“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 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. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
One of the questions I am often asked in my classes, especially those on Bible study, is why the God of the Old Testament seems so different from the God of the New Testament. It is almost like they are two different gods. The problem is one of perception. We don’t see clearly. Consequently, our understanding is superficial. If I were to ask the average person to describe Jesus, among the adjectives he would use would be loving, merciful, kind-hearted, and compassionate.
While these descriptions are undoubtedly accurate, they paint a one-dimensional picture of Jesus because he was very tough. However, we either can’t see this side of him, or we choose not to because if we saw him as being tough, then we would have to take him more seriously than we do. No? We make the same mistake in painting the God of the Old Testament, only in reverse. We only see only the tough side of God, and the loving, merciful, kind-hearted, and compassionate side of him escapes us completely.
In today’s passage, we see the tougher side of Jesus as he continues to talk about end times. And he mentions two incidents from the Old Testament to describe the suddenness with which it would come. Matthew refers to Noah and the Flood; Luke also speaks about Lot and Sodom. The point in both is the same. People would be eating, drinking, and making merry, ignoring all the warnings they were given about impending disaster, and then suddenly were swept away in a flood or destroyed in a fire. Why did they ignore the multiple warnings they had received and get their acts together? The simple answer is that they didn’t want to stop having fun! Or, if you want it put bluntly, they didn’t want to stop sinning!
Is it any different for us? Two years ago, Covid-19 hit the world in great force. There were lockdowns everywhere, and people were forced to stay home, wondering how long their provisions would last. Death seemed to be lurking around every corner. I thought the world would be shocked to its senses and turn toward God in repentance, but I guess the world has a harder heart than I imagined. Now there are earthquakes and floods, and other disasters taking place with great intensity everywhere. It reminds me of Pharaoh. Even after ten plagues, his heart never changed.
I really hope ours does.
May the Spirit be with you.