David Jeremiah - The Noah Factor
In one of his final messages, Dr. Billy Graham wrote in his "Decision Magazine," he said, "The days of Noah are returning to the earth and a catastrophe as great and terrible awaits those who refuse to enter into the ark of salvation, which is Jesus Christ". And of course Billy Graham was referring to our Lord's message on the Mount of Olives where he said, "But as it was in the days of Noah, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be". In other words, Jesus says, "If you want to know what it's going to be like before I come back, study like it was like before the flood".
Very interesting. He did not promise to return when world conditions resembled the days of Abraham. He did not promise to come back when the world conditions resembled the days of Paul. He said, "I will come back suddenly during a period of time resembling the days of Noah". So it is important for us to discover what were the days of Noah like. So as we look at this, we're going to notice just four things that will help us understand how we should be alert to the times in which we live. First of all, the generation of Noah was a cavalier generation. It says in Matthew 24, "For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking and marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark and did not know that till the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be".
Now, the word that first comes to my mind when I think about it is this was a cavalier generation, a generation that dismissed anything that was serious. Here's old Noah over there hammering away and preaching. Like our Lord Jesus, Noah was both a carpenter and an evangelist, and everyone disregarded his message and they thought he was a fool. How long did Noah preach to his generation about salvation from the flood? One hundred and twenty years.
Now, I know that when you look back into time you have to make some adjustments to the time back then and the time now, but I can't imagine preaching for that long or even half that long or even a quarter of that long and nobody responds. You know, let's fast-forward to the end of his preaching cycle. Eight people were saved, Noah and his family. Nobody else even responded, and Jesus said the days before the Rapture will be just like that. People will continue to live as they have always lived in spite of the cataclysmic warnings and predictions. They will focus on the present. They will make plans for the future only to ensure their own comfort. They will not give one thought to the possibilities that the prophets were right about Jesus coming back.
I suppose if I wanted to I could give you all the statistics about what's happening in our churches, how attendance is not growing, but it's decreasing, how people no longer take church seriously and no longer respect those who are a part of ministry. I suppose the best thing I could say is if you've ever been to Europe, you're looking at the United States in just a few years where there's no interest in spiritual things, where the world has become almost totally secular. In Luke's account of the Lord's message of the Mount of Olives, he adds the story of Lot to his illustration. Listen to this. "Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed".
So what we should expect as we look for the Lord to come is just about what we're experiencing right now. Can I get a witness? I mean, I don't remember ever being in a situation where even things that are considered to be sacred are no longer even respected. So are we living in the days of Noah? Well, keep listening. It becomes more evident that we are. Dr. John Hart wrote that the lifestyles depicted in the days of Noah and Lot are those that have existed in every generation since the earliest days of human history. This implies an emphasis on the normalcy and indifference that takes place prior to the day of the Lord. The illustrations that follow in verses 37 to 39 about two men working in the field and two women grinding at the mill also argue for the focus on normalcy.
How can a business-as-usual attitude exist at the precise time when the 21 judgments of Revelation are about to fall on the earth? Who could imagine that? The most transparent meaning of the days of Noah is that just as normal, but unsuspecting lifestyles existed prior to the sudden judgment of the flood, so normal and unexpecting lifestyles will exist prior to the rapture of the church. The Rapture will catch so many people by surprise because they've never given it a thought. They may have heard about it when they were in Sunday school or in church years ago, but they curl their lips when somebody mentions the Rapture.
So Noah's generation was a cavalier generation. Here's the second thing. It was a careless generation. Very careless. We learn something more about the days of Noah from the book of Hebrews. Enlisting the heroes of the faith, here's what the author of Hebrews said about Noah. Listen carefully. "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things yet not seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith". You see, when God spoke to Noah, the old man believed. He was moved with godly fear, and he was concerned for his family, and his concern and care for the Lord condemned everyone else who was careless with the things of the Lord. Every day that he went to that ark and pounded nails to put it together, people watched and discounted it. They were careless. Noah cared. Everybody else was careless.
People who have visited most of America's parks say that Glacier National Park is the most beautiful, a showcase of melting glaciers, breathtaking valleys, alpine meadows, and picturesque lakes in northern Montana. But since the park started keeping records back in 1913, 264 people have died in that park, many of them due to sheer carelessness. John G. Slater was a summer employee of the park in the 1960s, and he recalled that all of the workers were shown a film entitled "The Mountains Don't Care" about the dangers they might encounter in Glacier Park. He said the movie didn't make any impact on anyone because he said, "I was young enough. I went and saw it, but I thought I was bulletproof, and I found it inconceivable that anything could happen to me".
Three summer workers decided to climb one of the mountains close to their rooms, and the three started climbing, but they yielded to the temptation to leave the path and head vertically up the side of the mountain. Suddenly, two of the hikers heard a scream, and they turned just in time to see their friend fall 1,000 feet to the rocks below. In the book "Death in Glacier Park," supervisors made every effort to impress upon summer employees that Glacier has a wide range of unique hazards, snow bridges, crevices, ledges, but warnings usually go unheeded in the face of peer pressure. And I bet that's what happened during Noah's day. Even if somebody was tempted to listen to Noah, they would talk to their friends. "You're not going to listen to that guy. You don't really think he's got anything to say that's worthy, do you"?
So the peer pressure was incredibly focused against listening to anything that Noah would say. Don't you see that today? Even gospel preachers are being marginalized. People that used to have the respect of the community are being pushed to the side and folks just say, "You're going to listen to him, are you"? The problem of carelessness can be seen far beyond Glacier National Park. So many people around us are ignoring the spiritual warning signs because it's inconceivable to them that anything could happen to them. Peter undoubtedly was thinking about what he'd heard from Jesus on the Mount of Olives when he wrote, "Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming?' For this willfully forget: that by the Word of God the worlds that then existed perished, being flooded with water".
Peter said in the days just before the end people will be scoffing. So it will be a generation of people who just, "What's the big deal"? And careless to the point of not showing any interest. But I think the most telling sign that we are living perhaps at least on the edge of the days of Noah is this one, a corrupt generation. The Bible says in Genesis chapter 6, this is the description of Noah's generation, "The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their ways on this earth". In that one verse, the word corrupt is in there three times.
Genesis 6:5 says, "The wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually". That is the most pregnant verse I think I've ever read. Listen to those terms. "Every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually". First of all, the wickedness of man was great. This speaks of its intensity. It was full-blown sin with no regard for the right of God. Secondly, affected every intent of the thoughts of the heart, and thirdly, man was only evil. If a man had to choose between right and wrong, he chose wrong. And finally, he was evil continually. There was no lull in the steady storm of his sinning. He lived in sin all the time. I wrote this paragraph to try to help you understand it even better.
Let me put it this way. In the days of Noah it was not just that man's thoughts were evil, but that he intended his thoughts to be evil, and it wasn't that just some of his thoughts were evil, but that every single one of his thoughts were evil, and it wasn't that his thoughts were good some of the time and evil some of the time, but that his thoughts were evil all of the time. Nowhere in the pages of the Bible is there a more graphic description of the doctrine of total depravity. No matter who we are, we're born in sin. We inherit Adam's sin. Our hearts are evil, our minds are evil, our actions are evil, our will is evil. Not as evil as they could be, but tainted with the sickness of sin, and in Noah's day that was it. The Bible says they had vile imaginations. It hasn't changed, has it?
Now we have technology to put all those images, even worse ones that you and I can imagine, on screens and instantly transport them to a billion depraved minds with the click of a button. Here's a statistic you'll find hard to believe. Over a third of all internet downloads are related to pornography, and ten percent of all viewers are under the age of twelve. So what was going on in Noah's day, we've upgraded it to a different way, but we're figuring out a way to do the same thing. We don't live in a pure world. We don't live even in a good world. We live in a world where good people can make a difference, but the world in which we live is more opposite to God than it's ever been. And the wickedness of man affected his will.
The word translated intent is a word for desire or wishes. He was evil because he wanted to be, and his thoughts refer to his mind and demonstrated that his intellect was polluted by sin and his heart was infected with the dreaded disease. Everything he did and everything he was was touched and tainted by sin. Genesis 6:5, "The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually". Jeremiah 17:9 says that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it? In Romans 3:10 it says, "There is none righteous, no, not one; none who understands; there's no one who seeks after God. They have all turned aside and have together become unprofitable".
So the passage spoke of the violence of Noah's day, and I don't need to draw a parallel to modern times. How many of you know when your mind is evil, when your heart is evil, violence is always the result? Noah's generation, like ours, was cavalier and careless and corrupted. Here's the last thing about their generation. They were caught off guard. They were caught off guard. Matthew 24:39 says, "And they did not know until the flood came and took them all away. So also will the coming of the Son of Man be".
There's not going to be a ten day announcement about the Rapture. There's not going to be even an overnight warning. The Rapture will come when men have no idea that it's coming. On a day that men think it won't come, it will come. And all those who have lived according to the dictates of their heart whose intents have been wrong and have decided to mock the message of the gospel preached by another carpenter and evangelist by the name of Jesus Christ, all of those people will be shocked and they won't know what to do. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a tremendous analogy of what we should expect as we look forward to the Rapture.
Jesus went on to say in Matthew 24, "As the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left". Can you think of a more vivid way of describing the Rapture? I mean, two people working side by side in a field, one is taken and the other is left. Two women grinding grain, one is taken and the other is left. The word taken here is the Greek word paralambano, and just a few days later Jesus used that same word in the upper room. He said, "If I go away, I will come again and receive," take you away. The meaning is to take to oneself.
In other words, Jesus said that during the times resembling those of Noah he would return, and some people would be taken and others would be left behind. People are going to be caught off guard. Look at this entire passage and I want you to notice the first and last sentences. Listen carefully. "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 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 and 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. Two men will be in the field: one will be taken, others will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken, the other left".
Last sentence: "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming". We know the Lord is coming. This is not the end of the world, but it is probably the world of the end. We're living in the season when we... how do we know that? Well, we just did a little study. The Bible says as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days before the Lord comes back. And we know how it was in the days of Noah, and we're seeing many similarities creeping into our culture and the way of life. It may be ten years, twenty years. We may not see this in the next generation, but we're always to be ready because the coming of the Lord is an imminent thing, and here we have this incredible picture that reminds us that we should be ready at all times.
Are you ready? Here's the answer to that question. If you've accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and you know that he is forgiving your sin, you're ready. You say, "Well, I'm not sure, Pastor Jeremiah, that I agree with everything you have said. I'm not even sure I believe it". Here's something I need you to know. Truth is not determined to be truth because you believe it. Truth is truth whether you believe it or not. Error is error whether you believe it or not. I've had so many people say to me, "Oh, Dr. Jeremiah, I just don't believe these things you're saying because my god would never do that". And I tell them, "You're absolutely right 'cause your god doesn't exist".
You know, you can't create a god to agree with your opinion. Who does that? Here's the difference. God created us in his image. We don't get to create God in our image. That's the whole problem. So here's what I want to say as we draw this to a conclusion. This is an interesting comparison. Our Lord gave us the clue. He said, "Let me help you understand what it's going to be like before I return. Go study Noah," the Noah factor. One of the interesting things about the original ark was the fact that it only had one door.
My friend and mentor for many years was W.A. Criswell, who's now in heaven. Gifted writer and preacher, this is what he wrote. He said, "There was not a door above for the birds to come in. There wasn't a little hole in the floor for the humble creatures of the earth to creep in. There wasn't a big door for the elephant to lumber in. There was just one door, and everyone that was saved entered that door. The great eagle swooped out of the blue sky and entered in that door. The little wren hopped to safety through that door. The snail crawled through that door. Noah and his wife, Shem, Ham, and Japheth and their wives all alike entered that one door". Jesus said, "I am the door". "Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved".
Don't let anybody peddle this nonsense to you that there are many ways to go to heaven. You just need to be sincere. A lot of people are sincere. They're just sincerely wrong and you know, your sincerity needs to be measured against the accurate truth of the Bible. The Bible says there's one way. Somebody says to me, "Well, Pastor Jeremiah, that's not very nice for you to say that what you believe is the only way you can go to heaven". I'm not saying that, I'm just telling you that's what the Bible says. The Bible says, Jesus himself, the Son of the living God said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life and no man comes to the Father except through me".
I don't know what you can... so there's only one way to safety, only one way to escape the coming judgment, and that's through Christ. He bore our sins on the cross for us, and he bids us to come to him, and when we do, he hears us and he forgives us and we can go to heaven. One day the door to heaven will shut and there will be no more entrance. Can you imagine the people that were outside of the ark when it started to rain? And as it became apparent that they would not be allowed into the ark and that they would be lost in the flood, surely they had to remember Noah standing up there by that ark preaching the gospel every day, and they punished themselves for their rebellion and unwillingness to listen. You need to get ready, get ready for Jesus to come back. The Rapture could happen at any moment. Don't delay. Don't think you have all the time in the world. You may not have the rest of this day. Ask Jesus Christ to come and live within your heart.