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In The News - The Earth is Filled With Violence Genesis 6:13

Violence is at an all-time high — reminiscent of another time in world history. God said to Noah: "The earth is filled with violence." (Genesis 6:13) Prophecies compare the time of the end to the days of Noah. What is the message to us today?

"But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." — Matthew 24:37

Jesus gave to his disciples this parallel of the days of Noah as a prophetic evidence of his return. This should motivate all of Jesus' followers to review the conditions that existed in Noah’s day, over four thousand years ago. Knowing exactly what happened then will help in understanding how Jesus was applying this picture to his second advent.

The conditions of Noah’s day are found in Genesis 6:4-8: “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”

This description portrays a time when the sons of God left their position in heaven as angelic beings and took women of Adamic stock as wives. Moreover, the children born of these angels were a hybrid race — different from Adam’s human family. They were giants both physically and mentally — men of renown also known as Nephilim. (Genesis 6:4) Because of their superior stature, they became tyrants over the human race, and wickedness filled the earth to the point where God saw that if He did not intervene, there would be no hope of saving the human race from permanent self-destruction.

Antitypical Giants of the Latter Days

Of Noah’s day, God said that “evil and violence filled the earth continually.” And is it not so today? There is such a thirst for evil, violence and self-gratification, that, if it is not actually happening on the face of the earth, the entertainment industry will create in the media to feed the depraved imagination. The Scriptures declare that this evil will increase to an unparalleled climax: “...a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation... and the wicked shall do wickedly...” Daniel 12:1, 10
It was the improper blending of the spiritual with the natural that brought into being the giants of olden times and their corruption throughout the earth. And in this we find a remarkable parallel in our time. Are there not amongst men today giants of a different sort of almost unlimited power? Do we not see increasing protests against the political, social, financial and religious princes of the earth who have become too greedy, too powerful? Christian nations, blessed with greater spiritual enlightenment, have had a greater responsibility to exercise the principles of righteousness. However, the improper blending of this enlightenment with the spirit of greed has brought about giant institutions which are oppressing the poor. “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 (NAS)

This spirit of selfishness has brought violence and evil to an unprecedented level throughout the earth. And, as a consequence, a deluge of another sort is about to overwhelm the tyrannical political, social, financial and religious institutions of this present time.

Revealing a Hidden Message
Noah’s day covered a period of 120 years — a period of preparation, building the Ark and preaching righteousness. (Genesis 6:14-22) As Noah was present for a considerable time before the flood, so it will be in fulfillment of the antitype — Christ will be present for a period of time before the climax of this age — engaged in preparing his ark of safety.

Another key in understanding the hidden message is having an accurate translation of the Greek words in Matthew 24. Poor translations have misled Christians into thinking that the conditions we see in the earth today are only leading to his coming. In Matthew 24:3 and 37, this word coming in the Greek is parousia—para, meaning beside or alongside of, and ousia, a form of the verb to be. Instead of the KJV wording: “so shall also the coming of the Son of man be,” the thought should more properly be translated: “so shall also the presence of the Son of man be...” As Noah was present in his day, it would then be logical to presume that Jesus would also be present in his day. But this concept totally overturns traditional Christian teaching. How can those looking for a future coming of Christ accept that he could already be here?

In 2 Peter 3:10 the Apostle Peter explains exactly how this is possible: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise...” Just as Noah was ignored by the people of his day, so too, the second advent of Christ will be unseen as he arrives as a thief in the night. The first stage of his coming or presence will be invisible, unseen, thief-like, and the work he will be doing will parallel that of Noah’s work. Therefore, the many signs of his coming in Matthew 24 are actually the signs of Christ being present — already here, setting things in motion that will eradicate the corruption that is in the earth.

Scoffers in the Last Days
The prophetic signs given in Matthew 24 were given to encourage and enthuse Christians, but they have an opposite effect upon the world at large. When Noah was building the ark in preparation for the flood there were scoffers — those who ridiculed Noah and his work. Likewise today, many are rebuffed who rejoice to see the presence of the Son of man. “There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming [parousia/presence]?’” (2 Peter 3:3-4) As conditions in Noah’s day blinded the people to his work and purpose, likewise those living today are so caught up in their busy lives that they lack the awareness of Christ’s work and purpose. “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming [presence] of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24: 38, 39) Thus, it was not the flood, but the presence and work of Noah before the flood which prefigured the return of Christ at his second advent.

Not only is Jesus’ return spoken of as being secretive and thief-like, but it is also spoken of as a snare upon the world. (2 Peter 3:10; Luke 21:34-35) As life continues its hectic pace — eating, drinking, and marrying — it is a temptation for the Christian to be swept along with this rapid current of life and to become numb as to the reality around them. “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thessalonians 5:6

Rainbow in the Clouds

Connected with the Matthew 24 prophecy is Jesus’ statement that His second coming would be seen in the clouds. This is another symbolic statement. The Scriptures use the term clouds to picture trouble, and we certainly are living in troublous times, with every eye beholding this condition throughout the earth. Zephaniah 1:15 verifies what these clouds represent: “That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress...and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness...” The world is experiencing trouble, because Jesus is shaking up and tearing down this old order which will culminate in the great tribulation of Matthew 24:21. See also Isaiah 13:13

Returning to the illustration of Noah’s day, when the rain began to stop, the sun shown through and created a rainbow. It was after the flood that God made what is known as the rainbow covenant. (Genesis 8:20-21; 9:11-13) “I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off... This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth... I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake... neither will I again smite any more everything living, as I have done.” This unconditional covenant was a promise, and the rainbow was a token or a sign of that covenant. Even today it is a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness — it is a holy symbol — not to be confused with the misguided symbolism of the rainbow of colors associated with the LBGT movement of today. (See "God's Holy Standards vs. Moral Relativism")

Understanding the antitype fulfillment of this rainbow covenant is critical. The promise was made to all flesh — not merely to the human race. God’s promise was that He would never again destroy every living thing. The purpose of Noah’s ark was to preserve life -— to carry with Noah the seeds for a new world — not a new planet — but a new civilization upon the earth.
Jesus confirmed this beautiful rainbow of promise in Matthew 24:22 when he said: “and except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved...” What does this imply? God will not permit the trouble to go so far as to destroy all flesh — there will, indeed be flesh saved. This is a very important distinction between the type and the antitype. In Noah’s day all flesh that was not in the ark was destroyed. By contrast, in Jesus’ day all flesh will not be destroyed. This is a distinction that makes a big difference to the world of mankind. Luke 9:55, 56

The Ark of Salvation
In the type, Noah and his family prepared an ark — a means of salvation for the human family and for the preservation of the animal kingdom. So, too, in the antitype, Christ is doing a preparatory work for the salvation of the world. Even now, we see the evidence of that work which started with the regathering of the Jews to their homeland. This critical sign in context with Jesus’ work at his return is shown in Matthew 24:32 where Israel is described as budding forth as a fig tree. Fulfillment of this prophecy is evident as Israel has taken its place among the most productive and stable nations of the world. Amos 9:14

Yes, as Noah’s ark was for the purpose of saving life, so the antitypical ark that Jesus is preparing is for the purpose of saving life. After the flood, Noah and his family were given the important work of replenishing the earth. After the great tribulation of our day, the antitypical Noah and his family (Christ and his faithful church) will also have a special work to do. Their work will be to restore life and the paradise that was lost in the Garden of Eden. Acts 3:19-21 assures us of this work associated with the second advent of Christ: “...the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” This beautiful prospect is also confirmed in Revelation 22:17, which speaks of the work of Christ and his church: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Here we see that Christ and the church call to the inhabitants of the earth, inviting them to hear the words that will bring them life—not the life that ends in death as we see it now, but life everlasting. (See "RESTITUTION: Cornerstone of the Gospel Message")

In the type, it was after the flood that the rainbow covenant was made with Noah. Likewise, it is after the great tribulation that Christ will make a new covenant with all flesh through the nation of Israel. Call to mind God’s description of this same great event. After telling that the whole earth will be devoured with the fire of His jealousy, he adds, “Then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.” (Zephaniah 3:8, 9) Thus we are shown that the fire which shall devour the whole earth will not be a literal one, but symbolic, for although the social structure will be entirely consumed, the people will remain. Then God will give unto the people His message of truth in its purity. “The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings,” and “the earth shall be full with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the great sea.” (Malachi 4:2; Isaiah 11:9) This will be the beginning of the new heavens and the new earth spoken of in 2 Peter 3:13 and the last three chapters of Revelation.

Clouds with a Silver Lining
If we recognize that we are in the last days, then we should rejoice in the prospect that this will bring about a new start — a new heavens and a new earth. We can be thankful that this is not just about saving ourselves alone. The loving plan of God is broader than just a handful of Christians who accept His Son now. It goes back to the promise given to Abraham that in his seed — Christ and his Church — shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Galatians 3:29; Genesis 22:17, 18) We know that this is a prophecy of a future time, for all families have certainly not been blessed as yet. In the type of Noah and his family, salvation meant the beginning of a new world. In the antitype, it is much broader than that. The ones who are saved in this antitypical ark — the Church — are the ones who will bless the remainder of all flesh in due time. This is the Gospel — the real good news! By God’s mercy, this poor, deluded world will then have the opportunity to be brought back to all that was lost when Adam sinned — human perfection and everlasting life in a paradise restored — Jesus’ life being the ransom price to accomplish this. 1 Timothy 2:3-6; 4:10

This is the silver lining to the clouds of trouble. And, as the sun shines through the rain and creates the rainbow, we can also see beyond the clouds this beautiful token of God’s love and promise to provide, protect and prepare the world for an eternity of future blessings. The storm clouds of the great tribulation do not signify the end — they forecast the beginning of the times of refreshing which shall come from the presence of the Lord!

Reprinted by permission of the Associated Bible Students of Central Ohio