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APOSTASY IN THE DAYS OF NOAH - PART I

(SERMON #78 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, May 18, 2014

“As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37).


If you have heard me preach for a while you will see that this prophecy means a lot to me. There are several reasons for this. First, I was converted when I heard a sermon by Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge from the third chapter of II Peter. Dr. Woodbridge was a great scholar. He was a graduate of Princeton, and had taught church history at Fuller Theological Seminary before he resigned because of growing liberalism at that seminary. Second, because he spoke of the Great Flood in the days of Noah from II Peter. And third, because what he preached from that chapter caused me to completely change my mind about the Book of Genesis. Before I heard that sermon at Biola College, I had believed in the theory of evolution, and I had thought that the accounts of creation and the Flood were only myths – just old fairy tales. So that one sermon from II Peter three, not only was used to change my mind about the Book of Genesis, but it was also used to convert me to a living faith in Jesus Christ!

About the same time I heard Billy Graham preach a powerful sermon on “The Days of Noah.” I also began listening to Dr. J. Vernon McGee each day on the radio. Dr. McGee spoke strongly on the reliability of the Book of Genesis, where the account of Noah and the Great Flood are given. Dr. McGee, speaking on our text, said, “Christ will come in a day which will be like the days of Noah” (Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume IV, p. 131; note on Matthew 24:37).

Then, too, I usually listened to Dr. M. R. DeHaan on the radio. Dr. DeHaan often emphasized the days of Noah and the Second Coming of Christ at the end of this age. Dr. DeHaan wrote a tremendous book on this subject titled, The Days of Noah (Zondervan Publishing House, 1963). Go to Amazon.com and get a copy, even if it is a used one! It will bless you! Also, my pastor, Dr. Timothy Lin, was an Old Testament scholar, who had taught Old Testament Hebrew and related languages in the graduate department of Bob Jones University, and who later was one of the translators of the Old Testament in the New American Standard Bible, and also taught at Talbot Theological Seminary and at Trinity Evangelical Seminary in Deerfield, Illinois. Dr. Lin taught the absolute authority of the Book of Genesis, and the literal reality of the Great Flood. Because of Dr. Lin’s great scholarship several Old Testament scholars spoke at his church where I was a member, like Dr. Gleason Archer of Trinity Evangelical Seminary, and Dr. Charles L. Feinberg, the dean of Talbot Theological Seminary. I heard these great Old Testament scholars in person many times.

And to cap all this off, I went with Dr. Lin to the Southern Baptist Convention in San Francisco, in 1962, where Dr. Lin spoke briefly before the Convention against Ralph Elliott’s liberal attack on Genesis titled, The Message of Genesis (Broadman Press, 1961). Elliott attacked the Mosaic authorship of Genesis, and the Great Flood as a myth. Dr. Lin strongly defended Moses as the author and the reality of the Flood. That was the first time I attended the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. K. Owen White, who had also spoken at our church, also spoke out against Elliott’s book. All of these factors made a great impression on me as a young man in my early twenties. I can only say that an attack against Noah and the Flood seemed (and still seems) to be an attack against the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ Himself believed the Book of Genesis. That’s why the Lord Jesus Christ had no problem referring to Noah and the Flood as authentic facts when He said,

“As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37).

If Christ didn’t know what He was talking about, how could He be the Second Person of the Trinity, the Lord of glory? I had my answer at the age of 21 and I will stick to it till the day I die!

“As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37).

So, what was it like in the days of Noah? It seems clear that we can say at least three things about those days before the Flood.

I. First, it was a time of growing apostasy.

Please turn to Genesis 4:26. Here we read that Adam had a son named Seth. Later he had a son named Enos.

“And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26).

The name of Enos means “mortal” or “frail.” It means he was a “frail, weak mortal.” This gives a pessimistic tone to what follows. For some reason I haven’t been able to figure out yet, the next words are translated wrong according to the ancient rabbis. “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” Luther said, “The rabbins [rabbis] understand this as having reference to idolatry. They think that about this time the name of Jehovah began to be given to creatures, to the sun, the moon, etc.” This idea comes through in the KJV center note, where the translators put the alternate reading as, “then began men to call themselves by the name of Jehovah. Appendix 21 from The Companion Bible says,

What was really begun was the profaning of the name of Jehovah. They began to call something [else] by the name of Jehovah. The Authorized [KJV] Version suggests “themselves” in the margin. But the majority of ancient Jewish commentators supply…the words “their gods,” suggesting that they called the stars and idols their gods, and worshipped them…The Targum of Jonathan says, “That was the generation in whose days they began to err, and to make themselves idols, and surnamed their idols by the Name of the Word of the Lord”…Kimchi, Rashi and other ancient Jewish scholars agree with this. Rashi says, “Then there was a profanation [profaning] in calling on the name of the Lord.” [The ancient Christian scholar] Jerome says this was the opinion of many [Jewish scholars] in his day. Maimonides, in his commentary…in a long treatise on idolatry, gives the most probable account of the origin of idolatry in the days of Enos. The name Enos agrees with this; for the name means frail, weak, sickly, incurable…If Jonathan, the grandson of Moses, became the first idolatrous priest in Israel, what wonder that Enos, the grandson of Adam, introduced idolatry among mankind. Moreover, what “ungodliness” did Enoch, “the seventh from Adam,” have to prophesy about in Jude 14, 15, if pure worship was begun in the days of Enos, instead of profaning the name of the Lord? Surely this is sufficient evidence that this profaning of the name of the Lord was the reason why Enoch was raised up to prophesy against it (Appendix 21, The Companion Bible).

What we see in Genesis, chapter 5 is a spiral downward into apostasy and idolatry. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, is the only exception because “he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5). Whatever else can be said about the time recorded in Genesis, chapter 5, this description by the Reformer, John Calvin, sums it up,

...it too evidently appears how great is the propensity of men, either to gross contempt of God, or to superstition; since both evils must then have everywhere prevailed (John Calvin, Commentaries on the Book of Genesis, Baker Book House, 1998 edition, vol. 1, p. 224; comment on Genesis 4:26).

Here is one more fact – not one good word is given about any of the patriarchs in the fifth chapter of Genesis – with the exception of Enoch. It is said that “Enoch walked with God” (Genesis 5:22). That is not said again until Noah, “and Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). We are not told that any other patriarch “walked with God” before the Flood. I believe that is why Hebrews 11 skips from Abel to Enoch, as though the others didn’t even exist! In Hebrews 11 it goes from Abel to Enoch to Noah. Therefore I think the old rabbis got it right. Genesis 5 is a description of the growing apostasy before the Flood.

The apostasy of Genesis 5 ends with mankind given over to the wickedness we see portrayed in Genesis 6:5 and 6, “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. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth... But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:5, 6, 8). And Jesus said, “As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37).

The apostasy of the professing church is foretold in II Thessalonians 2:3, where we are told that the Day of the Lord “shall not come, except there come a falling away first” (II Thessalonians 2:3). The words “falling away” are a translation of the Greek word “apostasia.” Every sign indicates that we have already moved into this time of apostasy, which is prefigured in the days of Noah in the Book of Genesis. Three sources led to the apostasy of our time: Semler (1725-1791) started the trend toward criticism of the Bible. Darwin (1809-1882) undermined the belief in man’s creation. Finney (1792-1875) changed conversion into “decisionism.” From these three Satanic sources the apostasy of Christianity has arisen. People do not take the Bible seriously. People tend to think of themselves only as animals. Decisionism put a stop to major revivals in 1859, and today most people who think they are saved have only experienced a false conversion. Click here to read our book, Today’s Apostasy. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said,

Modern evangelicalism is very unlike the evangelicalism of the eighteenth century, and of the Puritans. The genuine evangelicalism is that older evangelicalism.

William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, in 1901, said,

The chief dangers that confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration... heaven without hell (both quotations from the back jacket of The Old Evangelicalism by Iain H. Murray, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2005).

These are men who spoke of today’s apostasy. Jesus said,

“As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37).

I have used up most of my time showing you that the apostate condition of our churches parallels the apostasy in the days of Noah. I can only touch on the last two points on the days of Noah.

II. Second, it was a time of unbelief.

The Apostle Peter said,

“There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming?” (II Peter 3:3, 4).

The Bible teaches that Christ is coming again through the clouds to set up His kingdom on earth. But the Apostle Peter said that people would scoff and ridicule the idea, that they would walk after their own lusts and deny the coming of Christ, and the judgment of the world.

Isn’t that exactly the way it was in the days of Noah? Christ said,

“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).

Christ said they “knew not until the flood came.” It wasn’t lack of information that made them ignorant of the coming judgment. Noah was “a preacher of righteousness” (II Peter 2:5). They knew what he was preaching. They also knew what Enoch had preached,

“Behold, the Lord cometh... To execute judgment upon all” (Jude 14, 15).

They knew judgment was coming, but they didn’t believe it!

There are young people here tonight who know that judgment is coming. You have heard me speak about the fire of Hell. You have heard me speak about the end of the world. But you don’t believe it will happen to you! You are like those people in the days of Noah, who “knew not until the flood came, and took them all away” (Matthew 24:39). May God open your eyes and convict you of sin and judgment before it is too late for you, and you drop into the everlasting flames of judgment. Come to Christ! Be washed clean from your sin by His Blood! Come to Jesus now before it is everlastingly too late! As Mr. Griffith sang before this sermon,

In times like these you need a Saviour,
In times like these you need an anchor;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!
This rock is Jesus, Yes, He’s the One;
This rock is Jesus, the only One!
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!
(“In Times Like These” by Ruth Caye Jones, 1902-1972).

“As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37).

III. Third, it was a time when very few were saved.

The Bible speaks of “the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water” (I Peter 3:20). Few – that is eight souls – were saved – out of the whole world! Only eight people were saved in the ark!

Everyone assumes that they will be saved. What a mistake! It would be far better to assume that you will be lost! Jesus made that clear when He said,

“...narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14).

FEW THERE BE THAT FIND IT! That’s what the Lord Jesus Christ said! Are you going to risk your soul by not believing Him? FEW THERE BE THAT FIND IT!

I pray that you will wake up! Wake up! Wake up! FEW THERE BE THAT FIND IT!

Oh, how I pray that you will wake up to your danger!

I know that the evangelicals you know are a big mess. I know that your college professor laughs and mocks the Bible. I knew that everyone around you – even the President of the United States – is a rank unbeliever, a scoffing Christ rejector! Oh, don’t go to Hell with them! Oh, come to Jesus and be washed clean from your sin. Oh, the ark was a type of Jesus, a picture of Him. Oh, come into the ark and be saved! Oh, come to Jesus and be saved from the wrath of God, and the judgment of your sin! Come! Come! Come in! Come in to Jesus and be saved!

The inquiry room is open. If you would like to speak with us, go to the back of the auditorium now. Dr. Chan, please pray for someone to be drawn to Jesus tonight. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: II Peter 3:1-7.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“In Times Like These” (by Ruth Caye Jones, 1902-1972).


THE OUTLINE OF

APOSTASY IN THE DAYS OF NOAH

(SERMON #78 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37).

I.   First, it was a time of growing apostasy, Genesis 4:26; Hebrews 11:5;
Genesis 5:22; 6:9, 5, 6, 8; II Thessalonians 2:3.

II.  Second, it was a time of unbelief, II Peter 3:3, 4; Matthew 24:37-39;
II Peter 2:5; Jude 14, 15.

III. Third, it was a time when very few were saved, I Peter 3:20;
Matthew 7:14.