The Surprising Center of Noah’s Story is the Whole Point of Yours Too

In the center of the vast clearing, his magnum opus slowly took shape. Piles of logs surrounded the worksite, and hired men cut and hauled the massive timber into place. Noah made sure the blueprints he was given were precisely followed. It was a technological marvel, yet scoffers would stop and laugh at the old man’s project and ideas. “Where was the promise of this coming flood?”  

Undeterred, his life’s work was a platform to preach the message God had given him. See! The ark was big enough to bring them along and spare them from impending judgment. For over a century, his message was the same, “Turn from your sins, turn to God, and you will live!”  

A story of epic proportions

You’re likely familiar with the epic story. Sixteen hundred years after creation, humanity had degenerated to such a degree that God regretted creating man. Out of the possibly billions of people alive at the time, there was only one who was found righteous, and his name was Noah. 

“But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.”

Genesis 6:8,9

Noah is the first character in the Bible who is described as righteous. He and his family would be spared from God’s impending judgment and were given the massive task of building a stadium-sized floating zoo. Peter tells us that Noah was a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5), and he undoubtedly warned his fellow man of what was to come, and how to avoid God’s wrath. But as each beam of wood was laid into place and the project steadily climbed upwards, the wickedness of man conversely bottomed out. 

Things will not always be the same

Can you imagine how weighty the task and lonely the calling on Noah’s life must’ve been? But if ever a man stepped out in faith, and risked his reputation and his fortune to obey God, it was Noah. 

Somewhere in the middle of Mesopotamia, far from any body of water, and during a time when rain had never fallen from the sky before, he built the ark. For over a hundred and twenty years, two lifetimes, Noah believed God’s Word. While he worked in faith, he also waited for God to do what he said he would do. Noah certainly preached to his generation, but his entire life supported his message and testified to his belief in God. 

And for those who were deluded into thinking that things would always remain the same, they were catastrophically proven wrong when the deluge came.

The center point of the story 

If, like Noah, you feel alone in an increasingly hostile world that hates God, hates you, and hates your message of righteousness, take heart. There’s a fascinating structure to the story of Noah’s ark, called a chiasm, that’s worth noting.

A chiasm is a literary device where a series of ideas are presented in order, and then the sequence is reversed. The first line mirrors the last, the second line mirrors the second to last, and so on. 

Lest we think Noah’s ark is just a story about God’s judgment or Noah’s faithfulness, the chiasm shows us it’s a story of God’s remembrance of his people; his holy remnant.

Here’s the story of Noah’s ark presented as a chiasm.

  • God plans to destroy mankind (6:7)
    • Noah builds the ark (6:14-22)
      • Noah enters the ark (7:7)
        • 7 days of waiting for the flood (7:4)
          • 7 days later the flood came (7:10)
            • It rained 40 days and 40 nights (7:12)
              • The water prevailed on the earth 150 days (7:24)
                • God remembered Noah (8:1)
              • The waters receded from the earth 150 days (8:3)
            • At the end of 40 days, Noah opened the window (8:6)
          • 7 days later he sent out the dove (8:10)
        • 7 days of waiting sent another dove (8:12)
      • Noah leaves the ark (8:18)
    • Noah builds an altar (8:20)
  • God promises to never again destroy all living things (8:21)

*Modified from Genesis: Beginning and Blessings by R. Kent Hughes

God remembering Noah is the center point of the chiasm and the center point of the story. It wasn’t that God had forgotten him in the sense that we forget something and then remember. Rather, God’s remembering is his action towards Noah because of his previous commitment to him – his covenant. The emphasis is on God’s faithfulness to his people and promises. 

God remembers his promises

But can’t we identify with Noah, as he saw an increase of evil in his day? There are still the mockers and scoffers who say, “Where is the promise of his coming?” But as God mercifully withholds judgment for a time, it will not always be this way. Jesus is coming back and he will judge, not by water the next time, but by fire (2 Peter 3:7,10,12). 

As Noah preached a message of repentance and coming judgment, he was also simultaneously constructing an ark, the means of salvation and an escape from wrath.  

There’s an ark for us too, and his name is Jesus. We deserve the flood, but He has provided a rescue from God’s judgment and the (declared) righteous run into him, and they are saved. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, and he escaped his wrath, and when we enter the ark of Jesus we also escape the wrath that is to come.

Do you see that when God makes a promise, the whole world quite literally revolves around that promise?

There’s nothing that can stand in his way of fulfilling his Word. No matter what waves may come, we have this truth as the anchor of our lives. 

The God who remembers is the center point of history and he’s at the center of your story too. You can trust he’ll remember and keep all his promises come hell or high waters.

Because he remembers,


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2 Responses

  1. Fascinating! As familiar as the story of Noah is, I’ve never understood it more clearly.
    We too are living in such days.
    Thank you for this ominous/hopeful message, Cara.

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