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Rainbow Divider

Chapter 2

What Did Jesus Say?

The “broad picture” begins with a comparison made by Jesus himself. “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.” Luke 17:26-27.

Notice the key points made in this comparison. For the world, life went on as usual. They engaged in their customary daily activities unaware of the terrible judgment that was about to fall upon them. When it came, they were all destroyed, Noah and his family, on the other hand, were safely preserved. Notice how perfectly this harmonizes with Paul’s words in I Thess. 5:1-4. Peter refers to the world before the flood as “the old world” (II Peter 2:5) and that seems as fitting a label for it as any.

The Old World

After Adam and Eve had sinned and been expelled from the garden, they began to have children. From this beginning was the old world populated. Although they had many sons and daughters (Gen. 5:4) the scriptural account focuses on just three sons.

The first two were Cain and Abel and Genesis 4 recounts for us the intense jealousy and hatred in Cain that led to the murder of his brother, Abel. As a result of this, Cain, who was “of that evil one” (I John 3:12), “went out from the presence of the Lord” (Gen. 4:16). There is no record that any of Cain’s descendants ever served God.

After the murder of Abel, Adam and Eve had another son, Seth. Gen. 4:26 tells us that Seth in turn had a son he named Enos: “then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” Chapter 5 of Genesis gives us the generations of Seth’s descendants down to Noah.

This line begun by Seth pretty much constituted God’s people on the earth during the time of the old world. They had a knowledge of God that was transmitted from generation to generation. They were undoubtedly a small minority among the general population as God’s people have always been.

Still, there was little of a spiritual nature said about them with the notable exception of Enoch. His life is summarized for us in four profound words: “Enoch walked with God.” His life was one long intimate personal relationship with God. This walk with God was so unique, so special, that Enoch did not die but was taken directly to be with God. Heb. 11:5 lists him among the heroes of faith.

We can see from the account of what happened in the Garden of Eden something of God’s heart with respect to man. His great desire is to find a place of communion and fellowship with His creation, but sin and rebellion entered in. That spirit of rebellious independence continues to this day to be the very essence of human nature. It has kept the overwhelming majority of mankind marching relentlessly towards destruction. Those who have gone against this tide and desired fellowship with God have been a tiny minority, shining exceptions to the rule in a world of gross darkness.

One thing I find very interesting in Genesis 5 is the amazing amount of overlapping of the generations there was due to the great lengths of their lives. For instance, Lamech, the father of Noah, and the ninth generation, was 56 years old when Adam died! Think about it! Adam was not some long-dead half-forgotten ancestor from the dim distant past. All of those generations had opportunity to hear first-hand about the Garden of Eden and what it was like to be in fellowship with God. I can picture Enoch and Adam having long conversations about these things. The truth is that a knowledge of God was readily available to those who desired it. In spite of this we are brought to Chapter 6.

The Time of the Flood

I believe that verses 1 and 2 give us some insight into why it became necessary on God’s part to destroy the world with a flood. “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.”

Now I am aware of some of the more fanciful and far-out explanations for these verses but I believe that the explanation is pretty simple. The “sons of God” in this context were those from Seth’s descendants who represented God’s people. The “daughters of men” were just unbelieving women of the world, some, no doubt, even descendants of Cain. With the passing of time from one generation to the next there was a gradual falling away from any real heart faith toward God. Priority was given to earthly desires — in this case, sex.

Young men who had been raised to believe in and serve God put their own will and their own lusts first. It didn’t matter whether the young women in question served God or not. The determining factor was their beauty and sex appeal. Notice that “they took them wives of all which they chose.” They did the choosing. Whatever their tradition regarding God, they were serving self alone. It didn’t matter what God thought.

Without question sex is one of man’s strongest drives and Satan knows it. From the beginning he has used sex as a means of drawing people away from God. There is nothing evil about sex within the will and purpose of God but that is not what Satan promotes. He wants men and women to pursue sexual gratification of any and all kinds without the least thought of pleasing and honoring God. See Romans 1:20-32.

Separation

The Bible clearly teaches separation for God’s people. II Cor. 6:14 says, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?” Verse 17 says, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” This principle can easily be demonstrated from one end of scripture to the other.

There is something about this issue that often gets to the very heart of whether someone is truly serving God or themselves. How often do we see young people raised in the church become stubborn and self-willed in this area. They want what they want and no one has any right to tell them different — they think.

Really serving God, as opposed to merely being religious, is a matter of giving up our lives. We do not belong to ourselves but to Him. Our lives are no longer ours to do with as we please but as He pleases. We have no right to choose our mates! That is a critically important matter where, especially in this hour, we need divine wisdom and guidance.

Follow Your Heart?

How often do we hear the modern saying, “Follow your heart”? This supposed wisdom is responsible for the mess the world is in! Proverbs 28:26 says, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.” Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” People are willingly brainwashed by the devil’s philosophies! It is our nature to love darkness rather than light because our deeds are evil (John 3:19). Real salvation deals with our wicked, deceitful hearts.

If young people — or older people, for that matter — are not willing to trust the Lord in this area rather than their own heart, are they truly trusting Him in any area? Salvation, for instance? I’m glad that sometimes, when young people make a willful mistake they are able to find grace to repent and go on with God. What heartache they often must reap, though. It’s so much better to seek God and wait on Him.

Devil’s Food

People don’t really know what they are up against in this world. They feel natural earthly desires and pursue the means to fulfill those desires and think that that’s all there is to it. But they are ignorant of the spiritual dimension. This world is the province of Satan and all his demon host. As we said earlier, they are enemies to God and righteousness.

Part of God’s pronouncement of judgment against Satan in the garden after he had deceived Eve was this: “...and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.” Genesis 3:14. That’s not talking about snakes eating dirt. It was a symbolic reference to the life to which demons were consigned, a life of preying upon human flesh. Demons are utterly miserable unless they can find some human vessel through whom to express their evil nature. In that manner are their victims “eaten.”

Peter warned Christian believers about their adversary the devil who, “as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.” I Peter 5:8. Notice the language there: “devour.” When men pursue their own earthly lives apart from God, unbeknownst to them their lives are really spent satisfying the lusts of demons. When they are all used up the devils just laugh and move on to another victim. Men and women without God in this world are nothing more than devil’s food.

That’s what happened to the old world. Demons, working behind the scenes, drew men away from serving God to a life of pursuing their own earthly desires. This reached a point where God looked down to see how many people were actually serving Him and interested at all in righteousness and basically found just one man — Noah.

End of Opportunity

In Genesis 6:3 we read, “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.” First of all, it is obvious from this that God had reached out to man in an effort to prevent this falling away. He had not just stayed on the sidelines watching it happen. There was a “striving” on His part.

There is something terrible that happens, however, when God reaches out to a man and he says, “No.” That man’s heart grows harder and harder the oftener that happens until there comes a time when he can no longer hear the voice of God at all. When God said what He did in Genesis 6:3 He saw the end approaching. He saw the condition that had developed and knew that most men were basically sealed in their evil condition. He made a sober determination. He declared a period of 120 years after which it would be over. It is evident from the passage as a whole what the end of that period would bring: the flood of destruction.

Overtime

The unusual title of this book is taken from the sports world. When certain types of athletic contests have been played for the prescribed amount of time and the score remains tied, they have what is called a “sudden death overtime.” That means that as soon as someone scores the game is over. It can be an exciting time because no one knows when the contest will end. It can come at any time.

I am using the expression “sudden death overtime,” however, in a very different sense concerning the end of the age. I certainly do not mean to imply in the least that there is a tie score between God and the devil and that the outcome is in doubt. What I do mean can be easily illustrated by the end of the old world.

For a considerable period of time God had dealt with and reached out to the old world. Men had opportunity to know Him and serve Him and some few did. However, this general period of opportunity — the regular “game” — ended. God, in a sense, declared an “overtime” period, in this case, 120 years. Most men were unaware of this. Life went on as usual. But God’s clock started ticking...and ticking...and ticking.

Every day was one day closer to sudden destruction for the world. It was a period of time, known to God, but unknown to man. Another apt title might have been “Countdown to Judgment.” Even Noah, who knew of the coming destruction and believed and served God did not know exactly when it would happen. His job was just to faithfully walk with God and God promised to save Him from it.

We know from Genesis 6:6 that it was grief of heart at man’s condition that caused God to start the judgment clock ticking, yet we can see the mercy of God demonstrated in the 120 years of delay. I see two principal things that God desired to accomplish during this period. One was to give ample warning to the world about what was to come. No one would have an excuse. No one could say they had not been warned. The other thing was to provide for the safety and preservation of His own. He would not destroy the righteous with the wicked.

God’s Word

Central to both purposes was the need to communicate with man in some way. What could be more important than God’s Word? When I say “God’s Word” I am not referring just to the Bible but to the Word that God speaks — present tense — to convey truth that is desperately needed by the hearers at that particular time. What God had to say to that generation was their only hope. His Word alone stood between them and catastrophe. Do you believe that God speaks to men at such times? I do!

Yet God did not thunder out His Word from the heavens or send a shining angel to speak to man. He used one of their fellowmen, Noah. Genesis 6:8 tells us that “...Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” In verse 13 we read, “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.” This declaration was followed by specific instructions for the building of the ark. II Peter 2:5 refers to Noah as a “preacher of righteousness.” That is how God chose to speak to that generation.

Noah’s preaching was God’s Word to the old world. His Spirit rested upon Noah to declare the message of coming judgment and of a way of deliverance. That Word produced — as God’s Word always does — an eternal separation among those who heard. A very few — Noah’s wife, his three sons, and their wives — believed the message. Their faith was demonstrated by helping Noah in the building of the ark. All the rest rejected God speaking through Noah and perished when His Word came to pass.

That is what happens when man persists in rejecting the Word of God. He reaches a place and a condition where he cannot even recognize the voice of God, let alone bow to it. What is left when that happens but certain judgment? Do you think that man can simply ignore God, live as if He didn’t exist, and hope to prosper?

Men, no doubt, had their own way of looking at things but in God’s eyes everything had become hopelessly corrupted by sin (Genesis 6:12). In that condition man could never fulfill the purpose for which God had created him. What arrogance it is for man to presume that he is the master of his own fate! He is but a breath away from judgment. I wonder what happened to their pride when the rain began to fall? But it was too late. We must hear the voice of God when and how He chooses to speak to us. It is His mercy that He does so at all.

The Message

Notice that God’s Word to Noah, and then through Noah to that generation, was a simple one: judgment is coming. There was no hint whatever of any other outcome. God didn’t say that if men repented the flood could be avoided. Noah didn’t preach “revival” or “renewal.” They were beyond that. Judgment was a certainty. The message wasn’t, “Believe and we can turn this thing around.” It was, “Believe or perish.” God drew a “line in the sand.” It was his final Word to that generation.

Many of us have seen movies or television dramas in which there is a bomb with some kind of countdown device attached. We are held in suspense while the hero braves incredible odds to disarm the device and stop the countdown before the bomb goes off. Part of the suspense is achieved by showing us the timer ticking down — with appropriate sound effects! Noah’s generation did not even know that God’s timer was ticking down. And who is able to prevent His will? He is God! He made the universe!

Noah Stood Alone

Did you ever wonder where Noah’s father and grandfather were in all of this? They lived through almost all of the 120 years yet the scripture is silent regarding them. You would think that if they were believers they would have at least been encouraging Noah even if they were too old to help. And Methuselah, Noah’s grandfather, was the son of Enoch! How did he get so far from God? The truth is that we are each responsible to God personally. It is a great blessing to have godly relatives but unless we personally repent and believe we will be lost. Even the testimony of Enoch did not save Methuselah. On the other hand Noah had to stand apart, not only from the world in general, but also from his father and grandfather. He could not allow their unbelief to turn him aside from wholly following the Lord.

Look at the one thing that was recorded concerning the life of Lamech, Noah’s father. When he fathered a son the scripture records, “And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.” Genesis 5:29. What an epitaph! What was his life about? What was he most concerned about? How would you like your life to be summarized by saying that you produced a son to help with all the work?! What a contrast that is to, “Enoch walked with God.”

Provision for God’s People

Other than preaching and warning men, Noah’s main concern was building the ark. I Peter 3:20 refers in passing to the time, “when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing....” This gives us an insight into why there was a delay between God’s evaluation of man’s condition and the judgment: He was concerned about His people. He was willing to put up with the general wickedness of mankind so that His own could be properly provided for.

I believe that is always God’s priority in what He does in the earth: the welfare and salvation of His people. It flows out of His utter faithfulness to us. No matter how bad things get down here, He will never abandon His own!

Notice too that Noah was not merely given a general warning of what was to come but he was given very specific instruction as to what to do — and when. He didn’t convene a family council to come up with a plan. Their lives became, in one sense, utter simplicity: hearing God’s Word — His instruction — and carrying it out. Do you believe that God wants to lead His people in such an hour? I do!

What a contrast this is with the ways of religion with all its humanly contrived programs and traditions! I wonder how many preachers today actually have the Word of God for this present hour and how many just echo the traditions of their own denomination or movement? It is a late hour, and religion and good sermons won’t save people. We need to have God’s message or be silent.

What is The Word of God?

I feel such a strong need to emphasize this because I fear that few in our day even know what the Word of God is. They equate the Word of God with their own doctrines and traditions or with the scriptures themselves. I thank God for the Bible. It is indeed the inspired written Word of God but the Word I’m talking about is more than the mere letter of the Word recorded in the Bible. Everyone has that!

Those who listened to Jesus noticed a clear difference between his ministry and that of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus spoke as one who had authority. Matt. 7:28-29. That was because He did! The Father had sent His Son with His Word for that generation. He spoke only what the Father gave him to speak. The Spirit of God rested upon Him in all He did and breathed life and power into his words. When people listened to the scribes they heard the traditions of Jewish religion. When they listened to Jesus they heard the Word of God.

What do people hear in most churches today! Do they truly hear God’s message for that particular occasion and need delivered with life and power? Or do they hear someone’s sermon? I’m afraid that very few have what Paul referred to as a “ministry of the Spirit,” able to impart life. II Cor. 3:5-6.

What if God wanted to speak to the average church? How would He go about it? Would the people hear what He had to say? Look what happened in a good Bible-believing synagogue when Jesus came one day with God’s Word. Luke 4:28-29. They were full of wrath and tried to kill him! Do you really think it is any different today? The greatest opposition to the anointed Word of God always comes from the halls of religion. That is because some spirit other than Christ rules there.

How important was it to have access to the Word of God in Noah’s day? It is no less so in our day. “He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.” Rev. 3:22. That is always something that is very present tense and targeted at the needs of the hearers. I believe that God knows everyone that is His and that He is able to get His message to everyone who truly desires to hear it. And that is the key: to truly desire to hear it.

Believers Stuck Together

Notice also that Noah’s family labored together to carry out God’s instruction. They didn’t head off in different directions, doing their own thing while claiming to still “believe.” They stuck close to where God could speak to them. When it came near to the time for the flood God spoke to them with specific final instructions. He didn’t speak to the world. Walking with God meant walking together with His people.

What happened in Noah’s day stands as a testament to two things. First is the inevitable result of man’s living in rebellion against his Maker. Every single man, woman, boy, and girl not in the ark perished — no exceptions. Secondly, what happened reveals the faithful commitment of a loving Heavenly Father to those who love and serve Him. Everyone in the ark was saved from the destruction that befell their world. What a glorious hope we have in the Lord!

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