, to go out again on the waters, and then try to realize that he was shut in? This is what many are doing. Do you think such people condemn the world by their walk? Do you think they have Noah’s faith? People talk of judgment which is hanging over the world as a thunder-cloud, and at the same time they are like Lot who said true things, but who “seemed as one that mocked unto his sons-in-law” (Gen. 19). You see such persons perhaps preaching and teaching, and at the same time in the world, of the world — ministering, by their position, or rank, or such things to its moral state. What business have such to preach like Lot of judgment, and at the same time be as he — sitting in the gate — even Lot’s own family circle did not believe him.
Can my reader say honestly, “I do want to be shut up to Christ. I want to feed on all the sustenance and life that is there. I want not only to build the Ark, but to be in the Ark — shut into Him, and in Him realizing that all that is not in Him, savors of death and judgment.” If the Christian has any object before his soul than seeking to win Christ, he is not in his true place — he is not building the Ark, and condemning the world. On the other hand if he is not plainly showing that he has accepted the fact, that the end of all flesh — his own flesh, too — has come in God’s sight, and that he is shut in to Christ — riding triumphantly over the judgment with which the world is shrouded, seeking nothing outside Him; he is not witnessing and walking in the power of that which he has professed. His testimony is defective and comparatively worthless.
May the Lord give this condition of soul to His much loved people, and may they, on the other hand, desire such a condition of soul; for His name’s sake. Amen.
Words of Truth 2:43-47.