Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage – right up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot, people were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building; but on the day Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be the same on the day the Son of Man is revealed. Luke 17:26-30
In part 1, we learned that there is a difference between the Day of Christ, the Day of the Lord, and the second coming of Christ. If you haven’t read part 1, you can find it here. It would definitely be helpful to read this first, as this message is pivotal to understanding the meaning behind Jesus’ reference to the days of Noah and Lot and how they relate to the days of the Son of Man.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s jump right into it shall we?
In preparing for this post I read several opinion articles on these passages and in all but one, the focus was almost entirely on the rampant wickedness of the days of Noah and Lot. It’s not surprising this would come to the forefront of anyone’s mind at the mention of these names, considering the outcome for them. In fact, let’s take a moment to look at what God had to say about these two groups of people when He first made known His plans to Noah and Abraham.
Genesis 6:5-8 – Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
Genesis 18:17-21 – The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.’ And the Lord said, ‘The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.’
The fact that God chose to destroy Noah’s generation, as well as Sodom and Gomorrah should take our breath away. The wickedness and godlessness of the people in these days were immense, causing the Lord to do the unthinkable. When we consider the verses throughout the Bible that speak of God’s great love for humanity–a love and grace that motivated God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ to suffer and die for the salvation of the world–it makes these acts of destruction that much more weighty and austere. It is no small thing and it should cause us to tremble.
Considering the gravity of their demise it would have been understandable, perhaps even expected of Jesus to use this opportunity to call out the wickedness in the days of Noah and Lot, as a sort of life lesson. He certainly didn’t hesitate to address sin and repentance when given the opportunity in Luke 13:1-5: “Now there were some present on that occasion who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. He answered them, ‘Do you think these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered these things? No, I tell you, I tell you! But unless you repent, you will all perish as well! Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower in Siloam fell on them, do you think they were worse offenders than all the others who live in Jerusalem? No, I tell you! But unless you repent you will all perish as well!'”
But in fact, Jesus makes no mention whatsoever of the conditions that perpetuated the destruction of Noah’s generation and Sodom & Gomorrah. The rampant wickedness that grieved the heart of God and stirred up His holy anger against them, is conspicuously absent from this conversation. One might, understandably, infer that Jesus meant to compare these days with the condition of the days in which He would return, but to do so in this situation exceeds what is written in Matthew and Luke, and in a sense derails Jesus’ intent by taking the conversation in a direction Jesus Himself never did.
What exactly did Jesus say?
Let’s take another look. This time I’m going to include some additional verses and highlight key statements to put things in their proper perspective.
In the days of Noah:
Genesis 7:11-13,16b – In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month—on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst open and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And the rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights. On that very day Noah entered the ark, accompanied by his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth, along with his wife and his sons’ three wives. Then the Lord shut him in.
Matthew 24:37-39 – “But as for that day and hour no one knows it—not even the angels in heaven—except the Father alone. For just like the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. For in those days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. And they knew nothing until the flood came and took them all away. It will be the same at the coming of the Son of Man. Therefore you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.”
Luke 17:26-27 – “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage – right up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.
In the days of Lot:
Genesis 19:15-17, 22-26 – At dawn the angels hurried Lot along, saying, “Get going! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or else you will be destroyed when the city is judged!” When Lot hesitated, the men grabbed his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters because the Lord had compassion on them. They led them away and placed them outside the city. When they had brought them outside, they said, “Run for your lives! Don’t look behind you or stop anywhere in the valley! Escape to the mountains or you will be destroyed!” “Run there quickly, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there. The sun had just risen over the land as Lot reached Zoar. Then the Lord rained down sulfur and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah. It was sent down from the sky by the Lord. So he overthrew those cities and all that region, including all the inhabitants of the cities and the vegetation that grew from the ground. But Lot’s wife looked back longingly and was turned into a pillar of salt.
Luke 17:28-19 – Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot, people were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building; but on the day Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be the same on the day the Son of Man is revealed.
Here’s what we have so far
It’s clear that Jesus did intend to draw a connection between the days of Noah, the days of Lot, and His own coming day. And I would suggest it is equally clear He was not making the connection most assume when they read these passages.
In both the days of Noah and the days of Lot, Jesus tells us that people were simply going on with their daily lives. That each of these groups were living wicked lives is evidenced by the judgment poured out on them, but it is not a point of discussion in Jesus’ discourse, nor does He offer any condemnation against them here. What He wants us to see is not only what has already been told, but what up to that point had not yet been revealed.
I would submit to you that the point Jesus doesn’t want us to miss is that His coming day will mirror that of the redemption and judgment meted out in Genesis, associated with the lives and times of these two men. Just as in the days of Noah and Lot, when people are going about their daily lives, He will suddenly–and unexpectedly for most–remove the righteous to safety. And on that very same day, the judgment and wrath of God will be poured out fiercely upon the wicked. It will be a day like no other.
Paul also lends credibility to this in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10:
“For it is right for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to you who are being afflicted to give rest together with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels. With flaming fire He will mete out punishment on those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will undergo the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His strength, when he comes to be glorified among his saints and admired on that day among all who have believed—and you did in fact believe our testimony.”
The Bible tells us that the judgment executed upon the wicked in the days of Noah and Lot came unexpectedly for them, just as it will for many today. Most are going about their daily lives, oblivious to the coming judgment. Even in the midst of the current pandemic. Yes, their daily lives have changed and most likely will never be the same as they were pre-pandemic, but when all of this blows over it will be business as usual again for most. Until the next birth pain. Don’t think so? Noah preached to the people in his day all the while he was building the ark, yet none of them repented. Only he and his family survived. That’s not to say that no one is turning to the Lord right now, many are to God’s glory. But sadly, the Bible makes it clear that the majority will not.
Christians don’t get off the hook on this one either. Many Christians today live their lives as if this is all we have. Others suffer from apathy or indifference to the things of God. To be sure, this pandemic has stirred the pot, waking many to the uncertainty and fragility of life on this earth and turning them back to God as their Source and Sustainer. But some are walking in fear, their faith bankrupt long ago; while others trust in a false sense of security when it comes to suffering in this life. The Bible is clear, the righteous have never been promised exemption from trials, tribulation, and suffering. And oftentimes we suffer right alongside the unrighteous. Even so, our refuge is not in the absence of tribulation, but in the presence of God.
Jesus foresaw all of this and He warned us ahead of time to stay alert! Let us be single-minded, anxiously awaiting His return with watchful hearts. And let us put away our idols and serve the living and true God while we wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus our deliverer from the coming wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).
“What I say to you I say to everyone: Stay alert!” Mark 13:37
For just like the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. Therefore stay alert, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have been alert and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Matthew 24:27, 42-44
Scripture quoted by permission. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996, 2020 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.