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Today's post was written by and used with permission from Rusty Wright.

OK, how would you feel if you thought you heard God telling you he was going to destroy every living thing on earth with a great flood?

Except he wanted you to build a boat to survive the tumult with a few relatives and a slew of creatures.

Would you jump at the challenge? Run and hide? Ask – as Bill Cosby did in his classic comedy routine portraying Noah – “Right! Who is this really?”

Perhaps you’ll sense how the biblical Noah felt. Paramount Pictures and director/co-writer Darren Aronofsky bring Noah to the big screen in North America and worldwide throughout late March and April. The cast includes Russell Crowe in the title role, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson and Anthony Hopkins.

With breathtaking cinematography, this film imagines some intense struggles for Noah and his family. We see sorrow for lost masses, interpersonal conflicts, and practical realities of living on a creature-packed craft.

Taking Liberties

Paramount says Noah’s story “inspired” the film, but that “artistic license has been taken.” Too much license, feel some. I’m reminded of TV’s iconic psychiatrist Frasier Crane, concerned that an employee was “taking far too much liberty with the liberty-taking!” Readers of the biblical Noah story won’t find there, for instance, the film’s multi-armed fallen angels, its pronounced environmentalist message, or hordes of people fighting to board the ark.

The biblical account is short – mostly Genesis 6-9 – with little detail about ark life. So, yes, the filmmakers took liberties – many. Aronofsky recently told The Atlantic he views the story “as poetry and myth and legend” that helps us understand the world and ourselves.

But the essential framework of the biblical flood story – human evil, divine judgment, hope and salvation – remains in Noah. Consider these facets of that story and their modern implications.

Human Evil; Divine Judgment

Genesis says humanity was a mess: “The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. … It broke his heart.”

Human corruption prompted him to “destroy every living thing.” But “Noah was a righteous man … [who] walked in close fellowship with God.” God told him to build a large boat, specifying precise dimensions and design.

Filmmakers took pains to follow biblical specs for their ark. The production designer had many ideas for the ark’s appearance, but Aronofsky, who is Jewish, insisted, “No, the measurements are right there.”

Salvation, Hope, Promise

Noah built his ark and took aboard his wife, their three sons with their wives, plus pairs of animals, birds and crawling creatures. Elaborate computer-generated imagery portrays the animals for film.

Rain poured, underground water erupted, and floodwaters covered the earth. Every human, bird and land animal not in the ark perished. The waters receded, the earth dried, and the ark inhabitants disembarked. God promised never again to destroy the earth by flood, offering the rainbow as a pledge reminder.

Faith; Future

If you attend the film, I suggest reading the biblical account first, then again after the screening. Noah’s story has much for a 21st–Century audience, including two nuggets about faith and the future.

The New Testament lauds Noah for his faith. He was not perfect. “Wickedness is…in all of us,” he tells his wife in the film. His own drunkenness – depicted in the film – led to embarrassment and family conflict. But his faith in God mattered. I came to faith as a skeptical university student. It has made all the difference in my life.

Concerning the future, Jesus indicated his second coming would be “like it was in Noah’s day” with people carrying on their routines and unaware of impending peril. “You also must be ready all the time,” he continued, “for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”

I want to be ready.
Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively.
This movie is rated PG-13 (USA) for "violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content"


Have you ever been scuba diving? I haven’t, and although I know I would find it fascinating, I’m not likely to ever do it. I’m not much of a swimmer, so I don’t think I would ever make it through the necessary training. But I do have friends who scuba dive, and what’s more they take underwater photographs. It is incredible some of the creatures that live far, far under the surface of the water. If you only ever stayed on dry land, you may never see them, and therefore you may never believe that they actually exist. Some people say that seeing is believing, but when it comes to knowing God, believing is seeing. It is only after we believe God is real that He allows us to understand a bit of who He is. We will not understand fully before we see Him face to face. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Therefore we are called to live by faith. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is being sure that we can have a confident expectation that God will fulfill His promises to us, and knowing that there are things that we can neither see nor understand. Just because we don’t understand it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Hebrews 11 is often referred to as the Hall of Faith, because the rest of the chapter is a list of faithful men and women from the Old Testament. Think, for example, how Noah must have felt. (Hebrews 11:7) We are not sure exactly how old Noah was when God told him to build an ark, but he was 500 years old in Genesis 5:32. He was 600 when the flood covered the earth. (Genesis 7:6) My guess is that it took quite a bit of time to build the ark to God’s specifications and then to gather all the animals to fill it. It is also possible that he was ridiculed by those around him, or at least misunderstood. In any case, it would have taken great faith to believe that enough rain would come to destroy the whole earth, and here’s the thing: Noah didn’t have a lot of good examples to follow. Noah and his family were singled out from the entire living population as the only ones worth saving. How did Noah learn to have such faith? Surely he understood things that could not be seen.

Today, we are fortunate to have examples of faithfulness written down for us in the Word of God, and if we are willing, we can also see some of the results of that faithfulness. Abraham for example didn’t have the opportunity to see the end result of his obedience to God, (Genesis 11:8-13) but we can. We can also hear lots of stories of present day believers who have witnessed God’s mercy and blessings because they chose to be faithful. 100 Huntley Street, among others, is dedicated to telling these kinds of stories. The task for us is to open our hearts and listen, to believe that there may be more to this world than we can see and understand.