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God’s Word for You

Luke 17:26-27 as in the days of Noah

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, November 21, 2018

26 As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of man.  27 They were eating, drinking, marrying, being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.

In Matthew’s Gospel, this illustration was spoken on Tuesday of Holy Week (Matthew 24:37-39). It’s likely that Jesus used this example several times in his preaching and teaching, just as teachers (and preachers) today will use a good example over and over with students so that they might catch its meaning fully.

Jesus depicts the world before the flood in terms far more ordinary than the language used by Moses and Enoch. Moses describes mankind’s sin by saying, “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5). Enoch, an eyewitness of the world less than seventy years before Noah was born, called mankind ungodly in no uncertain terms: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14-15). Jesus, on the other hand, has a different scene in mind. Mankind, sinful as they were, went about life before the flood in ordinary ways, never suspecting the destruction that was just a rainstorm away. They were eating, drinking, and marrying. He includes life from the woman’s point of view as well: “Being given in marriage” (a girl would not marry without the consent of her father, even in that ungodly time). Then, the very same year that Enoch’s son died, the rain began, and Noah entered into the ark with his sons, their wives, and representatives of every living species of animal and bird in the world.

“The flood came,” Jesus says so simply, “and destroyed them all.” It was sudden, it was shocking, and it was swift. The roar of the thunder all around, the inundating rainfall which did not stop for more than a month, and the disappearance of every parcel of land, left no one with a foothold or a gasp of air. Every tree, every field, every island, every mountaintop, disappeared under the surging waves. All of it vanished, except for Noah’s ark.

Jesus uses the scene and its sudden destruction as the mirror of the fiery end of the world yet to come. Swiftly, horribly, terribly, the fire will roll across the land, and everything will be consumed. The oceans—survivors of the flood in Noah’s day, will be licked up and consumed like the water in Elijah’s trenches on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:38). The fish, the birds, and all the animals will perish. All the world will be consumed in that fire, and even more. “That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat” (2 Peter 3:12).

What about us? If any of us are still here on earth when the day of wrath comes, we will be spared. The terrible times that will come just before the end will be cut short. “For the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them” (Mark 13:20). And Paul assures us that we might not all die first: “Listen, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51). Some will live to see the end—that’s what he means by “We will not all sleep,” but even those who are there to the very end will be changed like the dead who will rise, so that we will all enjoy sinlessness and every other blessing of heaven. That’s what he means by, “We will all be changed.” By the grace of God’s mercy and the power of God’s omnipotent strength, we will be changed, the perishable now imperishable, the mortal now and forever immortal, and we will be caught up into the sky together with all who have died, a communal ascension into everlasting life, with no one left behind at all. We will be carried into heaven, to praise God and give him glory with our immortal lives for all eternity.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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