I would like to take some time and consider the physical and spiritual aspects of the Ark of Noah. Many people have said that it never existed, or that a ship of its description could never do the job which is described for it in Genesis Chapters 7 and 8.
What was the physical structure of the Ark like? Using the most conservative figure for a cubit of 17.5 inches, the Ark was 438 feet long, 73 feet wide and 44 feet high. It would then have a volume of about 1,400,000 cubic feet or a volume equal to 522 rail road box cars.
A larger vessel was not built until the Great Eastern, which laid the first trans-Atlantic cable in 1865. It would have displaced about 14,000 tons, drawing about 22.5 feet. Interestingly, the Bible says that the Flood of Noah covered all the mountains of the world to a depth of 22.5 feet, the exact amount needed for the Ark to float over the highest mountain which existed prior to the Flood.
The volume of the Ark would have allowed it to hold the equivalent of 125,000 sheep sized land dwelling animals (a size larger than the average). There are only about 17,500 "kinds" of animals that would have been needed to repopulate the earth.
The Ark had three decks, each with about 17 feet of clear height and there were rooms, literally nests, or resting places, for the animals. It was made of gopher wood, apparently a dense, hardwood; perhaps a species of oak. The Ark was made waterproof by the application of pitch to both the outside and inside, providing a place of security. Finally, it had a single window, literally an opening for daylight, running the length of the roof.
In essence the Ark was a large rectangular wooden box for putting things in. The word Ark used here is the same word used to describe the ark of bulrushes in which the baby Moses floated down the Nile. It was a vessel for floating. It is not the same word used to describe the Ark of the Covenant.
Modern marine architects have determined that the Ark of Noah was the single most stable floating object ever conceived. It was almost impossible to capsize since it could have survived being tilted 89 degrees and still right itself automatically. Its length to width ratio of 6 to 1 is used today for modern ship building because it is the only ratio which causes a ship to automatically turn into the waves for an easy ride, even without the use of sails or engines. After all, it had no need for navigation or speed, only survivability.
What are the spiritual applications of the Ark of Noah? First, the Ark is a type for Christ. The Ark had only one door located on the side of the ship. John 14:6, states that there is only one way to enter unto salvation. John 10:7-9, says that anyone who enters through the Door will find rest and safety in order to go out and work. Jesus was pierced in His side.
Lamech prophetically named his son Noah, which means rest. It was through the finished work of Noah that we may all enter into Gods rest. Noah was prophetically named to be a savior.
Second, the Ark had only one window for light and ventilation. Jesus is the Light of the World and the Holy Spirit is the life-giving breath of God. To see light from inside the Ark you had to look up.
Third, the Ark touched Mt. Ararat on the 17th day of the first month on the religious calendar of the Jews, this is the day of First Fruits. (See, Genesis 8:4) The 17th day of Nisan always deals with Gods theme of resurrection. (See Leviticus 23:10-11 and II Peter 3:13)
There have been four major events which have occurred on this date in history, the first being the Ark landing on Mt. Ararat. The others are: the Jews being resurrected from the Red Sea; the eating of the First Fruits in the Promised Land; and, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (See I Corinthian 15:20-23)
The best definition for the word Ark as used here is coffin. God often uses opposite logic to illustrate biblical truths. The Ark contained the seeds of life in it and the Old World was condemned to death outside of it. The people and animals were resurrected from the death of the Old World to life in the New World, by passing through the waters of baptism in the Flood.
The Ark was made of wood, which speaks of His humanity. The trees had to die in order to make a place of refuge and preservation of life. This is true for all three arks. Jesus died for us to have a place of refuge from sin and our lives are preserved eternally in His finished work.
Even the dimensions of the Ark speak of Christ. The number 300 is the number of victory in conflict or complete deliverance. (Genesis 5:22; Judges 7:7+; I Kings 10:17; and Mark 14:3-6) The number 50 is the number of anointing, Pentecost or Jubilee. The number 30 is the number of authority, maturity, full stature and the age of priesthood. (Genesis 41:46; 2 Samuel 5:4; and Luke 3:23)
The Ark also has lessons for mankind. The word pitch means to cover or covering. It is the regular Hebrew word for atonement. This word also has the various meanings of: appease, cleanse, forgive, pardon, reconcile, redemption price, ransom payment and satisfaction of debt! Thus the Ark was sealed both inside and out from the waters of judgment, just as the Blood provides a perfect atonement for Mans sins.
It was God Who sealed the door from the outside, not man. Salvation is the gift of God and God alone. No mans works will save him. Like Noah in the Ark, we are hidden in Christ. All who were inside the Ark of safety lived and all those outside died in their sins. (Genesis 7:16, Colossians 3:3 and I Peter 1:5)
There is more. The word Ararat means, high or holy ground; sacred land. The clean animals were taken by sevens (3 1/2 pairs) which deals with perfection and the unclean animals by a pair which speaks of witness.
Finally, the Ark had three levels. God deals with us on three levels - body, soul and spirit. The question today is, on how many levels is God dealing with you? Have you reached the third level or are you still on the first level?