Bible Reference: Genesis 5:32, Genesis 6:4 and Genesis 7:6.
In Genesis 6, the Bible says that roughly 1600 years after the creation and Fall of Adam (if you count up the geneologies) that God saw that the world was filled with violence and wickedness to such that it repented Him that He’d ever made man in the first place! In Genesis 6:4, we read that God said, “My Spirit shall not always with man… yet his days shall be 120 years.” But Noah found grace in God’s sight, and it was to Noah that God gave the blueprint for the Ark.
But how long did it take to build the Ark?
Some people have made the claim that this passage means that it took Noah 120 years to build the Ark. Even given the Ark’s massive scale (roughly 450 feet long by 75 feet wide by 45 feet high), 120 years seems like an excessively looooooooong time to take to build the Ark. Most Bible scholars agree that God was saying that He was giving mankind 120 years in which to repent, after which would come judgment for their wickedness. This means that Noah had 120 years warning before the Flood. We can reasonably assume that God gave Noah the blueprints for the Ark at this time. This would also be when God revealed that a veritable zoo would be sent to him to preserve aboard the Ark.
More significantly, in Genesis 6:18 God makes a covenant with Noah, promising that he, his wife, his sons and their wives would be saved aboard the Ark. What makes this passage so interesting is that Genesis 5:34 notes that Noah was 500 years old when he begat his three sons, while Genesis 7:6 says that Noah was 600 years old when the Flood came. The clear implication is that God made a covenant with Noah that he and his sons would be saved from judgment 20 years before Noah’s sons (Shem, Ham and Japheth) were even born! (The Bible contains many such prophesies, so this isn’t unusual for God, who knows everything …including the future.)
The maximum it could have taken would have been 120 years, but it must have taken less to also allow time for Noah to load the food stores and seed God told him to bring aboard. Since God specifically prophesies that the wives of Noah’s three sons would be saved aboard the Ark, we know it took at least enough time for all three boys to grow up and get married! All three boys were NOT born at the same time: Genesis 10:21 tells us that Japheth was the elder of Noah’s sons, that he was born when Noah was 500; meanwhile Genesis 11:10 tells us that Shem begat Arphaxad 2 years after the Flood and that Shem was 100 years old at that time. And if you do the math, that means Shem was born 2 years after Japheth. The point being: we have to allow time for all three boys to grow up and get married, and they aren’t likely to have all fell in love and got married at the same time. These things take time!
Speaking of which, 1 Peter 3:20 says, “when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” This implies that it took some time to build the Ark, though perhaps not so long as some have supposed. In 2007, Dutchman Johan Huibers completed the construction of a 1/5th scale Ark. It took him about a year and a half. He’s currently building a full scale version! Huibers has the advantage of modern equipment and building techniques, but Noah would have had a large population to hire labor from, animals to help carry loads, etc. Even if only he and his sons worked on the Ark, it’s unlikely the project took the full 120 years.
We do know that Noah’s faithful obedience to God’s blueprint served as a witness against mankind (Hebrews 11:7). We must remember that the Bible teaches us that God “is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:7). I think we can be assured that He gave Noah 120 years of warning and gave Noah the task of building an Ark with ample room so that any who repented of their wickedness might be saved also; however while God was willing to save them, they were unwilling to repent. The open door of the Ark reminds us of the Gospel message. Jesus said, “I am the door; if any man enter by Me, he shall be saved” (John 10:9). Nevertheless, though the longsuffering of God in the days of Noah while the Ark was being prepared, the day came when God shut the door of the Ark and judgment came on all those who were not aboard. Likewise, the offer of salvation by Jesus Christ has a deadline. It is appointed unto man once to die and afterward the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
Don’t be one of those left outside the Christ Jesus, the Ark of salvation. Repent and believe on Him.
“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” – Romans 10:9-13