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LESSONS FROM THE FLOOD

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, October 6, 2013

“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 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, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37-39).


In his celebrated book The Gathering Storm Winston Churchill told how England was asleep while the forces of evil in Hitler’s Germany prepared for war. England was not ready because they thought there would always be peace. Only Churchill knew that they were living on the brink of destruction. No one listened to his warnings! And so it is again in our time. The Bible says,

“When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them...and they shall not escape” (I Thessalonians 5:3).

The Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said, “The forces of evil have begun their decisive offensive.” In a chapter titled “The Coming Darkness” Dr. Edward Hindson said, “It seems that we are digging in for what may well be the final onslaught against biblical Christianity” (Ed Hindson, Ph.D., Final Signs, Harvest House, 1996, p. 77).

Before he became a Christian Charles Colson was a top advisor to President Nixon. The liberal media called him Nixon’s “hatchet man.” After his conversion Colson pointed out that the Roman Empire became so corrupt from within that it fell to warring bands of illiterate barbarians. He said, “the church had to stand alone against the barbarian culture of the Dark Ages” (ibid., p. 78). But today the churches themselves have become so corrupt that they offer little hope of saving our civilization. Dr. Carl F. H. Henry, a leading evangelical scholar, said, “Disillusionment over organized Christianity is soaring; one can see it in the statistics of declining church attendance...A whole generation is growing up with...no eternal concerns...Savages are stirring in the dust of a decadent civilization and already slink in the shadows of a disabled Church” (Carl F. H. Henry, Ph.D., Twilight of a Great Civilization, Crossway Books, 1988, p. 17).

Dr. Henry said, “The fountains of the great deep are broken up in our time. Institutions that have endured for a millennium are awash, and the...question before us, is whether the whole fabric of civilization can survive” (ibid., p. 16). He said, “The barbarians are coming. All our scientific achievement can be misused by those coming barbarians for their cruel and cunning deeds. Hitler and the Nazis have already [used] scientific know-how to cremate people by the hundreds of thousands in those highly efficient gas chambers. Stalin and other totalitarian tyrants long ago learned that captive mass media could enslave myriads [multitudes] of modern men” (ibid.).

The mainstream liberal media today seem to be doing just that – rubber stamping with approval every position taken by Barack Obama. Congressman Randy Forbes said, “The actions of this [president] have been the most damning to religious freedoms...of any administration I have known or read about in the history of our country” (Decision magazine, October 2013, p. 17). Bishop Harry Jackson, one of the nation’s most prominent African-American religious leaders, and a registered Democrat, said Obama has become an enemy to traditional Christianity and that the nation is “at a very big crisis moment” (ibid.). He said that we are “a civilization on the brink of calamity” (ibid., p. 19). Even Bob Woodward, the liberal journalist who started the exposé of Watergate, is concerned. He told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, “There is deep, deep suspicion about this White House in many quarters, and it isn’t just from your network or the right-wing or the conservatives” (ibid., p. 19). Many evangelicals believe that Barack Obama is the most dangerous man who has ever occupied the White House. Billy Graham’s Decision magazine said that Obama has put America on “a perilous path” as “the president devalues biblical principles and religious liberty” (ibid., cover story). In that same magazine, Rev. Don Wilton, a prominent Baptist pastor said, “Satan wants to destroy every living person and he does so by creating doubt and by using deception and any other means available. His purpose is to conquer, steal, divide and destroy” (ibid., p. 29).

Added to the deterioration of Christianity in America is the rise of militant Islam. Last month 80 Christian churches were bombed by Muslims in Egypt alone. One of those church buildings had existed since the 4th century! They blew it to pieces a few days ago! Muslims are now attacking Christianity at an unprecedented rate throughout the world. And Iran is on the verge of creating an atomic bomb. Their leaders have repeatedly said they will destroy Israel and the United States. They are working feverishly to prepare nuclear weapons.

Another great problem facing your generation is the ecological crisis. For instance, man’s destruction of the Amazon rain forests was called by Time magazine, “One of the great tragedies of history” (September 18, 1989, pp. 76-80).

Just last Wednesday (October 2, 2013, p. AA1) the Los Angeles Times had a report on Yosemite’s largest glacier. The article said, “The largest ice mass in the park is in a death spiral, geologists say.” Greg Stock, the park’s geologist, said, “We give it 20 years or so of existence – then it’ll vanish, leaving behind rocky debris.” The article said that the disappearance of these large masses of ice “is also occurring around the world. Great ice sheets are dwindling, prompting concerns about what happens next to surrounding ecological systems.” Global warming will change our whole way of life in the next couple of decades.

Dr. Hindson gave the most frightening problem, “Today the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, China, Israel and India already have atomic weapons...it is only a matter of time until the inevitable disaster strikes” (ibid., pp. 87, 88).

Many scientists are pessimistic about the future. One of them said, “It’s now possible to destroy the human race in a single day.” But a Canadian scientist replied to him and said, “You’re mistaken. It’s now possible to destroy all mankind in a single minute” (Billy Graham, The Challenge: Sermons From Madison Square Garden, Doubleday and Company, 1969, p. 158). The Bible says,

“The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (II Peter 3:10).

That day is coming. It is inevitable. “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.” You don’t expect a thief to come. But suddenly he does – without warning! And that is the way judgment will come. People will not be prepared! The vast majority will not be ready! “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.”

One day the Disciples came to Jesus on the Mount of Olives, just outside Jerusalem. They asked Him a question, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3). He did not rebuke them for asking that question. Instead He gave them many signs of the end. They asked for one sign, but He gave them many signs “of the end of the world.” He said there would be many false Christs, and many false prophets. It would be a time of spiritual deception. In our time there are the false “Christs” of the cults, and the false Christ of theological liberalism in most of the great seminaries. Christ said there would be endless wars and rumours of wars. Since World War I the world has experienced one war after the other. Liberal theologians thought that Christianity would triumph, and bring an era of unprecedented peace in the twentieth century. But their hopes were dashed by World War I, and its aftermath. Harry Emerson Fosdick, a leading liberal, gave up the idea of a Christian Utopia. He said, “If one’s thinking is dominated by the gigantic events of our generation, we cannot avoid despair.” So Bible-rejecting liberals turned to existentialism in their hopelessness and despair. There is so much despair today that suicide is now the number one cause of death among college-age young people! I read that in an article just last week. Christ also said there would be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, multiplying as this age draws to a close. He said that Christians would be “hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” He even said that professing Christians would betray one another, and hate one another. He said that lawlessness and sin would become so rampant that the love of Christians toward each other would grow cold. But Christ also said that the Gospel would be “preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” And then Christ gave one great sign of the end. He said,

“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 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, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37-39).

The Disciples had asked Christ for a sign of His coming and the end of the world. He gave them many signs. Then He told them that the time of the end would be similar to the time in which Noah lived, before the Great Flood. He said, “As in the days that were before the flood...so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:38, 39). He told them, as it was then, so shall it be at the time of the end. Dr. M. R. DeHaan, a widely respected Bible teacher, gave a number of signs that were characteristic of the days of Noah. Here are six of the signs he gave:

1.   It was a time of religious apostasy.
2.   It was a time of travel throughout the world.
3.   It was a time of city building.
4.   It was a time of polygamy and sexual excess.
5.   It was a time that was dominated by wild music.
6.   It was a time of unprecedented violence.
         (M. R. DeHaan, M.D., The Days of Noah, Zondervan
           Publishing House, 1979 edition, p. 41).

I have no time to go into detail explaining all that. I will simply give you a paragraph on the days of Noah from a sermon Billy Graham preached in Madison Square Garden in 1969. I remember watching that sermon on television. He said,

The Bible teaches that toward the end of the age, it will be a time of peril, war, destruction, lawlessness, immorality so great that God will have to intervene and stop the whole thing... (Billy Graham, “The Day to Come,” ibid., p. 164).

Speaking of the days of Noah, the Bible tells us that,

“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... And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth” (Genesis 6:5, 7).

And Jesus said that they “knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:39). I want you to focus on those words of Christ, “...the flood came, and took them all away.”

There will not be a flood at the end of this age. The world as we know it will start to come to an end when God pours out His wrath in the “Bowl Judgments” of Revelation 16:1-21. “The fierceness of [God’s] wrath” will be poured out on this wicked world at that time (Revelation 16:19). The world will not be ready for that awful judgment. They will be as unprepared as the people in Noah’s day, when “the flood came, and took them all away” (Matthew 24:39). I want you to notice three things about that text, gleaned from great Spurgeon’s sermon on “Noah’s Flood.”

I. First, “The flood came, and took them all away.”

The destruction of the Great Flood swept every unsaved person away. All of them drowned in a watery grave. Not one unsaved person was spared. “The flood came, and took them all away” (Matthew 24:39). Those who were very rich were swallowed up in the angry flood. The poor did not escape either. No, the flood came and it took them all away. The learned scholars of that day were not spared. The ignorant people also drowned. I tell you, neither knowledge nor ignorance can save you in the coming day of the wrath of God!

When Noah constructed the ark it was the greatest ship that had ever been built to that time. It was a huge vessel. It was one of the wonders of the world in that day. Noah built it on dry land, far from any river or sea. People came to see it from all over the world, like they come to Disneyland today. I can imagine them calling Noah a madman. Many of them came from great distances to see this monstrous ark. And as they came Noah preached to them about the coming Flood. The Bible calls him, “a preacher of righteousness” (II Peter 2:5). But they were not converted by his preaching. They not only turned away when he preached to them, but they undoubtedly ridiculed him as well. Yet the Flood came and took them all away. When judgment comes, there will be no mocking. When you fall into the fires of Hell, you will wish you had listened to the Gospel and trusted Christ. But it will be too late then. Your unbelief will be gone, but then it will be everlastingly too late for you to be saved, as it was for them when “the flood came, and took them all away.”

II. Second, when the Flood came they were only concerned with the things of this world.

They were so caught up in the things of this life that they were not prepared for eternity. Christ said,

“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” (Matthew 24:38).

All they thought about was eating, marrying, and drunken parties.

We will have a beautiful wedding here at church tonight at 5:30. We will have a banquet afterwards. There’s nothing wrong with that. But those were the only things they thought about in Noah’s time. They thought only about the things of this life. They gave no thought to eternity, and to the salvation of their souls. They were like some of you, who think it is a waste of time to come to church every Sunday. I hear some college students, who come to visit our church, say they have to study on Sunday. Every young person in our church is in high school or college. Yet they know they have plenty of time to study if they use their time wisely. In every service we give you a sheet with 12 points on how to study. If you follow those points you will have plenty of time to be in church every Sunday, and still make straight A’s in your classes. I myself went through college at night, while working forty hours a week during the day. But I never missed church to study. And God blessed me for putting Him first. Before I decided to be in church in every service I was a poor student. But then I made a commitment to be in church every Sunday morning and every Sunday night. After I made that commitment to Christ I made an A average at Cal State L.A., even though I was working full time during the day, and taking 3 or 4 classes every quarter at night! Jesus said,

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

In my own life I proved that Christ’s promise is true. I put God first by being in church every Sunday morning and every Sunday night, and God helped me to make good grades in college. My son Leslie was a straight A student in accounting at Cal State Northridge. He graduated first in his class, and was honored by being chosen to give the valedictorian speech when he graduated. He, too, never missed church on Sunday morning and Sunday night. If we put God first in our lives by never missing church, Christ promised that the blessing of God will be on our lives!

But the people in Noah’s day, and in our time, think that is foolishness. They think they need to spend hundreds of hours playing video games and watching violent, sexually stimulating movies. To them, that is far more important than putting God first by being in church. But I read an article last week that said pornography is as addictive as a powerful drug. Once you get hooked it is virtually impossible to get free again! Only Christ can set you free – and only if you commit your life totally to Him! Those who continue to reject Christ will pay a heavy price for their sinful materialism and worldliness. When the judgment of God falls on the world they will be unprepared. The people in Noah’s day were not ready when “the flood came, and took them all away” (Matthew 24:39). The Bible says, “Prepare to meet thy God” (Amos 4:12). Are you prepared to face God? Or will you be sent to Hell, where “the fire is not quenched”? (Mark 9:44). “The flood came, and took them all away.”

III. Third, all who were in the ark were safe when the Flood came.

Spurgeon said, “Nobody fell out of that [ark]; nobody was dragged out; nobody died in it; nobody was left to [die] in it. They were all preserved in it…The ark preserved them all, and so will Jesus preserve all [who are] in him. They will be eternally secure. None of them shall perish, neither shall any pluck them out of his hand” (C. H. Spurgeon, “Noah’s Flood,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1976 reprint, volume XIV, p. 431).

Noah’s ark is a type, or picture, of salvation in Christ. We read in Hebrews 11,

“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house…” (Hebrews 11:7).

Noah and his family were saved because they went into the ark of safety before the judgment of the Flood destroyed the world. Because Noah’s family followed him into the ark, they too were spared. The Bible says that God

“…spared not the old world, but saved Noah…bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly” (II Peter 2:5).

The ancient commentators said that the ark was a picture of the church. That is generally rejected today, but I think the old scholars had a good point. In the third century the scholar Cyprian (200-258) said, “There is no salvation outside of the church.” John Calvin, the great Reformer, said the same thing. I think they had a point. Dr. A. W. Tozer (1897-1963) said, “There can be no service acceptable to God in this age that does not center in and spring out of the church…Whoever scorns the local church scorns the body of Christ” (A. W. Tozer, D.D., “The Vital Place of the Church,” from God Tells the Man Who Cares, quoted in Warren W. Wiersbe, The Best of A. W. Tozer, Baker Book House, 1978, pp. 64, 65).

So, in a sense, the ark is a picture of the church. I said, “In a sense,” because you can attend church and still not be saved. Many people who go to church are not real Christians.

I am quite sure that a great number of lost people, perhaps even thousands of them, came to see the ark. And I feel equally sure that many of those people actually went into the ark. They undoubtedly walked through the structure, looking at the various rooms, going up and down, from one floor to the other in it. And yet they did not commit themselves to the safekeeping of the ark. They came and went. Sometimes they were there, and at other times they were not there. They were not in the ark when the Flood came, so they perished.

Coming all the way into the ark, and abiding there, is a picture of an unsaved person coming all the way into the church, trusting Jesus Christ, and abiding in Him. The NIV translates the words of Christ in John 15:6 like this, “If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away…into the fire and burned.” So, only those who fully come to Christ, and remain in Him, are saved.

Usually people come to church before they take the Gospel seriously and are saved. That’s the classical way people get saved, at least it was before today’s apostasy produced confusion on these things. Several of you are here in church, but have not yet trusted Jesus. May I say to you as strongly as possible – church attendance alone will not help you when the day of judgment comes. Jesus spoke of a man who came into the visible church, but had no wedding garment. The king said to that man, “How camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?” The man was speechless. Then the king said, “Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 22:12, 13). You can only get a “wedding garment” by trusting Jesus. If you refuse to come to Him, you have no hope of escaping the judgments that are about to fall on this world. If you refuse to come to Jesus you will not escape the eternal fire of Hell.

I am certain that there must have been unsaved carpenters and workmen, and primitive engineers, who worked with Noah as the ark was being built. But they did not trust the ark. They knew all about it. But they did not entrust themselves to it. They were like some of you who come to church but do not come to Jesus. I warn you, if you come to the church, but refuse to trust Jesus, you are going to be very shocked when He sends you away, into the flames of Hell. Christ Himself said,

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not... done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22, 23).

Jesus died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sin. But if you refuse to trust Him, you will be outside the ark of salvation when judgment comes. Jesus shed His Blood to cleanse you from all sin. But if you do not trust Him, you will be outside the ark of salvation when judgment comes. Jesus rose from the dead to give you the new birth, even life eternal, but if you don’t trust Him you will spend eternity in the fire that shall never be quenched. I plead with you this morning – come to Jesus, the Son of God, before it is too late for you! As Mr. Griffith sang a few minutes ago, “In times like these, you need a Saviour.”

If you want to trust Jesus, please leave your chair now and walk to the back of this auditorium. Dr. Cagan will take you to a quiet place where we can talk and pray. If you would like to become a real Christian, please go to the back of the auditorium now. Dr. Chan, please pray for someone to trust Jesus and be saved this morning. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Matthew 24:32-42.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“In Times Like These” (by Ruth Caye Jones, 1902-1972).


THE OUTLINE OF

LESSONS FROM THE FLOOD

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 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, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37-39).

(I Thessalonians 5:3; II Peter 3:10; Matthew 24:3;
Genesis 6:5, 7; Revelation 16:19)

I.   First, “The flood came, and took them all away,” Matthew 24:39;
II Peter 2:5.

II.  Second, when the Flood came they were only concerned with the
things of this world, Matthew 24:38; 6:33; 24:39; Amos 4:12;
Mark 9:44.

III. Third, all who were in the ark were safe when the Flood came,
Hebrews 11:7; II Peter 2:5; John 15:6; Matthew 22:12, 13;
Matthew 7:22, 23.