For some time, I’ve been wanting to write an article discussing the eschatological significance of Noah’s Ark. This is a timely subject. For among professing Christians today, there seems to be a deal of confusion regarding the precise significance of the ark, and what it stands for. I even fault myself for hitherto not fully apprehending Noah’s deliverance in all its depth of typological meaning. However, in a recent reading of the New Testament epistles, I hit upon a passage which to my mind brought a flood of light to the story of Noah.
Speaking of the deliverance wrought by Noah’s ark, Peter writes: “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ; Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him” (1 Peter 3: 21-22).
What is the apostle saying here? He seems to be pointing baptism back to the story of Noah’s ark, and linking the typology onto Christ’s resurrection and ascension into heaven. This is important to notice, because Peter also says that the baptism saves us; not by means of material water, which can only cleanse the body, but because of the “answer” of the Christian’s awakened conscience that he/she is no longer under the guilt of sin, but has arisen in newness of life by the regenerating power of God, through faith in the blood of Christ.
Once the believer receives the answer of a “good conscience” (whether before or after water baptism), he becomes a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5: 17) and so partakes of Christ’s risen life. This, in a personal and individual sense, is the antitype of Noah’s “entrance” into the ark. The believer enters into Christ at the moment of regeneration, and is henceforth safe from the Divine wrath.
This truth does not change if one should say (perhaps rightly) that the Ark represents heaven. For having risen through our representative, Jesus Christ, we are seated in heavenly places with Him (Eph. 2: 6). Our seat of government (Gr. politeuma) IS in heaven; FROM WHENCE (i.e., from that location) we await His return (see Philippians 3: 20). Instead of the kingdom coming down to us during Christ’s present absence from earth, we are translated into the kingdom (see Colossians 1: 13); and spiritually, of course. But the truth remains, that we are in the Ark with Him. Regenerate believers are dead, and their life is hid with Christ in God (Col. 3: 3).
Now, as Noah entered the Ark shortly before the windows of heaven were opened (see Genesis 7: 7-10), and the guilty world judged for its rejection of the Divinely appointed means of deliverance, so must it be with the antitype. During this present age, the Gospel is being preached to the entire world, and the divinely appointed heralds are crying that men should repent, for that God hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man Whom He hath ordained (Acts 17: 31). True, humanity en masse rejects the Divine offer of salvation. However, while the majority of men go on eating and drinking, buying and selling, marrying and giving in marriage, those who repent and turn to Christ are entering into the ARK. That is, they are entering the risen life of Jesus Christ Who sits in heaven. They are baptized into that spiritual body which is the church, and receive the answer of a good conscience toward God. It is this good conscience kept clean and undefiled through the ever-cleansing waters of the laver (Exodus 30: 18-21; cf. 1 John 1: 6-10; Hebrews 6: 19-20), that will enable us to “hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (Hebrews 3: 6).
Of course, we know that all who profess Christ’s name have not this confidence or hope. For there are both wheat and tares in His field (Matt. 13: 38), good vessels and bad in His household (2 Tim. 2: 20). There must come a time when the door of the heavenly Ark will be shut. The wise virgins will enter into the wedding chamber with Christ, and the foolish will be shut out and left pounding at the door (see Matthew 25: 1-13). Keep in mind, that while spiritually, believers enter the ark via regeneration, the “entire person” consists of soul, body, and spirit (1 Thess. 5: 23); and in that aspect, our entrance into the antitypical ark (which is heaven) is yet future.
So, as Noah and his house were saved from the deluge of water which ensued upon their entrance into safety, believers who enter into the wedding chamber with Christ when the “last trumpet” sounds (see 1 Cor. 15: 52; Revelation 11: 15), will be saved from the deluge of fire that will sweep over the guilty world; as God takes vengeance on those who know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 1: 8). Yea, the entire world shall be bathed in flame, and even the very heavens will be on fire (2 Peter 3: 10, 12). But the righteous will have been delivered, when caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4: 16-17; Mark 13: 27). As our Lord Himself promised this will happen, when the wheat and tares are separated at the end of the age (Matt. 13: 40).
Let us also remember that we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Peter 3: 13). And that prospect points us back to the aftermath of Noah’s flood, when the patriarch and his family emerged from the Ark onto a renewed world, to take dominion over the creation and suzerainty over the earth in Christ’s name. The point is, that heaven is not the terminus of a Christian’s hopes and aspirations. When Christ leaves His Father in heaven to be joined unto His wife, they twain shall be one flesh (see Eph. 5: 30-32), and the bride and Husband will bear conjoint rule over a renewed and regenerated creation. Is this not something to look forward to? If so, let us leave worldliness and futility behind, as we press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3: 14). Let us, then, be patient in our trials and tribulations, as God conforms us to the image of Christ; reckoning the sufferings of this present time not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us (Romans 8: 18). Maranatha!