The war in the Middle East has prompted some people to ask questions about the second coming of Jesus Christ. When Jesus was asked about his return at the end of the age, he used Noah and his generation as an example.
“No one knows the day or the hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. This is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:36-39).
In his response to the question about the end times (Matthew 24:3), our Lord cited the flood, the one great historical demonstration by God that there will be a future universal judgment. He reminds us that those who refuse God’s merciful warnings will not escape his wrath. Judgment came once, and it will come again.
Noah’s life was a warning to his generation. He was preaching by his words and actions that judgment was imminent. The people did not take him seriously even though he was building a boat the size of an ocean liner. It was a visible offer of safety to any who would pay attention. Noah was a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5), challenging the ignorance and immorality of his generation.
Noah’s character was another warning. He stood alone in his generation as a “righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). He could be called blameless because of God’s grace. “Noah found favor (grace) in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). He did not find favor with God because he was righteous. He was righteous because he found favor with God, or because of God’s grace. It is the same for people today. The way to be righteous before God is to be “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). “Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
Noah was motivated by faith in God. “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” (Hebrews 11:7). Noah’s preaching and example “condemned,” or rebuked the ungodly lives of the people of his generation (Genesis 6:5). His message was a warning to them of God’s coming judgment.
Jesus said that just before the his return, the world will be going about its business indifferent toward spiritual things. They will behave as in Noah’s day: “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” without any regard for God. People’s brains were hardwired to be skeptical of Noah’s message. The sad truth is that the majority of people today are willfully ignorant of the Bible’s warnings of God’s judgment and of his gracious offer of salvation.
John MacArthur wrote “The next judgment will be different in two ways. First, it will not be by flood (Genesis 9:15) but by fire (2 Peter 3:10). Second, it will be the last. . . . The only security is refuge in God’s ark, Jesus Christ.”
Pastor Randy Faulkner