Exposition of Genesis 1–11: Genesis 7:13–15

Genesis 7:13–15
On that very day Noah entered the ark, accompanied by his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth, along with his wife and his sons’ three wives.  14 They entered, along with every living creature after its kind, every animal after its kind, every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, everything with wings.  15 Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life came into the ark to Noah.
(NET Bible)

 The exact day things changed

Make no mistake! At a very specific time of the Father’s selection, every believer will be removed from this world and judgment will fall on those who remain.

How do we stay alert when every day seems like the one before? Since Christianity is a historical faith, how can the reality of past events prepare us for what God is doing now? If God is dead serious about the big events, how does he feel about the little things?

The author of Genesis is meticulous about defining the exact day when Noah and his family enter the ark. Genesis 7:11 makes clear that in a certain year, during a particular month and on a specific day, the world-wide judgment begins. The rare phrase “on that very day” (7:13) is used “to stress the memorableness of a particular occasion, e.g., Abraham’s circumcision (17:23, 26), the exodus (Exod. 12:41, 51), Moses’ death (Deut. 32:48).”[1]

Genesis 7:13 has an unusual ordering of the people. Noah does not board with his wife but with his sons. So, the order of those entering the ark consists of Noah, his sons, Noah’s wife, and then the three wives of his sons. The order is male and then female of humankind. Noah leads the males and his wife leads the females.

The sequence of boarding continues in verse 14 with each type of creature entering “after its kind.” The phrase “after its kind” occurs four times in verse 14, which is a high repetition rate. Why? A moment’s thought will tell you that the context is the key to unraveling this question. Order has broken down on the earth! Providing the worst example of all, the sons of God are having children by the daughters of men, which is not reproduction “after its kind.” The order in boarding the ark contrasts with the chaos and violence on the earth.

In case there is any doubt, Noah does not scour the earth for creatures to drag onto the ark. They come to him because God is bringing them; the migration is supernatural, not natural. Try hard not to be a person who makes miracles as small as possible. You may read many ideas about difficulty feeding all the animals, or ridding the ark of waste, or housing predators with prey, but all these objections assume God stuck Noah with the problems. He didn’t. When God saves, he saves in every way!

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

[1] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, Word Biblical Commentary (Nashville: Word Incorporated, 1987) 181.

Exposition of Genesis 1–11: Genesis 7:1–5

Genesis 7:1–5
The LORD said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, for I consider you godly among this generation.  2 You must take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, the male and its mate, two of every kind of unclean animal, the male and its mate,  3 and also seven of every kind of bird in the sky, male and female, to preserve their offspring on the face of the earth.  4 For in seven days I will cause it to rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the ground every living thing that I have made.”  5 And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him.(NET Bible)


“Perception is reality”—so the saying goes. Looking a little deeper, we find that the saying is true only when God is doing the perceiving. Human perception is far more unreliable; we tend to believe what we want to be true. Our perception is an actual perception, but that does not mean we are perceiving reality.

What would be the outcome of seeing more like God? What would have to change to make it so?

Peter tells us that God waited patiently while the ark was being constructed (1 Pet. 3:20), but the day finally comes for Noah and his family to gather to the safety of the great ship (Gen. 7:1). As part of an extended literary device called chiasmus, God sees Noah’s righteousness and the earth’s ruin:

A                     6:9       Noah was righteous

B                     6:11     The earth was ruined

B                     6:12     God saw the earth was ruined

A                     7:1       The Lord said . . . “you I have seen are righteous in this generation.”[1]

The most common Hebrew verb for “seeing” runs like a thread through the early chapters of Genesis. God sees things clearly (1:4; 1:9; 1:10; 1:12; 1:18; 1:21; 1:31; 6:5; 6:12; 7:1). Eve (3:6) and the sons of God (6:2) see in a twisted way that leads to the ruin of the entire world.

Jesus contrasted these two ways of seeing in Matthew 6:22–23: “The eye is the lamp of the body. If then your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is diseased, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

Genesis 7:2–3 provides for the future sacrifice of clean animals by calling for additional numbers of them. Further, the clean/unclean distinction paves the way for a long-term practice. Wenham says, “It is characteristic of Gen. 1–11 to trace back the fundamental religious institutions to primeval times.”[2]

The grammar of Genesis 7:4 makes it crystal clear that God is personally causing the rain to fall and flood the earth. God is never one to put off the responsibility on someone else or onto natural causes. Those who want to reduce the flood to a natural or limited phenomenon must ignore the Bible’s plain statements.

In addition, we may learn lessons on interpreting the Bible by considering the contextual meaning of God’s statement: “I will wipe from the face of the ground every living thing that I have made” (Genesis 7:4b). Plainly, Noah and his household fall into that class, but they will be saved rather than destroyed. This fact reminds us that Bible verses may be ripped from their original context and given a meaning that is unsupportable when studied in that context. Whenever a Bible student is offered a verse reference to prove something, that reference should be read along with the materials before it and after it to ensure it is being used according to its actual meaning.

God’s stated intentions also imply that anyone who tried to imitate Noah by using a ship to escape the flood was not allowed by God to succeed; perhaps the outcome was as simple as running out of food and water because the flood was not over for a year. Noah had been told to gather food for the duration (Gen. 6:21). We are not given unnecessary details.

The lesson of Genesis 7:5 is clear: obey God and live!

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

[1] Adapted from Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, Word Biblical Commentary (Nashville: Word Incorporated, 1987) 176.

[2] Wenham, Genesis 1-15, 177.

Exposition of Genesis 1–11: Genesis 6:14 and 6:22

Genesis 6:14
“Make for yourself an ark of cypress wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it with pitch inside and out.”
(NET Bible)

Keep on doing what God says

Some people trust in Jesus Christ for the simple reason that they do not want to risk going to hell. So far, so good. But a fraction of these people then put their Christianity in the closet and shut the door. The idea seems to be: “Call me when it is time for heaven!”

What is God’s opinion of faith that is expressed in an instant and then goes into dormancy? What does an extended showing of faith say about the quality of that faith?

Up to this point God has spoken only of destroying all life on earth. You know that Noah is going to be spared, but Noah has never read Genesis. He has only one hint at this point: God is still speaking to him. When Noah gets his first command, it has to be a relief.

God tells Noah to “build for yourself an ark.” What is an “ark”? The Hebrew word appears to be a derivative of an Egyptian word for “chest” or “box.” When Jerome created the Vulgate, a Latin translation of the Bible, in about 405 A.D., he used the Latin noun arca, which means “chest” or “box.” The Latin word was taken into the Geneva Bible of 1599, an early English translation of the Vulgate, as “Arke.” The translators for the King James Version adopted this word as “ark,” and we have had it ever since.

Readers of the KJV may wonder how their “ark of gopher wood” became an “ark of cypress wood” (NET). The truth is that no one knows what kind of wood was used because the word is used only here. The Hebrew word is gofer (where f and ph are just alternative spellings), so you can see how the KJV reading arose as a simple spelling of the word; they had no knowledge of the type of wood. “Cypress” is merely an educated guess by the NET Bible translators.

No one knows what kinds of ships existed prior to the flood.[1] The design God gave to Noah has roughly the shape of a rectangular box scaled to a total length of about 450 feet, a height of 45 feet, and a width of 75 feet. (This shape is approximated by imagining a shoe box that is six times longer than normal.) Johan Huibers, a Dutch contractor, has built a replica at about one-half scale.

Genesis 6:22
And Noah did all that God commanded him– he did indeed.
(NET Bible)

Genesis 6:22 stresses that Noah did exactly what God told him to do. That is beyond dispute.

More interesting is to explain why the Hebrew text uses two different forms of the verb “to do.” These forms are commonly called the “imperfect” and the “perfect.” The imperfect is often used to represent “that which occurs repeatedly or in a continuous sequence in the past.”[2] The same reference says the perfect “denotes in general that which is concluded, completed, and past.” Genesis 6:22 has first the imperfect and then the perfect. So, it could be translated, “Noah kept on doing all that God commanded him—thus he did” (my rough translation).

What is the point? For 120 years Noah faithfully carried out God’s commands (“kept on doing”). Then the author of Genesis looks back and summarizes Noah’s behavior: “thus he did.” This statement undergirds God’s declaration of Noah’s righteousness in Genesis 7:1. Noah proved his faith over and over.

Do you want to please God? If so, keep on doing what he has commanded no matter how long it takes!

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

[1] Note to landlubbers: Noah’s vessel was far too large to be called a “boat.”

[2] E. Kautzsch, ed., A.E. Cowley, Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1910) 125, fn 1.