"God in the Movies: Evan Almighty" part 3:
The Story that Inspired the Movie
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
July 8, 2007

 

Main Passage: Genesis 6:9-22 (NLT)


For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been immersed in a message series based on the movie Evan Almighty. And I know some of you have had the opportunity to go and see it now. Speaking for myself, I really enjoyed it. And most of the reviews I’ve seen have been very positive in regards to its content and family friendliness. Of course, there are some that are quick to point out the theological problems in the movie, and we addressed those here, too, a couple weeks ago. But the truth is, if you’re looking to the movies for your theology, then you may be looking in the wrong place. So I’d encourage you to go ahead and see the movie… either now in the theatre or later on when it comes out on DVD… and enjoy it. It’s a good movie with a good message.

And as we’ve spent these two weeks so far talking about it, I think we’ve uncovered a lot of practical stuff that can help us develop a strong, Biblically-based value system and then go out and change the world.

Today, we’re going to look at the story behind the movie. We’re going to look at the story of Noah. Because as you know, in the movie, God appears to Evan and instructs him to build an Ark… just like Noah did in the book of Genesis. In fact, here’s a clip from the movie Evan Almighty of Evan starting to build that Ark…

VIDEO – Evan starting to build   

Now, chances are you’re already familiar with Noah. You know about the Ark he built and you know about the flood that came and covered the earth. And you know how Noah and his family along with at least two of every kind of land animal survived the flood by taking refuge inside the Ark.

If you’ve ever wondered where that story is found, it’s found in the book of Genesis, the very first book in the Bible, beginning in chapter six and going through chapter eight. It’s there that we discover that violence and evil and rebellion against God had become so rampant that God decided to destroy the world and start over. Everyone had turned their backs on God. Everyone, that is, except Noah. Noah was a righteous man and found favour in the eyes of God.

And so God gave Noah a job. He told Noah to build an Ark, or a big boat, and build it big enough to house him and his family, along with two of every kind of land animal, and seven of each kind of selected animals that were needed for food and for sacrifices of worship.

So Noah did exactly as he was told, and he built a boat to the exact specifications God had given him. And when it was all done, Noah, his family, and the animals all got on board. And then the rains started. And it rained for forty days solid. And water came gushing out of the ground, too, through springs and geysers. Until finally, the entire earth was covered, and all the land animals and the people who were not on board the boat died.

And then the waters began the recede. Until finally, just a little over a year after Noah and the rest got on board the boat, they were finally able to disembark onto dry ground.


Now that’s just a quick summary of the story. And most of you would have already known that story. I mean, it’s probably the best known story from the Old Testament. And even people who didn’t grow up in church and aren’t very familiar with the Bible… they know this story.

Shera and I will soon be decorating our nursery at home, and it occurs to me that probably the most common theme for decorating for a baby’s nursery is Noah’s Ark. So I don’t know… maybe that’s the way we’ll go, too.

It’s a very familiar story. And yes, I believe it’s true story. This isn’t where we’re going to be spending our time this morning, but I do believe the Bible is factual when it tells this story. And I understand that there are skeptics who dismiss it as a fairy tale or as an ancient myth, and there are people who wholeheartedly believe it. Scientists themselves come down on both sides. Some claim there’s no evidence and others say there’s lots of evidence. What’s interesting to me is, it’s the same evidence. It’s just being interpreted in different ways. It’s not like Christians who believe in the Bible have this pile of evidence over here while skeptics and cynics have a pile of evidence over here. It’s all the same evidence, just being interpreted in different ways.

Now, we’re not going to get into the evidence this morning. But we will be taking a look at it this Fall. In fact, on September 30, we have a guest speaker from Creation Ministries coming to join us, and I expect they’ll be speaking about some of the evidence for this flood along with evidence for Creation vs. evolution and that type of thing. So if that’s the kind of thing you’re interested in, then be sure to mark that on your calendar and be here on September 30.

In the meantime, you can find lots of articles on their website at www.creationontheweb.com. There are more articles and a daily PodCast on another site… www.AnswersInGenesis.org.

[Creation Ministries International – www.CreationOnTheWeb.com
Answers In Genesis – www.AnswersInGenesis.org]


So what did the Ark look like? Well, the typical picture we have is something like this.

[PowerPoint]

I personally like this one with the woodpecker on the loose.

[PowerPoint]

But of course, this isn’t even close to what the ark looked like. Perhaps a closer depiction would be this…

[PowerPoint]

[PowerPoint – Florenceville, NB – replica of Ark - 2/3 the original size]

Earlier this morning, we read that this thing was 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high with three separate decks. A ship with dimensions like that was was ahead of its time. In fact, a vessel this size didn’t exist again until 1884 when the passenger ship Etruria [PowerPoint] was launched from Liverpool, England, by the Cunard Line.

I also read that, according to experts, the rectangular design and dimensions of the Ark is indicative of an advanced design in ship-building. The fact that it was six times longer then it was wide and only 45 feet high would have made it incredibly stable on the ocean and would have been virtually impossible to overturn. Kind of goes back to that old comment that the Titanic was built by professionals and the Ark was built by an amateur.

Actually, the advanced design and stability of this boat is further testimony as to the wisdom and accuracy of the Bible. Think about this: if there really was a worldwide flood, then you’d expect there to be stories about it all over the world. You’d also expect some mythology to creep in, but you’d expect the stories to be out there anyway. And they are. All over the world, native tribes have had their own versions of a flood that destroyed the entire world except for a handful of people.

On example would be an old Babylonian account. In the Babylonian account, the Ark was described as a perfect cube that was 160 feet in all directions. But if that were true, it would have been a nightmare to ride in. There’d be no reason to trust its stability, and in a strong wind you’d get dizzy because you’d just spin in circles. But that’s pretty much what you would expect if the designer knew nothing about boat building, especially on the scale we’re talking about here.

So the design and stability of the Ark that’s described in the book Genesis just lends credibility to God’s wisdom at work. Especially considering that we didn’t even come close to matching it again until the last 125 years.

Here’s some more facts. The total interior deck space of Noah’s ark would have been over 100,000 sq feet. Now, to give you some context, a standard livestock railroad car is about 350 square feet, and it will hold about 200 pigs or 120 sheep. So the Ark would have been the equivalent of about 300 box cars, which would be the same as a train that’s about 4.5 kilometres long and would hold almost 36,000 sheep-sized animals.

[PowerPoint] Just to give you a concept of how big that is, here’s a scale model of the Ark compared to a model of the Pinta, which was one of Columbus’ ships, and a railroad stockcar. Sorry, by a giraffe is not going to be sticking it’s neck out of this thing, and there’d be plenty of room for the elephants and every other kind of animal.

So the Ark was plenty big enough and safe enough to house all the different and the people and the food that would have been on it.

Okay, so that’s the basic account of Noah’s big boat and the flood. What I want to do for the rest of our time this morning is this: I want us to look at three of the themes that we find in the story of Noah. So really, as far as this Evan Almighty series goes, we’re looking at the stories behind the story behind the story. Got all that? Good. Let’s get at it.


Beyond the Actual Events, Noah’s Ark is a Story About…


1.    God’s Righteous Justice

Now, in the movie Evan Almighty, God, played by Morgan Freeman, claims that the flood of Noah’s day was an act of love. It was just a large-scale object lesson to teach us to be nice to each other. Well, that’s kind of a warm fuzzy statement, but it’s not exactly accurate. The Bible clearly tells us that the flood was the result of humanities sinfulness. Let me show you…

Genesis 6:11-12 (NLT)
Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. God observed all this corruption in the world, for everyone on earth was corrupt.

God’s righteousness… His Holiness… His “perfectness”… cannot accept or condone unrighteousness… or evil… or sin. It’s like our court system today. When somebody does something wrong, we demand justice. We want them to be punished according to their crime. Well, complete and utter treason against our Creator is the ultimate crime, and God’s righteousness demanded the ultimate punishment: death.

But it wasn’t just one person; it was the entire race. All of humanity had rebelled against God, with the exception of Noah.

Genesis 6:9 (NLT)
This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.

So Noah was righteous, everyone else wasn’t. And so God made the decision to punish everyone all at once, and protect Noah at the same time.

And listen, people who were far from God still had time to turn it around. God didn’t decide to send a flood and them immediately send it. He set up a process of events that would happen first.

Think about what happened. He first of all appeared to Noah and told him what was going to happen. And he told Noah to build an Ark. Now, how long do you think that would have taken? We’re told it took 100 years. So there’s lots of time there.

And remember the scale of the Ark. This puppy was 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. I’m sure that people asked, “So Noah what are you doing?” And he’d tell them, “I’m building a boat.” “How come? We live in the middle of the desert. There’s no water here.” And then Noah would proceed to tell them what God had told him, and so they would have ample time to hear what was going to happen and to turn back to God. But there’s no record of mass conversions, or for that matter unmass conversion. As far as we know, not one person turned to God. They decided to continue their evil ways.

And even when Noah and his family and the animals entered the Ark, God still waited seven days before sending the rain. The people had plenty of opportunity, but they refused. And so God’s righteous demand for justice was realized.

2 Peter 3:9 (NLT)
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

So God gives plenty of time for people to change what they’re doing and how they’re living, and to turn to Him instead. But unless we do that, there will eventually be consequences.

So here’s the application for you and for me.

Application:    We still reap what we sow.

God still punishes evil. So if you ever catch yourself thinking that God will overlook it when you willfully ignore Him and His commands, then you’d better remember that we still reap what we sow. If you ever find yourself rationalizing that just this once won’t be so bad, remember that we still reap what we sow. If you ever try to convince yourself that God’s a God of love and so He won’t seriously punish you for your sinfulness, then remember the flood and remember that you still reap what you sow.

God is a God of justice, and He can’t tolerate injustice. He can’t overlook sinfulness. A price has to be paid. You still reap what you sow.


But Noah’s Ark is not just a story about God’s righteous justice. It’s also a story of God’s loving deliverance.


2.    God’s Loving Deliverance

You see, even though it was Noah who physically built the Ark, he was only following God’s instructions. God told him to build the Ark, how to do it, and then protected him once it was completed. God was at work through the whole thing. And if it hadn’t been for God’s deliverance it would have been Aqua La Vista for Noah and his family.

But you know what? Even though God rescued Noah and delivered him through the flood, Noah and his family, they all still died eventually. I mean, God saved their lives, but they still died eventually. So did He really deliver them, or did He just postpone the inevitable? And if that’s the case, what did Jesus mean when He said…

John 8:51 (NLT)
“I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!”

You like that? Sounds good, doesn’t it? But I know followers of Jesus who have died. So what’s that all about? Well, we’re told a little more about this in 1 Corinthians…

1 Corinthians 15:54 (NLT)
Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

So yeah, our physical earthly bodies will die. But they will be exchanged for spiritual bodies that will never die. All followers of Jesus have been given the promise of eternal life. People have searched for centuries for immortality, but Christians have already received it.

Application:    As a follower of Jesus, I have the promise of eternal life.

That’s the promise to each one of us who are Christ-followers. He has guaranteed us deliverance from death.

2 Peter 1:4 (NLT)
These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.


So we have a story about God’s righteous justice, God’s loving deliverance, and thirdly…


3.    A Prevailing Faith

Are you familiar with Bill Cosby’s routine dealing with Noah? Well, I found it online, and somebody did a nice job of splicing it together with some video. So here, take a look…

VIDEO – Bill Cosby http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=so9o3_daDZw

Okay, so Noah hears from God and is given clear instructions to build an Ark. But then he still has to do the job. And it wasn’t going to be easy. He’d become the target of a lot of ridicule. That’s one thing I think the movie showed pretty well. As Evan was out working on the Ark, the neighbours all came out to make fun of him.

But you know what? For Evan, it wasn’t just the neighbours. It was his own family. He had to convince his own wife. Take a look at this scene…

VIDEO – EVAN ALMIGHTY – Evan telling Joan that God told him to build an Ark (ea_clip_3)

Now if you saw the movie and you were really smart, you would have caught Evan’s wife’s name. I’m not and I didn’t. Somebody else had to tell me. Do you know it? Her name is Joan. That’s right, as in Joan of Arc.

Anyway, that clip showed how skeptical Joan was when Evan told her what he was doing. I don’t really know what it would have been like for Mrs. Noah, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she took a little convincing, too.

Plus, consider where he was told to build it. We don’t know exactly where he was, but we generally accept that he was inland someplace on dry ground. He wasn’t building it in a port city. And so we picture him hard at work building the ark, out in the middle of the desert, while all the neighbours come out and ridicule him. “What are you doing building an Ark here, Noah? There’s no water anywhere around here! You’ve lost it, Noah.”

The Prime Minister was in Halifax this past week and made an announcement that the Canadian Navy frigates are going to be refitted. They’re going to be upgraded. And the big news for this region was that a significant amount of the work will be done in Nova Scotia. The rest will be done over on the other coast in BC. But suppose the Prime Minister landed in say, Winnipeg, and suppose he announced that all the refits would take place in there in Manitoba and in Regina, Saskatchewan. How crazy would that be?

I don’t know how good your geography is, so let me give you a little refresher. [PowerPoint] Here’s Regina. Here’s the ocean. Any questions?

How much faith would it have taken for Noah to keep working on that Ark, without any water in the vicinity, with the neighbours out heckling him every day, and perhaps even his own family doubting him? And then to persevere for 100 years! Don’t you think it would take a good measure of faith?

And think about this. When did Noah see the payoff for his faith? Not until all the work was done. Noah built the ark, put his reputation on the line, gave up a century of his life, and he didn’t see as much as one raindrop until it was all done. Don’t you think it would take a good measure of faith?

But Noah was up to the task. In fact, in the New Testament, there’s an entire chapter that we refer to as the Faith Chapter. And in that chapter it lists a number of the heroes of the faith from the Old Testament. It’s basically the faith hall of fame. And right near the top of that list, you’ll find Noah. Let me show you…

Hebrews 11:7 (NLT)
It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.

Three times in that one verse it describes the faith of Noah. Noah had a prevailing faith that enabled him to keep his focus on God and obey Him, even when it would have been easy for him to become discouraged and give up.

But you know what? Noah was no different from you and me. He was just an ordinary guy who chose to follow God. And because of the ordinary faith of this ordinary guy, God was able to do extraordinary things through him.

So here’s the application…

Application:    God responds powerfully to our little bit of faith.

How did Jesus put it? He said…

Matthew 17:20 (NLT)
“I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

God responds powerfully to our little bit of faith. But notice what comes first… our faith. We act in faith, and then we see God come through. So often I think we want Him to come through first, before we show any faith. We don’t want to put ourselves out on a limb and risk looking stupid, we want Him to make the first move.

But by its very nature, faith requires that we act on that faith first. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not yet seen. God works in response to our faith.

[Adapted in part from Evan Almighty: The Story Behind the Movie by Denn Guptill]

 

 

 

Copyright © Greg Hanson, 2007 SunriseOnline.ca