“Home Depot does not carry gopher wood in stock”, my friend quipped. He was referring to the wood Noah used to build the ark in Genesis Chapter 6. Our home in the Tampa area had received over 28 inches of rain in July and August. Streets, cars, and entire neighborhoods were flooded. Main roads near the city that formerly were congested with heavy traffic were now being navigated on jet skis. The rainfall for that two month period tied a 55 year old record dating back to 1960, the year Hurricane Donna came through the area. As August closed and September began, a tropical storm was located in the Caribbean, with its projected path pointed toward Florida. It was quite a concern, as forecasters could not say with certainty if it would remain a tropical storm, or become a hurricane. The Governor declared a state of emergency. Where could we possibly put any more rain? The ark seemed to be a good option.
The Hebrew word for ark is “teba”. That word is found only twice in the scriptures. The basket that Moses mother made to float him to safety when Pharaoh was killing all the new born males of the Israelite slaves was also a “teba”. The basket saved Moses, chosen by God to rescue the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery and oppression. The ark saved Noah and his family, the only ones found righteous in a land that had become wicked and perverse. If an ark and a basket worked for Noah and Moses to deliver them from calamity, I was ready to build a “teba”.
The rain was not the only issue causing pressure. I would not consider myself a pessimist; a realistic optimist might be a better description. Regardless, when the Dow Industrial average dropped a record 1,324 points in the three trading days from August 21 through August 25, I began to wonder if God was trying to tell me something. Couple all of that with the ongoing daily news concerning terrorism, politics, corruption and crime, and it appeared a tragic end was coming. Lord, what should I do?
“Build an ark”, He said. Not a three-story ark 450 feet long, 75 feet in width, and 45 feet high. Not one made of gopher (cypress) wood, coated in pitch inside and out, with a roof on it, and rooms to separate the animals. Not a literal replica of the ark Noah was instructed to build to save his family and the animals of the earth. God was referring to a spiritual ark that indeed would save, but would be made according to these instructions:
1. Build an ark of praise. Psalm 22:3 says “But You are holy, O You who dwell in [the holy place where] the praises of Israel [are offered].” God dwells in our praises. He lives in, or inhabits our praises. He hangs out with those who praise Him. (See the article written by Kay Peebles on Sept. 4–“Building a Place of Habitation, Part 1” for more information.) I would rather have God Almighty as a friend who is welcome in my home than anyone in politics, Hollywood or big business.
Psalm 150, the last Psalm, contains only six verses, yet is so powerful. It essentially says we should praise God with everything we have for everything that He is. The last verse says “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”
1 Chronicles 16:23-26 says “Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.” God has done so many wonderful and powerful things for the people of all the nations. He has also done them for me. He will do them for you. Who else would we want to worship? Where else but in Him will we find our hope, our joy, and our strength? He alone is our ultimate help
2. Build an ark of prayer. In 2 Chronicles, chapter 20, the Moabites and Ammonites were coming with a vast army to war against Jehoshaphat, King of Judah. People from every town in Judah gathered together to pray, and King Jehoshaphat led the assembly in prayer. He concluded the prayer in verse 12 saying “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” This is such a simple and honest prayer, so effective and powerful. When the circumstances are overwhelming and we do not know what to do, the best thing to do is turn to the One who has the power to turn the tide in our favor and already knows the outcome. They did not have to wait long for the answer to prayer.
Speaking through one of the other men in the assembly, the Lord said (v.15) “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” Then “Take up your positions, stand firm, and see the deliverance the Lord will give you…Go out and face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.” (v.17)
The next day, Jehoshaphat sent singers to praise the Lord out in front of his army. By the time they got to the valley where they expected to encounter the enemy, they found the enemy had become confused, attacked each other and all were slaughtered. God had won the battle, and handed them the victory without their lifting a finger. The key to the victory was in the prayer and the praise that preceded the coming battle.
3. Build an ark of protection. In the book of Daniel, chapter 1, Daniel and three of his friends were among the Israelites captured by King Nebuchadnezzar and taken into exile in Babylon as servants. They remained loyal to God, prayed to Him and continued to worship Him, though they were surrounded by those who did not know the true God and indeed worshipped pagan gods. God gave them supernatural wisdom and understanding in return, which enabled them to impress and gain favor with the King.
When the King had a troubling dream, and his own magicians, sorcerers and astrologers could not tell him the dream or the interpretation, the King asked Daniel to do so. The threat of his life was at stake. Daniel gathered with his friends, and (v.18) “He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery [pray], so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.” [Emphasis mine.] In verse 19, the Bible says “During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision.” Then in verses 20-23, Daniel praised the Lord and thanked Him for the wisdom and power to make known what was asked of Him. Their lives were spared because Daniel told the King his dream and its interpretation.
In chapter 3, when Daniel’s friends refused to bow down to the golden image of the King, Nebuchadnezzar declared that Daniel’s three friends would then be thrown into a fiery furnace. Their famous response is recorded in v.17 and 18 “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O King. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O King, that we will not serve your gods, or worship the image of gold you have set up.” When they were put in the super-heated fiery furnace, they were seen moving around with a fourth person who looked like the gods (God). They came out unharmed, their hair was not singed, the clothes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. Sometimes God protects us from the fire, and sometimes He protects us in the fire. Prayer and praise brought an ark of protection over the three friends of Daniel.
The prophet Zechariah declared in chapter 2, verses 4 and 5 “…Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of men and livestock in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it, declares the Lord, and I will be its glory within.”
In times of trouble, we do not need a wall (or an ark) to protect. We need to glorify Jesus in our lives, families and homes through prayer and praise, and then be confident that He is our wall of fiery protection.