The Days of Noah

Jesus compared the final years before his return to the days leading up to the Great Flood. “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be” when the “Son of Man” returns. Some commentators take this as a prediction of the return of the same conditions existing in Noah’s day, the repetition of the moral anarchy and violence that prompted God to send the floodwaters.

Certainly, all periods of human history have featured chaos, immorality, and catastrophes, but this interpretation ignores the literary context, and the point of the analogy. The fuller version of his saying is found in Luke where Jesus compared this final period to the “days of Noah” and the “days of Lot,” with either analogy stressing the same point - (Luke 17:26-30).

Floodwaters - Photo by Lukas Hron on Unsplash
[Photo by Lukas Hron on Unsplash]

Since no one except God knows the timing of that day, we must remain vigilant and prepared for its sudden arrival. The comparison with the “
days of Noah” illustrates the point. Jesus said nothing about the return of gross sin, violence, or terrestrial upheaval. Whether such things will occur in history’s final years is not the point of the comparison.

Like the period before the Flood, men will go about their daily routines, “eating, drinking, marrying, planting, building, buying and selling.” This describes everyday life, not chaos or egregious sin. Men will go about their daily routine as if nothing unexpected and disastrous would ever occur despite the testimony of preachers of righteousness and the lessons of history - (2 Peter 2:5, “If God did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness…).

Before the Flood, the problem was the failure of humanity to heed the call for repentance issued by Noah. Men lived as if the judgment would never come until the final moment when destruction fell.

The analogy stresses man’s indifference to warnings of inevitable judgment. Only Noah and his family believed God “about things not yet seen,” and therefore, Noah prepared the ark, and he and his family were saved - (Hebrews 11:7).


The Flood arrived without warning for the rest of humanity as if Noah had failed to alert his neighbors. They did not listen and consciously closed their ears to his voice. Likewise, the sudden arrival of the “Son of Man” will take many men by surprise. The conditions described by Jesus portray NORMALCY, NOT CHAOS.

In the account in Luke, Jesus declared that the Kingdom would not come “with observable signs” (paratérésis). This translates a Greek word medical practitioners used for diagnosing diseases by observable symptoms, and for making careful astronomical observations.

The timing of his arrival cannot be calculated by discerning cosmic and other signs. When he does come, it will be like “lightning flashing out of the one part under heaven and flashing into the other part under heaven” - sudden, unmistakable, and visible to all.

Jesus added an illustration from the “days of Lot.” Before the “Son of Man” arrived, people would conduct their regular affairs, “eating, drinking, marrying, being given in marriage, buying, selling, planting and building.” In Lot’s time, fire fell suddenly from heaven and destroyed the city of Sodom, and so “will it be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.” Disciples must not become too comfortable in this life. They must take heed--

  • Lest at any time your hearts are overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness and the cares of this life, and so that day COMES UPON (ephistémi) you UNEXPECTED (aiphnidios). For just as a snare shall it come upon all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch, therefore, and pray always to be accounted worthy TO ESCAPE (ekpheugō) all these things.” – (Luke 21:34-36).

The Apostle Paul uses this same saying of Jesus in his letter to the Thessalonians when making a similar point:

  • (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3) - “For yourselves know accurately that the day of the Lord is coming thus as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, ‘Peace and safety,’ then UNEXPECTED (aiphnidios) destruction COMES UPON (ephistémi) them as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall NOT ESCAPE (ekpheugō).”

The Greek term translated as “unexpected” (aiphnidios) in the preceding passages occurs nowhere else in the New Testament except in these two verses. The “Day of the Lord” will arrive when it is least expected, “just like a thief in the night.” Likewise, Peter warned of the coming time when:

  • Scoffers walking after their lusts will scoff; Where is the promise of his coming, for since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation!” - (2 Peter 3:2-4).

Earth BW - Photo by Krzysztof Hepner on Unsplash
[Photo by Krzysztof Hepner on Unsplash]

In times of global catastrophes, even atheists tend to believe something “apocalyptic” is imminent. But during periods of peace and prosperity, the human tendency is to assume that life will continue as usual. Whether the final days before his return will be characterized by chaos and catastrophe is not the point of Christ's comparison with the 
days of Noah.”

Thus, Jesus paints a picture of normalcy for the period leading up to his return, not one characterized by cosmic catastrophes, unrestrained violence, and moral anarchy. The unprepared will be overtaken by his sudden and unexpected “arrival.” Therefore, we must remain prepared at all times for that day.

  • The Final Sign -  (The End will not come until this Gospel of the Kingdom of God has been proclaimed to all nations on the Earth – Matthew 24:14)
  • This Generation - (The generation contemporary with Jesus witnessed the events predicted by him that culminated in the Temple’s destruction – Mark 13:28-31)
  • Coming on the Clouds - (The whole earth will witness the Son of Man arriving on the clouds to gather his elect to himself)



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