I went to visit my cousin and his wife this last weekend, which meant I got to visit their church. I always enjoy visiting a different local community of believers, if only to experience a different portion of the body of Christ. The sermon was on the Genesis account of Noah and the flood, and the preacher (he was not their normal pastor) brought up a few points I had never considered. I thought they deserved some more thought.
First, the flood is a story that, as we all know, centers around the punishment of mankind for his wickedness. This isn’t a particularly revelatory fact, but this did strike me: Noah and his family were the only survivors of the flood, but it wasn’t like those bodies were taken care of; they were still there. So as the ark floated around, there may have been bodies, preserved by the salt, floating by. The stench and atmosphere would be a constant reminder of the fall of man, and the direct results of sin. This would likewise have continued when they finally landed.
Second, it is possible, perhaps even likely, that the ark was either partially or completely dismantled during the years immediately following the flood. After such a cataclysmic world-altering event, there would be a distinct lack of supplies. The wood from the ark could have been used to build shelters, provide heat for cooking or just warmth, and suffice for burnt sacrifices. This provision would also be a great way for future generations to physically see a portion of the stories that their elders were passing along.
Finally, and this point is less directly from the sermon, the fall can show us that our sin has consequences beyond anything we can predict. When Adam and Eve sinned, they believed they understood the consequences, and chose to act regardless. Our actions today can have effects beyond what we thought possible, which is a sobering thought to have. As much as I push thoughtfulness in everything, it is always good to be reminded that we cannot always know everything that will happen from our actions, good or bad. We must act in faith, seeking to follow the teachings of Scripture and the leading of the Spirit.
Just a note: I don’t think it matters whether or not you think the Noah event is historical or simply a story for our benefit, at least not for these points. The story is powerful because of the images above, though I do think the event is historical.