An Ark for the Storm

Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters came on the earth. -Genesis 7:6

Dear members and friends,

The story of the great flood in Genesis has a very fascinating figure, Noah. The Hebrew word for Noah means rest. But, the life of Noah in the story is far from being restful. Noah was 600 years old, according to Genesis, when the great flood happened. Can you imagine an old man of near 600 years building an ark? The size of the ark was to be 300 cubits (450 feet) long, and 50 cubits (75 feet) wide, and 30 cubits (45 feet) high. If the story were literally true, Noah and his three sons built the ark themselves and lived in it for 150 days while the earth was under the flood. It was only after all of this that his name would make sense because God came to Noah and made a covenant with him and a new blessing to all creatures on earth.

The ark was built so that it would protect the animals and the family of Noah during the great flood, which symbolizes the flood of confusion and devastation due to false knowledge and understanding regarding one’s identity as a human being. The spiritual significance of the great flood begins with Noah, who was 600 years old. Swedenborg points out the number 6 is the number of human beings, and also of regeneration. Regeneration is the destined spiritual process for all human beings. However, undergoing regeneration is very painful and difficult because it requires a change of one’s perspective regarding reality. In other words, undergoing regeneration means changing the core of one’s values. Therefore, it requires a time of inner conflict and struggle, which is symbolized by the number 6. This is also why human beings were created on the sixth day in the creation story. Spiritually, being human means becoming a completed vessel that can contain that which is Divine. And, the number 10 represents the completion of a process. Thus, 100 means the confirmed completion of a process. Combining them together, the number 600 symbolizes the completion and confirmation of regeneration.

One thing that the story of Noah reveals to us is that our life on Earth is meant to be challenging, sometimes shaking and reshaping our very core. Consequently, all challenges we experience on earth are meant to foster and nurture our spiritual growth or the process of becoming completed vessels. Yet, it is necessary to protect our mind and emotions within while undergoing such challenges, which is symbolized by the ark. The ark symbolizes not only the protection for our mind, but also the inner presence of God while we are undergoing spiritual challenges.

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee