“Then the Lord shut him in.” Genesis 7:16b NIV.
There is a world of security in these wonderful words: “Then the Lord shut him in.” God personally locked Noah and his family in. People who ridiculed Noah for building a boat where there was no water weren’t laughing anymore. They were on the outside — and it was beginning to rain. People who had persecuted him for preaching to them about God’s coming judgment on their sins were beginning to feel the slipping and sliding of wet ground underfoot.
“…the Lord shut him in.” Safe. Secure. Splat. Nowhere are we told that either the animals or the humans in the ark ceased to have all the normal needs that animals and humans have. They still had to eat, drink, and exercise their bodily functions. I wonder if Noah ever wished that the Lord hadn’t shut him in? Who fed the animals? Who changed the straw? Who shoveled the manure? On the other hand, short of a marathon swim, Noah didn’t have any other options. But that year of being shut in must have had moments when Noah wondered: “Why me, Lord?”
Being “shut in” by God has a wonderful, highly spiritual sounding tone to it. Who hasn’t longed for that perfect quiet time “shut in” with God. But, even such an intimate time can get painful and troublesome. When God speaks in those moments alone with Him, it might just as often be to kick us in the backside as it is to pat us on the back.
When God shuts us into a particular circumstance, no matter how complicated, fearsome, or wearisome, the journey gets, we can relax in the knowledge that our ark won’t leak, reek or creak, except to bring Him glory and to benefit us.
There were challenges to be faced in Noah’s floating water world, but having done “all that the Lord commanded him” (7:5), having had the door locked behind him by the hand of none other than God Himself, Noah could have had nothing but confidence that this unusual, impossible voyage would end well.
What God shuts in, He also always lets out.