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On July 7th, 2016, the Ark Encounter was opened to the public in Grant County, Kentucky. This life sized replica of the Ark is a timber frame structure (possibly the largest in the country) measuring 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet tall. It is supported 15 feet off the ground by a series of concrete towers with a gift shop resting below the Ark. The Ark also has a restaurant and petting zoo on the grounds. The park opened on 7/7, which was a reference to the passage in Genesis 7:7, “And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood.” What parallels can we see between the initial Ark story, found in Genesis, chapters six through eight, and the Ark Encounter exhibit in Kentucky?
Many Sunday School stories start with Noah and his family being mocked as they construct the Ark though this is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible. When we look at the amount of opposition that has been brought towards the Ark Encounter’s project it is not hard to believe that Noah was mocked in his day as the earth was filled with much more wickedness at that time. The opposition for the replica Ark is mainly from evolutionists and atheists though even some purported Christians opposed the project as well. According to an article by News13 WVEC, approximately one hundred fifty protesters were present at the opening of the attraction claiming that the Ark is “provably wrong” and “makes Christians look ignorant.”
Many people believe that Noah worked on the Ark for one-hundred twenty years because of Genesis 6:3. However, we see that God gave Noah the direction to construct the Ark when Noah’s three sons were already married (verse 18). Noah’s youngest son, Shem, was born ninety-eight years before the flood. We do not know the age at which Shem was married but this probably limits the maximum amount of time to seventy or eighty years. The Ark Encounter took approximately three years to construct and utilize around one thousand craftsman. Wherever it was feasible, the replica Ark was constructed using archaic processes. The most noticeable of these techniques is timber framing, or using wooden pegs and joints. Building codes did require that they also use steel plates and bolts for the connections, as well.
When looking for insight on the people of Noah’s day, Jesus confirm the truth of Noah and the Ark in Matthew 24:37-39. He says, “But as 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 Noe entered into 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.” Going back to the original passage in Genesis gives us a different view of the people of that time. Genesis 6:5 shows the state of man, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” The chapter continues on, stating that “all flesh had corrupted His way” and that the “earth was filled with violence.” For these offenses God chose to wipe the slate clean with a massive flood. This brings us to the purpose of the Ark, both Noah’s and today’s Ark Encounter.
God had Noah build the Ark so that Noah and his wife, along with their three sons, and daughter-n-laws would survive the coming judgment. A flood of terrible proportions was coming and Noah’s family needed a means of salvation that only God could provide. The same is true of us nowadays. There is a terrible judgment coming and there is no human means of escaping it. As God provided Noah with a means of escape He has also done so for us by sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross to take the place for our punishment. After the Flood, God gave a rainbow as a reminder that He would not destroy the earth with water again. A point that is often overlooked is that the rainbow should also remind us that He does plan on destroying the world again. 2 Peter 3:10 reveals that “the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” There is coming another time when God will judge the earth and just as Noah entered the Ark to avoid judgment we must enter into the atonement of Jesus Christ to avoid the coming judgment. This is why the Ark Encounter exists, not to show the world that the Ark can be remade, but to realization that the past judgment shows the truth of coming judgment.
Noah had to recognize that judgment from God was coming. Hebrews 9:27 reads, “and as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” According to Hebrews 11:7, Noah’s recognition of the coming punishment caused him to be “moved by fear” to craft the Ark. We should be moved by fear to seek a means of escape from the wages of our sin. We can place our faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ who now sits at the right hand of God the Father. If we are willing to repent (turn away from) our sins and put our trust and obedience in Him, He is “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9b).