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On Tuesday, January 18, 2022, at 4:00 Eastern Time, a significant asteroid, approximately 3400 feet across, flew very close to the earth. It was larger than our tallest buildings. For scale, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is 2717 ft. That would have been an explosive impact if it hadn’t missed us by 1.23 million miles. A more dramatic close encounter will be Friday, April 13, 2029 when the asteroid Apophis, at 1,120 feet across will pass within 19,000 miles of earth. Astronomers once thought Apophis would hit us, but that fear has been mitigated.
What is interesting is all the potential for danger around us that we do not see. Tectonic plates that move unannounced, until they split the earth. Underwater volcanoes that seem to erupt out of nowhere, sending tsunamis to crash with destruction upon the shore. Things are happening around us silently, steadily that we do not see, while we live blithely and blindly assuming we are safe.
The greatest potential for danger is one that we cannot afford to close our eyes to and miss. That is the growing wickedness around us that is seeping into our lives without announcement or warning flare. It just crawls on clawed feet into the hearts of ourselves and our children, as quietly as that asteroid did that swept close to earth. But wickedness is not a near miss. It is targeted, upon us, and more destructive than we have ever supposed.
Hello, we are Scot and Maurine Proctor and welcome to Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me podcast where we talk today about Noah and the Flood described in Genesis 6-11 and in Moses 8. It is easy to dismiss this as a child’s story, the stuff of legend, because, after all, it was one of the first stories we heard. We did puzzles or had models of an ark with lions, tigers, and elephants walking two by two into the door, and we may have understood this event with childlike mind.
Hugh Nibley said: “The stories of the Garden of Eden and the Flood have always furnished unbelievers with their best ammunition against believers, because they are the easiest to visualize, popularize, and satirize of any Bible accounts. Everyone has seen a garden and been caught in a pouring rain. It requires no effort of imagination for a six-year-old to convert concise and straightforward Sunday-school recitals into the vivid images that will stay with him for the rest of his life. These stories retain the form of the nursery tales they assume in the imaginations of small children, to be defended by grown-ups who refuse to distinguish between childlike faith and thinking as a child when it is time to “put away childish things.” It is equally easy and deceptive to fall into adolescent disillusionment and with one’s emancipated teachers to smile tolerantly at the simple gullibility of bygone days, while passing stern moral judgment on the savage old God who damns Adam for eating the fruit He put in his way and, overreacting with impetuous violence, wipes out Noah’s neighbors simply for making fun of his boat-building on a fine summer’s day.” (Hugh Nibley W. Enoch the Prophet. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 2. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986.”
Jeffrey M. Bradshaw said, “A thoughtful examination of the scriptural record of these characters will reveal not simply tales of ‘piety or … inspiring adventures’ but rather carefully crafted narratives from a highly sophisticated culture that preserve “deep memories” of revealed understanding. We do an injustice both to these marvelous records and to ourselves when we fail to pursue an appreciation of scripture beyond the initial level of cartoon cut-outs inculcated upon the minds of young children.” (Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, “The Sons of God and the Sons of Men,” https://interpreterfoundation.org/book-of-moses-essays-075/
Indeed, the deepest questions of eternity are pondered in this event of Noah and the flood. What is the true nature of wickedness? Do we foolishly let it grow among us and even embrace it, not seeing it for what it is? Why would anyone, let alone an entire word, love Satan more than God? Who is God that He would send a flood to destroy His children? Why would that be the only possibility? What is faith and how could Noah have stood so all alone against a mocking world? How do you find favor with God?
Perhaps most important is understanding the wickedness of a world that was fit for a deluge that would wipe it out, when we know we are in the latter days, a time when the Lord is preparing to come, but also a time when the world will be cleansed again—only this time by fire. What can we do in our time to be as Noah and call repentance to the world?
The world Noah knew fits the description Isaiah gave about the wicked, “We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes, we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are desolate places as dead men.” (Isaiah 59: 10)
If you want a sense of how blind wickedness is to itself, remember the teaching Jesus gave to his apostles on the Mount of Olives during his last week of life:
“For as in the days of [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
“For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark.
“And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24: 37-39) The wicked were utterly surprised, naively shocked, even though they had been warned by a prophet. They had become so used to their depravity, they saw nothing wrong with it. They may have labeled it the good—taking evil for good and good for evil.
Let’s start with the most basic question. Who was Noah? First, Noah is not a legend or a myth. Mention of him occurs in every book of scripture. Don Parry noted, “Many prophets from two different continents and different eras have identified Noah as a historical, not a mythical, character. These include Enoch (see Moses 7:42–43), Abraham (see Abr. 1:19), Amulek (see Alma 10:22), Moroni (see Ether 6:7), Matthew (see JS—M 1:41–42), Peter (see 2 Pet. 2:5), Joseph Smith (see D&C 84:14–15; D&C 133:54), and Joseph F. Smith (see D&C 138:9, 41). The Lord Jesus Christ himself spoke to the Nephites of the “waters of Noah” (3 Ne. 22:9). Recent latter-day prophets and apostles have similarly spoken of Noah.” (Donald W. Parry, The Flood and the Tower of Babel) https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1998/01/the-flood-and-the-tower-of-babel?lang=eng
In the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 84, we are given a priesthood line of authority: “Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek, who received it through the lineage of his fathers, even till Noah. And from Noah till Enoch” (Sec. 84: 14, 15), then from Enoch to Abel to Adam.
In Joseph F. Smith’s vision of the spirit world, which is Section 138, he records who he sees. Along with “Adam, the Ancient of Days” and “our glorious Mother Eve”, Abel and Seth, he sees “Noah, who gave warning of the flood; Shem the great high-priest” (Sec. 138:41).
Joseph Smith added a total of 57 verses to the King James Version, about this event, recorded as the Book of Moses. Jeffrey M. Bradshaw notes: Noah is given a place of notable prominence in modern revelation, standing second only to Adam in having dominion over every living creature. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught:
“The Priesthood was first given to Adam; he obtained the First Presidency, and held the keys of it from generation to generation. He obtained it in the Creation, before the world was formed… He had dominion given him over every living creature. He is Michael the Archangel, spoken of in the Scriptures. Then to Noah, who is Gabriel: called of God to this office, and was the father of all living in this day, and to him was given the dominion. These men held keys first on earth, and then in heaven.” (Bradshaw, https://interpreterfoundation.org/book-of-moses-essays-075/ )
Noah is the head of the third dispensation, a new Adam. He is the son of Lamech, the grandson of Methuselah, and the great grandson of Enoch, whose faithful city was taken up four years before Noah was born. He was ordained to the priesthood when he was ten years old. If you take the Bible chronology, Noah was born 1056 years after the fall and the deluge came when he was 600 years old, 1656 years after the fall. These numbers are to give you a sense of timing, rather than absolute years.
In Moses 7, when Enoch is given a vast, sweeping vision the Lord “told Enoch all the doings of the children of men…and looked upon their wickedness and their misery, and wept and stretched forth his arms”, he also saw “Noah and his family’ that the posterity of all the sons of Noah should be saved with a temporal salvation” (Moses 7:41,42). Enoch “saw that Noah built an ark; and that the Lord smiled upon it, and held it in his own hand” (Moses 7:42). This was a vision for Enoch of his own great grandson.
One last important point about Noah. Just as Adam is the angel Michael, Noah is Gabriel, whose mission included both the announcement of the upcoming birth of John the Baptist, as well as the annunciation to Mary, that she would be the mother of the Son of God. Some also believe he was the angel called Elias who came to the Kirtland Temple, Apr. 3, 1836 to give keys to Joseph. Elias is a name that means forerunner. So Noah is more vital to the world’s divine history than we usually understand, and he was called to a challenging mission—to warn a wicked world to repent or they would be destroyed by a flood.
It is fascinating to note how the idea of a universal flood exists in so many cultures across the ancient world.
In Moses 8, the Lord said unto Noah: My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for he shall know that all flesh shall die; yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years; and if men do not repent, I will send in the floods upon them” (Moses 8:17). This means essentially that a clock is ticking. He has 120 years to cry repentance and gather any righteous before the deluge.
This pattern or type will occur over and over in scripture. It is the wilderness journey motif. In scriptures, so many take a journey—Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, the Children of Israel led by Moses, and Lehi and his family. The list actually goes on and on. A similar pattern recurs in each type, in each story. Because of wickedness, a place is about to be destroyed. It may be Egypt, where the children of Israel are living; Jerusalem that is about to succumb to Babylon when Lehi and his family live there; or, in Noah’s case, it is the whole earth. Usually, it is the wicked who bring on self-destruction or the wicked destroy the wicked. What does a loving God do in these cases? He sends a prophet to preach repentance so that those who can hear will hear. He warns them to repent because of the impending destruction. We’ll talk more about this in another podcast, because it is such a prevalent theme in both the Old Testament and Book of Mormon. Remember, Noah is preaching to gather out the righteous.
Of course, we know that the people did not listen to his words. They not only disdained him, but sought to take his life. What a grueling and very lengthy mission to have no success. It is too much to comprehend, but we learn that “Noah continued his preaching unto the people” (Moses 8:23). In the face of hostility, with nothing to show for your work, with a sick and difficult world, you continue because you love and trust the Lord. The kind of faith that was required to build an ark was also on display in this fruitless, but necessary, work.
When the scriptures say, that there “were giants on the earth, and they sought Noah to take away his life”, the translation of giants is from the Hebrew Nephilim, which essentially means fallen ones.
But you have to wonder what was the nature of the wickedness that would be so evil that the Lord had no choice but to clean the slate and start again? We are told that the sons of God had married the daughters of men in Genesis, but also in Moses that the sons of men have taken the daughters of God, so the image is clear. The children of the righteous were attracted and “sold themselves to” the ungodly, and their children grew up separated from God. The rising generation forgot who they were.
Is this enough to warrant a flood? Hasn’t much of the earth’s history been brutal, bloodly and heartless? What was so wicked that this was a turning point for a whole generation?
As I was praying about this, words of a poem came to mind that I hadn’t thought of for several years. Before World War l, people believed in the great myth of progress—that Western civilization was “marching inexorably forward, that humanity itself was maturing, evolving, advancing—that new vistas of political, cultural and spiritual achievement were within reach.” People believed that civilization would soon dispense with war altogether. Then came World War l that threw the whole world into chaos and disillusioned humanity. With new machinery of war and more advanced technology, the war was a nightmare. New possibilities for disaster were born. Modern society looked suddenly precarious. Moral structures were undone. Millions of young men across Europe died, and the scarred and broken left behind wondered why had fought for anything in this useless world.
Add to that the killing influenza of 1918, it was not just a time of loss, but of a specific loss—loss of faith. Thus in 1920, William Butler Yeats wrote a poem called “The Second Coming”. He wrote:
“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, / The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned; / The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.”
That was the line that jumped out at me as I prayed, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/ Are full of passionate intensity.” With that dynamic, evil wins. It is hard to fight the wicked “who are full of passionate intensity.”
So what followed in the 20th century were the horrors of the Holocaust and ideologies like Communism that slaughtered millions. But there were always the many quiet heroes who stood against the evil. That wasn’t the case in Noah’s world.
Noah’s world is described in the Book of Enoch and in Moses as “corrupt”, and I think that a good illustration of that is in a program on a computer. When a program becomes corrupt, the very data base is changed that is giving instructions for the operation of the computer. The corruption comes with the instruction to replicate itself and the computer does, if it does not recognize this virus as enemy. Once, several years ago, we got a Trojan horse virus in our database for Meridian Magazine. It sneaked in the back door and, to our existing program looked like just another piece of code, so our program did not protect itself. We had been hacked. Soon our magazine’s back end was spewing out nonsense and not following directions. Garbage was on the screen, instead of a magazine. The computer had interpreted an enemy as a friend. We were down several days, while a team of techs combed through thousands of lines of code trying to recognize and find the invader.
So it matters that we recognize evil for what it is, especially when it grabs control of your world and starts spewing out lies to replicate itself.
Since we love the earth and its beauties, since we feel heaven with our family and friends, since we worship God with knowledge of a restored gospel, since science has made our lives healthier and easier, we live in the best of times, and the prophets express optimism. At the same time, since we are citizens of a fallen world, we have to be aware that we also live in a world that is increasingly wicked and protect ourselves from the forces of evil and oppression that creep stealthily into our minds. Drowning in a world of many voices, evil ideas come gradually into our minds, disguising themselves as the good or the compassionate, and we, who take our cues from each other, can find ourselves distancing ourselves from God when we don’t realize it.
President Ezra Taft Benson said this: “For nearly six thousand years, God has held you in reserve to make your appearance in the final days before the Second Coming of the Lord. Every previous gospel dispensation has drifted into apostasy, but ours will not. True, there will be some individuals who will fall away; but the kingdom of God will remain intact to welcome the return of its head—even Jesus Christ. While our generation will be comparable in wickedness to the days of Noah, when the Lord cleansed the earth by flood, there is a major difference this time. It is that God has saved for the final inning some of his strongest children, who will help bear off the Kingdom triumphantly. And that is where you come in, for you are the generation that must be prepared to meet your God.”
President Benson continued, “All through the ages the prophets have looked down through the corridors of time to our day. Billions of the deceased and those yet to be born have their eyes on us. Make no mistake about it—you are a marked generation. There has never been more expected of the faithful in such a short period of time as there is of us. Never before on the face of this earth have the forces of evil and the forces of good been as well organized. Now is the great day of the devil’s power, with the greatest mass murderers of all time living among us. But now is also the great day of the Lord’s power, with the greatest number ever of priesthood holders on the earth. And the showdown is fast approaching.
“Each day the forces of evil and the forces of good pick up new recruits. Each day we personally make many decisions that show where our support will go. The final outcome is certain—the forces of righteousness will finally win. What remains to be seen is where each of us personally, now and in the future, will stand in this fight—and how tall we will stand. Will we be true to our last-days, foreordained mission?” (Ezra Taft Benson https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/ezra-taft-benson/in-christs-steps/
It is harrowing when a prophet compares the wickedness of our time to Noah’s. It is also harrowing when evil grows among us, and we don’t see it. In fact, let’s admit it, it is unfashionable to suggest that anything or any practice is evil or wicked or even a vice in our day. It would be so judgmental to say so. I am not talking about people here, but practices. We’ve lost the ability, even the language to suggest or even see that some things are completely unacceptable and bound to put people in bondage and make them miserable. Instead, we’ve embraced them. When we retreat from good and let those who do not know God redefine our language for us, we lose discernment. Words and images shape consciousness. Our downfall is wedded to the very order of our social system.
For instance, in our world, aborting a baby is just a choice. The U.S. Congress cannot even pass a law to help an aborted baby born alive. We used to talk about the importance of marriage, then we said traditional marriage, then we learned that you could be punished for believing what all generations before you had taken as a given.
When two law professors, Amy Wax and Larry Alexander suggested in a 2017 op ed that a return to earlier American cultural values would answer many of the nation’s problems, they were excoriated. A week later, fifty-four graduate students and alumni of the University of Pennsylvania, where Wax taught, published a statement condemning the essay as “malignant logic” and pushed for an informal investigation by the university president. Half the law school faculty joined in this denunciation, calling the essay racist and white supremacist.
What were the horrible contents of this essay that would deserve such a response? They said, “Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civil-minded and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.” (https://www.phillymag.com/news/2017/08/11/penn-amy-wax-op-ed/)
We get the lesson here. You will be punished for stating a point of view that everyone used to accept. Be quiet or be marginalized.
Thus, the values that look very familiar to us, are now outcast and disdainful.
British essayist Alexander Pope said, “Vice is a monster of so frightful mien/As to be hated needs but to be seen; /Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”
What we don’t see can hurt us. Ironically, Pope did not go far enough. What once seemed immoral becomes familiar and then not only embraced, but a society goes on to marginalize, wipe out and penalize moral or Godly ways.
Hugh Nibley, describes some of the evil of Noah’s time using various texts of the Book of Enoch. He said, “The peculiar evil of the times consisted not so much in the catalog of human viciousness as in the devilish and systematic efficiency with which corruption was being riveted permanently to the social order.” Society became fundamentally reordered first.
“Another Enoch text, first published in 1870, addresses the same issue: ‘Woe to you who write false teachings and things that lead astray and many lies, who twist the true accounts and wrest the eternal covenant and rationalize that you are without sin.’ This then was no mere naughtiness, but a clever inversion of values with forms and professions of loyalty to God that in its total piety and self-justification could never be set aright—it could only get worse.”
Nibley wrote, “According to the Psalm of Solomon, an early Syriac document discovered in 1906, ‘The secret places of the earth were doing evil, the son lay with the mother and the father with the daughter, all of them committed adultery with their neighbor’s wives, they made solemn covenants among themselves concerning these things, and God was justified in his judgments upon the nations of the earth.” In other words all sexual restrictions had been abandoned.” Violence reigned
In Moses we learn, that “Satan had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed and his angels rejoiced” (Moses 7:26). The Spirit of the Lord is withdrawn, which is also the spirit of order, harmony and love.
Nibley continues, “They are without affection, and they hate their own blood” is the Moses version. (7:33.) The texts say there were great disorders on the earth because of man who hates his neighbor and people who envy people: ‘A man does not withhold his hand from his son nor from his beloved to slay him nor from his brother.’
Nibley said, “As a result, the order of the entire earth will change and every fruit and plant will change its season, awaiting the time of destruction. The earth itself will be shaken and lose all solidarity. It is the reversal of all values as men worship: ‘Not the righteous law; they deny the judgment and take my name in vain.’ This vicious order was riveted down by solemn oaths and covenants.”
“Instead of the flood sent over a surprised community one fine day, we have in Enoch the picture of a long period of preparation during which the mounting restlessness of the elements clearly admonishes the human race to mend its ways. In the Enoch story, the darkening heavens, the torrential rains, and all manner of meteoric disturbances alternate with periods of terrible drought, and of course that is very clear in the book of Moses version: Remember how the land was blackened and utterly deserted in other parts, but remember also how ‘the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains’ (Moses 7:28). Earth is responding.
So it is a necessity and an act of mercy that God sends the flood. Nibley notes, “Why did God throw the universe out of gear?” and answers, “For a wise purpose, for those who are destroyed would have destroyed everything.” It would have been impossible for a child to come to earth and choose God.
God is not indifferent about this choice, even to destroy the wicked. No, He weeps. “One Enoch text says that “all the righteous and the saints break out in crying and lamenting with him.” In Moses 7 we see how “all the workmanship of my hands” shall weep at the destruction of the human race. The Lord says, ‘Wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer?’ (Moses 7:37). Mercy is the point, not vengeance. In destroying the wicked. “The completest of world catastrophes, is shown in the book of Enoch to be the only solution to problems raised by the uniquely horrendous types of wickedness that were infesting the whole world with an order that was becoming fixed and immovable. There’s no other cure for it.” (Stephen D. Ricks, Hugh Nibley, Enoch the Prophet, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1986).
In this world, there was one righteous man and his family—Noah–and his faith demonstates that even in the darkest times, one can stand apart. President Spencer W. Kimball said this, first quoting Paul, “’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. 11:7).
“As yet there was no evidence of rain and flood. His people mocked and called him a fool. His preaching fell on deaf ears. His warnings were considered irrational. There was no precedent; never had it been known that a deluge could cover the earth. How foolish to build an ark on dry ground with the sun shining and life moving forward as usual! But time ran out. The ark was finished. The floods came. The disobedient and rebellious were drowned. The miracle of the ark followed the faith manifested in its building. (Spencer W. Kimball, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball , 140–41).
Elder Richard G. Scott gave a talk for us called “How to Live Well against Increasing Evil”. He said, “You have a choice. You can wring your hands and be consumed with concern for the future or choose to use the counsel the Lord has given to live with peace and happiness in a world awash with evil. If you choose to concentrate on the dark side, this is what you will see. Much of the world is being engulfed in a rising river of degenerate filth, with the abandonment of virtue, righteousness, personal integrity, traditional marriage, and family life… We cannot dry up the mounting river of evil influences, for they result from the exercise of moral agency divinely granted by our Father. But we can and must, with clarity, warn of the consequences of getting close to its enticing, destructive current…
“Now the brighter side. Despite pockets of evil, the world overall is majestically beautiful, filled with many good and sincere people. God has provided a way to live in this world and not be contaminated by the degrading pressures evil agents spread throughout it. You can live a virtuous, productive, righteous life by following the plan of protection created by your Father in Heaven: His plan of happiness.” (Richard G. Scott, “How to Live Well against Increasing Evil” https://abn.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2004/04/how-to-live-well-amid-increasing-evil?lang=eng&adobe_mc_ref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.churchofjesuschrist.org%2Fstudy%2Fgeneral-conference%2F2004%2F04%2Fhow-to-live-well-amid-increasing-evil%3Flang%3Deng&adobe_mc_sdid=SDID%3D4895410A4858FEBB-01A47EAC64E66CCE%7CMCORGID%3D66C5485451E56AAE0A490D45%2540AdobeOrg%7CTS%3D1642187646 )
Just as Noah had to live with faith through a difficult time, faith will be our shield and protection in our times. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said at a BYU Devotional: “You may be asked to face more [difficulties in life] than you think you can — and certainly more than you want…
“There is language in the very heart of one of the Book of Mormon sermons that implies trials and tests may come to us often in life. In his farewell address, King Benjamin taught that a fundamental purpose, perhaps the fundamental purpose of mortal life is to “become a Saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord” which will require as he goes on to say “to become as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child does submit to his father.”
What does that mean for us? It means, in part, at least, that struggle and strife, heartbreak and loss are not experiences that come somewhere else to someone else. It means in moments when faith feels frightfully difficult to hold on to are not reserved for bygone days of our persecution and martyrdom. No, times when becoming a Saint, through Christ the Lord, seems almost, almost, too much to achieve are still with us, and so will be until God has proven His people for their eternal reward. We will be asked to submit, to obey, to be childlike, and for some of us that is difficult now and it will be difficult then.
Elder Holland said, “My plea today…is that we practice now and be strong now, for those times of affliction and refinement that surely will come…That’s when faith in God, faith in Christ, faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will really count. That’s when faith will be unwavering, because it will be examined in the Refiner’s fire to see if it is more than “sounding brass or tinkling cymbal….
“When you stumble in the race of life, don’t crawl away from the very Physician who is unfailingly there to treat your injuries, lift you to your feet, and help you finish the course. We don’t know why all of the things that happen to us in life happen, why sometimes we are spared a tragedy and sometimes we are not. But that is where faith must truly mean something, or it is not faith at all.”
That is what we need for our times, and for Noah’s time he needed an ark which he built to specifications. The ark is another name for the Word. He and his family will be literally saved because of the Lord and His teachings. The Ark was also a temple.
Jeffrey Bradshaw notes, “It is significant that, apart from the Tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon, Noah’s ark is the only man-made structure mentioned in the Bible whose design was directly revealed by God. Indeed, each of the three decks of Noah’s Ark was exactly the same height as the Tabernacle and three times the area of the Tabernacle court…
“The motion of the Ark ‘upon the face of the waters,’ like the Spirit of God ‘upon the face of the waters’ at Creation, was a portent of the appearance of light and life. Within the Ark, a ‘mini replica of Creation,’ were the last vestiges of the original Creation, ‘an alternative earth for all living creatures,’ ‘a colony of heaven’ containing seedlings for the planting of a second Garden of Eden, the nucleus of a new world — all hidden within a vessel of rescue described in scripture, like the Tabernacle, as a likeness of God’s own traveling pavilion.”
In scriptures, the size of the Ark is described in cubits, a Hebrew measurement that is generally estimated to be between 18 and 22 inches. If we take 18 inches as one cubit, the ark would be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high, on three levels, a feat of engineering indeed.
Then there is the question of how did the boat get light and air, when there were certainly times when the boat was plunged under the water. We are aided here by noting the similarities between the barges the Jaredites built and Noah’s Ark. These barges, according to Ether, were patterned after Noah’s Ark (6:7), were “’tight like unto a dish’, peaked at both ends, and had holes that could be unplugged to allow ventilation…
Michael Ask notes, “Concerned about the lack of light in the barges, the brother of Jared asked the Lord for some means of illumination. Glass would break, the Lord replied, and they couldn’t light fires, so the Lord turned the problem back over to the brother of Jared. Having complete faith in the Lord’s abilities, the brother of Jared climbed a mountain, ‘did molten out of rock small transparent stones and asked the Lord to touch the stones so they would shine in their vessels.’
“While the tale of ‘shining stones’ has elicited the laughs of critics, we find that the story is perfectly at home in ancient lore. According to the ancient Palestine Talmud, for example, the Ark was illuminated with a miraculous light-giving stone. This precious stone supposedly glowed for 12 months inside the Ark and would dim during the day so that Noah knew if it was day or night outside”
(See Michael Ash “How did Noah’s boat get light and air? https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/blog/2014/12/14/fair-issues-75-noahs-ark-jaredite-barges-get-light-air
So the precise day came when the flood began, while the preoccupied who rejected Noah, would be utterly surprised. Noah, and his sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and their wives entered the ark. With them were seven of every clean beast, defined as those who were suitable for food or sacrifice and two of every unclean beast. Noah did not drive the animals into the ark for the beasts, cattle, creeping things, fowls, and birds “went in unto” him and “they went in…as God had commanded” (Gen. 7:14-16). Then it began to rain incessantly and non-stop for forty days and forty nights, accompanied by something even more formidable, the “fountains of the great deep” were broken up. This implies a great wrenching of the earth’s crust, a shifting of tectonic plates, devastating tsunamis, traveling at speeds approaching the speed of sound. We don’t know what this breaking up means entirely, but it implies great, physical turmoil.
Though it rained 40 days, Noah and his family were aboard the ark one year and ten days, before they emerged to form a new world and people a new creation, as “all flesh died that had moved upon the earth” (Gen. 7:21) As in the beginning, Noah’s family were called “to multiply and replenish the earth”.
Something fundamental must have changed about the earth, however, because from that time forward the life span of humans was greatly reduced from the hundreds of years they had lived before.
When Noah came forth from the Ark, he built an altar to the Lord in his gratitude. The Lord made a covenant with him, and as He said, “every living creature that is with you,” that “neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth” and set as a token of that covenant “the bow in the cloud” (see Genesis 9:10-13).
Because Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer, and the abundant giver, this was not the end of the people who were destroyed in the flood. Peter mentions this and so does Joseph F. Smith in Doctrine and Covenants 138. While the people from the days of Noah waited in spirit prison, Jesus came to organize the missionary work in the spirit world so that they could be taught the gospel and be saved, if they would, through the Savior’s atonement. We have such a generous God.
That’s it for today. Next week we’ll be studying Genesis 12-17 and Abraham 1,2 in a lesson called “To Be a Greater Follower of Righteousness”. Thanks to Paul Cardall for the music and to Michaela Proctor Hutchins, our producer. You can find the transcripts for these podcasts at latterdaysaintmag.com/podcast. See you next time.