Noah’s Ups and Downs

We’re going to start with a game; I’m going to tell you the story of Noah’s Ark. Every time I say a word that starts with the letter N, I want you to stand up, the next letter N, sit down. If you can’t, that’s ok; you can just watch everyone who can.

Noah was a nice guy, but his neighbors thought he was a nut. He had spent nearly his whole life building a nifty boat next to his house, in a neighborhood that never had rain! I mean, if Noah had a nickel for every nasty neighbor that came over to nag and needle him, he’d be a millionaire by now. Noah explained to the nasty neighbors that God noticed that the world had become naughty and told Noah to build this boat to save his family and the animals from a nasty flood, but nobody believed Noah. Noah took notes when God gave him the numbers for the size of the nifty boat, and he nailed day and night to complete it. When the nifty boat was nearly finished, the necessary animals started to arrive. Naturally, the nocturnal animals came at night so they could nap later. The Nightingales flew into their new nest. At noon, the elephants nearly got stuck in the narrow door. The next night, which was a bit nippy, such numbers came that I could not name each one—n o nook of the nifty boat was neglected. Now, nothing could stop the nearing rain. Noah nailed the door tight and eyed the nimbus clouds nearby. Next, Noah and the animals spent numerous nights nervously feeling nausea as they floated on the waves the flood brought. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights, and then Noah noticed the rain no more. Now they had to wait in the nifty boat until they could find the dry land they needed to live on. Soon, they noticed something new—a rainbow. The rainbow was God’s signature on a promise that He would never flood the whole earth again. Noah and his family had a new chance to not neglect God’s laws and to walk God’s narrow path to heaven.

How do you feel? Exhausted? Worn out? That was a lot of ups and downs, wasn’t it? Ups and downs are exhausting, they wear us out. Sometimes they make us want to give up.  Isn’t the same with ups and downs in our lives? Think about it, each day, week, each month has ups and downs. There are little ups and big ups, you get a new job that you’ve been praying for years … a big up, someone compliments you, things go as planned, you get a raise, the report from the doctor is good. We have lots of things to be thankful for in life, all of the ups, big or little. But you know just as well as I do that life isn’t all ups, any one of you could probably tell me a few ups and a few downs just from this past week, or maybe even from just today. We have downs in life too; someone close to you dies … a big down, you’re blow drying your hair and drop the blow dryer which knocks a small box of earrings, buttons, and bobby pins directly into the toilet … then you have to get a glove and fish it out, making you run late for the rest of the morning. A small down, from experience! You take some teenagers tubing and it gets dark sooner than you expected it to, so you get out of the river early and end up with poison ivy all over your legs. Some downs we can look back on and laugh but seriously, have you ever felt like your life has had so many ups and downs that you are just too exhausted to live your life in a meaningful way?

Is Crazy is Normal?

Despite the images that come to mind when we think of Noah’s Ark, images of cute fuzzy animals on the nice little boat, with a nice old man standing on the deck enjoying the view, Noah had his shares of ups and downs. The Bible only tells us a little bit about Noah’s life, but it’s enough to see that he had more troubles in his life than just some cow poop and giraffe slobber. Turn with me in your Bible to Genesis 6:11

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.  12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.

Noah may have been a good person but he was living with a bunch of crazy people. Do you ever feel like that? That you’re trying to live a good life, do the right things but crazy people get in your way? How our life turns out depends on how we handle the downs in our life, those downs are struggles, weaknesses, the times when bad things happen, little or big, caused by crazy people or not. Basically, how we handle situations that are less than perfect and inevitable in our lives. Each down in our day is an opportunity to make a choice.

Noah was in a less than perfect situation; his family was the last family on earth that wasn’t corrupt. Think about that! They didn’t have a support system like the church; they didn’t have anything but corrupt, sinful people all around them criticizing them for doing the right thing. The only difference between Noah and the people God wanted to destroy was that Noah walked faithfully with God; it tells us this in verse 9. Noah knew that he couldn’t live in a messed up world and make a difference by himself.

Why is Everything Crazy?

When we go through the downs of life it’s easy to ask why. Why is this happening to me? Why would God let bad things happen to good people? Why can’t I catch a break? Noah could have asked a million why questions. Why did you let everyone turn evil? Why can’t you just make a boat appear, I mean you did create the whole world and I only have a stick of wood to use as a hammer? There are so many things we don’t understand. We know sin entered the world and that’s why bad things happen, but there are times when things just aren’t fair! In Romans 8:28 there is a verse we often hear in the down times of life,

28 And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, but we usually just stop there. We don’t read the next verse that says 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son …

God works all things, good and bad, together for good if you love God. For the purpose of making us more like Jesus. He has predestined us to be conformed to the image of Jesus. So God has created us to become more like Jesus and he’s going to do this by working all things, ups and downs, together for good to make us more like Jesus.  It’s so easy to get so caught up in asking why, that we forget to ask how this situation can make us more like Jesus. 

Jesus Has Crazy Strength but we Don’t

 Noah didn’t question God; he did what needed to be done. Let’s pick up in verse 14,

14 So make yourself an ark of cypress[c] wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high.[d] 16  Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit[ e] high all around.[f] Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.  17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18  But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you.

How big was Noah’s ark? Let’s start by defining a cubit. A Biblical cubit is considered the length between the elbow of an adult and their finger tip, which has been roughly calculated to being 18 U.S. inches. Quite a few scholars who study the Hebrew Bible believe a cubit was somewhere in between 17.5 to 21.5 inches long. If we conservatively assume that a cubit was 18 inches, we can conclude that the ark was about 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. That’s a football field and a half long.

The interesting thing about the ark is its ratio, ship builders use ratios of height to length to make sure boats can displace water and won’t tip over. Naval architecture reveals the Ark’s ratio is the most stable ratio for an ocean going vessel. The ark could have easily survived even big ocean waves and would be next to impossible to capsize.

The total volume of Noah’s Ark was roughly 1.5 million cubic feet, which is equal to the total capacity of more than 570 standard stock cars used on a typical railroad. What God had Noah make would be nothing less than the BIGGEST ship of its kind for many, many years until man began to build even bigger ships in the late 1800s, just 200 years ago!

That’s pretty amazing but let’s get back to Noah. He built the Ark by himself! With a hammer, oh and he was 600 years old (it tells us that in Genesis 7:6). Noah had some super natural strength. Sometimes the downs in our lives are physically draining but we have to struggle to be made strong. It’s like working out; the Holy Spirit is our spotter. He’s there to help us when we’ve given our all, he’s cheering us on and knows we need to give our all to be made strong.

Let me ask you a question: are you strong after a workout? No, we are at our weakest. Normal things make us hurt, walking hurts, steps hurt. Normal things hurt until the muscles heal stronger. After we finish a down time in our life we are at our weakest. The devil loves to use these opportunities to separate us from the people we love and the important things in our life. This is when we need to lean on God for strength, stop asking why and ask how this situation can make us more like Jesus.

Crazy Promise:

We know the rest of the story, Noah finished the ark, loaded his family and a bunch of animals on the ark 2 by 2. The door was nailed shut and it started to rain and rain and rain. It rained for 40 days and nights, it took months for the waters to subside and the land to dry. It is estimated that Noah was on the ark for over a year. The ark landed on dry ground and we pick up in Genesis 9:11

11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13  I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14  Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

God promises Noah and all of the earth that He would never flood the whole earth again. God promised that he would never destroy the earth again because of evil but he didn’t promise there wasn’t going to be evil.

Still Crazy Sometimes:

As a matter of fact, we go right from this up in Noah’s life to chapter 9:21 Where Noah is planting a vineyard and growing accustom to his new life on land. He went from a pretty rough year to a good place, the evil people were gone, no more animal smell, his family was safe. Noah was in an up of life. Until the Bible says,

21 When he (Noah) drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.

I think laying drunk, passed out in your tent, naked, could be considered a down for sure! Even the most faithful people make mistakes. We don’t have to be perfect to be a Christian; we don’t have to be perfect to be a good person. We do have to take every situation that we encounter and do our very best to handle that situation in a way that will make us more like Jesus. Noah wasn’t perfect but he had a relationship with a God who is.

I don’t know what you’re going through right now but I know that you are either in an up time of life or a down time in life, I also know that you aren’t always going to be there. Ups and downs are a part of life that can’t be avoided.

If you’re in an up time, enjoy it but know that eventually, something is going to come along to rock your boat. It may be big or it makes be small like the car in front of you going 20mph in a 30, or only one lane open at Giant on a very busy Saturday, but prepare yourself for those times now. Prepare yourself by having the same relationship with God that Noah did. Noah spent time with God, when the literal storms came he was able to ride them out instead of sink. When you hit the little downs in life, like traffic or annoying neighbors, or a million other little annoying things, practice asking how this situation can make you more like Jesus. Then when the big downs come, you will be prepared to handle the storm and come through a better person for it.

Maybe you are in a down time. Maybe you have a relationship with God but you’re stuck in asking ‘Why is this happening to me?’ instead of ‘How can this situation make me more like Jesus?’. I encourage you to change your perspective; in every situation ask how God can use what’s happening to make you more like Him. How can you be more like Jesus in the situation? Where we live isn’t called Heaven because it isn’t perfect. Know that you have the ability and the strength through a relationship with Jesus to change the perspective of your situation and allow God to work it together for good. 

Jesus can come into your life and completely change it, He makes all the difference. He made all the difference for Noah and he desperately wants to do the same for you. He doesn’t promise all good times but he promises hope. If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus or even if you do, we need to constantly ask Jesus to come into our lives, forgive our sins, and give us the strength to do things we could never do on our own. 


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