Saturday, June 28, 2014

"As It Was In The Days of Noah...."

Noah and His Ark by Charles Willson Peale
Our Lord is quoted in Matthew 24:37 as stating: "But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." Similarly, in Luke 17:26, the Lord says: "And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man." 

These verses have sparked some interesting debate and speculation. Many interpret these verses as saying that conditions prior to the Second Coming will be like those of the days of Noah, and then look at scriptures concerning that time. That is all well and good, to a certain extent, because we read about those times: "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." (Genesis 6:5). Certainly we live in a time of unparalleled evil.

We also read:
 11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 
 12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. 
 13 And God said unto 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.
(Genesis 6:11-13). Is that really true of today? Many believe that we live in the most violent time in history. Although I questioned it at the time, in November 2012, I noted two studies that showed that there was less violence today than at anytime in history. The book War Before Civilization also makes clear that there is far less violence today, than among tribal societies, ancient or modern. (Of course, peace now is not a guarantee of peace in the future, and one of the reasons to read War Before Civilization is to get an idea of how violence increases in the absence of civilization, such as we may see in a partial or total collapse. And let's be honest, places like Detroit and East St. Louis represent a partial collapse or where the veneer of civilization is very thin). But although there seems to be a surfeit of war, we also live in a time of falling crime rates and lengthy periods without major conflicts between major powers. This will undoubtedly end--for instance, we know from scripture that Jerusalem will again be besieged, and great armies will fight over it.

But this is not as far as people go in their interpretation. Many look at Genesis 6:1-2, which read:
 1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, 
 2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
And put it together with Genesis 6:4: "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." This has led to a lot of theorizing about what "the sons of God" and "daughters of men" and "giants" mean, and if there is some connection. One of the versions of the Septuagint (but only one!) translates "sons of God" as "Angels" which, combined with Jude 1:6, has resulted in some commentators theorizing that fallen angels had mated with earthly women to form "human-hybrids" which was the intent of the flood to destroy. Many of these same commentators believe that, accordingly, in these last days we will see human "mutants" or alien-human hybrids (see also here).

I would suggest that in the foregoing, the commentators have missed the mark. If you read the verses from Matthew and Luke in context with the surrounding passages, you get a very different interpretation. First, from Matthew:
 36 ¶But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 
 37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 
 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 
 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 
 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 
 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 
 42 ¶Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 
 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 
 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
Similarly, in Luke:
26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 
 27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. 
 28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 
 29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. 
 30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. 
 31 In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. 
 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 
 33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. 
 34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. 
 35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 
 36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
In context, these are not warnings of "giants" or "angel/human hybrids." The Lord is explaining, by example, that the events of the Second Coming will be sudden, taking people unaware. The days of Noah refers to the fact that the people in Noah's day ignored Noah and continued in their daily activities without a care to the future when--BAM!--the fountains opened and the rain fell, and it was too late. He is warning us to be prepared and to not physically or spiritually "look back" or hesitate.

This is a theme that is repeated many times through the gospels. For instance, in the parable of the ten virgins, the virgins (who represent the church) know the general time of the grooms (i.e., Christ's) coming, but not the precise time. Five of the virgins are ill-prepared and leave to buy oil and, when while they are gone, the groom arrives and the five that left were not later admitted to the wedding. The final verse of the parable concludes: "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."

2 comments:

  1. Something I've noticed in the scriptures you quoted and otherwise referenced is that there is a 50-50 split. Half will be taken, half will be left. Half will be prepared, half will not. Recently, the vote counts for many elections are decided by a difference of a very small number of votes - the electorate is split nearly 50-50.

    I have also noticed that many people are largely oblivious to current events. I was recently at a convention where retired Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, former director of the NSA, gave a speech. The speech largely consisted of a long inventory of places around the world that are experiencing various types of political and economic turmoil. Because I try to keep up on current events, I pretty much knew about everything he discussed.

    D&C 88:79 tells us to gain knowledge about things of this world, including history and current events.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very true. The Lord gave us signs for a reason--to provide guidance and warning to the faithful. Thus, it behooves us to be aware of what is going on in the world so we can recognize the signs of the times.

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