IN SEARCH OF NOAH'S ARK: The true significance of the Ark
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Noah built his Ark at the Lord's command, a vessel that measured at least 450 feet long, with three decks that could have held as much as 43,000 tons of cargo. A hundred years in the making, the Ark protected Noah, his family and the world's animal species while God used a great flood to punish the rest of mankind for its incorrigible wickedness (Genesis 6-9).
The fact that Noah lived in a desert -- 500 miles from the nearest body of water suitable for such a vessel -- surely subjected him to a century of constant, intense ridicule. Because of his determination to trust God and obey the order to build the Ark, Noah became a hero of faith for Christians, Jews and Muslims.
About a year after the deluge, the waters subsided, and the Ark came to rest "on the mountains of Ararat." (Genesis 8:4)
A 17,000-foot-high volcanic mountain, Ararat from 14,000 feet upward is covered by an icecap as deep as 300 feet. Exploration is extremely dangerous because of shifting glaciers, avalanches, hidden crevices and sudden storms. The range is situated in a region of eastern Turkey where separatists often clash with government troops, making it difficult to obtain government permission to conduct expeditions.
While mentions of finding the Ark have been recorded as far back as 2500 BC, the discovery of a remarkable boat-shaped "anomaly" in aerial photographs taken in 1949 has driven a half-century of feverish searching.
Luminaries such as Apollo 15 moonwalker James Irwin have joined the expeditions, and high-tech satellite imaging systems have been employed recently in an effort to determine the nature of the anomaly, which sits at 15,500 feet. Experts are divided about whether the satellite images reveal a rock formation, an ancient fortress or a crashed airplane. Some believe it could be the remains of the Ark, while others are convinced the Ark's remains lie at 7,000 feet, far below the ice cap.
Whatever the scientific conclusions, Christians understand the true significance of the Ark account as revealing God's judgment against wickedness and His mercy in preserving a righteous remnant through Noah and his family. They recognize in Noah and his Ark a striking image of Christ, who by grace delivers us from judgment.