“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:36-39
Most people fixate on trying to figure if our day is as evil as in Noah’s day. But Jesus wanted His disciples to understand that most people could care less about His coming. That is what happened in Noah’s day. People were going about their lives as if nothing was going to happen. Life was normal, life was good. Noah was the crazy one to be so concerned about what God was up to.
The world, for the most part, ignores God until something gets out of whack. And so Christ will come and it will be a total shock. Just as in Noah’s day. They were not prepared for the judgment of the flood, and neither will most of the world be prepared to meet the ultimate judge, Jesus Christ
Notice verse 36: “But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” This is the subject sentence of the entire paragraph. Verse 42 repeats the thought: “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” Jesus rephrases it in verse 44: “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him.”
Luke’s version makes this especially clear:
And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. (Luke 17:26-30)
People ignore God. They do not tremble before Him. Isaiah 66:2 reveals what God looks for:
All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
However, as Isaiah continues, this is not what God finds on earth. He says:
“…These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations; I also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring their fears upon them, because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes and chose that in which I did not delight.” Isaiah 66:3-4
People say they believe in God, but when it comes down to reality, they believe in a god of their own making, one who tolerates their sin and excuses their lack of devotion. They prefer a tolerant, dismissive god, one who stays in the background and doesn’t get in the way of their lives. God is a convenience, someone to come to their aid when calamity strikes.
Paul writes that “the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape” (I Thessalonians 5:2-3). Just when men begin to think they have a handle on society’s problems, total chaos and destruction will erupt. They will call to their ‘god,’ but He will do nothing. It will be too late, just as it was in the days of Noah, of Lot, of the fall of Israel and Judah. This is why the Psalmist warns:
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. Psalm 2:12
Peter reminds us of scoffers coming in the last days who would say, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (II Peter 3:4). The apostle goes on to cite the example of the Flood—which came on suddenly and unexpectedly—as an event that broke the natural cycle of life (verses 5-6). Such is the time of Christ’s return.
All of these prophetic warnings include the admonition to watch and be ready for it when it comes. As Paul says:
But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. . . . Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober, . . . putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. (I Thessalonians 5:4, 6, 8)
Christ’s return will not be sudden and unexpected to true followers of Christ. We may not know the day or the hour, but we will be somewhere “in the ballpark.” Jesus says His day “will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:35). But, as verse 34 says, if we “take heed to [our]selves,” not being mired down by sin, we will be expecting it.
We are certainly living in times very like those of the days of Noah, so the return of Christ could come anytime soon. Knowing this, our job is to watch and pray and overcome so “that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (verse 36).