Why Did Noah Build the Ark? - Glenn Conjurske

Why Did Noah Build the Ark?

by Glenn Conjurske

A Sermon Preached on May 9, 1993. Recorded, Transcribed, and Revised.

Open your Bibles to the book of Genesis, chapter five. I’m going to speak to you tonight on “Why did Noah build the ark?” We know from the New Testament that he was moved with fear, and he built the ark to the saving of himself and of his household. We also know he built the ark because God told him to. But what I want to go into tonight is, Why did God tell Noah to build the ark? You say, Well, it was to save him alive. I agree with that, but why did God wish to save him alive? You see, if you look at this book of Genesis, chapter five, verse 24, we read, “And Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” We then read that Enoch’s son Methuselah begat Lamech, and Lamech begat Noah, and Noah, you understand, is the man who built the ark, because God told him to. The obvious purpose was that God should save him alive. But you know there were only eight souls saved alive in the ark. Eight souls—-Noah, his three sons, Noah’s wife, and his three sons’ wives—-eight souls. But before the flood came God took one man, Enoch, and raptured him to heaven. Now we know that when the flood came there were only eight righteous souls on the earth. Wouldn’t it have been just as easy for God to rapture nine souls to heaven, as it was to rapture one? Why did he rapture one man to heaven, and tell Noah to spend a hundred and twenty years building an ark to save eight other souls alive?

Well, this brings us to the purpose of God. God had a purpose in saving those eight souls alive, and the purpose was a purpose for the earth. God was not done with the earth. He was not finished with human history. He could at that point have taken Enoch, and Noah and his sons and all their wives, and raptured all nine of them to heaven, and poured out the flood and destroyed all the ungodly, and that would have ended the history of the earth—-but God wasn’t done with the earth yet. And because he had a purpose for the earth, it was necessary to save those souls alive. That is why Noah built the ark.

Now over in the seventh chapter of Genesis we’re told that Noah and his sons entered into the ark, and beginning at verse 17, “And the flood was forty days upon the earth, and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth, … and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man, all in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.” What we have here is a sweeping, universal, unsparing, earth-wide judgement, in which every living thing that breathed was destroyed. Therefore the ark must be built if God was going to save flesh alive. And that was his purpose. Go back to the sixth chapter, verses 17 to 19. “And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee. And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.” And again in verse 20, “two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.”

This was the purpose of the ark, to keep flesh alive. The reason that flesh must be kept alive is that God was not done with human history, not done with the earth, but had a purpose to cleanse that earth, purge that earth of all of the sinners and ungodly, and then establish his saints in the earth. If he had had no such purpose for the earth, there would have been no purpose for building the ark. He could have raptured nine souls to heaven as well as one.

Now Enoch prophesied before the flood came, and said, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgement upon all the ungodly.” That prophecy has not yet been fulfilled. The Lord is yet coming with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgement upon all the ungodly. But as often happens, when God gives a prophecy concerning the coming judgements, though the fulfillment of that prophecy is far away in the last days, in the day of the Lord, at the second coming of Christ, there is an immediate partial or typical fulfillment, that closely follows the giving of the prophecy. There was such a typical fulfillment following Enoch’s prophecy. It was the flood. And the reason that the flood can stand as a type of the actual fulfillment of Enoch’s prophecy is because it is a real picture of what that actual fulfillment will be. When Enoch’s prophecy is fulfilled, the Lord is going to execute judgement upon all the ungodly, and the judgement which comes is going to destroy them all—-exactly as the flood did.

If you haven’t gathered it, what I’m talking to you about tonight is pre- and post-tribulationism. I’m talking about premillennialism also. When that judgement comes, which Enoch prophesied, there is going to be a sweeping and unsparing judgement, which is going to destroy all of the ungodly from off the earth, and when that is done, God is going to plant a righteous seed in that purged earth, exactly as he did after the flood in Noah’s day. Now then, if that is the case, then God is going to have to preserve that righteous seed alive through that final judgement, in order that they might be planted in the earth as Noah was.

Well, is that what is going to happen? Turn with me to the book of Matthew, chapter 24. In this passage we read about the great tribulation—-all of the judgements which are poured out upon the earth in the last of Daniel’s seventy weeks, which culminate in the final judgement, when the Lord himself appears from heaven with ten thousands of his saints, and executes judgement upon all of the ungodly. The events of the great tribulation, which are described in detail in the book of Revelation, are preliminary judgements, in which great portions of the earth’s population will be destroyed, but the final judgement will be when Christ himself comes. Now it tells you in Matthew 24:21-22, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved, but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.”

This great time of judgement which is coming is accurately pictured by the flood in the Old Testament. The flood prevailed over all the earth. This tribulation which is coming is “the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” (Rev. 3:10). But he says those days are going to be shortened. If they were not shortened, no flesh would be saved. The judgements are going to be so severe that if the time were not limited, no flesh would be saved. You say, So what? Ask an ammillennialist, What difference would it make if no flesh were saved alive? He would have to tell you it wouldn’t make any difference at all. When Christ comes back, human history on the earth will end. The great white throne judgement will take place, and the eternal state will be ushered in. There would be no purpose to save men alive in the flesh.

But you see, the reason that it does make a difference is that God has a purpose yet for this earth. The dispensation of the fulness of times is going to follow this day of darkness in which we live. The time will come when the will of God will be done on earth as it is in heaven, and the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. God is going to purge this earth as he did in Noah’s day, and plant a righteous seed in it—-men and women who know God, alive in the flesh, as Noah and his sons were.

Now then, it is an absolute necessity that some flesh should be saved alive through that time of tribulation—-through that universal, earth-wide judgement. There must be flesh saved alive. Some post-tribulationists labor to prove from various scriptures that the ungodly are not all going to be destroyed at the coming of Christ. Some are going to be saved alive. They believe that the godly will be raptured and glorified at the same coming of Christ in which the ungodly are judged. That is the main tenet of post-tribulationism, that the second coming of Christ is one indivisible event. Christ is coming to rapture the church, glorify his saints, and execute judgement upon the ungodly, at one and the same time, with no seventieth week of Daniel or great tribulation between them. The church, therefore, must go through the tribulation, and be raptured at the end of it, at the same time that Christ executes judgement upon all the ungodly.

Now if it is true that all of the ungodly will not be destroyed in that judgement, look at what the necessary consequence must be. These folks understand that there must be flesh saved alive. Otherwise there could be no millennium such as the Bible prophesies. There must be flesh saved alive through all of the judgements, exactly as there was flesh saved alive through the flood in Noah’s day. But because they recognize that there must be flesh saved alive, some of these folks are concerned to prove that the judgement which falls upon the ungodly does not destroy them all. There must be some of them left alive. All right: Christ comes—-raptures all the godly, and glorifies them. We are changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. We are no longer men in the flesh as Noah was, but translated and glorified. We are not going to dwell on this earth any more, and till the ground, and replenish the earth, begetting sons and daughters. We have no more capacity for that. We’re glorified—-changed. This takes place at the same time (according to post-tribulationism) that Christ comes to execute judgement upon the ungodly. Now if all the godly are raptured, and all the ungodly are not destroyed, but some are saved alive in order to enter into the earthly kingdom, you know what you end up with? The ungodly inherit the kingdom!

Isn’t that clear? The godly are all raptured and glorified. Most of the ungodly are destroyed, but some are spared. So the Lord gathers all the nations before him, all that are spared alive at this coming, and says to the GOATS, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” You can’t escape this, if you put the rapture of the church at the same coming of Christ at which the ungodly are judged and the kingdom established.

But no, Christ says to the goats, “Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire.” It’s to the SHEEP that he says, “Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” What I am insisting upon, then, is that there are sheep who are spared and saved alive through all of those judgements, and NOT RAPTURED AND GLORIFIED AT THE END OF THEM, but planted alive in the flesh in the cleansed and renewed earth.

Come back to Noah now. Suppose that God had had the same purpose for Noah and his sons as he had for Enoch. Suppose that God raptured Enoch to heaven some years before the flood fell, and then told Noah, “You only have I found righteous on the earth. Therefore I am going to spare you when I pour out my judgements. Therefore build an ark.” And Noah labors for a hundred and twenty years, building that ark. And the rains begin to fall, and the fountains of the great deep are broken up, and the waters begin to rise on the earth, and the ark is borne up, and the waters rise and rise upon the earth, until they prevail over the tops of all the mountains. Then little by little the waters begin to abate from the face of the earth, while Noah bides his time in the ark—-week after week, month after month. And when the earth is dried from all the waters of the flood, God comes down and opens the door of the ark—-and raptures Noah and his sons to heaven. Does that make sense? Why then the ark? Why the hundred and twenty years of labor? Why all those months shut up in the ark? God saved Noah through that universal judgement to plant him in the earth, not to rapture him to heaven. And whatever saints they are that God saves alive through the coming tribulation, which is the antitype of the flood—-whatever saints they are that God spares through all those sweeping and universal judgements—-are not going to be raptured to heaven at the end of them, but planted in the earth.

And I want you to observe also that in Noah’s day, God did not spare any goats through the flood, to plant them in the earth. He spared the sheep. He spared only the sheep, and all of the sheep. The goats were all destroyed, and none of them were planted in the earth. The precise purpose of the flood was to sweep the earth clean of them, so that God might establish his people in it.

Now turn to Revelation 12. You remember I already gave you two scriptures, one in Genesis 6 and one in Matthew 24, which indicate God’s purpose to save flesh alive through those judgements. I’ll give you another in Revelation 12. Verse 13: “And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.” The woman is Israel. She brought forth the man child. The church didn’t exist yet when the man child was brought forth. This “time, and times, and half a time” is three and a half years, the last half of Daniel’s seventieth week, the time of the great tribulation, a time when the wrath of Satan and the wrath of God too are poured out on this earth. And this little remnant of the seed of Israel, who “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (verse 17), have a place prepared for them in the wilderness, where God nourishes and protects them all the time of the great tribulation. What for? To glorify them and rapture them to heaven at the end of it? No, but to save them alive to plant them in the earth.

God does not do so to all the tribulation saints. In Revelation 20 we read of saints who came out of the great tribulation, who were not spared alive. Verse 4: “I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands, and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” These saints obviously lived under the antichrist, during the great tribulation, but they did not come alive through it. They were slain for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. And when Christ comes back they will live—-that is, be raised from the dead—-and reign with him. They will not be planted in the earth to replenish the earth, as Noah was. But if there is to be a millennium at all, some of the saints must be saved alive to be planted in the earth, and some of them will be, for God yet has a purpose for the earth.

But what purpose for nourishing them in the wilderness for three and a half years, if God was only going to rapture them from the earth at the end of it? If God is going to rapture the tribulation saints to heaven at the end of the tribulation, why does he put them through the time of judgement first, only to rapture them to heaven at the end of it? Try to think of a reason. You may say it could be for the sake of their testimony. The world needs their testimony at this time. But no, God does not put them into the midst of the ungodly to testify. He prepares a place for them in the wilderness—-that is, in the desert, as the word means. This is not for testimony. This is to keep them alive, so that a righteous seed may inherit the earth after the ungodly are swept out of it. There would be no more purpose for God to nourish these saints through the tribulation, only to rapture them at the end of it, than to preserve Noah through the flood in the ark, only to rapture him to heaven when the flood was over. He did have a purpose to rapture Enoch to heaven, but he did it before the flood.

Enoch was raptured before the judgement ever fell, and the church of God is going to be also. Revelation 3:10 says, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” This verse alone necessitates pretribulationism, if this were the only verse in the Bible. Post-tribulationists have labored hard to overturn the real meaning of this text, but they have never been able to shake it. He says, “I will keep thee out of the hour of temptation.” He does not merely say he will keep us out of the trial, but out of the hour of trial. He will keep us out of the time of trial. Noah was kept from the judgement. He was safe and secure in the ark, and never a drop of rain fell upon Noah. But he was not kept from the hour of the judgement. He went through every minute of it, every day, every month of it. He was not kept from the hour of it. But Enoch was. Noah never felt a drop of that rain. Enoch never saw a drop of it. He was kept from the hour of the judgement, and the church of God will be also. Noah was kept through the hour of judgement, as Israel will be in the days to come. The woman who brought forth the man child, and the remnant of her seed who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ—-that’s Israel—-will be kept safe through the day of judgement, hidden away in the wilderness, to be saved alive, and planted as a righteous seed in the earth when God has purged it of all the ungodly. That’s why Noah built the ark. God had a purpose for men in the flesh on the earth. And that’s why the saints are not going to be glorified and translated at the end of the tribulation. God has a purpose for men alive in the flesh on the earth, after he has “thoroughly purged” it of all the ungodly.

Who are those men? Not the goats. Any of them alive when Christ returns will be slain by the sword that proceeds out of his mouth, when he says to them, “Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.” Not the goats, but the sheep. But what sheep? Not the church. Every post-tribulationist believes the church will be translated and glorified before the millennium begins. What sheep, then? Israel, and the remnant of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ—-after the church has been translated as Enoch was. These are the saints of the great tribulation. Israel, during the time of Jacob’s trouble, will look unto him whom they have pierced, and the Spirit of grace and of supplications will be poured out upon them, and they will mourn, every family apart, and they will turn to the God of their fathers. These, and all the Gentiles who receive the testimony which they bear, are the saints of the great tribulation, and these are they who will be saved alive, and planted in the earth after God has purged it of all things that offend, exactly as he did the righteous Noah.

Glenn Conjurske