The popular emphasis of the days of Noah and the days of Lot is the wickedness of the day. However, Christ’s words indicate it is the worldliness of the day that catches people asleep. It is the day in and day out of living, of having a life, of making a life, of enjoying life. Culture and society are seemingly oblivious and uncaring of matters of the sacred. Driving forces of day to day living are consuming society and little to no thought is given to the accounting of deeds, the desires of a Creator, the temporariness of life on earth. This life is the mainstream of thought.
Unfortunately, this is characteristic to too many of the western churches I have been a witness of. Programs and activities are centered around the consumption of daily needs: eating, drinking, family affairs, building relationships and careers, etc.
Paul spends considerable effort in 1 Corinthians 15 reiterating what the Gospel really is, and he says this in verse 19 [KJV]:
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
The original language is best caught in the New American Standard that translates it more accurately: that if it’s in this life only that we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than any other. Our hope, which should catapult us to our passion, is in the Resurrection. Our activities on this earth should point us and those around us to eternity! This is not the final chapter. This is not the end. Have we lost sight of this? Has the Church lost sight of this?
If we are being consumed with the activities of this life, we are in grave danger of being unaware as time is being wrapped up. Christ has clear things to say about servants that were not ready for their Master’s return.
Matt 24:42-51 (NAS)
“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.
“Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Surely this depicts life in Sodom and Gomorrah when Lot was removed from these cities! Surely the citizens of Sodom were unconcerned about any judgment or destruction hovering over them! Surely they had been busy living their lives, making their money, raising their families, etc. and had paid little to no heed about an accounting for their deeds or the thoughts of their Creator! In fact, it says Lot’s future son-in-laws thought he was joking when he told them they needed to flee the city with them. They flippantly disregarded the warning and went about their routine, to their demise.
Catch some of the key phrases of Christ’s warning:
“…that if [he] had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and not allowed [the destruction to himself]…” Clearly if we know danger is coming our way, we prepare. Christ directly correlates this, “For this reason you also must be ready…” A change of circumstances is coming, and Christ in His great love for us told us in advance.
“Who then is the faithful and sensible…?” Who is the Christian who has taken his responsibilities seriously and is found doing them upon Christ’s return? Is it the western church? Is it me? Do I recognize there are specific tasks we’re given and are to be found doing when our Master returns? Are we doing what He said to do: healing the sick, cleansing, raising from the dead, making disciples? Or…
Do we think to ourselves, “My master is not coming for a long time”…? Oh we probably don’t actually think it in those words. We probably just have a vague notion of His return as some far off future date. Maybe we’ve hung around the cynics of Peter’s day, “There shall come in the last days scoffers…saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?’” Regardless, we get dull. And while we may not physically abuse our fellow believers, do we slander our brothers and sisters, manipulate or control them, disregard them, afflict them? And maybe we don’t get rip-roaring drunk, but do we carelessly entertain ourselves?
Because this is the circumstance that will be abounding when Christ returns.
And if our hope as Christians who profess to follow Christ is merely in some good living while we build ourselves a life here, we should indeed be pitied. We will be like the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah when the angels visited. Oh we may not be like the wicked men who circled Lot’s house demanding to have sex with his male visitors. But we may be like the neighbor just minding his own business, getting ready for work in the morning, tending to the needs of his household.
Christ warned us of life on earth at His return. He warned us people who called themselves as belonging to Him would not be ready for His return. He warned us His return would be a surprise and would catch people unaware. He said people would be caught up in daily living and unprepared for an accounting.
And Peter reminds us,
2 Peter 3:3-5. 10-14 [NAS, emphasis mine]
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless…
And honestly, if we’re looking for a new heaven and new earth in which righteousness dwells, the temporary matters of life on this earth should not be consuming us. If we’re looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, we should recognize the times we’re living in and be prepared.