Perilous Times in a Wicked
by Steve Butler
But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying
and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not
know until the flood came, and took them all away; so also will the coming of
the Son of Man be (Matt. 24:37-39;NKJV).
Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: they ate, they drank, they bought,
they sold, they planted, they built; But on the day that Lot went out from
Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed (Luke 17:28-
With these words, Jesus Christ answered His disciples' questions about the
signs of the end of the age.
Christians today call this time the "second coming of Christ" and, like the
first disciples, are very interested in the characteristics of earth's final
generation. What will those times be like? How will they compare to the days
of Noah and the days of Lot? Could our present
generation be the one that Jesus was speaking about?
Jesus stated in verse 36 of the "Olivet Discourse," as this section of
Matthew's Gospel is called, that ". . . of that day and hour knoweth no man,
no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." The Lord was cautioning
His followers not to speculate about the exact date and time of His return
and the judgment of the world, but He did urge believers in every generation
to ". . . be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do
not expect him" (Matt. 24:44;NIV).
In the Olivet passage, Jesus is describing some of the basic activities of
human life - eating, drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage. Luke's
inclusion of the activities of Lot's day also include buying, selling, planting,
and building. What Jesus seems to be saying is that people will be going
about their everyday business when He suddenly returns for His church and
ultimately judges lost mankind.
Those Were the Days
What about the days of Noah and the great flood? Why did Jesus refer to
Lot and the destruction of Sodom? Why were these two events linked
together in Luke's record of Christ's discussion of the Second Coming?
Because God's judgment came swiftly upon two civilizations that were
perverse and wicked beyond turning back.
By examining the biblical record of the Genesis account of Noah's times and
the days of Lot, some sobering light may be shed upon parallels between
those days and the 1990s.
And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on
the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of
God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took wives of all
which they chose. And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with
man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty
years (Gen. 6:1-3).
The sixth chapter of the Book of Genesis describes the expansion of the
human race both numerically and geographically upon the earth.
As mankind populated the earth, it seems that the sons of the descendants
of Seth, the third son of Adam and Eve, desired the daughters of the
descendants of Cain and intermarried with them. Apparently, the desire for
Cainite wives, as well as for the daughters of the Sethite line, was based on
sensual appetite rather than on love,
common heritage, and especially, godly virtue.
This practice greatly displeased the Lord God because, by this time, the
righteous Sethite line had departed from its former dependence on God and
followed its debased yearnings that resembled the natures of ungodly and
defiantly independent Cainites.
In Genesis 6:3, God said, ". . . My spirit shall not always strive with man, for
that he also is flesh. . . ." The Holy Spirit of God would not abide as a moral,
ruling force in the lives of straying rebellious people. There would be a limit
to the patience of a righteous and generous God who was the only source of
restraint upon a race that was willingly dominated by the "flesh."'
The term "flesh," in biblical terminology, refers to man's carnal nature, not to
his creaturely kinship to the animal world through a material body. Mankind
resisted the influence of the Holy Spirit and had become flesh .2 As a result
of sensuality and willfulness, the human race's days upon the earth were
limited to 120 years.
God reveals His pending judgment even as He allows time for repentance
through His grace.
Men of Violence
Along with marriages based on the unequal yoking of godly and ungodly
partners, men of violence and lawlessness seemed to roam the earth,
contributing to the general atmosphere of vanity and ungodliness that
dominated the age before the flood.
There were giants in the earth in those days; and also
after that, when the sons of God came unto the daughters
of men, and they bare children to them, same became the
mighty men which were of old, men of renown (Gen. 6:4).
The term "giants" is better translated as those "who fall on others" or falling
ones." Nephilim is a more accurate name from the Hebrew, Naphal, "to fall."'
The Nephilim were probably roving men of violence who preyed on the
population as robbers and tyrants (according to Luther, Keil and other
commentators) .4 They may have been warriors of large physical stature like
the Rephaim (mighty ones) of Deuteronmy 2:11 and the Anakim (long-necked ones) of Numbers 13:22 and Joshua 15:13-14 in the Old Testament.
Whoever the Nephilim were, they were present before, during, and after the
birth of the offspring of the Sethite men and the Cainite
daughters. Many of these children grew up to be "mighty men," (Hebrew,
Gibborim - the strong, impetuous heroes), and "men of renown," literally,
"men of the name," known by many. They may have been, according to
Calvin, "honorable robbers who boasted of their wickedness."
Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was
great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only
evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth,
and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, 'I will destroy man whom I
have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing
and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.' But Noah found
grace in the eyes of the Lord (Gen. 6:5-8).
Through His patient oversight, God saw the wickedness of man was
widespread on the earth and that every fashioned purpose of the thoughts
of his heart (the seat of the emotions of the mind) was only set on evil
literally every days. Mankind had become depraved to the extent that evil
was the race's sole identifying characteristic.
Such a state was the result of man's willful rejection of his Creator and moral
guide and his enjoyment of brute force and self gratifying indulgence as he
oppressed those who were weaker. Obviously, the law of the jungle and the
rule of the strongest prevailed over the moral restraint encouraged by God.
Verse 6 states that the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth
and He was grieved in His heart. God was sorry that He had put men on His
earth, and He grieved because He still cared for man. Man's depravity
merited his destruction as the judgment of God would blot out man's reign of
corruption. Even the lower animals would be recipients of the consequences
of man's removal.
Fortunately for the race, during the 120 years of grace, Noah found approval
before God, and he and his family would be saved when judgment would
come through the great worldwide flood. This family would be God's remnant
through which mankind would populate the earth after the Flood.
As the rains came for 40 days and nights upon the civilization of Noah's day,
so fire and brimstone rained from heaven upon the
wicked society of Sodom and Gomorrah.
But on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained
fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.
Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is
revealed (Luke 17:29-30).
In each of these biblical accounts, judgment came swiftly from God as the
iniquity of people became full. Destruction was the final answer to continued
sin and lack of repentance.
Jesus reveals to us that these same conditions will prevail upon the earth
when He returns for His church and judges earth's last generation. How were
the days of Lot like those of Noah?
The eighteenth chapter of Genesis describes a startling visitation of God and
two of His angelic messengers to Abraham, the patriarch of the Hebrew
people and uncle of Lot. This "theophany," or visible appearance of God in
human form, was to announce the promised birth of a son to the aging
Abraham and wife Sarah, and to conduct God's judicial investigation of
Sodom and Gomorrah's sins.
Verses 20-21 record the Lord's statement that "... the outcry against Sodom
and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous, I will go down
now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry
against it that has come to me; and if not, I will know."
Of course, God already knew the sins of the "cities of the plain," but He
apparently wished to demonstrate the justice of His judgment to His servant
Abraham, who represented God's chosen, righteous people. Abraham and
his family would be God's instruments for explaining His judgments to an
Being a man who had great compassion for others, Abraham seemingly did
not understand the magnitude of God's grace and tolerance. The patriarch
sought a reprieve for Sodom and Gomorrah by asking if the cities would be
spared if 50 righteous men could be found in Sodom. God was patient with
His servant, but after the number was reduced to 10, Abraham, too, realized
that righteousness was not to be found within the city.
As soon as He was finished speaking to Abraham, the Lord disappeared.
Grace was shown to Abraham's nephew, though, as the two angels
continued on to Sodom where they encountered Lot.
Genesis 19 continues the narrative of the angels' interaction with Lot and the
perverse men of Sodom. Lot was sitting in the
gateway area of the city when he noticed the strangers. Hospitable like his
uncle Abraham, Lot offered his own home as lodging for the angels to spend
the night. There is no indication that he assumed they were anything but
The divine messengers declined Lot's invitation at first but later gave in to
his persistence. One can deduce that Lot's earnestness may have been a
combination of the eastern custom of hospitality and his concern over the
travelers' safety among the Sodomites at night.
God's Final Response
After eating supper at Lot's home before bedtime, the angelic guests and
their host heard the presence of the men of Sodom who "... both old and
young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they
called to Lot and said to him, 'where are the men who came to you tonight?
Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally"' (Gen. 19:4-5).
Lot responded to the Sodomites' homosexual lust (hence, the term "sodomy"
for such acts) by going out the door and imploring the men of Sodom not to
violate the law of hospitality to strangers. Desperate to protect his guests,
Lot offered his virgin daughters to the perverse mob (Gen. 19:8). By doing
so, Lot revealed the effect that living in such a perverse city had on his own
The unruly multitude, which represented men of all ages from every part of
the city, was so far gone in degradation of body and mind that it would not
be satisfied with abusing the young women. Instead, it mocked Lot and
threatened to do worse to him than to his guests.
As the men sought to break down Lot's door, he withstood them until the
angels pulled him into the house and shut the door.
And they struck the men who were at the doorway of
the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they
became weary trying to find the door (Gen. 19:11).
The angelic messengers struck the Sodomites with blindness, yet they still
groped for Lot's door, until they all tired. This is another indication of the
depths of sexual perversion and inordinate lust to which the people of that
wicked city had fallen. Even blindness could not deter them from seeking to
molest Lot and his guests. Only physical tiredness and the inability to enter
the house caused them to depart.
Afterward the angels warned Lot to speak to his family and sons
in-law and prepare them to leave Sodom, "For we will destroy this place,
because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the Lord,
and the Lord has sent us to destroy it" (Gen. 19:13). Lot's future sons-in-law
thought he was joking with them and didn't heed his advice.
Sodom's attraction to Lot and his family seemed to continue as the angels
sought to lead them out of the city the next morning. The messengers had to
take Lot, his wife, and two daughters by the hand and lead them out of the
city before punishment befell the area.
While being instructed to flee to the nearby mountains for safety, Lot
begged to be allowed to go to the little town of Zoar (originally named
"Bela") and that it might be spared as the other cities of the plain were
destroyed. Lot gave the impression of being an obsessive urbanite.
After the angel allowed Lot to journey toward Zoar, the Lord rained down
fire and brimstone out of heaven upon Sodom, Gomorrah, and the other cities
of the plain, causing a geological upheaval that obliterated the once-fertile
area. At the same time, Lot's wife disobeyed the angel's directive not to look
back or stay anywhere in the plain, and she perished, becoming a pillar of
salt (Gen. 19:15-26).
Fully Grown Sin
The wayward spirit of Sodom did not cease to influence Lot's family after the
destruction of the cities of the plain and the death of his wife. Lot and his
two daughters later left Zoar and took up residence in a mountain cave, "For
he was afraid to dwell in Zoar" (Gen. 19:30).
Fearing that none of the local men would take them as wives, the older
daughter persuaded the younger one to plot with her to get their father
drunk and then to have sexual relations with him while he was in a stupor.
The plan worked during two consecutive nights and eventually two
offspring were born from their incestuous acts, and their father's lineage was
Lot's perverse daughters evidenced no shame for their abnormal sex acts
because they named their respective sons in descriptive terms. The older
daughter's son was called Moab, "from the father," and the younger
daughter's child was called Ben-Ammi, "son of my people .118 Each of these
sons would be the forefather of nations that would be perpetual enemies of
Israel after the conquest of the Promised Land. They were known as the
Moabites and the Ammonites.
As the biblical record reveals, sin, if not repented of and
cleansed, will produce pride, lust, violence, and destruction. Though God is
loving and patient, He is also just and righteous. That is, by His very nature,
He will not tolerate the revolting activities of man's selfish desires forever.
The apostle James wrote that "Each one is tempted when he is drawn away
by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives
birth to sin; and sin, when it is fully grown, brings forth death"
(James 1: 14-15).
The selfish desires of the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah produced their
own destructions. The twisted procreative desires of Lot's daughters
resulted in the deaths of multitudes of Moabites, Ammonites, and Israelites
in territorial wars that were waged among them over the centuries.
Sin, which is rebellion against the holy purposes of God and His authority to
guide human lives, always leads to alienation and judgment. So it was in the
days of Noah and so it was in the days of Lot.
New Days, Old Ways
What about our day, the 1990s? Is judgment coming upon our society in the
United States and upon the world? Are there parallels in the lifestyles of our
generation to those of these previously judged generations? Is man coming
to that place in history when God says, "Enough!" and sends His Son Jesus
Christ to retrieve His church and execute judgment on a wicked and defiant
Jesus said, "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour in
which the Son of Man is coming" (Matt. 25:13).
Our generation has suffered through 30 years of a gradual abandonment of
what has been called "traditional values." These are the ethical mores and
standards of right and wrong that guided the United States for more than 200
years. Actually, these values and standards of thinking, acting, and viewing
life have been referred to as the Judeo-Christian ethic.
Since our nation and much of our western world has abandoned these
traditional values, mankind has paid a heavy price for the illusionary and
nonexistent happiness and "freedom" that moral relativism has promised but
Writing in the August 8, 1994, issue of U.S. News & World Report, editor-in-
chief, Mortimer Zuckerman asks "Where Have Our Values Gone?" He notes
that three out of every four Americans think we are in moral and spiritual
decline. Two out of three think the country is seriously off track. Social
dysfunction haunts the land:
crime and drug abuse, the breakup of the family, the slump in academic
performance, the disfigurement of public places by "druggies, thugs, and
Zuckerman goes on to say:
We certainly seem to have lost the balance between societal rights and
individual freedoms. . . . Crime is sanctioned by the fact, real or imagined, that
the criminal had an unhappy childhood. Gone are the habits America once
admired: industriousness, thrift, self-discipline, commitment.... Instant
gratification is the new order of the day. Personal impulses, especially sexual,
are constantly stimulated by popular music and television, with other mass
media not far behind. TV and music often seem to honor everything that the
true American ethic abhors violence, infidelity, drugs, drinking - and to
despise everything that it embraces - religion, marriage, respect for authority.
No wonder it is difficult to sustain parental values and parental continuity.
Zuckerman also laments that "altruism is not encouraged in a culture of
Self-centeredness is definitely at the heart of man's problems, whether in
America or the rest of the world. Generosity and selfsacrifice are necessary
ingredients for marriages, families, and nations to prosper. The alternative is
division, strife, and the splintering of a society.
According to Steven Roberts, in another article from U.S. News & World
Report, the family structure is continuing to change in America. The Census
Bureau reports that the birth rate for unwed mothers has jumped 82 percent
in the past 10 years, and the number of divorced Americans has increased
almost four times since 1970. Roberts observes that more kids are being
raised with less supervision and fewer resources, putting them at greater risk
An article by Phillip Elmer-Dewitt in Time magazine notes that single parents
in America number more than 9 million. 10 Population watchers have pointed
out that children raised by single parents are more likely to get in trouble."
The most criminally active males are between 15 and 29 years old, and the
number of teenagers is expected to increase in the general population by 23
percent over the next decade. From 1965 to 1990,
juvenile murder arrests alone rose 332 percent. Citing these figures in
Newsweek Michel Marriott deduces that the trend is likely to continue in
the years ahead due to deepening child poverty, destabilization of families,
and more guns, drugs, and nihilism among young people. 12
The Final Generation
If the grim state of American society is not enough to sober any thinking
person, consider the international situation. Wars and rumors of wars blot
the globe. Hundreds have been killed in Bosnia, as have possibly half a
million or more Tutsis in Rwanda. Haiti is still tumultuous, and Russia's
democracy could easily fall. In the Middle East, peace is more prevalent but
fragile. Instability seems to be the only consistent trend. The world needs a
deliverer, but only One from heaven can do the job - Jesus Christ.
The days of Noah and Lot were much like our own: violent, proud, indulgent,
and perverse. Noah's generation was noted for its defiance of God's rule and
its tendency toward violence and sexual lusts. Lot's generation in Sodom
was known for its obsession with sex to the point of homosexual rape and
incest. This behavior was contrary to the laws of God and man. Our own
society now condones sexual appetites of every persuasion, just as Sodom
did. Should we be spared?
Judgment may very well be upon us in reaping the bitter harvest of moral
relativism that our modem world has so eagerly sampled. The fruit of this
harvest is very bitter, and the solutions to our problems are beyond the
resources of politics, economics, and academics.
The solutions are found only in the good news of a Saviour who has offered
to enter the hearts and minds of every person who will accept His deity,
sacrificial payment for their sins, and the forgiveness of a holy and gracious
God. Obedience to God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will
change the hearts of people. When a person's heart is changed, his life can
change; and when people change for the better, societies and governments
change for the better.
Jesus Christ told His followers nearly 20 centuries ago that ". . . This good
news of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the
nations, and then the end will come" (Matt. 24:14).
The good news is being preached on every continent on the globe today.
Many people have heard the gospel, but others have not. When they hear,
earth's final generation will see Jesus.
It may be very soon. Are you ready?