Human beings possess a dangerous inclination to believe that normal living will continue on unimpeded, despite factors indicating otherwise.
Scripture records this to be the case during the hundred years while Noah was building the ark.
For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away…. (Matthew 24:38-39 NIV)
They must have known that Noah was a righteous man. The description of him given in Scripture would lead us to the conclusion that he was a rather together person, not some sort of a weird, crazed individual whom they might have suspected of going off the deep end. Therefore, his assertion that God warned him of upcoming judgment, his commitment of time, energy, and resources to building an ark, and his preaching for 100 years should have given them reason for concern. Yet the human belief that life will go on as it always has dominated their response.
As we consider the response of contemporary American society to the prospects of impending doom, in the words of Yogi Berra, it is déjà vu all over again.
Recently I read an article discussing the drastic cutbacks in our spending on our nuclear program, which provides a deterrent to foreign nuclear attack. This in days when the Chinese are building their nuclear arsenal and Vladimir Putin is constantly flexing Russia’s military muscle. Not to worry—life will go on as it always has.
During the attacks of Hamas on Israel we saw the effectiveness of Israel’s Iron Dome, and yet we have no interest in developing this type of protection for ourselves. My concern is not even so much with the government that is acting utterly irresponsible in the face of prospective threats, but more so with the American public that seems oblivious to the dangers. But then again, why worry. Life will go on as it always has.
We also face economic dangers, with the prospect of America’s fiscal house of cards collapsing, throwing us into economic devastation worse than the Great Depression. Yet, government continues to grow and our spending increases unabated. Though the American people have manifested some concern, they also convey a confidence that the good life will continue on.
In the passage above, Christ speaks of the days of Noah in the context of the days before the Rapture. He warns that the same attitude will prevail prior to the Rapture as during the days prior to the flood.
What is especially intriguing about His teaching in this context is that it is directed toward believers. He is speaking to His disciples. However, the developments of history have revealed that this message ultimately did not pertain to them but to those living in the days immediately prior to the Rapture. That would be us.
To us He extends this warning, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (NKJ Matthew 24:44) The word “expect” conveys the idea of something “seeming” to be the case. “He did not seem to be that kind of a person,” or “It did not seem like the right time to ask for a raise.” Therefore, Jesus will return at a time that does not seem to be the right occasion for His arrival.
Note the challenge in this verse to be prepared. “Therefore, you also be ready….” What preparations might He have in mind? From the negative perspective, making things that we have messed up right with Him and with others to the extent that we can, and if we are thinking about doing something displeasing to Him, this would be a bad time. On the positive side, we need to be engaged in what we believe He wants us to be doing. Wouldn’t it be great if when the Lord came back our lives would fit that description? Wouldn’t it be terrible if He caught us messing up or goofing off?
This is an absolutely gorgeous day in Greensboro, North Carolina. One can hardly imagine a more perfect day, with a cloudless blue sky, 70° weather, leaves showing off a stunning variety of colors, and a gentle, cool breeze blowing. Might the Rapture occur on a day like this? I doubt it.