What kind of ark should we build?

Jul 7, 2016 by

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“God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence.” — Genesis 6:11 NLT

According to the Biblical account in Genesis, it took Noah 120 years to build the original ark, one designed to provide refuge for himself, his family and a remnant of every kind of living creature on earth. In one of the grimmest narrative in all of Scripture, everything and everyone else perishes.

Near Williamstown, Ky., a replica of that massive vessel has been completed in less than two years, thanks to the ambitious dream of entrepreneur Ken Ham. Set to open today, it was constructed at a cost of more than $100 million, and occupies 200 acres of what will be an 800-acre theme park that will include a zoo, among other attractions. The Creation Museum, just 50 miles away, is run by the same organization, Answers in Genesis.

The 510-foot-long replica of the Biblical ark, made mostly of timber and not designed to actually be seaworthy, is supported by three 70-foot concrete towers, and is expected to draw thousands of visitors annually who are willing to pay an admission fee of $41 per adult to see its many exhibits, including some featuring life-size dinosaurs.

I find it interesting that well-known Mennonite architect LeRoy Troyer of Mishawaka, Ind., was hired to head up the construction, employing, among others, some experienced Amish timber framers from various surrounding communities. The project is requiring 3 million board feet of lumber, mostly imported from New Zealand then specially treated in the Netherlands before being shipped to the Kentucky site.

But is this really the kind of massive project followers of Jesus should be supporting?

That question is sure to be a subject of debate, but if God were to speak to modern-day Noahs, I’m wondering if he might propose one or more of the following alternatives:

A. Provide for the resettlement and care of millions of refugees around the world who have been displaced by war and famine. Many of these desperate men, women and children may languish in makeshift tent cities for decades if nothing is done to relieve their plight.

B. Provide an embrace of welcome for marginalized people all around us, people discriminated against because of their race, ethnicity, nationality or for any other reason. Urge whole communities of God’s people to provide arks of safety for ex-offenders, for the disabled, for the unemployed, for those born with differing gender orientations, and for the homeless and orphaned everywhere.

C. Invest in creation care projects that preserve rain forests, save endangered species, clean up waterways and oceans, protect unspoiled wilderness areas, and which treat all of God’s creatures with decency and mercy. This could involve investing in means of food production that avoid as much suffering as possible for many animals now confined in factory farms where they are often exploited for maximum profits with little regard for their welfare or wellbeing.

How might the above kinds of ark building projects help an unbelieving world better understand and reverence the God of the Bible?

Harvey Yoder is an ordained pastor and member of Family of Hope, a small Virginia Mennonite Conference house church congregation. He blogs at Harvspot, where this first appeared.

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