Noah lived at a time when the people on the earth were very wicked. Their minds were constantly filled with violent, evil thoughts, and they did many terrible things.
In spite of the wickedness around him, Noah was a righteous young man. He was ordained to the priesthood by his grandfather, Methuselah, and was called by the Lord to teach the gospel. The Lord told him “My Spirit shall not always strive with man. If men do not repent, I will send in the floods upon them.” Noah knew the people did not want to be told they were unrighteous, but he obeyed the Lord and called the people to repentance. The people laughed and scorned Noah. They did not want to repent, and they did not believe that they could be destroyed by a flood.
Noah did not want the people to be destroyed. Many of them were friends and relatives that he loved, so he continued his preaching, saying: “Harken, and give heed unto my words; believe and repent of your sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, even as our fathers, and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost, that ye shall have all things made manifest; and if ye do not this, the floods will come in upon you.”
For one hundred years Noah warned the people to repent, but they made fun of Noah and refused to believe. The people became more wicked. In those days there were giants on the earth, and they sought to take away Noah’s life; but the power of the Lord was upon Noah so that no harm came upon him.
Finally, the time came when there were only eight righteous people on the earth; Noah, his wife, his sons (Shem, Ham, and Japheth), and their wives.
God said unto Noah, “Behold, I will destroy all flesh from off the earth.”
The Lord had given the people many years to repent. He had warned them through his faithful prophet, Noah, but their time to repent was coming to an end.
The Lord instructed Noah, “Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark. The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.” (A cubit was approximately 46 to 55 centimeters.) God told Noah to make three levels in the ark and to use pitch or tar inside and out to make it watertight.
Even though building such a large ark was going to be an enormous job, Noah did not doubt. He and his sons set to work building the ark according to God’s instructions. It took a long time to build, and Noah’s friends and neighbors laughed at him for building such a huge boat on dry ground. But Noah was not discouraged by the jeers of the wicked people. He trusted the Lord completely and was only concerned with doing the Lord’s will.
Finally the ark was completed. It was about 563 feet long, 94 feet wide, and 56 feet high. The Lord was pleased with Noah. He told Noah to take into the ark seven of those birds and animals which were considered to be clean according to the Lord’s dietary laws of that time. He was also to take two of the animals that were classified as unclean, one male and one female.
God told Noah that the rains would come in seven days. Without delay, the animals, birds, and insects were loaded into the ark. Noah also followed the Lord’s instructions to provide enough food and drinking water for his family and all the animals.
Exactly as God had said, in seven days it began to rain. Noah and his family went into the ark, and the Lord shut them inside so that they would be safe from the flood.
For forty days and forty nights the rain poured down, covering the land and lifting the ark off the ground. Soon the water became so deep that it covered even the high mountains. All flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beasts, and of every creeping thing, and every man.
After the 40-day rainfall, the waters stayed upon the earth for 150 days. Finally, the Lord made a wind pass over the earth, and the water began to dry up.
When the waters had lowered, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. So far, Noah and his family had been shut in the ark over half a year. Two more months passed before the tops of the surrounding mountains could be seen. Forty days later Noah opened the window of the ark and sent forth a dove. Because the waters still covered most of the earth, the dove could not find a place to nest. It returned to the ark. Noah waited seven more days, then sent the dove out again. Once more it returned, but this time it had an olive leaf in its bill. Noah then knew the waters had left the land. After seven more days he sent the dove out again. This time it did not return; it had found a home in the newly cleansed earth.
Noah and his family spent almost an entire year in the ark, before Noah opened the cover and saw ground. They waited almost two months more until the Lord told Noah that the land was dry enough to bring his family and all the animals forth from the ark.
In gratitude, Noah built an altar unto the Lord. He knew he had been truly blessed. To show his gratitude, Noah sacrificed one of each of the clean animals and birds as an offering to the Lord. In this sacred way Noah thanked the Lord for saving him and his family and for preserving life on the earth. In prayer Noah asked the Lord never to destroy the earth again with flood. Noah’s prayer was answered; the Lord promised Noah that He would never again destroy the entire earth by flood. From that time forth the rainbow would be a symbol of that promise.