Our theme for this month: “Life on this side of the cross”
Our Bible verse for today: “By faith Noah, after he was warned about what was not yet seen, and motivated by godly fear, built an ark to deliver his family.” Hebrews 11:7 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Be ready; help others to be ready; and then live your life.”
In yesterday’s devotional I noted that there are many people today claiming that the COVID 19 pandemic is a clear sign that we are living in the End Times. In that message I cited Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24:36-39 which drew upon the example of Noah. In that passage Jesus said first, that no one can know when the end will come. And second, even in the days of Noah people were going about their daily lives, completely unaware that the end was upon them.
I believe there are two important lessons for us in that passage. First, Jesus paints a sad picture of people who had ignored more than 100 years of preaching and warnings from Noah that God was preparing to bring judgment upon the world. Therefore, when the end did come, they weren’t ready for it. Instead, they were so wrapped up in their daily lives that they were oblivious to the peril of the times and they weren’t ready when the judgment came.
However, the other lesson is that nobody knows when the end will come. That’s true today and it was true in Noah’s day (including for Noah himself). If we do the math in Genesis chapters six and seven, we realize that from the time God told Noah to begin his preparations, until the time the flood actually came, more than 100 years passed. During those years Noah simply lived his life. He got up each day and went to work; he raised his kids; he interacted with his neighbors; and he faithfully followed the Lord’s instructions (Hebrew 11:7). Noah didn’t know if the end would come in a year, or ten years, or a hundred years, or five hundred years. All he knew was that he was to live his life as a faithful man of God, and do his part to prepare himself and others so they would be ready whenever the end did come.
That’s also what we are to be doing. God has intentionally left us in the dark with respect to when the End Times will be. He has told us to be ready at all times and to help others to be ready too, but then we are to simply live our lives and trust in His timing.
This is important. In our day there are people who are convinced that the end is upon us and therefore there is no reason to make long-term plans or to prepare for any future here on earth. I know a family where the parents were so convinced of this (for more than twenty years now and counting), that they made no plans to send their children to college, or to get them vocational training, or to prepare them in any other way for a future – because their belief was that there wasn’t going to be a future because Jesus would come back first. Unfortunately, Jesus has not come back and that thinking has left those children unprepared for the future that is now upon them.
On this side of the cross God has created an intentional tension within which we are to live. On the one hand we are to live as if Jesus could come back today, but then we are to plan and prepare as if He isn’t coming back for another 100 years. We are to be at peace with God ourselves, and we are to help others be in a right relationship with Him too; but then we are to live our lives and plan for our futures. We are to help build hospitals and schools; we are to plan for our children’s college educations; and we are to save for our own retirement. We are to live as if Jesus could come back today, but we are to plan and work as if He isn’t coming back for another 100 years.
In all probability this COVID 19 pandemic is just another in a long, long history of plagues, famines, and natural disasters that are simply part of life in a broken and bleeding world. There have been many disasters like this over the last 2000 years, and there will probably be many more in the years, decades, and perhaps centuries ahead. Rather than concluding that this must be the end of time, and then acting like it, we are to simply get on with life as faithful followers of Jesus.