Dubbed the Ark Encounter, this full-scale Noah's Ark attraction and theme park opened on July 7, 2016 in northern Kentucky.
Constructed with the dimensions described in the Bible in the book of Genesis, the life-size Noah's ark replica sits in Williamstown in Grant County between Cincinnati and Lexington on I-75. It is the only Noah's Ark theme park of its kind in America.
In August Karen and I visited the Ark Encounter in Williamston, Kentucky. Go experience it. But when you do, be prepared to leave it with a whole lot more questions than you had when you left home. It’s impossible to spend three or four hours in this full-size “replica” of the ark and not have many of your Sunday school paradigms shattered. You are forced to consider numerous realities that your Sunday school teacher didn’t cover when she was putting up those flannel-graph cut-outs of the ark and the zoo animals marching in two by two. And if you read the Genesis account (Genesis 6-9) carefully before you go, what you will experience in Kentucky, and what you were prepared to see, hear, and read will send you back to your Bible and probably searching the internet for authoritative support for, or a refutation of what you saw.
Prior to my visit to the Ark I had really given very little consideration to what Genesis 6:5-8 meant when it said: Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
What was the world like prior to the flood? How advanced was culture and technology? The Ark Encounter is going to force you to rethink your own historical knowledge. You’re going to have to ask yourself from whom did I get my concept of what life was like BC? One of the displays in the Ark suggested that the time from Adam until Noah could have been as much as 1,600 years. That made me wonder what secular historians would say was happening in the world at that time. Christian historians mark the date of the flood to be around 2300 BC.
What is your perception of life on earth around 2300 BC? What were the tools like, what were the engineering skills, how about art and culture? Now with those concepts in mind, what’s your “mental picture of the ark?
The “replica” of the Ark is indeed awe inspiring. Its size alone is jaw-dropping. And everything about the ship and the park surrounding it is “Disney-worthy.” But that’s one of the problems I had with it. The promotions for the Ark call it a “Life-sized replica of Noah’s ark.” By definition a replica is:
“An exact copy or model of something. A duplicate of an original artistic work. Synonyms are: copy, model, duplicate, reproduction
With that in mind, I went to Kentucky expecting to see an ark that matched my concept of what a ship that was hand-built with the tools and materials available in 2300 BC would look like. What I saw was hard for me to believe. The whole ship seemed to be too technically advanced, too extravagant, and too chic to be believable. It felt like some of the rooms had been decorated by Joanna Gaines of Magnolia Farms. Check out Noah’s living quarters:
Living Quarters: Find out how Noah and his family might have lived on the Ark, from cooking food to sleeping, recreation, and even gardening!
And I felt like there was far too much supposition and speculation regarding technical innovations. Take, for instance the Ark Encounter’s explanation of how the animal waste was removed from the ship. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6v5dKEJRRM
I don’t want to criticize anyone’s desire to share the gospel, and advance the Kingdom of God, and that is definitely what the Answers in Genesis organization intended to do through the Ark Encounter. But their attempt to give explanations and scientifically acceptable solutions to many of the big questions about the flood and life in the ark, will actually cause more people to scoff and have doubts because they’ll have difficulty accepting what they see.
The “Encounter’s” attempt to rationalize and give speculative explanations drove me in the opposite direction. I wish that more emphasis would have been placed on “faith.” Faith that the God of all Creation, simply, miraculously “took care of” all the details, not leaving them up to Noah to figure out.
The Ark Encounter isn’t that far away (about 360 miles)—a nice weekend road trip. So you really should experience it for yourself and draw your own conclusions. But one thing I do know. You will be thrilled by the Answers in Genesis’ display that uses the Ark experience to present to visitors (of all spiritual stances), the clear and simple Gospel in an understandable, undeniable way.
How Is Christ like the Ark?
For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost (Matthew 18:11).
As God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ is like Noah’s Ark. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. Just as Noah and his family were saved by the Ark, rescued by God from the floodwaters, so anyone who believes in Jesus as Lord and Savior will be spared from the coming final judgment of mankind, rescued by God from the fire that will destroy the earth after the last days (2 Peter 3:7).
Noah and his family had to go through a doorway into the Ark to be saved, and the Lord shut the door behind them (Genesis 7:16). So we too have to go through a “doorway” to be saved so that we won’t be eternally separated from God. The Son of God, Jesus, stepped into history to pay the penalty for our sin of rebellion. Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9).
Written by Jim De Horn