In the final days of His earthly ministry, Jesus had this to say about the final judgment:
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matt. 24:36-39).
Our Lord indicated that the global flood was a huge surprise for the world in Noah's era. The people of that day lived as they pleased (mostly in wickedness) and were oblivious to what God planned and preached through Noah. Sadly, there is a strong parallel to be made between the global flood and Judgment Day (i.e., the surprise that should not be). Note these points of similarity:
- God has issued a divine verdict. The world was full of evil and God said - "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth" (Gen. 6:7). Today the world is again full of evil and God will judge all - "Do not marvel at this: for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation" (John 5:28,29).
- God has declared a divine plan. God instructed Noah to make an ark of gopher wood for the saving of himself and his family (cf. Gen. 6:14ff). When the time was right, God sent Jesus to live a sinless life to atone for the wickedness of the world. God expects man to respond to His grace by a living, obedient faith (cf. Eph. 2:8-10; James 2:14-26).
- God has sent forth a divine warning. God declared - "Behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth...everything that is on the earth shall die" (Gen. 6:17). God has warned mankind today - "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up" (II Pet. 3:10).
- God has extended a divine invitation."Then the LORD said to Noah, 'Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation" (Gen. 7:1). Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 - "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
- God has provided divine security and care."So those that entered [the ark], male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the LORD shut him in" (Gen. 7:16). God continued to care for Noah even after he was secure in the ark (cf. Gen. 8:1). Jesus declared - "I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly...My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:10,27,28).
- God has proclaimed a divine commission."Then God spoke to Noah, saying, 'Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons' wives with you'" (Gen. 8:15,16). To the unsaved, God's commission is "come in." To the saved, God's commission is to "go out" and make disciples (cf. Matt. 28:19,20).
When Jesus returns it will be a big surprise for most, and--like the global flood--it won't be pleasant. However, this is a surprise that will not catch the faithful off guard. Let us watch and pray always, endeavoring to live righteously for Jesus until He comes (cf. Matt. 25:13).