As In the Days of Noah – What Happens Before Christ Returns?

37  But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

The passage above keeps coming to mind as I watch the happenings all over the world, and the chaos and destruction being waged in the United States, first against the campaign of Donald Trump for president, and since his election, and I wonder.

If we want to know what the situation will be like before Christ returns, we need to answer the question, “How were the “days of Noah” and what can we expect in the days of the “coming of the son of Man”?

In the book of Genesis, the situation in Noah’s day was described like this:

1      And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,

2      That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

3      And the LORD said, ‘My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.’

4      There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

5      And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

6      And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

7      And the LORD said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.’

8      But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.     (Gen 6:1-8)

The first characteristic God had Moses make note of in Genesis is that men saw that women were beautiful, and took multiple wives, as many as they wanted. We know that this situation was a critical situation, because it is the only reference to social behaviour in the context of God’s initial statement that he would not contend with humankind forever, and was sorry He had made them.

The second characteristic of humankind recorded at that time was “great wickedness” and the thoughts of their hearts being continually evil. Since the day that Adam chose to ignore God’s warning against becoming knowledgeable of evil, the human race had devolved to the point where men were completely abandoned to wickedness and full of sexual sin.

Further into the Genesis account of Noah’s life and situation, Moses writes:

11    The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.

12    And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.

13    And God said unto Noah, ‘The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.’ (Gen 6:11-13)

The third characteristic the Lord had Moses record is that of violence. The text does not say that some men had become violent, but that “the earth was filled with violence” by “all flesh”, which had “corrupted its way upon the earth.”

Wickedness and evil are general terms that encompass any number of specific attitudes and behaviours, but the only two specific behaviours mentioned by God are the sexual promiscuity of the men of Noah’s day, and the wide-spread violence. Whatever other wickednesses may have been prevalent, God saw fit to make specific mention of these two in particular, and in mentioning them, condemns them: “… the sons of God …. took for themselves wives of all which they chose …. and the LORD said, ‘My spirit shall not always strive with man …’”, and “… God said unto Noah,’ The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.’”

By these passages in Genesis therefore, we can see what the situation was “in the days of Noah” – widespread wickedness, with wanton sexual activity and violence everywhere. Jesus told His disciples that the days of the return of the Son of man would be “as the days of Noah”, so we can conclude that there will be widespread wickedness throughout the world, that men will be sexually promiscuous to an extreme, and that the world will be filled with violence because of “all flesh”.

Jesus further commented that, “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.” (Mt 24:38-39)

In other words, despite the testimony of Noah, in the building of something never seen or required previously – a floating vessel – in immense proportions to hold a vast population of living creatures, plus the things needed by them for a long period of time, which we now know to have been over one year, the people around them continued in their wickedness, living their lives according to their pleasures and desires, ignorant of the judgment that would come upon them when God sealed the only door to the only means of salvation from the judgement to come. The vast majority of the world’s population ignored the warnings of impending judgment and the opportunity to escape that judgment through the only means possible, preferring to continue as they had been, engaged in the very attitudes and behaviours that had brought their Creator to the point where He was compelled to judge, condemn, and destroy them in order to stop their evil.

In the same way today, we are watching the terror of ISIS and Islamic jihad world-wide, the deliberate targeting of law-enforcement for assault and murder, uncontrolled sexual appetites across a vast population, the destruction of property, disruption of neighbourhoods and social systems, and the injury and death of citizens by those who didn’t get their way, the abuse and murder of Christians by members of ideologies that hate Christ and His truth.

Two other Bible passages make reference to Noah, and his witness to the world: Hebrews 11:7 says that Noah condemned the world by his response to God, believing God and taking Him at His word, and acting upon it to build an ark for the saving of his family. We don’t tend to think about what God asked Noah to do. No boat had been built previously, because none had been needed. Noah didn’t know what an “ark” was, and he had never needed to be able to float anywhere.

We don’t know what sort of living accommodations people had at that time, but we can be pretty certain that there was nothing comparable to the immensity of the ark, which was between 450 and 500 ft long, 75 to 80 feet wide, and about 45 feet tall. In other words, the ship that was to float for a year on violent seas that did not yet exist, was the height of a 3 to 5 – story building, and half a city block long. It was built with a slightly rounded hull – it could not roll over the land, and was far too large to be pulled or pushed to water, if any was available in that area large enough to float it. Noah built on land a vessel suited only to deep water, with no means to move it to the shore, because God said there would be rain – which may not have occurred previously – to cover the whole earth deeply enough not only to accommodate the ark, but to require it.

And Noah believed Him. And God declared Noah righteous because of His faith[1]. Moreover, by his faith, which was borne out by his actions[2], Noah proclaimed the judgment and salvation of God, and brought condemnation upon the world which preferred to reject God’s judgment and His provision for life.

And today we see the same stubborn rejection of the judgment of sin among the majority of the population of the world, and the vehement and deliberate rejection of Christ’s provision for their salvation: forgiveness of sin through faith in His death on the cross, and everlasting life by His resurrection from the dead. Just as in Noah’s day, the world situation is despicable, with millions preferring debauchery and violence over God’s righteousness, hating God, His Christ, and despising Christ’s shed blood and His offer of reconciliation to God.

It may not be that we are in that very last season before the return of Christ to judge the world, but the conditions on earth bear a strong resemblance to those of Noah’s day, when God cast judgment and the world perished because they “did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved.” (2 Thes 2:10) While it can and may become far worse here before the Lord returns, we should soberly consider the signs of the times, and make sure we know the Lord Jesus Christ, and His death and resurrection.

Heb 11:7 “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”

2 Pet 2:5 “And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly …”

[1] Gen 6:9b: “… Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.”

[2] Jas 2:17 – 18:  “Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone. Yes, a man may say, ‘You have faith, and I have works’; show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”