Read This Week’s Passage: John 21:2–14 (3–6)
Dark Stinky Places
The story of the ark and the flood is a perennial children’s favorite. One only need to go down an aisle of children’s storybooks to see the various illustrations of the story. In one, Noah is a grand patriarch with a majestic cloak and beard; in another, he is a holy zookeeper with exotic animals around him, while in the third, he looks like a bald, cuddly, corpulent man with seafaring eyes. While the story of his construction of the ark and the forty days of deluge are familiar to most audiences, the period of days within the ark is often glanced over.
Anyone accustomed to being around animals will also be aware of the odors that animals diffuse. But just imagine not only most species but all the species of the world coming together for forty days (and then some). If cruise ships filled with homo sapiens can have odor issues, what more would a barge full of the animal kingdom? Each species having their own manner of consumption and elimination, you can just imagine the complexity of those logistics!
Additionally, visualize the conditions of the ark. Though God gave the blueprints of the ark and the antediluvians may have had advanced intelligence, consider the level of sophistication the heating, ventilation, and air circulation systems would have required. With water coming down out of the heavens and coming up out of the ground for a full reset of the world and the life it contained, the ark had to be a sealed vessel, outside of its only window. You’d envision that no water was to come in or out; and no air was to come in or out.
The lighting systems and the usage of fire and windows for illumination is also not detailed. But with a quasi-Armageddon occurring outside, it may have been rather dark on the inside for at least several days due to the weather conditions.
We do not know the full detail of that experience, and the imagination can only ponder. But one thing is for sure: it was not a good scenario outside the ark. Despite the stench of animals, the darkness of the cabins, and the rocking of the ark, the safest place on the planet at that time was inside that ship. While “all flesh” was terminated outside, the vessel of life was that ark. Though it was bad inside, it was much worse outside.
Similarly, the church can be a place where a temporary darkness may come with a stink from all the “wildlife.” Yet, spiritually speaking, when compared to the spiritual darkness of the world and the intent of the spiritual enemies on the outside, God’s church is the one place of safety.