WAITING FOR NOAH

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The days of Noah give us greater clues as to the time of Jesus’ return than any event that may happen in our lifetime.

For the first Sunday of Advent, one would think that I would have a Christmas-themed sermon.

However, as I have said before, I try to follow the Lectionary readings for each day for my sermon topic.

The gospel reading for today is the one assigned from the Lectionary and it provides a follow-up to the sermon from two weeks ago when I talked about the temple being rebuilt.

This section of the gospel is about the answer Jesus gave to the disciples question when they asked,

“Tell us, when will these things be,
and what will be the sign of your coming
and of the end of the age?”
Matt. 24:3

In this section, Jesus is letting them know the signs they should be looking for as a portent of things to come.

He has explained many of the signs prior to this section—things such as the abomination of desolation, wars and rumors of wars, false christs, persecutions.

But Jesus said these are just the beginning of what is to come.

All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Mat 24:8

In other words, you think it’s bad now? Just wait. Things are going to get worse before they get better.

That does not sound very encouraging, does it?

As Jesus begins to finish His explanation to the disciples, He says,

But concerning that day and hour no one knows,
not even the angels of heaven,
nor the Son,
but the Father only.
Mat 24:36

To be fair, most of the people who like to take current events and use them to predict the rapture do not specify a day or time of day.

They only say things like, “The stage is set. It could happen any day now.”

Still, I believe they are going beyond what Jesus wanted us to understand about what we call the end-times.

Let me say a word about that phrase—the end times.

That is a misnomer brought into existence from a lack of understanding of many years ago.

The disciples did not ask Jesus about the end-times, and Jesus did not mention anything about it, either.

The disciples asked about the end of the age.

“Tell us, when will these things be,
and what will be the sign of your coming
and of the end of the age?”
Matt. 24:3

An age is a period of time.

One age ends and another begins.

We have heard of the ice age, the iron age, the technological age, the church age, etc.

Each of these were an extended period of time of which we may not have exact markings for the beginning and the end, but they did not mark the end of time.

So the disciples understood, and Jesus talked about an end to a certain age—a certain period of time—which was the time they were in.

Remember that the beginning of their discussion with Jesus was about the temple they had just left.

Jesus said that beautiful building would be destroyed.

That thought is what caused the disciples’ question about the end.

We looked at that two weeks ago.

And, now, after giving all the various signs of the end, Jesus says we cannot know the day or the hour.

He explains why.

For as were the days of Noah,
so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
Mat 24:37

He then reminds them of what the days of Noah were like.

For as in those days before the flood
they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,
until the day when Noah entered the ark,
and they were unaware until the flood came
and swept them all away,
so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
Mat 24:38-39

QUESTION—where is the evil in the time of Noah to which Jesus referred?

It is not there, is it?

Do you not think that would be an important point to cover?

Apparently our theologians do, even though Jesus didn’t.

Yes, we can go back to look at the recorded story of Noah and we will find that wickedness was rampant in that time.

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.
And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt,
for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.
And God said to Noah,
“I have determined to make an end of all flesh,
for the earth is filled with violence through them.
Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
Gen 6:11-13

However, Jesus did not bring up this aspect when talking about the days of Noah.

He only mentioned that life was happening pretty much as it does in every age—eating, drinking, marrying.

Nothing wrong with those activities, is there?

Then why did He put the signs of the end of the age in those terms?

He did it to emphasize the statement He had just made about no one knowing the time—things will be just as normal immediately prior to His arrival as they always have been.

Consider the rest of what Jesus said about the age-ending events.

Then two men will be in the field;
one will be taken and one left.
Two women will be grinding at the mill;
one will be taken and one left.
Mat 24:40-41

What is so unusual about that?

Nothing.

Things are happening in the ordinary course of the things necessary for the maintenance of life.

What we should understand and apply is that no catastrophic event, no tragedy, no war, no famine or any other thing is a sign for us to wake up and take notice.

Let the prognosticators write and sell their books and hold big conferences.

Do not run after them, because they do not have a better handle on things than anyone else.

Now we come to the difficult part of Jesus’ discourse.

I say difficult because of the way we have been taught by the fear mongers, who want us to line up under their way of life.

This passage we are looking at today has been presented as proof of the rapture of the church.

As a Catholic growing up in the ‘60s, I had never heard of any rapture.

When I began to study the Bible, I had to put all the things I read and heard about the rapture sort of on the back burner as I continued to learn about the ways of God.

For those of you who may not know, as I didn’t, the rapture refers to the people of God being removed from the earth, especially before what is called the Great Tribulation.

These two verses about the men in the field and the women at the mill have been used to present all sorts of fanciful scenarios.

We hear of, or see drawings of planes crashing, buses going over the rail, massive collisions on the highway and other fearful things as the Christians are removed from the earth, and apparently from the driver’s seat of the means of transportation.

We have taken all this as gospel and talk about it and promote it as if that is what Jesus meant.

Is that what the scripture really tells us?

and they were unaware until the flood came
and swept them all away,
so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
Mat 24:39

Who was unaware? Not Noah. He had been told what was coming.

The KJV, upon which much of the rapture doctrine is built, reads a little differently.

And knew not until the flood came,
and took them all away;
so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Mat 24:39 KJV

From this it is easy to see why it would be interpreted as Noah being taken away.

He and his family were safely in the boat which floated away in the flood, and everyone else was destroyed.

The word which is translated as “took” in the KJV, or “swept” in the ESV is a common Greek word which can be used in many different ways—the same as we do with the word “take” and “swept.”

Therefore, the possibility of referring to either Noah or the wicked remains.

It is when we consider the rest of the passage that we can begin to understand that any idea of a removal of God’s people in a rapture is not what is meant.

QUESTION—After the flood in Noah’s day, who was left?

We should be able to plainly see that it was Noah who was left behind after the flood.

What does the rapture theory tell us about those left behind?

It tells us something completely contrary to the story and illustration that Jesus used.

The rapture theory tells us that it will be the wicked who are left behind.

The Bible tells us in more than one place that it will be the righteous who are left behind.

The righteous will never be removed,
but the wicked will not dwell in the land.
Pro 10:30

When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous is established forever.
Pro 10:25

for those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land,
but those cursed by him shall be cut off.
Pro. 37:22

For the LORD loves justice; he will not forsake his saints.
They are preserved forever,
but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
Psa 37:28

For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.
In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place,
he will not be there.
Psa 37:9-10

The season of advent is a time of waiting for the birth of the savior who is to rescue us from our sin and sinful ways.

But that rescue does not include our removal from the presence of evil, but the removal of the presence of evil from us.

He has come to be with us, not to take us away.

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us).
Mat 1:23

Therefore, this passage from Matthew 24 on the First Sunday of Advent is a fitting story for advent when rightly understood.

God has come to be with us.

2 thoughts on “WAITING FOR NOAH

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