As Christians, I believe that we are all deeply impressed with the story of Noah’s ark and admire Noah a lot, and that meanwhile we cannot help but feel sorry for those who did not embark upon the ark. Why did they not believe what Noah said? They had seen the ark but why did they not embark upon it? Why did they not feel regret until the flood came? Why, in that age, did only Noah’s family of eight embark upon the ark and attain salvation?
Let’s think about the background for God destroying the mankind of Noah’s time. In Genesis 6:11–13 it is recorded, “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked on the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way on the earth. And God said to Noah, The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” When I read these verses in the past, I just knew that it was because the people at that time were too evil and corrupt, and so they were punished and destroyed by God, but I didn’t understand the root cause of them being destroyed. Not until I read a passage of words in a book did I gain a bit of understanding of it.
This is what that passage said, “There is another revelation of God’s disposition here: In God’s eyes, there is a limit to His patience toward man’s corruption, toward the filthiness, violence, and disobedience of all flesh. What is His limit? It’s as God said: ‘God looked on the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way on the earth.’ What does the phrase ‘for all flesh had corrupted his way on the earth’ mean? It means any living thing, including those who followed God, those who called on the name of God, those who once sacrificed burnt offerings to God, those who verbally acknowledged God and even praised God—once their behavior was full of corruption and reached God’s eyes, He would have to destroy them. That was God’s limit. So to what extent did God remain patient to man and the corruption of all flesh? To the extent that all people, whether followers of God or unbelievers, were not walking the right path. To the extent that man was not just morally corrupt and full of evil, but where there was no one who believed in God’s existence, let alone anyone who believed that the world is ruled by God and that God can bring people light and the right path. To the extent that man despised God’s existence and did not permit God to exist. Once man’s corruption reached this point, God would no longer have patience. What would replace it instead? The coming of God’s wrath and God’s punishment.”
From this passage I understood that God’s destruction of the people at that time contains His disposition. It was not merely because those who did not believe in God were morally corrupt, evil and licentious, but also because those who believed in God, even those who once made offerings to God and worshiped God, did not fear God and had no place for God in their hearts. Everything they did went against God’s requirements and they followed along with evil trends of the world. The entire world had become evil and degenerate to the point that God didn’t bear to look. But even so, people at that time had no desire for repentance. When Noah obeyed God’s commands to build the ark and convey to them that God would destroy the world with a flood, they treated what Noah did as a joke and what Noah said as a fantasy. No one believed, nor did anyone seek or investigate, much less did they admit that their evil deeds had long ago angered God to the extent that they should be destroyed; instead, they all lived completely in their own notions and imaginings but thought nothing of it. They didn’t think that it would rain heavily and they didn’t believe that would happen until they saw the flood coming with their own eyes. However, later on when they saw the door of the ark closed and the flood coming, it was too late. Eventually, they were all swallowed by the flood and drowned in the ocean. Rather than saying they died in the flood, it would be better to say they perished in their own conceptions.
So how was Noah saved? The following passage of words explains it quite clearly.
“When Noah did as God instructed he didn’t know what God’s intentions were. He didn’t know what God wanted to accomplish. God had only given him a command, instructed him to do something, but without much explanation, and he went ahead and did it. He didn’t try to figure out God’s intentions in private, nor did he resist God or have a double heart. He just went and did it accordingly with a pure and simple heart. Whatever God let him do he did, and obeying and listening to God’s word were his conviction for doing things. That was how straightforwardly and simply he dealt with what God entrusted. His essence—the essence of his actions was obedience, not second-guessing, not resisting, and moreover, not thinking of his own personal interests and his gains and losses. Further, when God said He would destroy the world with a flood, he did not ask when or try to get to the bottom of it, and he certainly did not ask God just how He was going to destroy the world. He simply did as God instructed. However God wanted it to be made and made with what, he did exactly as God asked and also commenced action immediately thereafter. He acted according to God’s instructions with an attitude of wanting to satisfy God. Was he doing it to help himself avoid the disaster? No. Did he ask God how much longer before the world would be destroyed? He didn’t. Did he ask God or did he know how long it would take to build the ark? He didn’t know that either. He simply just obeyed, listened, and did it accordingly.”
Noah was inherently an upright man who worshiped God. From this passage we can see more clearly that the reason why Noah could be saved was because of his submission and obedience to God. He did whatever God instructed him to do; he did not ask why God let him build an ark, nor did he think what if the flood didn’t come after he finished building the ark, much less did he live in all kinds of difficulties in building the ark. Instead, he could simply accept and obey without any notions and imaginings though he did not completely understand God’s will. I could not help but sigh with emotion: Can we people nowadays achieve such faith in God and obedience to God as Noah did? At that time, it never rained, much less did a flood come. Thus when God told Noah that He would destroy the world with a flood, and commanded Noah to build an ark and to preach the gospel so that people could embark upon the ark, the people at that time not only did not believe what Noah said, but even judged and condemned Noah by saying that he was crazy. Despite this, Noah was not passive or weak and he still submitted to God, obeyed God’s commands, and single-mindedly persisted in building the ark and preaching the gospel. Today, when we think back on the time when the world was destroyed by the flood, won’t we feel sorry for those people who were destroyed in that age? At the same time, won’t we feel deeply ashamed when compared with Noah who could, without being restrained by any person, matter, or thing, submit to God and follow God’s instructions to build the ark?
In the Bible, it is recorded, “And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:26–27). These two verses are prophecies concerning the Lord Jesus’ return in the last days, and the Lord compared the time of His return to that of Noah. Now, the prophecies of the Lord’s second coming have all been fulfilled, and all of society has become more and more evil and degenerate. For the sake of their personal interests, people fight with each other and even kill each other. Meanwhile, even many brothers and sisters in the Lord also follow the evil trends of the world, covet glory and wealth, and pursue fame and gain; they believe in God in name, but in actuality they do not hold to the Lord’s way at all. Nowadays, the degree of corruption of mankind is far beyond that of the age of Noah. This shows that the prophecies about the last days have long been fulfilled, and that the Lord Jesus has already returned.
Now, there is a group of people who are bearing witness to the return of the Lord Jesus. They say that Christ the Savior in the last days has already come to the East, and that He is expressing the truth and carrying out the work of judgment of the last days. The Lord Jesus once prophesied, “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him” (Matthew 25:6). “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). When we hear someone testifying that the Lord has returned, we should seek and investigate it actively. This is the Lord’s requirement for us and only in this way can we welcome the bridegroom and go to the wedding feast of the Lamb. But some brothers and sisters, based on the following verse, “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27), believe that the Lord will come on a white cloud with great glory and that only when they see the Lord coming with clouds can it be proven that the Lord has returned. Because of this, even if they hear the gospel of the returned Lord Jesus in the last days, they do not listen, and do not seek or investigate, but blindly deny and reject it. By doing so, they could easily miss the Lord’s return and lose His salvation of the last days. Because the prophecies in the Bible concerning the Lord’s return are not confined just to Him coming openly with clouds, but there are also prophecies stating that the Lord shall come in secret. Just as the Bible says, “For as the lightning, that lightens out of the one part under heaven, shines to the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in His day. But first must He suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation” (Luke 17:24–25). “Therefore be you also ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes” (Matthew 24:44). The words “the Son of man” and “first must He suffer many things” stated in these verses mean that God incarnate comes in secret. Only by becoming the flesh and working in the flesh to save mankind can God suffer many things, just like the Lord Jesus who was born of man and became an ordinary man. If it were the spiritual body of the resurrected Lord Jesus descending publicly with the clouds, would the returned Lord Jesus still be rejected by this generation? Definitely not. This is because if people see God’s spiritual body, every one of them will drop to the ground and won’t dare resist at all.
From this we can see that there are two ways in which the Lord returns: One way is to come in secret, and the other is to openly descend with clouds. The Lord is faithful, and therefore both these different prophecies will be fulfilled. The Lord first becomes incarnate and arrives in secret to speak, to do the work of judgment beginning from the house of God, to purify and perfect a group of people who have come before Him, and to make a group of overcomers. Then, the door of grace will be closed, and God will openly descend with clouds and place all those who refuse to accept God’s work of the last days in the middle of the disaster, just like the prophecy in Revelation, “Behold, He comes with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7). The time when all people see God publicly descend on the clouds is also the time when God’s work of salvation comes to an end. Just as when God commanded Noah to embark upon the ark and its door was closed, the flood came and God’s work of salvation was over. At that time, no matter how people felt remorse or called out to God, it was too late.
When God’s salvation in the last days comes to us, can we learn lessons from the failures of the people of the past, repent toward God, and embark upon the “ark” God prepares for us? This question is indeed worthy of our contemplating and seeking …
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