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. . . Therefore, you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:36-39; 44)
It wasn’t long ago, when children throughout the Commonwealth were awoken to a familiar routine as they prepared to go to school as they have done for years. Although, many expected this day to be the final day for a couple of weeks, it probably came as a surprise when the Governor announced all public schools to be shut down for the remainder of the year. On March 24th, which was yesterday for me, I witnessed a caring act for students, when the Wilson Elementary School’s teachers and certainly some staff were led by a police escort throughout our neighborhoods as they waved from their cars with their names on the side of the car. The term bittersweet never meant more to me and my family. Many of us are familiar with the term bittersweet when we describe chocolate. Perhaps there is a moment of sweetness, but the aftertaste left in our mouths is one of bitterness. The parade-like ceremony was sweet because the children, including my Olivia delighted as she saw the familiar teachers, but it turned to bitterness when these children realized it is the last time, they will see their teachers.
The passage describes a time in the past as it compares to one in the future. The past event was the great flood that unleashed God’s judgment on the world as they filled their lives focused on minutia while neglecting the greater things of God, just as the Jews often focused on the small parts of the Law while neglecting the greater things of God’s commands. These people were eating and drinking and living life to the fullest unaware God was about to end life as they knew it. What would have happened if at the last moment as the rain began to fall, hundreds of people remembered what Noah said and repented of their sin? I believe God would have forgiven them as he did with the people of Nineveh when they were warned by God’s prophet. We are also told of a future event that will mirror the days of Noah but with greater intensity as the Lord returns in what is called, “the coming of the Son of Man.”
The crisis created by the Covid-19 virus reminded us of the importance of human life as a priority. Sporting events were cancelled such as the NBA season, NCAA basketball tournament, and even the MLB season will be delayed for the sanctity of life. I watched with interest as I heard those who espouse abortion declaring the value of every human life. Oh, how I pray they really mean those words as they consider their own political views. The intrinsic value of life is not a human invention but God’s declaration, and it is right for us to value what God values.
In times of crisis, what people value and their character become obvious. For some reason, stockpiling toilet paper was of supreme value for many people. I don’t know this for certain, but I would not be surprised that some people have 100 or more rolls in their homes. This reminds me of my childhood when after my great grandfather died, we were cleaning his house, and I discovered and delighted in a 1908 Sears and Roebuck catalog. I asked my grandmother if I could keep it and she told me they used those for toilet paper when she was young. I also have seen another disturbing trend among pastors and church leaders as their rebellious nature arise. These are those who refuse to listen to their governors and President and state they believe in God and will not listen. This is certainly not good Christian leadership as the Bible tells us in Romans 13:1, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”
What do we do when our lives have been inconceivably reduced to the basics? What do we do when our leaders tell us to stay in our homes unless it is necessary to leave? What do we do when we are told to isolate ourselves socially? We obviously should listen to our leaders, but we need to return to those things that are most important. Times like this are a curse and a blessing at the same time. They are opportunities for us to consider our lives and return to those things that are most important. As much as I personally enjoy the Olympics and the NCAA tournament, it is not the most important thing. It is a great time to evaluate our lives when many of things that hold our attention have been stripped from us. This is not a time to collect all the toilet paper we can but a time to return to the Lord. I am not saying food and supplies are not important because we need them, but our greatest need is the Lord. Who keeps us from stumbling and entering eternity? Is it not the Lord? Lean upon him and delight in the God of your salvation. Grow closer to him and do not waste this time of waiting for the virus to minimize its impact in our world.
It has been my hope and prayer that God would use this time for his glory as he may create a revival in our nation and around our world. Perhaps people would not think they are so invincible and realize they could stand before the Lord at any moment. People are terrified because of this uncertainty, and it is important they turn to the Lord before it is too late. The good news is that if the Lord does not return then 2021 will arrive, but what will we do? Perhaps this would be a great time for us to evaluate our devotion to the Lord, return to the spiritual disciplines, delight in our God, and reach out to our community with the gospel. Think about it, our church and communities have been closed by this virus. This is a time to be humble and return to the Lord because time is short and the Lord will return, but not even the angels in heaven know when this is going to happen.
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Pastor Steven Lookabaugh has been our pastor since 2016 and is passionate about proclaiming the gospel of God through the weekly exposition of God’s Word; believing application is possible when one understands the historical/cultural meaning of the text. He leads our church in fulfilling our purpose toward the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations, and to the Great Commandment as we seek to love one another. He has a Doctor of Ministry degree in Expository Preaching from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with an emphasis on parabolic exposition. He is married to Jennifer and they have three children, Andrew, Kate and Olivia.