Next time you’re in the building where your church meets, take a moment to examine the décor in the children’s teaching areas. I hope you will not find a cute, cartoony, shrinky-dink ark with oversized elephants and giraffes sticking out the top, and a kindly cartoon Noah smiling benignly. If you do find such a picture, please consider asking the decorator to take it down.
These common ark pictures are akin to cartoon spaceships with astronauts sticking out the top, waving. You might see a picture like that in a kindergarten classroom, but when it’s time to really teach about space and astronauts, a good science teacher will get some photos from NASA to display on her bulletin boards. The same holds for dinosaur pictures. Cartoons give way to “artist’s depictions” and computer-generated, science-based video. And here is a critical parallel to teaching about Noah.
Unlike the instructor teaching about space exploration, the biology teacher can’t show photos of live dinosaurs or their environment. But the proponents of evolution have done magnificent work in making that world as real as possible to students of all ages (and the television viewing public).
We can’t show photos of the original Ark or the antediluvian world. But we are blessed today, in that believing scientists have done extensive research and study on this subject, and artists have developed a plethora of accurate resources for teaching the truth about the Global Flood.
The Real Ark
Jesus assures us that the Flood was an historical event (see Matthew 24:37-39). It mustn’t be dismissed as myth or allegory. The Ark of Noah was a real ship. Its dimensions and design are described in elaborate detail in Genesis chapter six. According to Henry Morris’ The Genesis Record, it was at least “438 feet long, 72.9 feet wide, and 43.8 feet high”. It was extremely stable and would not capsize in even the most gigantic waves.
No giraffes or elephants stuck out the top of the ark. They were safely berthed in one of the three interior decks, along with plenty of food to last them through the year of their confinement. There was room for all the animals God brought to Noah (he didn’t have to go round them up—see Genesis 6:19-20). In fact, Dr. Morris suggests that only 60% of the space on the Ark was needed for the animals, leaving ample room for supplies, feed, and Noah and his family.
It’s All About Jesus
It is vital to teach accurately about the cataclysmic Global Flood, because like most other Biblical events, it points to Jesus as the only source of salvation, and illustrates this truth vividly. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Genesis 6:8), the same grace by which we are saved. God told Noah how to escape destruction. Noah obeyed and only those aboard the God-designed Ark survived the flood.
Scripture clearly tells us how to be saved. Only those who follow God’s instructions in John 3:16 will not perish. Even if we’ve designed what we think is a pretty good boat, and built it of our best ideas, good works and loving feelings toward humanity, it will sink under us and we will perish. Only Jesus the Ark is a safe refuge from destruction.
I don’t believe we can afford the cartoon ark at any stage in our children’s education. We teach truth that is contrary to the prevailing worldview, and we need to be serious about it from the beginning. The Flood was an epic disaster involving planetary upheaval and a body count exceeding any movie maker’s most horrific imagination. It is a critical piece of the picture in our history, heritage, and doctrine. Take down the cartoon pictures and teach it real.