Summary: The ark was an impressive warning of the Flood. Jesus looks back and tells us to be ready for His Second and Final Coming.
12.1.19 Matthew 24:36-41
36 No one knows when that day and hour will be, not the angels of heaven, not even the Son, but only the Father. 37 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be when the Son of Man returns. 38 In fact, in the days before the flood people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the very day that Noah entered the ark. 39 And they did not realize what was coming until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man returns. 40 At that time two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 So be alert, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
When we were on our way home from vacation in Tennessee this year we were able to stop by at the Noah’s Ark exhibit, an actual size replica of the original. It was truly a thing of wonder. You can see it from quite a ways away, as it stands over 500 feet wide and over 50 feet high. It took Noah and his three sons 120 years to build it. Imagine that! Noah lived to be 950 years old, so that was about 1/9th of his life he spent on one project. Noah worked on it from age 500 to 620. That’s a lot of time to build. It’s also a lot of time to gain attention.
People would have stopped by and asked, “What’s going on here?” It would have seemed odd and a waste of time to build such a big boat in the middle of dry ground. Noah and his children would have explained. “God is going to destroy the earth with a flood because of the wickedness of humanity.” Imagine the look on people’s faces. Perhaps they treated Noah more like a joke and didn’t take him seriously. Maybe they said he was leading a cult. I wonder if they eventually developed tour guides to come and see Noah’s Ark. The more time would have elapsed, the bigger and more impressive the boat would have become. Perhaps they were even allowed into the boat to look around. Yet I doubt that it was set up like a tourist trap.
People lived to a much older age back then, and they were probably much more powerful than we are today. God’s Word says that they became exceedingly violent and wicked, and probably more hardened in their sins. I wouldn’t doubt it if Noah and his family was threatened at some point in time throughout the 120 years. It’s interesting to note that when Jesus went to hell on the morning of the resurrection, he made it a point to especially preach to those souls who laughed off Noah’s warning. They had every chance to repent. They had plenty of time, but they all ignored Noah’s warnings. So they are still burning in hell to this day.
Think about it. They all died in the flood - thousands to millions of unbelievers were all washed away, along with tons and tons of animals. This wasn’t a cute little scene of animals floating around in a boat. It was a violent scene of people scrambling to try and get to high ground - only to find none. They died. They all died, except the eight on the boat, and two of every kind of animal.
Jesus used this as an example of what will happen when He comes on Judgment Day. Only He won’t bring water to wash away the people from the earth. He will use fire. At that time two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. Some use this text to prove a rapture - where believers will be carried to heaven while unbelievers will be left behind on earth to fight it out for another thousand years - getting a second chance to come to faith with Kirk Cameron. Yet notice the comparison. What happened to those who were left behind at the flood? They were swept away by water and put to death. On Judgment Day, Jesus will bring believers to heaven. Those who are alive will be changed. Their bodies will be transformed to be like His resurrected body. Those who died prior to the resurrection will be raised and reunited with their souls: meeting Jesus in the air. (1 Corinthians 15) And what will happen to those who die without faith in Jesus? They will be sent away into the darkness and fires of hell. Just as those left behind at the time of the Flood didn’t get a second chance, neither will those who are left behind on Judgment Day. The first were swept away by water, the second will be swept away by fire.