A shut-in is also a shut-out.
Those whom we call shut-ins are confined to their own homes, hospitals, nursing homes, or the like. But, when they are believing children of God, they are also shut out of God’s house of prayer, and are unable to worship with the saints in the sanctuary.
It was not so with Noah. God called him to come into the ark, and He shut him in that sacred abode where, with his family, he was constantly with the church of God and before God’s face. They were not shut out from the divine services of that day. They were shut in that place where alone such worship of God was to be found. And although we do not read of such worship services or deeds of worship—and surely there was no burnt sacrifice or slaying of a sacrificial lamb all that year and ten days—prayers ascended from out of the ark up to God in heaven, songs of praise were sung to Him, and the telling and magnification of His sovereignty and tender mercy were heard with regularity.
Do we not read that Noah was righteous in this generation, and that God saw this? Surely, then, his righteous conduct continued in that ark and did not wear thin and wear out during that year and ten days. He found grace in God’s eyes. And that grace of God abideth ever. It, before Noah entered the ark, enabled him, among a generation whose every imagination of the heart was only evil continually, to have a heart whose imaginations led him to worship God. How else will you explain the fact that after that year and ten days God brought Noah forth, and that we read that God remembered him? Surely it was a remembering of him in mercy and grace as a righteous man. It was a mercy that faileth never, and a grace that abideth ever to keep the believer in the way of faith, the righteous in a way of righteousness.
And God shut him in with representatives of all the living creatures of the earth that creep upon it and have the breath of their lives in their nostrils, so that the waters of the flood would cut them off from this breath of life, if they were not taken into the ark with Noah.
The number of these creatures need not be large, even if we take the instruction to Noah to mean that he must take seven pairs of clean animals, rather than three pairs plus a seventh animal, as is usually held, the seventh one then being a male and prescribed by God in order that Noah may have it to sacrifice the day he came out of the ark on dry ground.
There is much in favor of the stand that he was to take seven pairs of clean animals. There is, first of all, the fact that the marginal note (in Bibles that have them) tells us that the Hebrew reads “by seven, seven” rather than by sevens. The idea then being seven and seven, that is, because right after this statement we read, “the male and his female,” seven males and their seven females, Then, too, God tells him to take the male and its female and gives no instruction as to what kind that seventh would be, if there are only three pairs and one single beast. And surely to have seven pairs would insure a supply of sacrificial animals—and Noah has not yet been told that man may eat the flesh of animals, for that comes in Hebrews 9:1-3 —more quickly than three pairs, after the seventh animal is slain.
The point, however, is that even with seven pairs of clean animals, the number of living creatures, whose breath of life is in their nostrils, and creep upon the earth, was not great, surely not as great as some would insist in order to ridicule the whole account and to try to show that this is fiction and not fact. And that, mind you, when they are dealing with the works of an Almighty God Who could of nothing create the whole world! Being limited at the moment to an English Bible and a Young’s Concordance while on the mission field in Jamaica—and with a deadline to meet for the printer, to say nothing of the Editor-in-Chief, who has been very considerate and merciful—we have not the material at hand to give you the exact number of the animals of the world in their families. But it ought to be plain to all that many of the present forms of various animals—take for example the dog—were not in the ark in that form, but are the result of crossbreeding. And rather than weary you with technical terminology and statistics—which likewise we do not have access to at the moment—let it simply be brought to your attention that man himself has since the floodundergone some striking changes, so that man as we know him today was not in that ark in the form in which we now see him; Consider that we have the white; the black, the yellow and even the red races. Now regardless of whether Adam and Noah were white or black, red or yellow as far as. the pigment in their skin is concerned, man in only one of these colors of pigment of the skin went into the ark. And it is neither evolution, nor a denial of the truth of the flood and of the fact that Noah took representatives of all the living creatures which creep on the earth and have the breath of life in their nostrils into the ark, to say that today we have man in different forms than the one he was in when he entered the ark. Not only are there these different races with different pigment of the skin, but there are in the white race blondes and brunettes, blue-eyed and brown-eyed people; and look at the differently shaped noses and ears. There is the Roman nose and the pug nose as well as the strikingly pointed nose. The eyes of the oriental people differ from those of the Occident not in size or shape of the eyeball itself, but in the eyelids. Then there are the redheads, the unusually tall, and the dwarfs, and so we could go on. These are not a change of species, as evolution says of the animals in their various forms. And there were not, nor did there need to be a large number of kinds of animals in the ark.
Having collected them all Noah and his family began to go into the ark seven days before a drop of rain fell. It was not a quick dash to the ark when the sky began to lower and the waters began to fall. They entered in when it was to the unbelievers such a foolish thing to do and to the believer a wise work of God’s grace. By faith Noah built that ark to the saving of his family, we read in Hebrews 11. By faith also it was that he entered into that ark when the need could only be seen by faith. For Noah and his family faith was the evidence of things not seen. And because the eye could not see the need for an ark, the eye could not see the safety of that ark and God’s salvation in Christ. That is the folly of the world today. They see no sin because they have no eye of faith. And then they see no need for the cross and the blotting out of sin. Some in folly say that when they get older and death seems imminent they will seek refuge in Christ. Faith goes into the ark NOW! Faith runs to the cross today, because although the world has unprecedented prosperity, and the standard of living of man has never been so high, and it looks as though man will conquer this and that disease and make this world a better (?) place in which to live, faith sees the wrath of God upon sin, even when in creation there still is beauty and man has what he calls a good day physically and materially.
How the world of that day must have laughed when God shut Noah in that ark on a bright, sunlit day of the same kind men had seen and enjoyed all their lives. They laughed when he began to build. They mocked when he continued to rebuke them and to continue with the work of the ark. But one hundred twenty years is a long time to mock, and they got weary of it and ignored him, even separating themselves further from him. Even the marvel of his collecting of the animals did not shake them; but when he walked into that ark, they revived in their ridicule and mockery. It did seem such a foolish thing to do and such a good day to waste inside such an unnecessary and dark vessel.
But God shut him in. Let that comfort us whether we be shut-ins or not.
Of course, it does not mean that God shut him out of anything good. Rather does it mean that God shut him out of something very evil. The same word is used inGenesis 19:10 where we read of the angel pulling Lot away from the wicked Sodomites and into the house and then shutting the door. It was an act of mercy whereby God, Who called Noah to come into HIS ark, now holds Him before His face in tender compassion and love away from all the billows and waves of His wrath that will come on those outside of that ark. It does not mean, then, that in some natural and literal sense God locked him in that ark. For Noah was able to open the window and let out the raven. And there is no subsequent statement to the effect that after a year and ten days God opened the ark for Noah to leave. We do read that God told him to go forth, and Noah went forth.
No, God’s shut-in was preserved and protected under the shadow of the Almighty. Pea the Hebrew declares that Jehovah shut him in. God did it from the viewpoint of being Jehovah the Covenant God, the unchangeably faithful God of our salvation, the I AM Who safely keeps His people and shuts them up in His hand out of which no man can pluck them.
So often and so easily a shut-in is inclined to think that God has shut him out. And that the shut-in is shut out from much of that which this earth can give, we will not deny. But the blessed truth, the gospel is that God’s people are not shut out of the kingdom, and that the God Who shut Noah in that place of refuge and covenant fellowship with Himself never shuts us out of His kingdom. Instead He uses our deprivations, our sicknesses and diseases, and our death to shut us in the glory of His kingdom for ever. Noah was shut in the sphere of God’s love and mercy. He was shut in Christ and the salvation that is in Him. And all God’s dear children who are in distress and pain, and by them are kept out of His house on the Sabbath, may know and believe that although Noah and his family lost all of their earthly goods—and they did, although we seldom think of that and fix our attention on their safety and the protection of their lives in that ark—it all worked out and together for their good. And these present distresses are not that wherein God shuts us out of a blessing. They are that which He uses to draw us ever more closely to Himself.
Jehovah does that. It is reassuring to know that God shut Noah in and that Noah did not shut himself in that ark. It is reassuring to the shut-ins to know that God ordered their way into distresses and sickness and that He has shut us securely in Christ to go through our afflictions (as Noah went through the ark to a new world) to that fair land of the promise in Christ. As all of Noah’s enemies were destroyed by the waters of the flood while he was shut in that ark, so all of God’s shut-ins together with the rest of the church will have all their enemies destroyed, including that last enemy which is death, and forever be shut up in the blessedness of the new creation.