HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
The Ark and the Anchor sometimes represented separately, and sometimes conjointly, are symbolic of the safety and the sure hope of him who puts his trust in God, and walks in the way of God’s Commandments.
Tossed on a tempestuous sea of troubles, and exposed to many dangers in his earthly life, a good man is still preserved in safety, as Noah and his family were preserved in the ark when it floated on the waters of the deluge, and all the rest of mankind perished. The ark refers our thoughts to this great historic fact, but at the same time leads us to think of that which even it symbolised or typified.
As Noah and his family were saved in the ark, from the destruction which overwhelmed the multitudes of the unbelieving and ungodly, so all who put their trust in God are saved, whatever the dangers which beset them, and the storms which thicken around them. We read in the Epistle to the Hebrews, that,
“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Hebrews 11:7).
Even so, every believer, listening to the voice of God, and yielding willing obedience, finds an ark of refuge ready, an ark which he does not need to prepare as Noah did, but in which he is in perfect safety.
The anchor may be regarded as securing the ark from danger amidst the storms of life. Or by itself, it may be accounted as a symbol of the security of a good man who puts his trust in God. And thus the figure of the anchor is used in Scripture, to represent the perfect security of the believer’s hope.
“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil” (Hebrews:619).
The Anchor and the Ark remind us both of the dangers to which we are exposed, and of the refuge which we may find from them. They encourage us to choose and persevere in the right course, all dangers notwithstanding, and they assure us that if we do so, all shall be well. We shall not be overwhelmed in the surging billows; we shall not be driven from our place to be the sport of winds, and to be dashed by them to destruction, but we shall weather every storm, and find ourselves after all in a haven of peace and rest. It is a terrible picture of human life which is presented to us by the ark on the shoreless waters of the deluge; but we are comforted and encouraged by the thought of the safety in which it was preserved, till it rested on the mountains of Ararat, and its occupants went forth to enter on possession of the regenerated earth. Amidst the storm, a well-built and well-appointed ship rides securely at anchor in a good harbour, and we are encouraged to be confident of perfect security, as knowing how good both our anchor and our harbour are. But let us see to it that all is right, that ours is indeed a well-built and well-appointed ship, and our anchor is that which is “sure and steadfast.”
The very significant symbol now under our consideration is therefore far from being merely intended to remind us of the deliverance of Noah and his family, the progenitors of the whole existing human race, from the deluge which overwhelmed the old world, and swept away the workers of iniquity, but still, more to suggest to our thoughts those great truths which were typified even in Noah’s ark itself, and in the salvation accomplished by it.
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.” (1 Peter 3:18-22).
Traditions of the flood are common throughout the world and are found in the earliest records of ancient times, mingling with the other legends of all the mythologies, and with the accounts which different nations have received of their origin. These traditions have been sought out and compared with great diligence by learned authors; for they afford an important argument in favour of the unity of the human race and of the truth of the Bible. We find the ark figured in the ancient monuments of Egypt; and we find in many other of the most ancient sculptures and on coins or medals of various countries, not uncertain evidence of the prevalence of the tradition of the flood, and of the preservation of Noah and his family.
The ark fitly symbolises the means of salvation. The flood rages around, but within the ark, there is no danger. The perfect safety of those who seek refuge in it is still further symbolised by the anchor. The ark is not represented as floating wildly, at the mercy of the winds and waves, but as secured by its anchor. And thus the believer has hope,
“ Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Hebrews 6:19-20).
That hope cannot fail; disappointment is impossible; for it is a hope resting on the promise—nay, upon the oath of God; for “God,” says the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews,
“Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: 18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:” (Hebrews 6:17-18).
He is a safety who puts his trust in the Lord. The fiery deluge of wrath shall sweep away the workers of iniquity; perdition awaits them, but the believer is free from danger. No billow shall overwhelm the ark in which he has taken refuge, and it cannot be wrecked by any storm. For its anchor is safe in Jesus.