"But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matthew 24:37). This is a passage worth going back to again and again as a mirror of the days we live in.
It is interesting to see the Biblical view of the history of the human race portrayed here. We see long periods of time we think of as everyday life - punctuated by occasions of God's global intervention. The days of Noe (Noah) and the present days are portions of distinct ages in God's timetable for history, each to be terminated by God. What probably seemed to the men of Noah's time as "business as usual" one day was suddenly changed by the Great Flood. This age is also soon to be brought to a close by an earthshaking intervention, the return of Jesus Christ.
We also learn that conditions leading up to the flood will be found again before the return of Christ. This means that all we have to do is read of life in Noah's day to know when things are ready for the Lord's coming. "The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence" (Genesis 6:11). Corruption has to do with immorality, perversion, and other forms of rottenness that come from human selfishness and lust. The violence follows naturally with corruption as people abuse others to satisfy their addictions and selfishness. Is that true today? It sounds like a summary of the evening news
This text is an example of one of the great benefits of God's Word - prophecy, knowledge of the future. The second benefit is knowledge of the past and therefore the opportunity to learn from history. "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house" (Hebrews 11:7a). Jesus came the first time to provide salvation on the cross and to have the message of salvation preached throughout this entire church age. When He comes back the day of grace and opportunity will be over. He tells us that, "behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (II Corinthians 6:2b).
"Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days" (Genesis 49:1b). These were Jacob's words to his 12 sons as he gathered the 12 Patriarchs to tell them his final blessings and prophesies for their respective tribes.
God calls us all in a similar way to hear His Word and know what the future holds. As Jacob also said in the next verse, "Gather yourselves together, and hear ... hearken ...". All through history God has called to those who desired to be truly wise to hear His Word.
Solomon portrayed wisdom as a person crying to humanity in its busy life to stop and hear. "Wisdom crieth without: she uttereth her voice in the streets" (Proverbs 1:20). And two verses later, "Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you" (Proverbs 1:23). In fact, wisdom is a Person - Jesus Christ.
God called out to Adam, the first man after he had sinned and plunged the human race into a fallen estate. "And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto Him, where art thou?" (Genesis 3:10). When Adam listened, God not only pointed out his problem of sin, but told him of a coming Saviour who would be born of a virgin and suffer to pay for our sins.
When that Saviour came, He went about teaching and preaching and calling people back to God through Himself. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). This call was repeated by the Apostles and those who know the Lord are commissioned to repeat the offer of free salvation down to this very day. How sad that so many turn from the Gospel message with distaste or disinterest.
The world today has repeated the reaction of the men of Christ's own day. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not" (Matthew 23:37).
"Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made" (Genesis 3:1a). This is the text that tells of Satan's original seduction of mankind by way of our parents, Adam and Eve. It also tells why Satan chose the serpent to use for his attack. He would never be allowed by God to destroy them by a frontal attack and physical violence. He knew that to be successful he must use guile and subtlety.
Satan knew that he could do his most damage if he could seduce mankind to disobey God and His laws. This would bring them to the place of being subject to judgment from the Almighty. God had already warned Adam, "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die". The power of Satan lies in seducing man to sin against the Creator. The power of Jesus Christ is to forgive sin and bring the hearts of men back to God.
With a little observation, we can see Satan's tactics still used today. It has been a classic methodology of communism to first destabilize a country by breaking down morals and godliness, and then bring it under their power. In fact, even today, when we see the active promotion of evil and systematic effort to break down all the old moral standards, we can know that we are being set up. Somebody is working out a plan.
The Bible tells us there is a one-world totalitarian system coming to planet earth. It will be an atheistic program like its communist cousin. We are living now in the days of a "creeping barrage" of ungodliness which is part of Satan's softening up tactics to ready the world for his man, the antichrist. With a Bible in our hand we can recognize the systematic promotion of a new morality for what it is. We are at a crossroad of choices, either plunge farther into sin, or take God's way of escape. We need to be wise to the slick salesmanship of sin and realize God's offer of salvation in Jesus Christ is the only wise choice for each soul.
"As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come" (Proverbs 26:2). There is an order and reason for all things. We prepare for our safety and security in life by investigating the cause of disaster and taking measures accordingly to escape it.
As in things of our physical well being, so also there is a cause and effect relationship for the well being of our souls and for eternal matters. The proverb quoted tells us that the curse does not come "causeless". Other people may call curses upon us, but if there is not an underlying cause before God they are powerless. Human hatred expresses itself by calling upon God to damn others or by wishing them to hell, but God alone has the power of blessing or cursing.
The proverb seems to be comparing the causeless curses to birds flying about overhead - but never landing upon us as there is no reason to. The swallows dipping and swooping may seem to threaten, but they are aiming for other prey. There is only one sufficient cause that will bring without fail the curse of God, and that is sin. That is a basic cause-and-effect law of the Almighty. God is holy and brings His curse to rest upon the head of the one who breaks His laws. The sobering fact is that we all have sinned.
The good news is that the curse can be removed. God is not only holy, but also merciful, gracious, and loving. He has planned and provided a way that both the underlying sin and the consequent curse can be removed. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" (Galatians 3:13). When God's Son died on the Cross, He was taking our curse upon Himself. This is a finished work and the resurrected Lord today offers to sinners today forgiveness of sin. Through turning from sin to Him in simple faith we receive instead of a curse, the promise of eternal life.
"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" (II Peter 3:4a).
Scientists will prepare graphs from processes that they are able to observe, and then extend the graph into an unknown area to attempt to predict what might happen there. This method has some use in a limited range, but it can also yield great errors because of the unpredictable nature of matter.
This method can also fail miserably if we attempt to predict the future for our lives or for the world. We cannot say we have enjoyed a good week, a good month or even a good year and therefore we will have nothing but good times in the future. We know all too well how quickly grief can come. "Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away" (James 4:14). Solomon wrote, "Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth" (Proverbs 27:1).
The text in II Peter is warning against "extending the graph" especially in thinking about the course of world events. The only reliable way to know what the days ahead hold is to find out from God. And the central theme of prophetic Scripture is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This is what the last book of the New Testament is concerned with. It tells of the coming revelation of Jesus Christ in His return to Earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. God is not held by the graphs proposed by human optimism. He reserves to Himself as Sovereign God the right to intervene in the course of human history.
God has a plan for this world. He has sent His Son to provide the gift of salvation for those who will renounce sin and receive Him as Lord and Saviour. He also warns that the apparent well being of a world that refuses this gift will not continue as some say. "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape" (I Thessalonians 5:3).
"...Even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:8).
The Gospel tells us that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead. This verse points out particularly how He died. The manner of His death testifies to its significance in God's plan of salvation.
First, death on a cross was a payment the Roman state required as a satisfaction for certain crimes committed. This helps us understand the purpose of Jesus' death from the perspective of God's administration and government. It was a payment for our sins. To think of Him only as a dedicated martyr, or as an example to follow misses a fundamental truth of Christianity. Mark's Gospel tells us Christ came, "to give his life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45b).
Death on a cross was the ultimate punishment of the law breaker. It involved great suffering in death. (Read Psalm 22.) Crucifixion was reserved for certain crimes. In any just administration there is a direct connection between the seriousness of the crime and the severity of the punishment. The cross witnesses then to the seriousness of our sins in God's sight.
Our culture has become calloused to the uncleanness and the violence of the growing sin in our world. However, God declared how serious it was to Adam from the beginning by the punishment promised. "thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17d). And in God's administration, this includes eternal torment for those who die in their sins. "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death" (Revelation 20:14). Jesus paid a horrible price to provide salvation because sin is a horrible thing in God's sight and has a terrible punishment.
Death on a cross was also a public punishment. The sufferer was lifted up for all to look upon. This teaches us faith. We must look to the Saviour and His sacrifice alone for our salvation. "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:14-16).
"Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us" (Deuteronomy 31:17d)? This passage is from a prophecy Moses gave to Israel about the consequences of forgetting God and pursuing sinful ways. Moses foretold that God would withdraw His blessings and Israel would "be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them ..." (Deuteronomy 31:17c).
This has been true for the whole world in these late days of the church. This was also foretold. "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come" (II Timothy 3:1). At any time in history that people depart from God, sad consequences follow.
This is not generally believed. Many refuse to admit the serious problems that threaten us today Concern over health grows daily in the media with fears of a flu pandemic and of new untreatable diseases. Our once secure Island with unlocked doors now guards against thieves day and night. School shootings and drive-by slayings are becoming familiar news items in Canada and the US. The fabric of society is becoming unraveled with the growing contempt for morals and traditional family values. The growing burden of debt at every strata threatens us with financial collapse. There are problems like we have never known in our world. "Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers" (Joel 1:2).
Others do not believe that a departure from God has really happened. Yet church is rarely attended by a large number of people. And where churches still are open, only a facade of the original Christianity remains. Neither people nor preacher believe any more in the Bible or live by it. God has been evicted from His house.
For many, this Scripture from Deuteronomy is not a concern for the simple reason they do not believe there is a God, much less one who deals with this world about sin. Nevertheless, we are warned of the infinitely solemn consequences of rejecting God's chosen Messiah and His gift to the world, the Lord Jesus Christ.
"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). This is an amazingly complete, though brief, statement of the basics of Christianity.
The Gospel tells us that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried, rose from the dead, and from heaven today offers Himself as a living Saviour and personal Lord. Receiving Him by faith brings a change right now in the life. "For me to live is Christ". We should not need to bring sophisticated arguments to convince anyone that Christianity brings a new life which is centered in Christ. The very name, Christianity, tells us that.
The person whose sins have been forgiven by trusting in Jesus Christ will want to live in a way that pleases Him. The Bible becomes a guide and a delight for every person who has come to a personal relationship with the Lord.
But it is especially in the next life that Christianity stands apart from all other beliefs. Christ is the key for this too of course. The Believer enjoys precious promises because of and through Jesus Christ alone. Notice the way that Paul expressed his hope for the time when he would have to face death . "...And to die is gain." For those without salvation, death is total loss. The difference is the salvation through Christ. Paul goes on further in the same chapter to say, "having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better" (Philippians 1:23b).
Bible Christianity makes sure promises for eternity, while other beliefs and religions leave a person on his own when death comes. It is hard to imagine anything worse than being let down when facing a matter as important as where you will spend eternity. Paul was assured that he had salvation from hell and a promise of heaven. Every born again Christian has the same privilege to take great comfort in the fact that, "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23b).
"And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you" (Exodus 12:1-2).
These words were spoken to Israel just before God set them free from slavery in the land of Egypt. They were about to start out on a journey with the Lord to the Promised Land. Apparently He wanted them to understand it was a new beginning he was giving them, so he designated that time as "the first month of the year".
This is a lesson to us about the way to a new beginning and a new life. We get excited about a new year, but the only way we can truly start a new life is with God. Without the Lord the new year will be simply more of the same. Our lives will repeat and relive their old patterns and problems.
It is a central fact of Bible Christianity that God offers a new life through Jesus Christ. The very first man Adam fell into sin and ruined the life that he had. He became sinful, selfish, and subject to death. That life is the one we have had passed down to us as his descendants. We were born self-centered (without God), sinful and dying. All men need to receive a new life.
Jesus Christ came to take care of the root problem of sin by paying its penalty with his own death on the cross. He suffered so we could be spared and would not have to suffer eternally in hell. The same Saviour rose from the dead and offers the very new life we need to all that will trust in Him. It is a life that is seen in a changed heart and a changed lifestyle. It is a life that suits us for eternity in heaven when we leave this world. It is a life that is received freely by turning your past over to Him and trusting in Jesus Christ personally as Lord and Saviour.
"And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold" (Luke 8:8a).
In the parable of the sower only this fourth and last kind of soil allowed the seed to take hold and bear fruit. It is very sobering to read what the Bible says a about how few there are who genuinely receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the Sermon on the Mount, faith in Jesus Christ is compared to going through a narrow gate that leads to a narrow road to glory. "Narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:14b). Nevertheless, the Bible also tells us of many examples of men with receptive hearts who receive God's Word like this "good ground" received the seed.
The thief on the cross next to the Lord's, despite a life of crime, received the truth and salvation. "And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom" (Luke 23:42). The good ground is not referring to a man who never sinned. In fact Jesus told some very religious men, "The publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you" (Matthew 21:31c).
The good ground pictures a man whose heart is first honest with the fact of personal sinfulness - and second open to the love of God through His Son. "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience" (Luke 8:15).
This parable of the sower was a vivid picture by the Lord of the importance of how the heart receives His Word. At the end He sent out one more challenge to each heart to listen carefully and receptively to the whole message He brought. "And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Luke 8:8b). He was adding to what Solomon said long before. Be careful about how your heart responds to God's Word. "The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD" (Proverbs 19:3).