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THE GOSPEL PICTURED BY THE ARK OF NOAH

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, June 18, 2017

“We hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3).


This is what you do if you are not converted. You hide your face from Christ. You despise Christ. You do not esteem Christ. This is the way you think of Christ. You may say this isn’t you. You may say you don’t think of Jesus this way. You think you love Jesus, but you are deceiving yourself. The prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9). You assume that your heart is right when it tells you that you love Jesus. You assume that your heart is truthful, but you are wrong. It is deceitful “above all things.” Nothing is more deceitful than your own heart. It is full of duplicity, illusion and dishonesty. Your heart is dishonest “above all things.” Nothing is more dishonest than your heart.

You comfort yourself thinking your heart is no more dishonest than others. And you are right. In a way that is true. But you have not considered the fact that this is true because everyone’s heart is corrupted by original sin. I looked for another reason for three quarters of a century. But I am compelled to come back to original sin, for no other reason I know of can explain why every person I have ever known has “hidden his face from Him” as Adam hid his face from the preincarnate Christ in the Garden of Eden.

“We hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3).

You do not value Jesus. You do not think Jesus is important.

You live under the illusion that this verse is false – that you really do love Jesus, that you really do hold Him in high esteem. But rather than accepting what your heart, poisoned and twisted by original and personal sin, tells you – you should doubt your heart’s evaluation.

Do you have inner thoughts of the loveliness of Christ? Could you say this? Listen and then ask yourself if you could say this in all honesty (be honest) – could you say, “The Gospel, which was so dull and lifeless before, is thrilling when I hear about Jesus”? Could you honestly say that? If not, this proves that you do not esteem Jesus as Emi Zabalaga does!

Or could you say this: “Jesus was crucified for me, when I was his enemy, and I would not yield to Him. This thought broke me. Christ gave His life for me, and for this I will give my all to Him… Jesus is my Deliverer, my Rest, and my Saviour. I can never do too much for Christ. Serving Jesus is my joy”? Could you say those words with honesty – as John Cagan said them? If you hesitate, isn’t it because you know that you yourself hide from Jesus, that you do not think highly of Jesus?

Another way to test your love for Jesus is to be convicted of sin. Until you feel sinful for rejecting Jesus, you will never esteem Jesus Christ! Jesus said it,

“When he [the Holy Spirit] is come, he will reprove the world of sin…Of sin, because they believe not on me” (John 16:8, 9).

If you are not convicted of sin for rejecting Jesus, it is a sure sign that you “esteemed him not.” Dr. W. G. T. Shedd told us, “The Holy Spirit does not ordinarily regenerate a man until he is a convicted man.” A sense of guilt prepares the man to be delivered from it by the Lord.

You will not see how valuable Christ is until you are
   through playing games.
     afraid of death.
       give up on yourself.
         are convicted of sin.

Someone may say, “Those are very hard preparations.” But that is the preparation you need!

Jesus is the great theme of the whole Bible. When Jesus met two Disciples, He spoke to them at length. Turn to Luke 24:25-27. It’s on page 1112 in the Scofield Study Bible. Stand while I read it.

“Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded [explained] unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27).

Jesus spent several hours to teach all this. The Old Testament is long, 984 pages in my copy of the King James translation. When Jesus got to the 6th, 7th and 8th chapters of Genesis, He would have explained how Noah’s Ark spoke of Him. As He came to the account of Noah, the Great Flood, and the ark, He must have showed them “the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). These chapters of Genesis are so important that He could not have passed over them without a comment.

Indeed, the sixth, seventh, and eighth chapters of Genesis are all full of types, illustrations and pictures of Christ. And since He began at the writings of Moses, the human author of Genesis, and explained there “in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27), He undoubtedly told them how the ark spoke of Him.

Yes, Jesus is the great theme of the whole Bible, and there is much that we can learn about Him by studying the ark. Here are several points of the Gospel that Jesus undoubtedly touched on as He “expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).

I. First, the ark pictures Christ as unattractive.

As I have said, Noah’s ark was not the beautiful, bright colored boat that foolish teachers often show to Sunday School students. No! No! The ark was a gigantic black box made of wood. It was covered with black pitch, both inside and out. God said:

“Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch” (Genesis 6:14).

The ark was a jet-black box with a flat bottom. It was about 500 feet long. It was about 90 feet wide and 60 feet high. It was built merely to float, not to sail. It was an ugly, black vessel, both inside and out. There was nothing beautiful about it. This is a picture of Jesus Christ. The Bible says this about Christ:

“He hath no form nor comeliness [majesty]; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men…and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:2-3).

Isn’t that exactly the way most people viewed the ark, when they saw it standing there on the ground, before the Flood came? It had no beauty or majesty. They did not desire it. And it was despised and rejected of men, just as Jesus was. They hid their faces from the ark, just as they hid their faces from Jesus. The ark was despised and they esteemed it not. That’s why they refused to get into the ark, just as they later refused to come into Christ.

“How can this ugly, black contraption save us?” they must have said. And today most people refuse to come in to Christ and be saved for the same reason. They think, “Why should we give up our day-to-day life, and our enjoyments and pleasures, to get into that old, ugly black vessel?” Matthew twenty-four, thirty-seven and following tells us:

“But as the days of Noe [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 [Noah] 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” (Matthew 24:37-39).

This shows us that they did not want to stop eating and drinking in great feasts. They did not want to stop attending the lavish and lengthy weddings that people were so addicted to in that time. Why, they would have to give up their parties, their “clubbing” and dancing and drinking – and fun – just to get inside an old black boat where no “fun” was going on at all, they thought.

But they were wrong of course. The only place in the world where anything “fun” and enjoyable went on during the Flood was in the ark. Noah and his family had great fellowship as they worked together to tend and feed the animals during the time when the waters covered the earth.

The ark was the only church in all the world during the terrible time of the Flood. Noah and the seven members of his family were the only church on earth at that time, and they had a wonderful time of fellowship, and loving worship, and godly enjoyment in the ark.

But isn’t that the way unconverted people see our local church today? Many lost parents say, “Why do those young people want to be in that church so much? What attracts them? They have no drinking, drugs, or wild parties in that church. They don’t have illicit sex in that church. But they seem to want to be there all the time. What is there about that ugly, old church building way downtown, that makes my son or daughter want to be there all the time?”

Well, you can answer your unbelieving family and friends this way: “The church is our ark. It saves us from the burned out, lonely world we used to live in. Now we live in this local Baptist church. We have more clean, good fun here in church than we ever dreamed possible! Why be lonely? Come home – to church! In this ugly, somewhat uncomfortable old church building, we have found a refuge from a cold and lonely world. Won’t you come in and find the joy and friendship, and safety we have found in the local church, the house of the living God? Please come in regularly to this ark, this church, where you will discover the same peace and enjoyment we have found.”

Yes, the ark was an ugly, black old thing, but it was a place of joy, friendship and love. Come home! Get into this despised old ark of the local church with us. You will be saved, and you will experience a happy life with us!

II. Second, the ark pictures the Blood of Christ.

Please turn in your Bible to Genesis, chapter six, verse fourteen. God said to Noah:

“Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch” (Genesis 6:14).

Conservative commentator H. C. Leupold translates it, “And smear it with pitch within and without” (Exposition of Genesis, Baker, 1976, volume 1, p. 269).

Dr. Leupold goes on to tell us about the rooms in the ark and the pitch that covered it.

The word for “cells” (qinnim) is used also for “nests.” Consequently, such rooms are meant as may suit the needs of various beasts…This was not a ship but a huge floating box with dimensions quite nearly proportionate to those of a ship. This vessel was not intended for sailing or navigating of any sort. It was designed to float. It is rendered watertight by a generous coating inside and out with “pitch” (kopher) (ibid., p. 270).

Dr. Leupold goes on to explain that the word “kaphar” is derived from “kopher” (ibid.).

“Kaphar” is the Hebrew word translated “atonement” in the Bible. The verb form of “kaphar” is translated as “atonement” seventy times in the Old Testament.

Leviticus 17:11 gives us the meaning of this word.

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11).

Both times the word “atonement” is a translation of “kaphar,” which means “cover.” The Blood of Jesus Christ “covers” our sins. We are told that plainly in the New Testament:

“Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (Romans 4:7).

The ark was covered with pitch to keep out the judgment waters of the Flood. When you come into Christ, you are covered by His Blood, and the judgment of God will not harm you. God said to Noah, “Come…into the ark” (Genesis 7:1). When Noah came in, he was surrounded by walls which were covered with pitch. The pitch is a type of Christ’s Blood. When you come to Christ, you are literally surrounded by the Blood of Christ, and your “sins are covered” (Romans 4:7)!

“The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7).

That’s why Jesus died on the Cross – so His Blood could wash away your iniquities and cover your sins.

“Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (Romans 4:7).

III. Third, the ark pictures the resurrection.

The ark is a type of the resurrection. The ark rested on Mount Ararat on the day that Christ would rise from the dead.

Now I want you to notice something else. Listen to Genesis, chapter eight, verse eighteen:

“And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him (Genesis 8:18).

This pictures the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead:

“In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (Matthew 28:1-6).

As Noah came out of the ark, so Christ came out of the tomb on Easter morning. It says, “And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him.” This pictures Christians being raptured, to meet Christ in the air (I Thessalonians 4:16-17). Noah coming out of the ark is a picture of Christ coming out of the tomb. His family coming out of the ark after him is a picture of Christians being raptured.

All of this is symbolic and typographical. Dr. John Warwick Montgomery said:

The act of Noah’s deliverance – by God’s grace alone through water and [the ark] – led the early church irretrievably to see the entire event as a typological forerunner of salvation as offered in the New Covenant. The ark itself was conceived as a symbol of the church (only those who seek the grace there offered can survive the flood of a sinful world); church architecture itself was indelibly stamped with this imagery (e.g., the “nave” from the Latin “navis,” “ship”). In early Christian [drawings] – in the catacombs for example – the ark was used to symbolize the place of burial or casket, from which God would raise the believer at the Last Day, even as He delivered Noah from the deadly waters of the Flood (John Warwick Montgomery, Ph.D., The Quest for Noah’s Ark, Bethany, 1972, p. 284).

In the first half of the second century, Justin Martyr said:

The righteous Noah with the other people of the Flood, namely his wife, their three sons and their sons’ wives, added up to the number eight and afforded the symbol of that day, eighth in number but first in power, on which Christ rose from the dead. Now Christ, “the first born of every creature,” has become in a new sense the head of another race, of those whom He has brought to a new birth by water, faith and the wood which holds the mysteries of the Cross, just as Noah was saved in the wood of the Ark, floating on the waters with his family (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, cxxxvii, 1-2).

As the early Christians observed, the entire Gospel is pictured in the ark of Noah. (1) It was an ugly ark, not appealing to the eyes or the mind. So, Christ does not appeal to man, and the gospel seems foolish. (2) The ark was covered with a thick coat of pitch, inside and outside. This pictures the Blood of Christ covering the convert, so that God cannot see his sins. (3) The ark rested on Mount Ararat, and Noah came out of it alive. It is a picture of Christ coming out of the tomb, resurrected from the dead, on Easter morning.

One more thing. The ark rested on the top of the mountain. This is a picture of Christ ascending to Mount Zion, the City of God, in the Third Heaven. Christ is now up in Heaven, at the right hand of God. Come to Christ and you will be saved. Come to Christ and your sins will be covered over with the “pitch” of His Blood. Come to Christ, and you will be able to go to Heaven. As Noah and his family escaped the Flood, you will escape from Hell. You must come in to Christ, as Noah came in to the ark!


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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Noah Song: Matthew 28:1-6.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Saved by the Blood” (by S. J. Henderson, 19th century).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE GOSPEL PICTURED BY THE ARK OF NOAH

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“We hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3).

(Jeremiah 17:9; John 16:8, 9; Luke 24:24-27)

I.    First, the ark pictures Christ as unattractive, Genesis 6:14;
Isaiah 53:2-3; Matthew 24:37-39.

II.   Second,. the ark pictures the Blood of Christ, Genesis 6:14;
Leviticus 17:11; Romans 4:7; Genesis 7:1; I John 1:7.

III.  Third, the ark pictures the resurrection, Genesis 8:18;
Matthew 28:1-6; I Thessalonians 4:16-17.