Matthew 24:37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 24:38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 24:39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
A hundred and twenty years before the Flood, the Lord declared to Noah His purpose and directed him to build an ark. He was to preach that God would bring a flood of water upon the earth. Those who would believe the message and would prepare by repentance and reformation, should find pardon and be saved. Methuselah and his sons, who lived to hear the preaching of Noah, assisted in building the ark.
God gave Noah the exact dimensions of the ark and directions in regard to its construction. Human wisdom could not have devised a structure of so great strength and durability. God was the designer, and Noah the master builder. It was three stories high, with but one door in the side. Light was admitted at the top, and the different apartments were so arranged that all were lighted. The material was cypress or gopher wood, which would be untouched by decay for hundreds of years. Building this immense structure was a slow process. On account of the size of the trees and the nature of the wood, much more labor was required then than now to prepare timber. All that man could do was done to render the work perfect, yet the ark could not of itself have withstood the storm. God alone could preserve His servants upon the tempestuous waters.
“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.” Hebrews 11:7. While giving his warning message, his faith was perfected and made evident, an example of believing just what God says. All that he possessed he invested in the ark. As he began to construct that immense boat, multitudes came from every direction to see the strange sight and to hear the earnest words of the preacher.
Many at first appeared to receive the warning, yet they did not turn to God with true repentance. Overcome by the prevailing unbelief, they finally joined their former associates in rejecting the solemn message. Some were convicted and would have heeded the warning, but there were so many to ridicule, that they partook of the same spirit, resisted the invitations of mercy, and were soon among the most defiant scoffers. None go to such lengths in sin as do those who have once had light but have resisted the convicting Spirit of God.
The period of their probation was about to expire. The ark was finished in every part as the Lord had directed and was stored with food for man and beast. And now the servant of God made his last solemn appeal to the people. He entreated them to seek a refuge while it might be found. Again they rejected his words and raised their voices in scoffing.
Suddenly beasts of every description were seen coming from mountain and forest, quietly making their way toward the ark. Birds were flocking from all directions, and in perfect order passed to the ark.Animals “went in, two and two, unto Noah into the ark,” the clean beasts by sevens. Philosophers were called upon to account for the singular occurrence, but in vain. The doomed race banished their rising fears by merriment and seemed to invite upon themselves the awakened wrath of God.
God commanded Noah, “Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before Me in this generation.” His influence and example resulted in blessings to his family. God saved all the members of his family with him.
An Angel Shuts the Door
The beasts of the field and the birds of the air had entered the place of refuge. Noah and his household were within the ark, “and the Lord shut him in.” The massive door, impossible for those within to close, was slowly swung to its place by unseen hands. Noah was shut in and the rejecters of God’s mercy were shut out. So when Christ shall cease His intercession for guilty men before His coming in the clouds of heaven, the door of mercy will be shut. Then divine grace will no longer restrain the wicked, and Satan will have full control of those who have rejected mercy. They will endeavor to destroy God’s people; but as Noah was shut into the ark, so the righteous will be shielded by divine power.
For seven days after Noah and his family entered the ark, there appeared no sign of the coming storm. During this period their faith was tested. It was a time of triumph to the world without. They continued making a jest of the manifestations of God’s power. They gathered in crowds about the ark, deriding its inmates with a daring violence never ventured upon before.
But upon the eighth day dark clouds overspread the heavens.There followed the muttering of thunder and the flash of lightning.Soon large drops of rain began to fall.The world had never witnessed anything like this, and the hearts of men were struck with fear. All were secretly inquiring, “Can it be that Noah was right and that the world is doomed?” The beasts were roaming about in the wildest terror. Then “the fountains of the great deep” were “broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.” Water appeared to come from the clouds in mighty cataracts. Rivers broke away from their boundaries and overflowed the valleys. Jets of water burst from the earth with indescribable force.
The people first beheld their splendid buildings and beautiful gardens and groves where they had placed their idols destroyed by lightning from heaven. Altars on which human sacrifices had been offered were torn down, and the worshipers were made to tremble at the power of the living God.
As the violence of the storm increased, the terror of man and beast was beyond description. Above the roar of the tempest was heard the wailing of a people that had despised the authority of God. Satan himself, compelled to remain in the midst of the warring elements, feared for his own existence. He now uttered imprecations against God. Many of the people, like Satan, blasphemed God. Others were frantic with fear, stretching their hands toward the ark, pleading for admittance.Conscience was at last aroused to know that there is a God who ruleth in the heavens.
They called upon Him earnestly, but His ear was not open to their cry.In that terrible hour they saw that transgression of God’s law had caused their ruin. Yet they felt no true contrition, no abhorrence of evil. They would have returned to their defiance of Heaven had the judgment been removed.
Some clung to the ark until they were borne away by the surging waters or their hold was broken by collision with rocks and trees. The massive ark trembled in every fiber as it was beaten by the merciless winds. The cries of beasts within expressed their fear and pain. But it continued to ride safely. Angels were commissioned to preserve it.
Some of the people bound their children and themselves upon powerful animals, knowing that these would climb to the highest points to escape the rising waters.Some fastened themselves to lofty trees on the hills or mountains, but the trees were uprooted and hurled into the billows. As the waters rose higher the people fled for refuge to the loftiest mountains. Often man and beast would struggle together for a foothold until both were swept away.
From the highest peaks men looked abroad upon a shoreless ocean. The solemn warnings of God’s servant no longer seemed a subject for ridicule.Those doomed sinners pleaded for one hour’s probation, one more call from the lips of Noah! But love, no less than justice, demanded that God’s judgments should put a check on sin. The despisers of God perished in the black depths.
A similar condition exists now.Appetite is indulged without restraint. Professed followers of Christ are eating and drinking with the drunken. Intemperance benumbs the moral and spiritual powers and prepares for indulgence of the lower passions. Multitudes become slaves of lust, living for the pleasures of sense. Extravagance pervades society. Integrity is sacrificed for luxury and display. Fraud, bribery, and theft stalk unrebuked. The issues of the press teem with records of crimes so cold-blooded that it seems as though every instinct of humanity were blotted out. And these atrocities have become so common that they hardly elicit surprise. The pent-up fires of lawlessness, having once escaped control, will fill the earth with woe and desolation. The antediluvian world represents the condition to which modern society is hastening.
God sent Noah to warn the world that the people might be led to repentance and escape the threatened destruction. As the time of Christ’s second appearing draws near, the Lord sends His servants with a warning to prepare for that great event. Multitudes have been living in transgression of God’s law, and now He in mercy calls them to obey its sacred precepts. All who will put away their sins by repentance and faith in Christ are offered pardon. But many reject His warnings and deny the authority of His law.
Of the vast population of the earth before the Flood, only eight souls believed and obeyed God’s word through Noah. So before the Lawgiver shall come to punish the disobedient, transgressors are warned to repent; but with the majority these warnings will be in vain. “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.” 2 Peter 3:3, 4.
Jesus asked the significant question, “When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8. “The Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” 1 Timothy 4:1. “In the last days perilous times shall come.” 2 Timothy 3:1.
When Probation Closes
As the time of their probation was closing, the antediluvians gave themselves up to exciting amusements, engrossed with mirth and pleasure. In our day the world is absorbed in pleasure-seeking. A constant round of excitement prevents the people from being impressed by the truths which alone can save them from coming destruction.
In Noah’s day philosophers declared it was impossible for the world to be destroyed by water. So now men of science endeavor to show that the world cannot be destroyed by fire. But when all regarded Noah’s prophecy as a delusion, then it was that God’s time had come. The Lawgiver is greater than the laws of nature. “As it was in the days of Noah,” “even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” Luke 17:26, 30. “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, … and the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” 2 Peter 3:10.
When religious teachers are pointing forward to ages of peace and prosperity, and the world are absorbed in their planting and building, feasting and merrymaking, rejecting God’s warnings and mocking His messengers—then it is that “sudden destruction cometh upon them, … and they shall not escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:3.