And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them; behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and set the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks.Genesis 6:13-16 RSV
The universality of the destruction is apparent in the words “end of all flesh.”
If there was no universal flood, how could such a fact be accounted for?
Besides that, the appearance of marine fossils upon all continents at elevations of very great height cannot be explained apart from what is written here.
Perhaps it may be granted that a flood inundating the total area of the inhabited earth would adequately fulfill what is in view here, but even such a limitation as that cannot be proved and is not justified as an interpretation.
We have already observed that the fundamental premise underlying much of man’s speculation about the past is founded upon the dictum that, “All things continue as they were from the creation of the world.”
We know that this is untrue, as attested by the apostle Peter (2 Peter 3:4); but the scientific community themselves are also beginning to understand the falsity of the dictum.
First of all you must understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation.”2 Peter 3:3-4 RSV
Francis Schaeffer mentions in detail the example of prehistoric mammals of great size having been uncovered in the frozen wastes of Siberia, an area supposed to have been uniformly cold for thousands of years.
Yet, whenever those tropical creatures froze, it took place so quickly that the plants found in their mouths, neither spit out nor swallowed, were still in the process of being eaten!
Nobody can explain this … nobody!
Thus, the fact of catastrophe is certainly an element to be reckoned with.
We believe that the event in view here is simply that, an elemental catastrophe of epic dimensions, and that the Genesis record is an accurate history of it.
As repeatedly observed, the changes that followed this catastrophe served as extensions of the primeval curse placed upon the ground for Adam’s sake, also that changes of a deteriorative nature are still taking place in the form of recurring natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, storms, weather changes, etc.
Moreover, that all such things are judgmental in nature, however indiscriminate they may appear to be.
Nevertheless, what we know of it is impressive enough.
Of course, the length of a cubit (usually held to be the length from the elbow to the tip of the extended middle finger) is uncertain, but about 18 inches is the minimum length assigned to it.
Following is an estimate of the size of the ark:
- 450 feet long
- 75 feet wide
- 45 feet high
These are almost exactly the dimensions of The Great Eastern, the great ship used in laying the first North Atlantic cable.
Those dimensions would give a reading of over 1,500,000 cubic feet, with over 100,000 square feet of deck space.
The displacement tonnage of such a vessel has been placed at 43,000 tons, with a pay-load capacity of 32,800 tons.
It is not known exactly what Gopher wood was, but it is usually supposed to have been cypress, of which wood there is an abundance in the upper Mesopotamian valley where the ark is supposed to have been built.
The “pitch” was asphalt, or some other petroleum derivative. It would have had the utility of making the craft watertight.
Of particular importance is the fact of God’s having given the dimensions and specifications for the ark.
Noah was not a boat-engineer, and just as God later showed Moses the pattern for the tabernacle, so also here, God gave the pattern of that which saved Noah and his family.