Gopher Wood or Gopher Forest?
In seeking to impress upon the minds of individuals the importance of respecting the authority of God’s word we use the example of God commanding Noah to build the ark of gopher wood. When God commanded Noah to build the ark of gopher wood we note (and correctly so) that Noah would be in rebellion to God if he used any other wood to build the ark. As simple as this illustration may be we still find many who ridicule this example.
Several years ago (November, 1976) F. L. Lemley wrote an article which appeared in “Integrity” magazine entitled “The Law of Exclusion,” in which he rejects and ridicules the idea that when God authorizes a particular thing then anything other than that authorized would be displeasing to God. In an effort to prove his point he uses the example of Noah.
He says, “the assumption that gopher wood was a specific variety of wood cannot be proved” and “Some translate ‘gopher wood’ as ‘resinous wood,’ which is not a specific variety, but would include cypress, redwood, or other varieties.” He goes on to say that one person had suggested that “it could mean wood from a nearby forest known as Gopher.”
What Mr. Lemley fails to note is if what he says about “gopher wood” is true the example remains the same. If “gopher wood” simply means “resinous wood” then for Noah to obey God he could only use “resinous wood.” To use non-resinous wood would be disobedience to God. Suppose “gopher wood” referred to wood from a forest by that name. Would that change the force of the argument? Certainly not! It would simply mean that Noah was to build the ark of wood from “Gopher Forest.” Wood from any other source would not be acceptable.
Let “gopher wood” mean whatever you want it to mean, but the fact still remains that God told Noah to build the ark of “gopher wood” and had he built it of any other kind of wood he would have been in rebellion to God. We can’t justify rebellion to God by making foolish quibbles.