The End of the World Always Ruins Our Plans

Noah could understand the inconvenience of a major life disruption. 

Before God divulged the coming flood to him, the man must have had hopes of his own. They weren’t about the Ivy League or the NBA, 401K’s, or any of a million dreams we’re familiar with today.  But at some level it’s safe to say he probably wanted all the basic things we want such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (to frame it in America-speak).

Then, like a falling blacksmith’s anvil, came the interruption of a lifetime. God announced, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Gen. 6:13). Talk about stopping the party.   In light of a revelation that large, all other agendas wilt.

That’s bad news for human beings who fixate on self-designed purposes of every size and shape:

  • “I’m going to start a business!”
  • “I’m going to school!”
  • “I’m going on vacation!”
  • “I’m going to make a peanut butter sandwich!”

God listens, then simply says, “I’m going to destroy the world.”
At that point it’s hard to politely nod and move on to the next topic. Maybe it would have been good to let God speak first. At least that would have brought some sobriety to our own hopes and dreams.

Recall the old Nickelback song, If Today Was Your Last Day. The lyrics suggest that with less than 24 hours left, you might suddenly develop a sharpened approach to life. Real priorities march to the front. Refocus occurs with brilliant clarity. Suddenly everything has meaning and color. Life (or what is left of it) becomes incredibly purposeful.

Noah must have felt this in an even more dramatic way. Where he was concerned, the end was not his own, but that of the whole world. For Him, eating, drinking, working, resting, and relationships would probably have been transformed in view of God’s determination to “make an end of all flesh.” Through an apocalyptic lens, there is no such thing as our being dominated by the ordinary, much less the trivial.

Without that lens though, we fall under a powerful spell of distraction.  Jesus warned of a rerun on the other end of the timeline from Noah.  He said, “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Mt. 24:37-39).

A soft, secure oblivion will earmark the end of the age, where schedules would be weighted with the ordinary goals, plans, entertainment, parties, celebrations, and life passages as any other era. And why not?  That’s life.  At that time, people will doubtless shake off End-of-the-world narratives as ancient fairy tales meant to create fear.  They will assume history will follow its predictable meandering flow through the actions and reactions of humankind. There will be no “ending.”

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed” (2 Pet. 3:10).

This verse signals a comprehensive full stop, both to the important and to shenanigans alike.  Anyone who has ever faintly believed it has felt a flicker of desperation—Hurry, Live it up!  Make every day count! 

While there’s some wisdom in this attitude, it is far from biblically accurate.  “Eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” often falls short of Christian preparedness.  Rather than encourage us to fulfill a bucket list, Peter tells us to become a certain kind of people.

“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!” (2 Pet. 3:11-12)

In the middle of this drama, the apostle asks, “What sort of people ought you to be?” and then strongly recommends holiness and godliness.  This isn’t a zombie apocalypse, where one needs shotguns, axes, generators, and camo-colored SUV’s.  It’s a divine housecleaning, thorough and brilliant, issuing in “new heavens and new earth, where righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13).

We don’t want lives that look like the massive landfill God will clean out on His big day, and so we ready ourselves by following Jesus Christ and His Word in a daily way, becoming holy as He is holy.

Preparation time is right now.

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