Cabin Fever refers to too many people being in too small a space for too long. It can happen in a small mountain cabin, or a car stuck in traffic, or when your children are sick for three days and the whole family is pretty much on lock-down.  That was certainly the case in the ark that God instructed Noah to build (Genesis 6).

Two weeks would be enough for many of us confined to a ship 450 feet long X 75 wide X 45 high to come down with a serious case of cabin fever.  But Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives were on this ship longer than two weeks. Let’s look at exactly how long it was.

Time Line   Noah was 600 years, two months and 17 days old when rain started to fall and the “fountains of the deep were broken up,” resulting in a world-wide flood (Genesis 7:11). “Two months and 17 days” would be our date equivalent of our March 17.   One-hundred and fifty days later– our equivalent of August 14–the water receded to the point that the ark came to rest on a mountain (Genesis 8:3 & 4). That’s a long time to be locked inside a ship.  One would get to know their in-laws (and outlaws) really well under the strain of such confinement.

Work   Also, there was work to do.  Feeding the animals. Cleaning the stalls. Full-time work for all of them.

There had been an enormous amount of work to do before the water flooded the earth—building the ark itself would have taken a long, long time of continuous effort on the part of the whole family.[1]  And storing up food for an unknown length of time at sea would have required a huge effort (Genesis 6:21). Then daily delivery of feed and water the animals could have consumed a lot of energy. Yes, there was plenty of basis for boredom and stress of a demanding routine.  These people would have had to be saints to get along under such pressures.

Our next marker time-wise is in Genesis 8:5 which says, “The waters continued to recede until the first day of the tenth month;” so that would be our equivalent of October 1, which was about ten weeks after the ark bumped into the mountains of Ararat (8:4). 

Family Discussion   Can’t you imagine Ham saying, “Dad, I think it is time to leave the ark and go exploring—let’s see what is left out there. I want to know if any buildings are still standing.”   

“No, son. It is not time yet. God will let us know when we can leave the ark.”

Tensions must have risen.

Finally Noah agreed to send out a raven (8:6). If this raven was somehow lost and its mate remained in the ark, would ravens become extinct? Did he wonder if he was violating the male-female arrangement God had directed?  Lots of issues were available to create stress.  No lack of tension points.

The text simply says the raven flew back and forth until the water dried up from the earth. Did Noah and his family know that?  Was there concern over a lost species? 

When the raven did not come back—leaving the family devoid of any news from the outside—Dad Noah agreed to send out a dove (were there arguments over that?). But the dove came back because somehow, “. . . there was [still] water over all the surface of the earth” (8:9). 

Noah waited another seven days and again sent the dove out (8:12). It returned with a sprig of freshly plucked olive in its beak.

It is not hard to imagine Shem saying, “Dad, it is time to leave the ship. Get out and exercise outside; get some fresh air. Please Dad.”

“No, it is still too early,” answered Dad. “Not yet!  God will tell us when.  He told us when to get into this ship (7:4) and He will tell us when to leave.” 

Noah eventually  agreed to try the dove thing again (8:12), even though he waited another seven days (8:10). This time it did not return (8:12). 

By day one of the first month of Noah’s 601 year of life, the earth had dried even more. Still, Noah waited, resulting–I imagine–in an increase in cabin temperature.  Then Noah removed the covering from the ark and for the first time saw the drying surface of the earth.

Finally Noah had a visual on the devastation. Finally he was an eye-witness, confirming all they had experienced in recent months. Indeed, what God had said was true–He did destroy the earth. All the people were gone. The physical appearance of the earth was different.[2] 

We all like absolute and without-a-doubt confirmation. We tend to believe what our eyes see. So reliable has our eyesight been all our lives that we trust the sensory data that we experience.  What a dinner the family had that night as they talked over the new appearance of the earth!

Still, Noah waited another ten days. Then God told him to leave the ark (8:15) and they did, ending one year and ten days of confinement.

Take Aways   Some observations and thoughts:

Cause   First, notice the cause of this whole thing.  “God saw how great man’s wickedness had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (6:5).

All of us have evil thoughts occasionally. Greedy thoughts. Angry thoughts. But this was “. . . only evil continually.”  That is serious wickedness that deserved destruction.  Sin is serious. It cost Jesus Christ His life.

Annihilation    Second, this destruction wiped out everyone and everything Noah and his family had known before. Friends were all dead. Houses destroyed. A way of life totally annihilated.  Our next life in Heaven (or hell) will be totally different.  

Almighty    Third, recognition of the power of God.  The physical world had been impacted.  The whole earth was flooded. I believe the Grand Canyon was carved in a very short time (days) as flood waters rushed to the sea. Mountains were thrust up.  Other land sank forming oceans. The topography was totally rearranged, showing the power of God. 

Thorough Knowledge   Noah and his family were in that ark—a confined space–for one year and ten days. We would expect they all knew that ship—every small space where they might be able to get alone and pray—every spot which could afford them some quiet and privacy—every spot that was away from the aroma of the animals—they knew that ship.  Noah and his sons had built it, so obviously they knew everything about it.  And God was there.  

You know everything about your life. You lived it. You know it. It would be possible to be bored with your life because you know it so well.  Old hat.  Nothing very exciting about it. And God was there.

It would be easy for Noah and his family to miss the supernatural amidst what they knew so well, and it is possible for us to miss the supernatural about our lives because we know our own lives so well. God was at work through and in Noah and He is at work in and through our lives, so do not overlook His presence, even if you have cabin fever.  

[1]  Because Genesis 5:32 says that “after Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth,” and the flood came in his 600th year, some Bible teachers believe it took Noah and his sons 100 years to build the ark.  

[2] Cataclysmic geologic events took place as God re-shaped the surface of the earth. Mountains were thrust up. Valleys were created as God molded the earth to its current appearance. Answers in Genesis, a conservative, Bible-believing think tank (The Creation Science Museum and The Ark Encounter) has much to say about the immediate post-flood world that is based on true, legitimate science.