The example of Noah, especially in connection with the ark, is a foreshadowing, or type of Messiah. This applies with reference to deliverance and protection that the ark provided as the only means of salvation. We will see that the date that the ark rested coincided with several other key events in Israel’s history and a particularly vital one, the resurrection of Yeshua, (Jesus). Lamech called his son “Noah,” meaning “rest” or “comfort” that Noah would bring and that also foreshadows the greater rest that Messiah brings. The Scriptures also use the experience of Noah to warn us to be alert for the coming of Messiah (Matthew 24:37-39; Luke 17:26-27).
Please note that over the ages, volumes have been written on this subject some of which are useful and other parts merely speculative. The same is true on internet searches. Some articles are helpful, whilst others are inaccurate; and it always pays dividends to consider the quality, reliability and credibility of the source examined. Therefore we will look at Scripture to comment on Scripture, draw from reliable sources and also examine a few clear examples rather than attempt to tease out similarities that are arbitrary.
The Ark as a Picture of Salvation
The only means of being saved from the flood was to enter through the door of the ark. Jesus said that He is the door and the way, the truth, and the life (John 10:7; 14:6). This was God’s object lesson; the ark was not built to save the people in the flood but from the flood.[i] In Noah’s time the earth was corrupt and full of violence. The ark was an act of grace which Noah and his family went into as a place of safety. Similarly we must go to Messiah and trust in Him for salvation and to be spared from judgement.
The ark rested on the 17th of Nisan. This is the same date that the Israelites crossed the Red Sea (Numbers 33:1-8) and ate the first fruits of the Promised Land (Joshua 5:10-12). More amazingly, Jesus rose on the 17th of Nisan (Luke 24:1-8).
The World Condemned
Hebrews 11:7 reads, “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” How and why would Noah condemn the world? Not as a judge but as a witness and advocate, through a plea and testimony, by his teaching, through his obedient example in which his faith was exercised.[ii]
Noah’s faith uncovered the unbelief of others and furthermore, Jesus used that event to warn people to be ready for His return (Matthew 24:36-42) since in Noah’s time people lived normal lives and completely ignored his witness. Until Noah’s time it had never rained and there had never been a flood, so Noah is an example of someone demonstrating faith through obedience and his righteous came from his faith, God’s imputed righteousness to Him.[iii]
As in the days of Noah
In Matthew 24, Jesus’ disciples asked Him what would be the sign of His coming, and the end of the age? Jesus provided many details and also warned that no one knows the day and the hour and to be ready. Matthew 24:36-42 reads
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”
In the same way that when Noah entered the ark with his family and were delivered from the ark, no one expected there to be a flood since until that point there had never been a flood. The people were caught unawares, seemingly oblivious of the ensuing calamity and were simply going about their business. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that everyone goes to the Lord for salvation recognising that only He can save them from their sin and that He is coming again, and we must be ready for when he returns.
Come to the Lord for Rest
In the first article about Adam we saw the promise of a Redeemer through the names of the patriarchs from Adam (Man) to Noah (Rest). Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the blessed God shall come down teaching (that) His death shall bring the despairing rest.[iv] Noah was used by God to provide protection for God’s people, rest, and comfort.
Noah is a foreshadow of One far greater who brings everlasting rest. Jesus the Messiah said, “Come unto Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).” Today if you can hear his voice do not harden your hearts. Turn to Messiah and trust in Him and He will give you rest that remains for the people of God.
[i] J.B. Nicolson 1 Peter What the Bible Teaches (John Ritchie Ltd; 2003; Kilmarnock), p98
[ii] John Owen Hebrews Edited by Alister McGrath & J. I. Packer The Crossway Classic Commentaries (Crossway Books, 1998; Wheaton), p222
[iii] Arnold Fructenbaum Ariel’s Bible Commentary The Messianic Jewish Epistles Hebrews, James, I & II Peter, Jude (Ariel Ministries, 2005; Tustin), p153