“Noah … Prepared an Ark to the Saving of
The people reject Noah's call to repentance; Noah builds an ark.
The Lord cleanses the earth with a flood.
The people build the tower of Babel.
A study of this lesson will help us desire to live worthily and avoid the
evils of the world.
Scripture references for study: Moses
8:19–30; Genesis 6–9;
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
notes: Click on links for expanded information.
Lesson 6 Handout (PDF
The People Reject Noah's Call To Repentance - Noah
Builds An Ark
WHO IS NOAH?
WHAT WAS THE CONDITION OF THE WORLD IN NOAH'S DAY?
As discussed in Lesson
5, Enoch was the 4th great-grandson of Adam.
Enoch saw Noah and his children in vision: "And
Enoch also saw Noah, and his family; that the posterity of all the sons
of Noah should be saved with a temporal salvation" (Moses 7:42).
Methuselah was the son of Enoch. He was "not
taken, that the covenants of the Lord might be fulfilled, which he made
to Enoch; for he truly covenanted with Enoch that Noah should be of the
fruit of his loins" (Moses 8:2).
At the youthful age of 187, Methuselah "begat" Lamech (Moses
At the age of 182, Lamech "begat" Noah (Moses 8:8-9).
Joseph Smith: "Then to Noah, who is Gabriel: he stands
next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood; he was called of God to this
office, and was the father of all living in this day, and to him was given the
dominion. These men held keys first on earth, and then in heaven." (TPJS p157)
President Joseph Fielding Smith:
the facts - Joseph Smith revealed that Gabriel was Noah; Luke declared
that it was the angel Gabriel who appeared to Zacharias and Mary; and the
Lord has declared that Elias appeared to Zacharias and Joseph Smith. Therefore,
Elias is Noah." (Answers to Gospel Questions 3:141)
WHAT SIMILARITIES CAN YOU SEE BETWEEN THE PEOPLE OF NOAH'S DAY AND THE
PEOPLE OF OUR DAY?
"And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great
in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was
only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on
the earth, and it grieved him at his heart." (Genesis
It is important to note that the Joseph Smith Translation reads different
than Genesis: "And the Lord said, I will destroy
man who I have created, from the face of the earth, both man and beast,
and the creeping things, and the fowls of the air. For it repenteth Noah
that I have created them, and that I have made them; and he hath called
upon me, for they have sought his life." (JST Genesis 8:14-15)
This is one example of how important truths have been distorted in the handing
down and translation of the Bible. The Lord did not need to
repent of his creation. The creation was part of his plan.
"The earth was corrupt before God, and it was
filled with violence." (Moses 8:28)
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "The picture one gets of
the dispensation of Noah is of a people who were increasingly wicked and
who felt increasingly self-sufficient. Their attitude was described as
follows: 'And every man was lifted up in the imagination of the thoughts
of his heart, being only evil continually' (Moses 8:22)." (Things
As They Really Are, p76)
The Ark - A Type For Our Day.
HOW COULD THE PEOPLE OF NOAH'S TIME AVOIDED DESTRUCTION?
Heed the words of the prophet.
Repent and be baptized.
IS IT ANY DIFFERENT FOR US TODAY? WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES IF
THE PEOPLE OF THIS GENERATION DO NOT REPENT?
"For as in the days that were before the flood
they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the
day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and
took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "Long ago it was prophesied
that the last days would be rampant with selfishness and the other cardinal
sins, just as in the days of Noah (see Matthew 24:37-39; 2 Timothy 3:1-5).
Society in the days of Noah, scriptures advise, was 'corrupt before God'
and 'filled with violence' (Genesis 6:11-12; Moses 8:28). Corruption and
violence—does that sound familiar? Both of these awful conditions crest
today because of surging individual selfishness. When thus engulfed, no
wonder mens' hearts in our day will fail them because of fear (see Luke
21:26; D&C 45:26). Even the faithful can expect a few fibrillations."
(Men and Women of Christ, p9)
Bruce R. McConkie: "The coming of the flood of
Noah, and with it the 'end of the world' for the carnal civilization of
that day, is a perfect type of the coming of the Lord, and the end of the
world for the wicked of the latter-days. In both days all the normal activities
of life continue until Deity intervenes to stay the mounting mass of iniquity."
(Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:667)
Elder Boyd K. Packer: "I know of nothing in the history
of the Church or in the history of the world to compare with our present
circumstances. Nothing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah which exceeds the
wickedness and depravity which surrounds us now.
"Satan uses every intrigue to disrupt the family. The
sacred relationship between man and woman, husband and wife, through which
mortal bodies are conceived and life is passed from one generation to the next
generation, is being showered with filth.
"Profanity, vulgarity, blasphemy, and pornography are
broadcast into the homes and minds of the innocent. Unspeakable wickedness,
perversion, and abuse—not even exempting little children—once hidden in dark
places, now seeks protection from courts and judges." (Brigham Young
University J. Reuben Clark Law Society Devotional, Saturday, 28 February 2004)
D&C 97:21-26. The indignation of the Lord
The Lord commanded Noah, "Make thee an ark of
gopher wood" (Genesis 6:14).
WHY WAS NOAH COMMANDED TO MAKE AN ARK?
The Lord would destroy all men upon the earth with a flood (Genesis 6:17).
Speaking to Noah, the Lord said: "But with
thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou,
and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee" (Genesis
In a General Conference address, Elder W. Don Ladd said, "We
all need to build a personal ark, to fortify ourselves ourselves against
this rising tide of evil, to protect ourselves and our families against
the floodwaters of iniquity around us. And we shouldn't wait until it starts
raining, but prepare in advance." (CR, Oct 1994)
WHAT KIND OF ARK DO YOU SUPPOSE ELDER LADD IS TALKING ABOUT BUILDING?
Elder Ladd: "The key is to accept the invitation
of our prophet...'to live with ever more attention to the life and example
of the Lord Jesus Christ, especially the love and hope and compassion He
displayed'." (CR, Oct 1994)
WHAT SPECIFIC THINGS DO WE NEED TO BE DOING TO KEEP THE FLOOD WATERS OF
WICKEDNESS OUT OF OUR FAMILY ARK?
Study the words of eternal life in the scriptures and from the prophets.
Frequent and sincere prayer.
Regular church attendance and being attentive while there.
Family home evening. Family prayer.
Teach and abide by the principles in the pamphlet For The Strength Of
Keep the Sabbath day holy.
Elder Ladd suggested that we should not wait until it starts raining. I think the rain has started. Look at what is happening all around
us. Watch the news. Look at the lifestyles of so many around
us. That which was once taboo is common and accepted. We must
strengthen our ark with every available tool. The time for preparation
is not past, but we can wait no longer. We must act. We cannot
be like the people of Noah's time and think that this is a passing storm. It will not pass until the Lord returns in glory.
WHAT ABOUT TEMPORAL/PHYSICAL PREPARATION?
Noah was obedient to the Lord, both in spiritual preparation and physical
WHAT DO WE NEED TO BE DOING?
In the October 1995 General Conference, Elder L. Tom Perry listed four
things we should be doing to build and strengthen our physical ark:
Gain an adequate education - learn a trade to enable you to provide for
Live strictly within your income and save something for a rainy day.
Avoid excessive debt.
Acquire and store a reserve of food and supplies that will sustain life.
Ezra Taft Benson: "The revelation to produce and
store food may be as essential to our temporal welfare today as boarding
the ark was to the people in the days of Noah." (CR, Oct 1987)
How prepared are you for personal calamity or a major disaster? I
have heard the quotation, "When opportunity knocks, the time for preparation
is past." So it is with the temporal floods that may engulf us. Any of us could be in an accident and not be able to work for a period
of time. I lived in the Pacific Northwest for many years. It is an area that is
subject to infrequent, yet powerful earthquakes. How will the residents do when
and if such a disaster occurs? We can prepare today. We cannot
prepare after the loss of income or after disaster strikes.
Elder Ladd continued: "When it starts raining,
it is too late to begin building the ark.... We...need to listen to the
Lord's spokesmen. We need to calmly continue to move ahead and prepare
for what will surely come. We need not panic or fear, for if we are prepared,
spiritually and temporally, we and our families will survive any flood.
Our arks will float on a sea of faith if our works have been steadily and
surely preparing for the future." (CR, Oct 1994)
Spencer W. Kimball on Noah's preparations for the flood:
yet there was no evidence of rain and flood. His people mocked and called
him a fool. His preaching fell on deaf ears. His warnings were considered
irrational. There was no precedent, never had it been known that a deluge
could cover the earth. How foolish to build an ark on dry ground with the
sun shining and life moving forward as usual! But time ran out. The ark
was finished. The floods came. The disobedient and rebellious were drowned.
The miracle of the ark followed the faith manifested in its building."
(Faith Precedes the Miracle, pp5-6)
The Lord Cleanses The Earth With A Flood
GENESIS 7:11-13, 17-21. The flood.
The Flood - An act of mercy.
"And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the
earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered."
WHAT WAS THE FIRST THING NOAH DID AFTER LEAVING THE ARK?
Brother Victor L. Ludlow suggests five reasons why the flood was an act of
mercy (see Unlocking The Old Testament, pp8-9):
The wicked would have less time in this phase of their existence to commit
God's prophets had already demonstrated his power and witnessed his judgments;
to have allowed more witnesses would have brought the people under greater
God's spirit children still residing in his presence needed a more pure
spiritual environment in which to come.
The earth itself was a living entity and desired a rest from wickedness
(see Moses 7:48-49).
The earth needed to go through its own baptism of water preparatory for
a later baptism of fire and eventual celestialization.
"And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and
took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings
on the altar" (Genesis 8:20).
The Lord Covenants With Noah
The Joseph Smith Translation adds to this verse: "and
gave thanks unto the Lord, and rejoiced in his heart." (JST
HOW CAN WE SHOW OUR GRATITUDE TO THE LORD WHEN HE HELPS US THROUGH A DIFFICULT
"And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding
of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away,
for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings. And
ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit."
(3 Nephi 9:19-20)
There is no greater way that we can thank the Lord for his great blessings
than offering a such a sacrifice.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "When we are urged
to put upon the altar of the Lord the sacrifice of a broken heart and a
contrite spirit (Psalm 51:17; 3 Nephi 9:20), we are following the ancient
counsel: 'to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat
of rams' (1 Samuel 15:22). Outward rituals can become near-empty ends in
themselves. What we are actually placing on the altar to be consumed is
the animal and carnal of our old selves. The need for that sacrifice has
not been done away." (Not My Will, But Thine, p99)
"And I will establish my covenant with you; neither
shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall
there any more be a flood to destroy the earth." (Genesis
WHAT WAS THE TOKEN OF THE LORD'S COVENANT WITH NOAH?
"I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be
for a token of a covenant between me and the earth." (Genesis
Joseph Smith: "I have asked of the Lord
concerning His coming; and while asking the Lord, He gave a sign and said,
'In the days of Noah I set a bow in the heavens as a sign and token that
in any year that the bow should be seen the Lord would not come; but there
should be seed time and harvest during that year: but whenever you see
the bow withdrawn, it shall be a token that there shall be famine, pestilence,
and great distress among the nations, and that the coming of the Messiah
is not far distant'." (TPJS, pp340-341)
The People Build The Tower Of Babel
After the flood, the descendants of Noah began to multiply and re-people
"And they said, Go to, let us build us a city
and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name,
lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth."
WHY DID THE DESCENDANTS OF NOAH DECIDE TO BUILD A TOWER?
"And the whole earth was of one language, and of one
speech" (Genesis 11:1). Orson Pratt indicates
that this language was the language of Adam: "...it
is that same language that was spoken for nearly two thousand years after
the creation; that was spoken by Adam and by his children, from generation
to generation that came down to the flood, and was taught extensively among
the children of Noah until the Lord by a direct miracle caused the people
to forget their own mother tongue" (JD, 3:100).
WHAT WERE THE CONSEQUENCES FOR PURSUING THIS UNRIGHTEOUS COURSE OF REACHING
To have a physical structure that would reach up to heaven.
Brother Hugh Nibley: "An investigation of
the oldest temples...concludes that those high structures were also 'gigantic
altars,' built both
to attract the attention of the powers above...and to provide 'the stairways
which the god, in answer to these prayers, used in order to descend to
the earth. . . . He comes bringing a renewal of life in all its forms.'
From the first, it would seem, men built altars in the hopes of establishing
contact with heaven, and built high towers for the same purpose (see Genesis
11:4)." (Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, 4:360)
Elder Orson F. Whitney: "The people who
built the Tower of Babel are said to have done so in order that its top
might 'reach unto heaven.' It was to prevent them from accomplishing this
purpose, that the Lord confounded their language. Tradition credits Joseph
Smith with the statement that the 'heaven' they had in view was the translated
city." (Saturday Night Thoughts, p.101)
This is an interesting idea. Certainly, these people had knowledge
of the city of Enoch. I would think that Noah often taught his family
about his great grandfather and the city of righteousness he established. He probably spoke of it in the fondest of terms. Noah was one who
suffered the destruction of an evil world and often wished that he could
be in such a place. The story of Enoch was passed from generation
to generation and became part of the history of these people, even after
wickedness returned to the world. Rather than live a righteous life,
these people somehow believed they could find Zion, the city of Enoch,
by building a tower that reached into the heavens.
They wanted to make a name for themselves.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THEY WANTED TO ACCOMPLISH BY "MAKING A NAME" FOR THEMSELVES?
"...and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered
abroad upon the face of the whole earth" (Genesis 11:4).
It seems possible that a prophet had already testified to the people of
Babel that if they did not repent there would be a scattering. Maybe
they felt that if they built this tower to 'heaven' or the city of 'Enoch'
the Lord would honor them by not scattering them. It seems that they
felt there was a better way to accomplish their ends than living righteously.
The Hebrew word for "name" is "shem". Among the meanings for this
Hebrew word is reputation, fame, and glory. Possibly this is what
the people were trying to achieve.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MAKING A NAME FOR OURSELVES AND TAKING UPON
US THE NAME OF CHRIST?
It is a difference between striving for the earthly and
striving for the eternal. What is the center of our life?
A name for ourselves: Achieving wealth and the things of the
earth; power; glory and the honors of men; following our own earthly pursuits. We may achieve greatness in this life, but it will end just as surely as
does our mortal life.
Taking upon us the name of Christ: Christ and the gospel is
the focus of our life; we strive to honor him; we seek to obey his will
rather than our temporal desires. Though we may have little in this
life, we will have made a name for ourselves in the eternities.
WHY CAN'T WE REACH HEAVEN ON OUR OWN OR BY HUMAN METHODS?
Their language was confounded (Genesis 11:7). WHY?
"...and now nothing will be restrained from them,
which they have imagined to do" (Genesis 11:6).
It was a means of confounding their efforts in building the tower and stopping
the commission of greater evil. It may be that the perfect language
they spoke enabled them to communicate more efficiently than we find possible. Maybe they were no longer entitled to speak this pure language. According
to Orson Pratt, our means of communication is inefficient and imperfect
They were scattered abroad (Genesis 11:8).
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the
gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there
be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way,
which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matthew
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "The course leading
to eternal life is both strait and straight. It is straight because it
has an invariable direction -- always it is the same. There are no diversions,
crooked paths, or tangents leading to the kingdom of God. It is strait
because it is narrow and restricted, a course where full obedience to the
full law is required." (Mormon Doctrine, p769)
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
The people who built the tower of Babel were punished because they tried
to reach heaven by worldly means. Conversely, Noah and his family
were saved from the flood because they lived according to God's commandments.
The only way for us to reach heaven--to return to live with our Heavenly
Father--is through the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must live righteously,
as did Noah, having faith in Christ, repenting of our sins, receiving sacred
ordinances, and enduring to the end of our lives. If we do these things,
we will rise above evil and be able to return to the presence of God.
Record your thoughts on Noah, his obedience in building the ark, and the
consequences of living after the manner of men rather than following the
course which the Lord has laid out for us.
Resources Used In This Lesson
Answers to Gospel Questions, Volume 3, by Joseph Fielding Smith.
Collected Works of Hugh Nibley.
Conference Reports (CR).
Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Volume 1, by Bruce R. McConkie.
Faith Precedes the Miracle by Spencer W. Kimball.
Journal of Discourses (JD).
Men and Women of Christ by Neal A. Maxwell.
Not My Will, But Thine by Neal A. Maxwell.
Saturday Night Thoughts by Orson F. Whitney.
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding
Things As They Really Are by Neal A. Maxwell.
Unlocking The Old Testament by Victor L. Ludlow.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
25 January 2014