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The Reformation Herald Online Edition

The Domino Effect

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Memories About the Future: Lessons from the Flood
Barbara Montrose

How can we remember something that hasn’t happened yet—that’s still in the future? The wise man explains: “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

One of those things that’s the same in the past as well as the future is the issue of accountability. We like to hold others accountable for their actions, but our human nature prefers to evade it when it comes to ourselves.

Accountability tends to catch us off guard. Typically, we don’t expect a day of reckoning to come. Our human nature reasons that surely someone else will be the one to get caught or suffer the consequences of some wrongdoing—never me. I won’t be the one, we tend to assume.

But is that what our Creator teaches?

“The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). That includes every one of us, for “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Yes, we all are accountable for our actions, as the Scripture teaches: “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment” (Ecclesiastes 11:9). “As it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). So, yes, our accountability before our Maker is inevitable. Yet what blessed assurance does the next verse in Hebrews provide? “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Verse 28).

Christ was offered to bear our sins—and the wonderful news is that He will come again without sin unto salvation. How likely are we to be ready for His appearing? Will most people greet Him gladly? What do examples from Bible history tell us?

The days of Noah

Jesus has informed us what the world will be like when He returns: “As the days of Noe [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37).

“[Christ] refers to Noah as a literal person who lived; He refers to the Flood as a fact in history; He shows the specification of that generation, as characteristic of this age.”1

The Lord goes on to explain what life was like before the great Flood, that mammoth catastrophe: “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, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Verses 38, 39).

What were the days of Noah (“Noe”) like? We just read that people were eating, drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage. What’s wrong with that? After all, we do need to eat and drink in order to live. Nothing wrong with that. But, keep in mind, we should not live in order to eat and drink! Such a twisted priority reveals a lack of understanding of God’s great and noble plan not only for our nourishment but even for our very existence.

In the days of Noah, “the appetite was indulged at the expense of health and reason. This constant indulgence of their sinful desires corrupted them and defiled the earth under them. The same evils intensified exist in our world today. Men are blind to reason and the result of indulging perverted appetite. The world is the god of nine-tenths of professed Christians.”2

The apostle Paul tearfully refers to those who are actually “the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” (Philippians 3:18, 19). Does that sound like a common trend today?

And what’s wrong with marrying and giving in marriage? Certainly marriage is not a sin. In fact, we are told in Scripture that “marriage is honourable in all” (Hebrews 13:4). Yet we think of the many sad cases where glamorous weddings are performed without any regard whatsoever to the great plan of God for the best, noblest—and above all—eternal interests of those involved.

“Very plainly Christ saw what the condition of society would be in the future. He saw that self-indulgence would control men and women. What of the marriage relation today? Is it not perverted and defiled, made even as it was in Noah’s day? Divorce after divorce is recorded in the daily papers. This is the marriage of which Christ speaks when He says that before the flood they were “marrying and giving in marriage.3

Recent statistics in the United States show that around half of marriages end in divorce—and interestingly enough, that rate is actually going down. Believe it or not, there have been fewer divorces in recent years than before. But why? Sadly, in reality it’s likely because fewer people are even bothering to try to make a lifelong commitment of marriage in their intimate relationships. That’s how lax the society has become with regard to this sacred institution established by our loving Creator in the beginning!

Attitudes before the Flood

We were reminded above about the priorities, passions, and fascinations of people before the earth was destroyed by the great Flood in Noah’s time. What else should we recall about that time? “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Does that sound like our day?

“In Noah’s day all men were not in the fullest sense heathen idolaters. Many had a knowledge of God and His law, but in their grand works of sculpture, in the works of art, they professed to be honoring God by representing Him in the works of their own hands in the similitudes which they had made of God. These works of art were worshiped as God and the Creator was forgotten. . . .

“Noah to them was regarded as a fanatic, and they did not humble their hearts before God, but continued their disobedience and wickedness the same as if God had not spoken to them through Noah. But Noah stood like a rock amidst the tempest. He was surrounded with every species of wickedness and moral corruption; yet his faith wavered not. Undaunted he stood, the faithful messenger of God amid the scoffs and jeers of the world, an unbending witness for God. His meekness and his righteousness was shining brightly in contrast to the revolting crimes, intrigue and violence continually practiced. Connection with God made him strong in the strength of infinite power, while his solemn warning voice for one hundred and twenty years fell upon the ears of the inhabitants of that generation in regard to events, which, as far as human wisdom was concerned, would be impossible to transpire.”4

Did the people of Noah’s day think there was cause for concern as he warned them about the Flood? What did the scientists say? After all, rain as we have experienced it for thousands of years now, had never yet occurred in their day. Remember, at that time, “the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, . . . but there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground” (Genesis 2:5, 6).

“The men of Noah’s time, in their philosophy and worldly wisdom, thought God could not destroy the world with a flood, for the waters of the ocean could not be sufficient for this. But God made the philosophy and science of men foolishness when the time had fully come to execute His word. The inspired pen describes the earth as standing out of the water and in the water. God had His weapons concealed in the bowels of the earth to compass her destruction. And when the great men and the wise men had reasoned before the world of the impossibility of its destruction by water, and the fears of the people were quieted, and all regarded Noah’s prophecy as the veriest delusion, and looked upon Noah as a crazy fanatic, God’s time had come.”5

Noah had had a faith that worked. Over the course of 120 years, he had constructed a massive boat on dry land as he pleaded with the people in warning about the imminent Flood. Every blow of the hammer was a sermon in itself. Every piece of timber on the ark was closely fitted, and every seam covered with pitch to withstand the impending angry waters. All that the faithful patriarch could do was done—but God alone was the only One who would be able to protect through His mighty power that lone vessel upon the heaving billows so soon to roar.

Finally, the Lord “hid Noah and his family in the ark, and the rain began to descend, slowly at first; the jeers and scoffings did not cease for a time, but soon the waters from heaven united with the waters of the great deep; the waters under the earth burst through the earth’s surface, and the windows of heaven were opened, and man with all his philosophy and so-called science, finds that he had not been able in his worldly wisdom to comprehend God. He found too late that his wisdom was foolishness; that the Lawgiver is greater than the laws of nature. The hand of omnipotence is at no loss for ways and means to accomplish His purposes. He could reach into the bowels of the earth and call forth His weapons, waters there concealed, to aid in the destruction of the corrupt inhabitants of the old world. But let us all bear in mind that those who perished in that awful judgment had an offer of escape.”6

What about today?

How is it with us today? Do people still put the theories and conjectures of science above a plain “Thus Saith the Lord”? Do we underestimate the omnipotence of our Creator and Sustainer? How proud are we of our scientific knowledge? This is not an attempt to downgrade legitimate science pursued in the fear of God, but simply to remind us of our frailty and consider how primitive and faulty our conclusions often prove to be.

Jesus is coming again—and yes, in preparing to meet Him, we are accountable for our words, thoughts, and actions—and for sure, we really need His help as our Advocate.

“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:42–44).

“The . . . reasoning will be heard today from worldly wise-men, from the unfaithful watchmen in the pulpits, ‘My Lord delayeth his coming, all things remain as they were from the beginning. You have no need to be alarmed, there is to be a thousand years of temporal millennium before Christ will come. All the world will be converted. Peace, peace; you should pay no regard to these fanatics, who are only alarmists.’ The world generally will despise prophecy and abuse those who speak to them in words of God, rebuking their sins. . . .

“As the contemporaries of Noah laughed to scorn that which they termed fear and superstition in the preacher of righteousness, so will the solemn messages of warning be ridiculed in our day.”7

Likewise, “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 of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:3–7).

So, when you have to face scoffers today, just keep in mind that their scoffing itself is a fulfillment of this prophecy.

Let us instead have the fear of the Lord as those “when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (1 Peter 3:20–22).

Think of the privilege that was Noah’s! Amid all the turmoil of a horribly wicked generation—a generation so extremely corrupt and debased that the loving Creator was compelled to destroy it, Noah “found grace in the eyes of the Lord,” he “walked with God,” and the Lord established His covenant with Him, and “remembered Noah” (Genesis 6:8, 9, 18; 8:1). As for Noah, “according to all that God commanded him, so did he” (Genesis 6:22).

What a beautiful, loving relationship was this! Like Enoch, Noah, “walked with God.” Such a wonderful, awesome experience can be ours as well! By cherishing and dwelling on the Word of God, we can hear the voice of our Creator speaking to us and know that He is taking a keen interest in every aspect of our lives—through fire and flood—and helping us in our every need and concern. Yes, as the song says, what a Friend we have in Jesus! . . . What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer, abiding in the Vine, as poignantly illustrated in Scripture.

Such a life indeed brings to our hearts and minds powerful memories about the future—when the faithful few in our generation will have cultivated such a close, loving walk with the Lord and His Word as to reflect the image of Jesus fully and be preserved from great turmoil unto life eternal. May the omnipotent God of Heaven strengthen each one of us to be genuinely, courageously faithful and true to our calling as Noah was to his!

1 The Signs of the Times, December 20, 1877.
2 Ibid., January 3, 1878.
3 Manuscript Releases, vol. 7, p. 56.
4 The Signs of the Times, December 20, 1877.
5 Ibid., January 3, 1878.
6 Ibid.
7 Ibid.