Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood… -- Genesis 6:14
… to obey is better than sacrifice. -- 1 Samuel 15:22
Last fall, a 90-minute video documentary titled Finding Noah made a pretty big splash among evangelicals in the U.S. It is a 90-minute film of the efforts of archaeologists, scientists, explorers, and pastors who formed one of the recent teams going in search of Noah’s Ark on Turkey’s freezing, snow-covered Mount Ararat, where the Bible says the Ark landed.
Having grown up in the Christian faith and coming to Christ at age 9, it has never occurred to me to question the Genesis account of Noah building the Ark. I believe in a God who is all-powerful, so what’s the problem?
Explorers who go in search of the Ark are bona fide adventurers. Card carrying adventurers, I’d say. Now, if I’m honest, I like to think I’m a lot like those guys. Full of adventure, always looking for the next opportunity for travel to faraway places or do extraordinary things. But friends who know me… well, they know better.
As a kid, I thought adventure was a three-day Boy Scout camp when we traveled by boat to an island in the Tennessee River. I couldn’t swim, so it could have been a life-threatening adventure. Right? On the island, we cooked over an open fire and went three days without bathing. All in all, a pretty satisfying adventure for a 9-year-old.
A few years ago, I taught English for a month in Eldoret, Kenya. Upon my return home, I boasted to friends that I’d slept two nights in a tent in a wildlife preserve. But I felt guilty until I confessed to them that my tent had an indoor bathroom with hot water and a shower. Still, it was a tent. Really. It was.
But I digress. Back to Noah’s Ark. Answers in Genesis (noted for its Creation Museum in northern Kentucky) is building a full-scale replica of Noah’s Ark in Williamstown, Kentucky, about 30 miles south of Cincinnati. I was blessed to tag along a few days ago when AiG hosted a media tour of the Ark under construction. Wow!
We think we can imagine what it would look like, but to walk up to it in real life took my breath away – 510 feet long (more than a football field and a half), 51 feet high (4-5 stories).
AiG cofounder Ken Ham led our tour, taking us through the four levels and to the top deck, explaining how Noah could realistically have cared for two of each kind of animal on the Ark, pointing out interior framework and structure that will house 132 exhibits lining the long walkways, explaining that animals on the Ark itself will be realistic sculptures but a petting zoo will adjoin the Ark property. And there’s so much more to anticipate.
Ham said the measurements and specifications are as true to Scripture as is possible. Why not totally so? Well, he paused and laid his hand on one of the huge round wooden columns that rose through the four levels.
“Unfortunately, there’s a steel column inside this wood, “he said, “though Noah used only wood. But Noah didn’t have to build to code like we do today.”
The visit really whetted my appetite to return to the Ark after it opens July 7. “We’re encouraging families and guests to begin following our progress on our website (the arkencounter.com) and make reservations in advance,” Mark Looy told the media. “We expect full crowds this summer.” Looy is COO and a cofounder of AiG along with Ham and Mike Zovarth.
As exciting and stimulating as the Ark was, I began to decompress on the long drive home. An unlikely metaphor came to mind – extreme sports, those over-the-top, beyond-reason, insane physical challenges people are tackling these days.
Extreme! Now, Noah was really into the extreme – extreme obedience! I thought. What he did was impossible for man. But God gave him specific directions, and Noah obeyed, giving himself fully to the calling. And I was reminded of God’s message to King Saul after Saul had disobeyed Him. The prophet Samuel confronted the disobedient king:
“Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.”
-- 1 Samuel 15:22 (NASV)
Unexpectedly I was suddenly doing some real soul searching, taking a little inventory, and considering God’s direction in my life. Sometimes I think He calls me to a task too great. How often have I not been obedient? My little Ark encounter humbles me and challenges to listen more carefully for God’s voice and be ready to demonstrate – as Noah did – extreme obedience.