The Purpose-Driven Boatwright

“How old was Noah when he entered the ark?” My girlfriend thought it was an innocent question. How was she to know that it could unleash something so crazy?

Really Weird Bible Stories Episode 2: The Purpose-Driven Boatwright

Noah. Weird dude. Born in a wicked generation. Not even a murmur that he mighta protested their funerals. First sentence in the Bible about him says that God liked him. Second sentence says this is his story. Third sentence: he’s a righteous man, blameless, and he walked with God. Fourth sentence, he has kids. Nice story; makes you wish ya coulda known the guy. No list of things he did or didn’t do, just that he was righteous and did nothing wrong, not exactly what he did or didn’t do. The Bible seems uninterested. Weird, I told ya. All we know is that God liked him, and he was a righteous dude. Interesting that it tells us that God liked him before it says he was righteous.

Then God tells him to build an ark. First recorded interaction between God and Noah, God says to build an ark. And Noah does it. No mention of protest. I guess they were tight and Noah trusted God.

The guy spends 120 years building a boat. A really really big boat. He spends 120 years of his life building a boat. Talk about the purpose-driven life. But wait a second – he spends 480 years without a whimper about purpose. He spends his life walking with God. Guess you could say his “purpose” was to save the whole human race… and he spends 480 years of his life not doing it. Talk about weird. Worse still, he spent those 480 years walking with God! God didn’t even tell him. Guess he was a sleeper agent.

So what did he do in those 480 years? He made a living. He walked with God. He married a pretty girl and they made (at least) 3 babies and got old together. They watched those babies grow up and find pretty girls to marry. Noah’s lovely bride doesn’t even get a name; we just call her “Mrs. Noah.” It isn’t written that by our modern standards he’d get tagged righteous, vis.: he never read the Bible (it hadn’t been written), he never went to church… Though I guess if you’re the only righteous man on earth it’d be fair to say there wasn’t a church to go to! On the other hand, II Peter 2:5 calls Noah a “preacher of righteousness.” But maybe that was after the warning of the flood, who knows?

You know the rest of the story: the flood happens, everybody else drowns, and only Noah and his family are saved. They get off the boat, Noah builds an altar and makes a sacrifice, and God is pleased and makes the first rainbow.

But here’s the part that the Sunday School teachers don’t put on the flannelgraph (because it’s not rated G): Noah grows some grapes, makes wine, and gets, well, plastered. Can you blame the guy? In his lifetime he watched the whole human race drown. Then he takes off all his clothes in the tent. Ham, one of his three beautiful babies (now quite old) sees his dad inside without his clothes on, then goes out and says, “Hey, Shem, Japheth, Dad’s inside without his clothes on!” Shem and Japheth walk in backwards and put a blanket over Daddy until he sobers up.

Then he does. He finds out the stories of who did what. He blesses Shem and Japheth, and curses Ham’s kid Canaan. Weirdness. Next thing the Bible says is that Noah died 350 years later. Guess his purpose was over.

10 kudos to the first person who can explain Noah’s purpose for the last 350 years of his life.

Episode 1: Wives for the Benjaminites

About David M. Schell





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