“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:37-39
What will it be like when Jesus returns? Jesus Himself tells us it will be like it was in the days of Noah. People will be eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage — in other words, carrying on with life as usual and enjoying the pleasures of this life — and then the end will come and carry them all away in God’s judgment!
Peter, in his epistles, tells us that Noah was “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5) and that only “a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water” (1 Pet. 3:20).
As a “preacher of righteousness,” Noah, while he was preparing the ark — possibly for as long as 120 years (cf. Gen. 6:1ff.) — was calling upon the people of his antediluvian world to repent of their sins and believe in the promise of the Gospel — that God would send the Seed of the woman to be a sacrifice for sin and so undo the damnable work of Satan when he deceived Eve and brought about the fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:15).
And how many believed Noah’s message? How many repented of their sinful ways and believed the promise of God to send a Savior? Only eight souls!
We can only imagine the ridicule and rejection which Noah and his family suffered. He warned of God’s judgment in a worldwide flood in a day when, according to the Scriptural record, God may yet have only watered the earth with a mist (Gen. 2:5-6). He called upon people to repent and look to God’s promise in faith for mercy, but few saw the need to repent and believe the Gospel. Some possibly even pointed out to Noah the small size of his church — only eight souls. Certainly, the rest of the world couldn’t be wrong! And, it is likely that there were many who believed in God; they just didn’t see their need to repent and give up the things of this world to join Noah and his little church of eight souls on the strange-looking ark Noah and his sons had built.
And then the flood came…. Who was saved? Only Noah, his wife, and his three sons and their wives — only those who forsook this world and, in faith, boarded the ark! Who perished? All who failed to repent of their sinful ways and believe the promise of the Gospel!
What will it be like when Jesus returns and this world is judged? It will be like the days of Noah! People will be busy with their lives, eating, drinking, marrying, raising their families, enjoying life in this world, and then the end will come! “Every eye will see Him…” (Rev. 1:7).
And, like Noah, there are preachers of righteousness yet today warning of God’s impending judgment and calling upon all to repent of their sinful ways and believe the promise of the Gospel — that “when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:4-5); that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4); that through faith in Him, we receive God’s mercy and are justified and forgiven and given eternal life (Rom. 3:21-28; John 3:14-16).
As in the days of Noah, people reject God’s call to repent and believe the promise of the Gospel. They may believe in God but they don’t see a need to repent and look to Christ in faith. They continue on in the ways of this world. They don’t believe that God would actually condemn them to hell; or they look at the true visible church in this world and say its too small, its quarters are too tight and restrictive.
And then the judgment comes…. “The Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed” (2 Thess. 1:7-10).
And what will be the result? “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Those who repent of their sins and believe, being joined to Christ in His death and resurrection through Baptism, receive everlasting life. Those who refuse to repent and believe the promises of the Gospel will be condemned to the everlasting fires of hell!
Today is so very much just like the days of Noah!
O righteous and holy God, have mercy upon my soul and grant that I live in continual repentance and faith, looking for that day when Christ, my Savior, returns to execute judgment upon this wicked world and to receive into glory all who look to Him in faith for the forgiveness of sins and life eternal. Amen.
[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]