“For the Son of Man’s coming will be just as it was in the days of Noach” (Matthew 24:37).
Ken Ham and ‘Answers in Genesis’ made a significant impact on my children’s worldview when we heard him teach in Denver, Colorado. They never forgot his “billions of dead things buried in rock layers laid down by water” to support a worldwide flood. When friends suggested we visit the life-sized Ark he had built, we couldn’t miss the opportunity as we drove through Kentucky.
“First, understand this: during the Last Days, scoffers will come, following their own desires and asking, “Where is this promised ‘coming’ of his? For our fathers have died, and everything goes on just as it has since the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4).
Reading some of the reviews about The Ark Encounter before we arrived was discouraging. Atheists mocked the whole project while one young Millennial writer from Christianity Today thought the whole thing obsessive and expensive even though the funds for the project were raised through private donations. There was a Washington Post article mocking the Ark because rain eroded the roadway while it was being built and had to be reinforced. There was another article about taxes and how Answers in Genesis had figured out a way to avoid pay property taxes that support local schools. Public schools don’t teach anything about Creation nor do they want to. If I were Ken Ham, I wouldn’t want to support those institutions through taxes either. They want the money, but not the worldview.
“And he did not spare the ancient world; on the contrary, he preserved Noach, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, and brought the Flood upon a world of ungodly people” (2 Peter 2:5).
With all of the negative comments, I wasn’t sure what I would ‘encounter’ when I actually experienced the Ark, but I know that Yeshua said the world would be like ‘the days of Noach’ before he returned. Those days were full of scoffers; those who rejected everything of God.
The original Ark was not built to be evangelistic even though that is how the The Ark Encounter builders view it. The original Ark was built to protect eight faithful people from the judgment of God against wickedness and violence on the earth. Even in the short video entitled “An Interview with Noach” shown on the Lower Deck, Noah states that if someone came knocking on the door because they believed, he would let them in. In reality, no one knocked. That wasn’t God’s plan for the Ark. Strangely enough, my Bible reading for the day was the following:
“For the Messiah himself died for sins, once and for all, a righteous person on behalf of unrighteous people, so that he might bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh but brought to life by the Spirit; and in this form he went and made a proclamation to the imprisoned spirits, to those who were disobedient long ago, in the days of Noach, when God waited patiently during the building of the ark, in which a few people — to be specific, eight — were delivered by means of water” (1 Peter 3:18-20).
We arrived as the visitor center opened at 9 a.m. and watched a 25-minute video on the making of the Ark from purchasing the land, to hiring all of the people God called to design, build, and detail the Ark to the ribbon cutting ceremony. Ken Ham was asked if the Ark was everything he imagined it to be. He answered, “No, it was more than he could have ever imagined.” Yes, I’m sure it is. It is more than anyone could imagine!
From the huge auditorium, we began our journey toward the Ark which took up nearly the whole horizon before us. Elephants and giraffes made from bushy trees trudged toward the ramp up to the huge door near the bow. This Ark is made to be life-size according to the directions given to Noach in cubits. They used the royal cubit length of 20.4 inches, making their cubit a little less than the longer 21.6 inches. With this measurement this Ark is 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet tall.
We entered the Ark from below deck as it is built on a foundation rather than sitting on the ground waiting for another worldwide flood. We walked up the first ramp to the Lower Deck and entered a side door to the sounds of thunder and rain. Animal cages made from bamboo and outfitted with food and water receptacles greeted us. The sounds of animals eating, moving around in their cages and even going to the bathroom came through the cage doors. (No real animals in these cages – just the sound ambiance of them.)
When we turned the corner, we watched Noach and his family praying for God’s protection while lightning flashed in the background behind him. We were blessed that he was praying in Hebrew; however, we are pretty sure he didn’t have an altar with fire in the Ark. We were also blessed at one point in the film, when they proclaimed in detail the Hebrew names of the Creator from El Elyon, El Shaddai and Adonai to Ehyeh, the I Am.
We continued to walk around the first deck to the Bow. Bags and bags of grain for food and large clay jars holding water and small jars for oil lined the side of the Ark. In the middle of the Ark were small cages for moths and other slimy things that some of the animals would eat. It was overwhelming to consider all of the necessities for living in a boat with so many different kinds of animals for over a year.
We wandered along the numerous bamboo cages looking at the pre-flood creatures. Many of the animals that were on the Ark do not exist in the forms we see today. They were designed by engineers who used 3D printers to re-create the animal bodies and skeletons while painters and fur people made each animal look realistic.
Not every species of animal was taken on the Ark, only kinds of animals: Stalhleckeriid Kind, Canids (the dog kind), Hyena Kind, Felids (the cat kind), Alligator Kind, the Cattle Kind, Pongids (the great ape kind), the Giraffe Kind, the Horse Kind, the Hippopotamus Kind and so on until there were about 1,398 KINDS on the Ark. Within each kind were 10s, 50s and 100s giving them at most 7,000 land animals and birds.
The second deck contained exhibits that answer many questions about the the Ark. For example, where did fresh water come from to drink, bathe, and wash clothes and dishes? How long did it take to feed and water all the animals? What was done with the tons of animal waste? What kinds of lighting was in the Ark? Various ingenious examples of mechanical and technical designs showed the intelligence of Noach and his family who were called to build this huge boat for their protection and provision.
One inch of rain water per week from the roof of the Ark funneled into large cisterns would have kept Noach’s family supplied with fresh water. Once the rain stopped, evaporation of the flood waters would have also caused rain to fall to keep the cisterns full. Gutters and piping from the cisterns transported water to each of the animals cages.
With regard to waste, I noticed that some of the cages had trays or small wagons underneath the slats that could be removed. Smaller animal cages had gutters where waste would flush out. The waste could easily be removed and taken to what is called a ‘moon pool,’ and removed from the Ark.
Near Bow of the Ark were the ‘moon pools.’ These were large tubes that were open from the top of the Ark through the bottom. As the Ark rocked on the waves, water would push up into these pools circulating fresh air. One pool was used for waste and as the Ark rose and the water rushed out, the waste went with it.
The designers took a lot of artistic license taken when designing this Ark. Some of it, however, was taken from sources like the Book of Jubilees as well as individual creativity. Each system of feeding, water, and waste removal seemed very plausible because each system also helped to manage the enormous work load put on eight people.
On the second deck was a small petting zoo. I believe I saw porcupines and I hoped no one would pet them. I did have the opportunity to feed an alpaca and receive a kiss.
The third deck contained exhibits of life for Noach and his family on the Ark. Each life-size diorama depicted a different scene of Noah, Shem, Ham, Japeth and their wives. I’m not sure with so many animals to feed and care for that the depiction of Japeth playing the flute is realistic, but maybe they did have time for each other and some relaxing moments.
The structure of the Ark is overwhelming. It is made completely of wood with huge tree trunks as center standing beams. Looking up, skylights allow some light inside. Looking down, there holds stored more food and supplies. As we were reminded in the first film, this Ark is not really a boat, but made to look like the boat. It is made for people to come inside and see an idea of how the Ark may have looked. All of the empty space for visitors and exhibits would have been filled with food, cages, feeding troughs, and excrement tubes for animals.
We had a nice little buffet lunch at Emzara’s Kitchen. Emzara is the name of Noah’s wife from the Book of Jubilees. Apparently, the little stories they gave about each of Noach’s sons’ wives came from other sources as well because some of the I actually recognized from books I have read.
We took a stroll around the Ararat Zoo near Emzara’s and watched kangaroos boingy boingy, an ostrich stretch its head, some pigs trying to get out of their pen, horses and a zebra just chillin’, and camels saddled up for rides. Many of the animals, especially the birds, were gone for the season. It would be a much better zoo in the summer!
One of my pet peeves for teaching about Bible people is Veggie Tales. Suffice it to say that I do not believe that anyone should take courageous and strong men and women of faith and make them cartoons or talking vegetables. It diminishes the value of their testimony and makes the Bible ‘just another storybook.’
The same is true about Noach’s Ark. The ‘days of Noach’ were not fairy tale days and the Ark was not a bewitched pumpkin transformed into a floating vessel by some magic spell. The animals weren’t squished on the Ark and they weren’t hanging out on some exterior deck watching it rain. These deceptions take hold in the hearts of children and turn them away from trusting in the Creator for life and hope. It was wonderful to see one exhibit deal with this ‘lie’ and actually had nearly every children’s book ever written that propelled the deception.
“So long as the earth exists, sowing time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease” (Genesis 8:22).
After our Ark Encounter and a bag of books and souvenirs, we went back to the auditorium for a lecture on ‘Global Warming’ by Dr. Alan White. He holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Harvard University. He has been granted 41 US patents and is an author of 18 scientific publications. He is retired from Eastman Chemical Company and spends his time speaking on creation science, especially in the area of climate change. Using graphs and diagrams, there is no real evidence for such ‘global warming’ because records have only been kept for 150 years. Even for those who believe in ‘billions’ of years and evolution, that’s not much time to gather the evidence needed to prove the earth is dangerously warming. Instead, there is more evidence for changes in climate –– some temperatures going up and some going down. Believing in destructive ‘global warming’ is dependent upon a personal worldview: faith in God or faith in mankind. I choose God and the Truth of the Word:
“God added, “Here is the sign of the covenant I am making between myself and you and every living creature with you, for all generations to come: I am putting my rainbow in the cloud — it will be there as a sign of the covenant between myself and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth, and the rainbow is seen in the cloud; I will remember my covenant which is between myself and you and every living creature of any kind; and the water will never again become a flood to destroy all living beings. The rainbow will be in the cloud; so that when I look at it, I will remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of any kind on the earth” (Genesis 9:12-16).
I know those who designed and built the Ark Encounter studied extensively the how’s and why’s of everything from animals to food to people and fitting it all together; however, there were a few issues that when I ‘divide the Word of Truth,’ I found lacking.
“Keep my shabbats holy; and they will be a sign between me and you, so that you will know that I am Adonai your God” (Ezekiel 20:20).
As much as I appreciate Ken Ham and his vision as a Creationist in this secular world of scoffers, his days of creation fall short of the entire week. I saw only one sign, and that in the main building, that even mentioned the seventh day with “on the seventh day, God rested.” Apart from that one sign, there was nothing about God creating and sanctifying the seventh day, setting it apart from the rest of the days of creation. Sanctification of the Sabbath is just as important as knowing on which days God created the sun, moon and stars or sea creatures. I have read many of Ken’s books over the years and he never addresses the seventh day as a created day. In fact, many years ago I wrote to him on this very issue. From his response, I know Mr. Ham avoids the Sabbath because he wants to avoid controversy; he’s more interested in promoting creation over evolution. However, the Sabbath is the ‘sign’ that people grasp Creation. By ‘changing’ the Sabbath to Sunday, evolution proliferates and even many Christians deny the literal seven days of creation.
“I am the gate [door]; if someone enters through me, he will be safe and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9).
Much of The Ark Encounter focuses on the message of salvation and uses ‘the door’ to emphasize this message. Yeshua (Jesus) is the ‘door’ no less than ‘the door’ to the Ark was the entrance to salvation from the flood for Noah’s family. They had a photo-op place set up to take pictures of individuals standing at ‘the door.’ My only issue was ‘the cross’ that was projected on ‘the door.’ One of the commands for gentile believers is to make the Jew envious for the Jewish Messiah and his salvation. When Christians push ‘the cross,’ it is offensive to Yeshua’s brothers and sisters. Millions of Jews over the past 2000 years were murdered by those who used the cross. Though I understand the idea, perhaps another depiction could have been projected or nothing at all. Allow the allusion to stand for itself.
“Then I saw standing there with the throne and the four living beings, in the circle of the elders, a Lamb that appeared to have been slaughtered” (Revelation 5:6).
In the exhibit, “Museum of the Bible,’ another key comparison was depicted. Just as Yeshua is ‘the door,’ he is also ‘the lamb who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29). This is represented by the ‘ram’ that Abraham found in the thicket, ’the blood of the lamb’ put on the Hebrews’ doorposts and lintel at the Passover, and all of the sacrificial lambs within the Temple services. Yeshua is referred to as a ‘lamb led to the slaughter but didn’t open his mouth’ (Jeremiah 11:19, Isaiah 53:7). Yet, in the exhibit of Adam and Eve sinning, some archaic dinosaur or amphibian was depicted as the sacrifice for their sin. They wore furry clothes (not explicit in Scripture) which would not have come from the skin of a hairless creature. I’m not sure why a ‘lamb’ wasn’t used to tie the sacrificial account from the Garden to the ram and the blood, but it seemed silly.
“Of every clean animal you are to take seven couples, and of the animals that are not clean, one couple; also of the birds in the air take seven couples — in order to preserve their species throughout the earth” (Genesis 7:2-3).
There were explanations about the number of ‘unclean’ animals vs. ‘clean’ animals that entered the Ark. The explanations included the question of whether or not Noach understood the difference, but most likely learned from the differing numbers God brought to him.
Correctly, Noah sacrificed ‘clean’ animals after the flood to worship Adonai. This had to be the case or the ‘unclean’ would never have been able to reproduce. At this time, Noach is told that he may eat the flesh of animals like he ate plants. Again, this is correct though it’s probable that not all green plants were edible: poison ivy or the leaves of rhubarb were not edible. The explanation went on to say that the idea of not eating ‘unclean’ animals was for a certain time in a certain culture. This is an unfortunate Biblical view for several reasons. First, each of the covenants built on each other. Noach was given meat to eat while the Israelites were given more specifics about those meats. No one was to eat blood! Each covenant is based on faith – taking God as His word.
“And there is one Lord, one trust, one immersion, and one God, the Father of all, who rules over all, works through all and is in all” (Ephesians 4:5-6).
Second, rather than challenging the people who walk through the Ark to consider that Yeshua didn’t die on the cross to save them from God’s Torah, such theology allows faulty interpretations from Acts 10, 11 and Romans 14 to continue. Third, once again this theology divides the Bible into sections: one section for one group of people (Christians) and another for another group (Jews). This is heresy when the Bible is one book written for all men for all time –– also explained in one of the exhibits. Yeshua stated in Matthew 5:18 that the Torah would not disappear until there’s a new heaven and new earth. What Noach was given in his new heaven and new earth was for this heaven and this earth until it passes away.
Our day ended with a sunset over the distant Ark, not a rainbow covenant of promise. My Ark Encounter, even with my concerns, was one to remember –– something everyone should do at least once ‘in these days of Noach.’ It brings with it a perspective of God and His Word in Biblical proportions.
“By trusting, Noach, after receiving divine warning about things as yet unseen, was filled with holy fear and built an ark to save his household. Through this trusting, he put the world under condemnation and received the righteousness that comes from trusting” (Hebrews 11:7).
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