With all due respect to Barnum and Bailey, the circus is NOT the greatest show on Earth. That award goes to…God–for His amazing collection of animals on the ark. You may think I’m crazy, but I’ve never been a fan of the circus. Besides the fact that I’m not fond of clowns, contortionists, or fire-eaters, who wants to be in an enclosed area with giant, smelly animals? Which makes me wonder what poor Noah was thinking when he was trapped in close quarters with all of those animals on the ark.
It is intriguing to me that when God planned the guest list for the ark, He selected eight adults and every living creature on the face of the earth, but no children. This decision was probably wise, since there were no diaper pails, no Cheerios, and most children’s songs had not even been written yet. The ark would not even be sailing yet before Noah would have had to endure, “Are we there yet?!” The unfortunate side of this is that children give remarkable insight to any situation, as they did to me when discussing the journey of Noah and his relatives. Here are some points to consider:
WHAT DID THEY DO ON THE ARK? One of our children’s Bibles portrays a cartoon of Noah playing marbles with the animals on the ark. Even Grace, at the tender age of 5, saw the absurdity of this suggestion. She thought for sure that he was playing with Barbie dolls. Three year old Luke piped in that of course Noah would have been playing with cars and trucks. Even though they were thinking in terms of their own childhood interests, I liked the way that they were even thinking about this at all. I had never really stopped to consider what they were doing for all of that time (about a year) on the ark.
When you don’t give kids too many toys, they just use their resourcefulness and creativity to entertain themselves and each other. One of Noah’s sons who was on the ark was named “Ham,” so he probably provided any needed entertainment. Other than that, I imagine that this was an intense and serious time for the only survivors on the planet. Everyone else had been obliterated, and that in itself would have been a very sobering thought. Even though Noah’s ark is usually depicted as a sweet little scene with adorable animals, let’s not forget that these were real human beings with a wide range of emotions, just like us.
Noah and his relatives must have spent a considerable amount of time in prayer. Noah was described in Genesis 6:9 as a “righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.” He undoubtedly led some potent prayer sessions, and used his quarantined time wisely to build his relationship with God. Some of the most powerful prayers I have ever heard have come from our young children, who speak to God with no pretensions, just purity of heart. Noah, with his blameless heart, would have had plenty to talk about with God while floating away in unfamiliar waters.
WHAT DID THEY TALK ABOUT, AND HOW DID THEY GET ALONG? It’s funny how kids never really get caught up in worrying about what to say; they just say what’s on their minds. I feel for the wives of Noah’s sons, as they were stuck on the ark for such a long time with all of their in-laws. Did they ever fight, argue, or disagree? Did anyone ever get fed up with someone else’s annoying habits or air their grievances? With no organized sports of any kind, what did the men find to talk about? One thing is for certain, with all of that time alone together, these people were forced to communicate. They must have developed real relationships, simply by spending time together, talking, and learning how to get along.
WHAT DID THEY EAT? Along with all of the animals, Noah was instructed to “take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them” (Gen. 6:21). As time passed, Noah and his family would have to think about the fact that they had a limited amount of food. It’s not like they could eat the animals on the ark, although if I were a chicken or cow, I’d be getting a little nervous and wearing a pig’s snout to avoid consumption. I have noticed that our kids always show up at the table for meals, fully expecting that food will be provided for them. They depend on the fact that their parents will supply their demand. During the Flood, the “arkians” had to learn to depend on God to sustain them.
HOW DID THEY SLEEP? I have a hard enough time falling asleep when there is a cricket chirping in the house, so how in the world did they sleep with all of those animals on the ark? When you factor in the close quarters and rocking boat, I don’t know how I would have survived. They would have learned to get peaceful in order to get any sleep at all. The other day I was trying to wake Luke up from his nap, and I couldn’t believe how soundly he was sleeping. Short of banging a gong, I was making as much noise as I could to wake him, but to no avail. In fact, he was sleeping so peacefully that he would have slept very well on the ark.
WERE THEY AFRAID? Never before had rain poured from the sky and flooded the earth (and it never has since then). How did they survive the fear of the unknown? I once panicked when our toilet overflowed, and I couldn’t figure out how to stop the water. Consider the following nightmarish description:
(17) For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth.
(18) The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water.
(19) They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered.
(20) The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet.
And if that wasn’t scary enough:
Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.
With each passing hour on the ark, more uncertainty would build. How high is this water going to get? When is this ever going to stop? When will we ever get off of this boat, and what happens when we do? Talk about having to learn how to trust God! Once again, they would need to become like children in their ability to rely on their Father to take care of everything.
Picture what it must have been like when they finally disembarked, and they were the first people to ever see a rainbow–the enouragement they must have received from such a sight. Once they regained their land-legs, they were able to procreate to replenish the earth. Imagine their joy when they started to raise a family and recognized their own children’s natural ability to be resourceful, pray, communicate, depend, get peaceful, and trust–everything that God had taught them on the ark. Maybe God did invite “children” on the ark after all.