There they were, locked in this wooden boat for one year and eleven days. While the Scriptures do not speak of what happened in the boat, there was a story of humanity living in extremely close proximity with each other. There was a story of real human relationships happening on board that boat. Were there tensions? Were there arguments? Were they going stir crazy? Did they ever have real arguments? What were their living conditions like? Imagine what it was like being stuck on a boat three stories high. What were the practicalities of living on the ark? For it was full of animals both noisy and smelly. Animals that needed feeding, animals that needed their stalls mucked out, and even perhaps animals that both fell pregnant and gave birth to their young while on board. I have worked around animals for many years, mostly on dairy farms. And I can say they stink, though you do get used to the smell after a while. Think of the smell of the boat, the smell of the timber, the tar, the manure and the smell of each other. For one whole year the ark was their home, it was their prison and it was also their means of salvation and hope for the world.
It was here on the boat that Noah and his family learnt about Gods faithfulness. It was here that they learnt to relate to one another as family. And it was here that they learnt to worship God.
Every day for forty days as the rain came down they would have heard its noise against the roof of the boat. I wonder if they thanked God every day for the protection he gave them. Did they ever complain about the rain? Did they suffer grief for the loss of their family and community? There were Noah’s brothers, his sisters, his wife’s family, the daughter in laws family and perhaps their friends. How did they cope emotionally knowing that they would never see their loved ones again? Every day within the one hundred and fifty days that it took for the flood waters to recede, the ark was at the mercy of the winds and the waves. Scripture tells us that God sent a wind to dry the earth. What a mighty wind it must have been! We are not talking about a gentle breeze here. It would have been a howler, one that caused the ark to pitch and roll around. They were at the mercy of God; they had no method of steering it, or powering it. Did they suffer from sea sickness? Did God place a shield over them to keep the waters calm and the ark stable? We don’t know for Scripture gives us no insights into this. What was their health like? Were they eating properly? Did they suffer from jaundice from lack of sunlight?
Five months after the rain started they feel the bump as the bottom of the ark lodges on the top of the mountain. What sort of elation do they feel as the ark stops moving freely in the water? Do they have a sense that their confinement is nearly over? Yet their ordeal is not over. They have to wait for the water to continue to recede from the mountains, draining away from the valleys.
Another three months takes place before they can see the top of the mountains poking out from the water. How this ordeal must have tested their patience.
They waited for another forty days Noah opened the window and let a raven go, where it flew in the sky for a week. He then sent out a dove, which came back to him, meaning it had no dry ground for it to land on. Another week went by and Noah sent the dove out once again. This time it returned with an olive leaf in its beak.
Here is another story waiting to be told. It was the story of creation recovering from the flood. Note that the dove returned to Noah, this meant it still had no place to settle. Yet it had an olive leaf in its beak. Think about the olive tree, still immersed in water, its branches reaching skyward bound, struggling to get air, having the need of the warmth of the sun shining on it and suddenly the tip of its branches break forth. Just enough of the branches for a few leaves to sprout, yet not enough for the dove to land and make its nest. This tells the story that all of creation suffered from mans sin. It shows a picture of patience as creation still groans with the weight of sin, waiting for God to restore it once again. The branches of the tree lifting up higher than the flood waters shows a picture of how Gods creation can lift their hands high towards their creator, worshipping Him, as they reach to Him, the only one who can provide for them in the midst of the floodwaters of life.
Another seven days takes place and Noah lets the dove out once again, but this time it does not return. Three weeks have taken place before the dove found a place to land, a place to call home, and a home it found for it did not return. Imagine the sorrow Noah had when the dove returned the first time. Then his reaction as it brought him an olive leaf and his elation when the dove did not return. What was the reaction to his news each time he shared it with his family? What was their reaction when he showed them the olive leaf? Did they eagerly grab it off one another to touch and smell it? Did they rejoice when they realised the dove was not coming back? Did they have real sense of anticipation that they too could be released from the confines of the ark? Yet in the ark they stayed.. Three months after they first felt the ark go bump and lodge against the mountain top, Noah removes the covering over the top of the ark, and sees that the surface of the ground was dry. Listen to the silence in this story. Suddenly there was no wind. The wind stopped howling, and it was in the silence that Noah was finally able to remove the covering over the ark. What was his reaction as he looked around, twelve metres up from the ground, on the top of the ark looking at the ground? Did he itch to jump off and run around? Did he have to restrain his sons from doing the same? Yet they still had to stay on the ark as the ground was still muddy.
Creation must have been rejoicing madly, its grass growing and its trees blooming, their leaves and branches reaching upwards soaking in the sun.
Then God says to Noah and his family. It is time. It is time to come out of the ark. This happened one year and eleven days after they first went into the ark. What was it like for them? Did they hoop and holler? Did they leap around like a bunch of hillbilly’s having a square dance? Or did they in dignity walk out of the ark as God opened the door for them? I doubt this very much. I think there would have been a mad scramble to be first between the brothers, wanting to explore their surroundings.
But they still had work to do. They also had to bring out the animals from the ark. It took them a week to get them into the ark, how long did it take to get them out of the ark? Did the animals want to leave, or had they become so used to their pens and confinement that they had become used to them, and needed a lot of coaxing and prodding to get them out? I like what Scripture says, that the animals came out of the ark, one kind after another. Picture the mad rush, the noise, the thunder, the stampede as they rushed out, eager to get out, eager to munch on some fresh grass, to eat some fresh leaves, chew on some real bark and tree roots. As the animals dug in real dirt, scrambled up real trees and flew high into the sky. And for some maybe just laying down in the shade or warming up in the heat of the sun basking on a heated rock.