By Samuel Clough
Recently I was spending some time with one of my daughters and at her request, we ended up watching one of her videos. When it stopped, the television defaulted to a Christian channel and they were showing a movie of Noah and the ark. She begged to watch it, so we watched some of it. It was a great example of what I would call “Biblical film making.” The dialogue was a little humorous in that the language was so archaic that it made King James English almost seem conversational. At the same time Noah seemed to always be looking off into the distance making profound statements with an air of wisdom about him. Regardless of Noah’s depiction, their depiction of the ark was actually interesting. They had an interesting view of how the ark was laid out and what life was like inside the ark both for people and animals. However, after the initial ark scene, I was totally unprepared for what was about to happen.
After the ark was loaded, Noah and his family were secured in the ark and soon the rain began to fall. As the rains fell the ark slowly began to be lifted and drift on top of the waters. At the same time the people outside the ark were panicking and frantically climbing to the highest places they could find to escape the water that was slowly overtaking them as a steady and unstoppable force. In the midst of this, there is a scene inside the ark where you can hear the muted sounds of screaming and shrieks from from all those that are lost outside the ark and frantically trying to escape the ever encroaching waters. As you hear these sounds, Noah’s wife has a look on her face of horror. Up until now the family hasn’t fully considered their predicament, and suddenly the full realization of what is going on strikes them. Noah’s wife looks to Noah and their eyes meet. Her expression is begging the question, “am I really hearing what I think I’m hearing?” Here Noah’s family is saved in the midst of cataclysmic destruction and yet the realization is finally hitting them that everything is real. Everything Noah had been preaching had been words up until this point, but now those words were reality and the terror of the reality was more than any of them anticipated.
I was so struck with that scene that I trembled on the inside. My mind raced to the Scriptures and I considered more and more how every time I pick up the Scriptures I am seeing such a clear declaration of the coming Day of the Lord. Whether it is the historical books, the prophets, the gospels, the acts of the early church, or the apocalypse of Revelation, there is a consistent and persistent declaration of the Day of the Lord in the Scriptures. It is almost as if there is a veil causing us to miss the preeminence the Day of the Lord has in the Scriptures and when that veil begins to lift, one is astounded as just how much of the Scriptures is given over to declaring that God is coming to the planet and that coming is something so dramatic that words fail in the description of it.
The prophets saw and declared this coming day. The Jews so anticipated that day that when John Baptist declared that Messiah was coming, they were baptized in repentance to prepare themselves for the day. In fact, the primary stumbling block for the first century Jews was that they were expecting the ultimate day of the Lord and not a coming that, in kindness, made available a redemption prior to that cataclysmic day. In Paul’s writings, we find that he motivated both himself and the saints he wrote to by exhorting them that they would be found in Christ on that day.
The coming of that day and the ensuing events were the cornerstone of the apostolic proclamation and the motivation to declare the gospel to the earth that as many as possible might be saved in the great day of God that was coming. Remember that salvation Biblically is mostly presented as a future thing and what we have failed to perceive is that future salvation is not just salvation from hell, but salvation in the great Day of the Lord. This doesn’t negate the present need of an encounter with God or of being born again, but rather our present experience of redemption and the indwelling presence of the Spirit, among other things, gives us assurance of full salvation on that day.
Every temporal judgment is a warning of an ultimate day of reckoning for the earth and those who have walked upon it. While we often focus on whether current events are judgments or not we miss the fact that any present judgment event is merely an illustration that is meant to point us to that ultimate day and warn us of a judgment that far surpasses anything we have presently experienced. Even the flood, as cataclysmic as it was, was not an event in itself, but rather meant to be an prophetic picture to shock and awaken us to the nature of what’s coming when God comes to the planet.
The issue of God’s coming is not an issue merely of an angry deity, but rather the issue of what happens when the One who is truly perfect and good comes into full contact with all the evil on the earth and in man. The drama of that day is actually part of the love and kindness of God because the present evil that we tolerate is having horrific effects on creation that we don’t even recognize because we are so numb to it. Since we are part of the environment and over it we can’t even see the full effects on our environment of the evil dwelling within us. God is not content to see this destruction continue forever and so His coming brings a massive judgment that is rooted, not in anger, but in perfect love.
I have to believe that, like Noah’s family, this event may be a part of our creeds and theology, but that our hearts have not truly anticipated just how devastating and traumatic this day is going to be. The Scriptures clearly describe an event that man cannot endure and that even the earth can barely endure. Regardless of how literal your hermeneutic is, and the further I go the more convinced I am that the Scriptures are far more literal than we have imagined, as you read the prophetic scriptures concerning this day, anyone who seriously considers these events will come to the conclusion that this day is going to be beyond anything any of us have imagined.
Jesus said that the end would be “as in the days of Noah.” He chose the days of Noah as the example of the end. Just as in the days of Noah, men live totally ignorant of the impending judgment. Men scoff at the idea that God is going to judge all wickedness and restore the earth in purity and goodness just as He has promised. As in the days of Noah, God has made an ark of escape in Jesus that we might endure that terrible day when God comes to earth in holiness and in zeal to cleanse and redeem the earth. And the real terror of that day is that, as in the days of Noah, the horror of what is coming will not be fully evident until the event is fully in motion and there is nothing that can be done.
The real horror of the look on Noah’s wife’s face is that she only understood the magnitude of what was happening after it was too late to take any more action. By the time she fully understood what was going on it was too late to do anything about it. It was too late to prepare any more. It was too late to warn others, and it was too late to rescue any more souls. The door was closed and the deluge had come and there was nothing that could be done to stop it. So too the real terror of the Day of the Lord is going to be that we will only fully grasp it on that day and on that day it will be too late to prepare our hearts to face the fullness of God and too late to declare to others the need to repent that they may be saved in that day. What has been done will have been done. In that moment, the fog will lift and we will clearly see our lives and actions for what they were and the pain of regret, which for some will be an eternal terror, will be immense.
Just like Noah’s family in the movie, believers are living in intellectual assent to the idea that Jesus is coming but with virtually no understanding of just what that day is going to be like and no preparation for it. Our theology may be correct in our hearts, but in our hearts we live as though everything that day will destroy is actually permanent. That day will literally shake the earth. Men will seek the escape of death because of the appearance of a holy God on the planet. We must begin to read the Scriptures simply, taking them at face value, and see that throughout the entire book there is a consistent declaration that God is coming to physically dwell on the earth among His people, and that coming will demand a complete judgment of all that is wicked and a restoration of the earth. We must also begin to see that all other themes in Scripture are in the context of this coming day and God’s purpose for it.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; – Isaiah 61:1-2 (ESV)
We are presently living in the year of God’s favor. It is the time period when salvation is made available. God in His immense love and kindness has repeatedly, though His Word and through messengers each generation, warned us of the events to come and provided, at the cost of His own blood, an ark of escape in that great day. However, this salvation makes little sense without the context of the day of vengeance against all wickedness, no matter how minor or how subtle, that is coming. One thing is sure: Something is coming far beyond what we can imagine. We are presently blessed with a period of time to come under God’s mercy and allow Him to prepare us that we might stand on that day, but this blessing will be a curse in that day if we find, like Noah’s family, that it never was real to us.
If you are not right with God through Jesus Christ, I don’t have words that are strong enough to urge you to turn your heart to the cleansing in Jesus Christ that you might be prepared for that day. If you are already a believer, I would challenge you that you probably do not live in preparation for that day. Like Noah’s family, we have heard the message but we really haven’t anticipated exactly what that day will be. Most of us are expecting the inauguration of some sort of utopia and heavenly retirement age and this bears no resemblance to the way the Scripture describes this day. While the end result is a cleansing and a perfect dwelling with God, we have grossly estimated the trauma of that process and the full purity of our God.
The reality is that this coming day is so dramatic that none of us can fully anticipate what is coming. Even those who give their hearts to prepare will, in some measure, stand like Noah’s family trembling under the weight of it all when it actually unfolds. Saints, that day is clearly described in Scripture if we only open our eyes to read it. Let us prepare our hearts in accordance with what the Scriptures really say while allowing our hearts to take the message to all those who are unprepared for this day. Malachi perhaps has the best summary of our predicament:
But who can endure the day of His coming, and who can stand when He appears? – Malachi 3:2a (ESV)
Posted in Apostolic, Eschatology, Genesis, Judgment, Malachi, Prophecy/Prophetic, The Flood | Tagged apostolic, deception, Eschatology, flood, holiness, kingdom, noah, prophetic, salvation, theology | 3 Responses