Have you ever wondered what kind bed Noah had in the ark? Did he simply throw furs down on the floor for a year, or did he take the time to build some bunks? He had a hundred or so years to prepare the ship for his family, and he must have given some thought to the sleeping arrangements. Likewise, what sort of tables did he fashion? Or chairs? Was the furniture anchored or did it move around as the ship was tossed on the waves of the flood? What did he use for his light sources during the long dark months when there was no sun, and the ark’s lone window remained closed? What did the family do to entertain themselves while the waters outside the ark continued on the earth?
These are but a few of the questions that many writers, seeking to give color to the episode of the deluge, one of the single greatest events in the history of the earth, might have tried to answer. But Moses, in penning the story of the flood, touched not at all upon such details, instead giving a rather bare bones account of Noah’s entrance into and exit out of the ark (cf. Genesis 6-9).
This refusal to fixate on such trivial matters is one of the hallmarks of the Bible.
Consider for instance what we know, or rather don’t know, about Jesus, the single most important individual in all of human history.
The Bible does not tell us how tall Jesus was. It does not tell us His eye color, hair color, favorite food, or any other such trivialities. It scarcely mentions His childhood. We don’t know what games He might have played with other children, the names of His teachers in the Synagogue, nor what His family gatherings were like. We aren’t told what kind of carpenter He was, what sort of things He liked to build, nor what woods He preferred to work with. Even during the years of His ministry, we are given only a bare bones description of His labors, touching on only a few moments of the countless hours He spent teaching, healing and traveling.
When one reads the various biographies of important personages, and then one reads the sacred accounts concerning the Savior of humanity, one must be struck by just how much the Biblical writers didn’t say.
Many think of the Bible as a long book, but when one considers that it is actually 66 different books detailing thousands of years worth of history, and imparting the most important of truths relative to the human experience and chronicling the lives of some of the most important people to ever live, including Jesus Himself, the Bible is remarkably brief.
Considering this brevity, we might reasonably surmise that the Author of the Bible, identified by the Bible itself as being the Holy Spirit of God (cf. 2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16), must have recorded only those things that were relevant to the message desired. All Scripture is useful, the Bible teaches (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17); anything not-useful has been already left out for us.
Thus, regarding the Ark of Noah, the wall hangings, furniture details, or descriptions of the family meals had no actual relevance to the message of salvation through faith and obedience. What we need to know about Noah is that when God told Him what to do in order to save himself and his family, Noah did those things and they worked.
“By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith (Hebrews 11:7; ESV).”
Likewise, what is important about Jesus is not His hair color, or any such thing, but rather those things He did and taught in order to bring salvation to men.
“If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. (John 12:47-48; ESV)”
God focused His word only on those things He wanted us to focus on, leaving out all the rest. Those words He did provide are thus things we absolutely should focus on, recognizing their importance (cf. 2 Timothy 3:14-17). We neglect such a message at our own peril.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.