The Days of Noah

Oct 10th, 2009 | By | Category: Special Features (click on Article name)

“But ye brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others but let us watch and be sober.”

The Days of Noah

Ararat

Ararat

The most notable prophecy which connects the story of Noah with the events of our time is found in the 24th chapter of Matthew, a chapter whose importance is often emphasized by it being termed , “The Lord’s Great Prophecy.” This prophecy was given by Jesus to answer three questions propounded by his disciples. These are found in verse 3, “When shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and the end of the world?”

The key question of the three was the middle one –What shall be the sign of thy coming? In preparing his disciples for his imminent death and departure from their midst, it was important that Jesus also inform them of his return to finish the work which he had started.

On another occasion, dealing with the same subject, in John 14:3, he said: “I go prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

The Second “Coming” of Christ

Returning to the 24th chapter of Matthew, among the signs which he gave in answer to their questions, are the words found in Matthew 24:37—“But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”

To many Christians the concept of Christ’s “coming” merely means the imminence of his actual return. The signs of his “coming” being signs of its nearness. However a careful examination of the word “coming” and the Scriptures likening it to the days of Noah will show a far more dynamic significance to the phrase. It will prove that the terms “coming” and “presence” of the Son of Man are synonymous phrases.

In the first place, the word “coming” is a translation of the Greek word “parousia.” This word, in turn, is made up to two words: “para”, meaning beside or along side of; and “ousia”, a form of the verb “to be.” In other words, the thought is  to be beside another or in their presence. When the roll is called in a Greek school, the proper response to one’s name being called ins to reply “Parousia,” that is, “Present.”

The same point can be seen by comparing the Matthew account of the “days of Noah” with that given in the gospel of Luke. In Luke 17:26 we read: “And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it also be in the days of the Son of Man.”

Note the term “coming” in the Matthew account is identical with the term “in the days of” in Luke. As it is self-obvious that Noah was present “in the days of” Noah, so it should be equally self-obvious that the Son of man would be present “in the days of” the Son of man.

Thus the significance of the prophecy in Matthew 24 and Luke 17 is to mark out certain events that would demonstrate the actual fact of Jesus Christ’s second presence on earth.

What Happened in Noah’s Day?

The prophecy continues by elaborating just what events it was of Noah’s life that would find their parallels in the days of the Son of man. Matthew 24:38,39 reads: “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”

It was the unawareness, then, and not the wickedness of Noah’s day that formed the illustration of conditions at the time of the return of Jesus Christ. In a similar vein the Apostle Peter prophesied in 2 Peter 3:3,4: “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’”

It is also important to note that Noah did not come on the scene the very year the flood came—he had been present for some time prior. In fact he was 600 years old when the deluge struck. For the preceding 120 years he had earned the title of “preacher of righteousness.” (2 Pet. 2:5) So also it was not the flood, but the presence and work of Noah before the flood which pre-figured the return of Jesus as his Second Advent.

Yet this poses a difficult problem—one that must be answered. We are informed in 1 Thessalonians 4:     6 that, “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” Again, in Revelation 1:7 we hear: “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.”

A Thief with a Trumpet

These two Scriptures—and there are others—do not seem to describe an event that could take anyone unaware. It would be hard to imagine scoffers continuing for long after such a fanfare, and saying, “all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” To many Christians the second coming of Christ is just such a dynamic and earth-shattering event. But, if so, how do we treat the texts that show people being unaware of it—or its coming “as a thief in the night.” (1 Thess. 5:2)

There is a simple solution that meets the requirements of both sets of Scriptures. The second presence of Jesus is not just an instantaneous event, but a long period of time during which He accomplished many activities. He returns, as he departed, a spiritual being not having flesh and blood. He spoke of the invisible qualities of just such a being in John 3:8, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so it everyone that is born of the Spirit.”

As He accomplishes the various activities of that presence, the very fact of their accomplishment would eventually be so clear as to reveal their rue import—that Jesus Christ has actually returned. This is why he lists such an impressive array of these activities in the 24th chapter of Matthew.

Four Signs of Christ’s Presence

Briefly summarized, the event in this chapter and the 12th chapter of Daniel form which most of it is taken, fall into four headings, four types of work that would manifest the fact of his return to those who would be watching for it. These are primary signs are:

  1. The Return of Israel to her homeland.
  2. The Increase of Knowledge.
  3. Rapid Transportation Innovations.
  4. World-wide trouble threatening universal destruction.

It takes only a cursory review of the history of the past 100 years to verify these signs as being current realities, and thus signs that we are living in the “days of the Son of man.”

“Every Eye Will See Him”

Yet someone can logically argue that this does not satisfy the plain statement of Revelation 1:7 that “every eye shall see him” upon his return. Once again there is a seeming conflict between the Scripture testimony. In John 14:19 we are told, “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more.”

On the one hand the Apostle John reveals that every one on earth will see Jesus upon his return; and on the other hand the same author tells us that when he departed this earth he would never be seen by man again.

The harmony to these two texts that seem diametrically opposed to each other lies in the definition of the word “see.”  In the English language we recognize a broad scope to that word. We not only “see” a tree, but we also may “see” another person’s point of view. In the one case we use our eyes as the means of “seeing” and in the other case we use the “eyes of the mind” to perceive a point of logic. It is in just such a sense that even a blind person will frequently say “I see.”

Thus, at Jesus’ second advent, no one will actually “see” him with their literal eyes, for He is a powerful and invisible spiritual being; but eventually all will “see” by the powers of mental comprehension that he has returned to finish the work he started when he first came nearly 2000 years ago.

What Christ Does when He Returns

It is the beauty of that work that gives so much meaning to the events of our day which show his presence to accomplish it. It is the work of setting up the kingdom for which he taught his disciples to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

The details of that kingdom work are graphically portrayed by the prophet Isaiah in the 35th chapter—“The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice; and blossom as the rose…Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lam man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing; for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert…And an highway shall be there and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it: but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein…but the redeemed shall walk there; and the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

Again in Revelation 21:4, we read that “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

Trouble Precedes Peace

But, while these texts portray the beauties of that completed kingdom, they do not portray the condition of things when he first returns. Of these conditions we read in Luke 18:8, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”

Further, we read in 2 Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; and in the which the heavens (powers of spiritual control) shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements (ecclesiasticism) shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also (civil governments) and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”

The burning described here need not be taken any more literally than the intensely symbolic language of the balance of the passage. What it describes is the removal of all the corrupt forms of government during a short period of violent overthrow (also pictured as the Smiting of the Image in the book of Daniel) as the first steps of Christ preparing for the establishment of that one righteous world-order which will accomplish the grand design described to eloquently in the Biblical pictures of his kingdom.

As in the Days of Noah

This, then, is the import of the days of Noah. As life continues its hectic pace with its eating and drinking, with its marrying and giving in marriage, it is a temptation for the Christian to be swept along in this current of events. Yet, Paul assures us in 1 Thessalonians 5:4, “But ye brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” Continuing in verse 6, “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others but let us watch and be sober.”

Strong evidences around us of the fulfilling of many of the “end time” scriptures should keep us awake to the righteousness and the service of the Lord, for they indicate the fact of His presence and the imminence of his kingdom. Let us join with others to confirm our faith and let us be ever more alert to the work and activity of the greater-than Noah who is operating amongst us today.

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