Then Jesus turned to the crowd and said, "When you see clouds beginning to form in the west, you say, "Here comes a shower.' And you are right. When the south wind blows, you say, "Today will be a scorcher.' And it is. You fools! You know how to interpret the weather signs of the earth and sky, but you don't know how to interpret the present times. -- Luke 12: 54-56 (NLT)
"When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah's day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn't realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes. -- Matthew 24: 37-39 (NLT)
I visited the Sight and Sound Theater this past weekend for the first time as they performed the play, Noah. The play was of course brilliant and the stage work and effects were phenomenal as they placed you inside the ark as it set out upon the never seen before waters. I say never seen because I am not sure everyone understands the full context of the story of Noah. Prior to the account of Noah it had never rained upon the earth. Yet despite this, Noah would spend 120 years building an ark for the impending flood. Hebrews refers to him as a preacher of righteousness yet no one would listen. To them, Noah must have seemed crazy. Claims to have heard from God! Building a vehicle to survive something that has never been seen before! Insisting that only through this vehicle can one be saved...sound familiar?
The key verses from Matthew above are what kept coming to mind as I watched the play unfold. As the day of Christ's return draws near it will be as in the days of Noah. Is there anything wrong with enjoying banquets, parties and weddings? Of course not but apart from God is the key. The people of Noah's day looked upon Noah with scorn and ridicule. He was the crazy neighbor. He was the nut building the boat. That is how the church should be today beloved. We are building the ark to Jesus through the church He established. We are the crazy ones at the end of the block saying the repent for the kingdom of God is near! Sometimes we over-focus when it comes to Noah on the ark or the impending flood but let us not lose sight of the WHY:
The LORD observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the LORD was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. And the LORD said, "I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing--all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them." -- Genesis 6: 5-7 (NLT)
Are we starting to see the correlation between the times we now live in and the days of Noah? It wasn't just that they were partying but that they were ignoring God in the process. They were refusing God. All one has to do is turn on the TV to see the extent of human wickedness on the earth. The current state of total depravity and evil upon the earth must be rivaling the days of Noah. Just like then -- it is breaking the heart of God. He gave Noah 120 years to build the boat but also for the people to see him building the boat. For 120 years they watched and laughed, and despite hearing the preacher of righteousness -- they did not listen. Today, they hear the Gospel and do the same thing. They think that is for the kooks at the end of the block. Pay them no mind. It has never rained before! And so it will go until the day the flood will come and take them all away. Not a flood of water but of holy judgment from a holy God who has given everyone ample time to accept Him. As in the days of Noah, we are in that 120 year period.
We need to take these same principles and apply them to ourselves as the church. We know the Bible specifically warns us that on the last day many will come to Christ and say "Lord Lord" only to be turned away into eternal separation from God. The sad thing is a great portion of the modern church has turned away from being the Noah of our generation. Too many would be pastors think that it is more important to be relevant to the dying culture then saving them from it. I read an op-ed from Mark Driscoll once where he said he did not want to be known as the crazy church on the corner that is not relevant to the community. Dear Lord! We need to be relevant to God not the community! It is the community that is leading people to hell. That should be the last thing we try to be relevant to! I saw another mega church pastor recently say that we should not preach the Gospel on Easter because we want the people visiting to come back! No beloved -- we want to see them come to repentance and saved! The problem within the seeker-friendly purpose driven agenda is not a lack of theological understanding of who Noah was. It is that they do not want to be seen by the world as building a boat in a land that has never seen rain! Jesus said the Gospel is a two edged sword. Some in modern Christendom wield it like a scalpel and others like a blunt instrument. Neither is perfect but at least there is some cut to it. The modern theories of church growth have turned the Gospel into a dull spoon. Wait a minute preacher -- aren't we supposed to be all about love, and flowers and puppies? Well, the verses right before the key verses from Luke are these:
"I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished. Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against--or two in favor and three against." Father will be divided against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.'"- Luke 12: 49-53 (NLT)