Days Like “the Days of Noah”
“The earth became filled with violence . . . it was ruined, because all flesh had ruined its way on the earth.”—GENESIS 6:11, 12.
1, 2. (a) With what kinds of violence do Jehovah’s Witnesses have to contend today? (b) In what circumstances have God’s people been comforted by the resurrection hope?
VIOLENCE! As in Noah’s day, so today, violence has become a household word. Even those who walk with the true God, as did Noah, are not immune to violence. This was forcefully drawn to the world’s attention when, on July 21 of last year, a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Sydney, Australia, was demolished by a bomb during a public Bible talk about loyalty to God and family. One Witness was killed. More than 40 were hospitalized. All of these have recovered, though some carry heavy scars as a result of this criminal outrage. A police detective commented: “There were 110 people inside and it is simply a miracle that we don’t have 110 dead.”
2 In other parts of the earth—such as Northern Ireland, Lebanon, and El Salvador—Jehovah’s Witnesses proclaim the “good news” in a continuing environment of violence. A few have been killed, some while engaging in the ministry. In many lands “unforeseen occurrence,” such as accidents and earthquakes, has also claimed precious lives, on which occasions Jehovah’s people have been comforted by the resurrection hope.—Ecclesiastes 9:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14.
3. (a) What may happen to some of Jehovah’s people, as indicated by recent events and Luke 21:16? (b) What assurance do we have of God’s protection during the “great tribulation”?
3 Recently in Mexico, altogether 23 Witnesses and associates were among the more than 5,000 killed by a disastrous earthquake. In Puerto Rico, seven others were numbered among the 300 who lost their lives in floods and landslides. Does this mean that Jehovah failed to provide protection for some of his servants? Not at all. We are not immune to accidents and disasters. And as to persecution, Jesus forewarned his disciples, saying: “They will put some of you to death.” Hundreds of our brothers died at the violent hands of Nazi Hitler. Jehovah will remember all of such in the resurrection. However, when the foretold “great tribulation” sweeps the earth, Jehovah will show that he is able to save those who call upon his name, even as he did in the days of Noah.—Luke 21:16-19; Matthew 24:14, 21, 22, 37-39; Isaiah 26:20, 21; Joel 2:32; Romans 10:13.
4. How do present-day conditions compare with those described in Genesis 6:11, 12?
4 Since 1914 violence has been on a global rampage. A hundred million humans have been killed in the wars and holocausts of this century. Mankind has been scourged by air and sea hijackings, terrorist bombings, mass murders, and interracial hatreds, and has been menaced by the proliferation of nuclear arms. Truly, these are “critical times” with “anguish of nations, not knowing the way out.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5, 13; Luke 21:25) However, Jehovah’s people today live in the midst of a scourge that presents a far greater danger than violence, though it is often linked with violence. It dates back more than 4,300 years to Noah’s day. What is that?
Noah’s Faith Amid Depravity
5, 6. (a) How did Satan proceed to contaminate mankind? (b) In what ways did Noah and his family stand out as being no part of that world?
5 From the rebellion in Eden onward, Satan the Devil has been bent on “misleading the entire inhabited earth.” (Revelation 12:9) Jehovah had commanded man and woman to use their God-given sexual powers honorably within the marriage arrangement, in order to “fill the earth” with their kind. (Genesis 1:28; Hebrews 13:4) But the Devil turned to contaminating humanity with unnatural sex. How? Spirit sons of God joined Satan in his rebellion. These became “demons,” with Satan as their “ruler.” (Luke 11:15) And of what did the demons’ activity then consist? They came down to earth, materialized human bodies, and cohabited with the good-looking daughters of men. The outcome was appalling!
6 Hybrid offspring were thus produced, fleshly giants that were half demon, half human. These were the Nephilim, murderous “Fellers” of mankind, as the record shows: “And the earth came to be ruined in the sight of the true God and the earth became filled with violence. So God saw the earth and, look! it was ruined, because all flesh had ruined its way on the earth.” Violence and sexual depravity became so widespread that only of Noah could it be said: “He proved himself faultless among his generations. Noah walked with the true God.” His wife, his sons, and their wives—alone of all mankind—showed faith and godly fear. Apparently, Noah’s family line was not contaminated by the sexual depravity of his day.—Genesis 6:4, 9-12, Ref. Bi., footnote.
7 Jehovah obliterated that violent, sex-crazed, demonistic world. Sending the great Deluge, he flushed out everything that was bad. Hybrid Nephilim and corrupted humans were swept into oblivion, while the demonistic former sons of God made their escape back to the spirit realm—to await God’s judgment of them. But there were survivors! Noah and his immediate family were spared. And why? Because of their faith, backed up by works in building the ark and preaching righteousness to that condemned world.—2 Peter 2:4, 5.
8. In what respects did Noah’s day prefigure our day?
8 Noah’s day prefigured our day. How do we know this? Well, Jesus foretold a similar time of violence, lawlessness, and lovelessness as part of “the sign” that we stand at the brink of a “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” He also said: “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, . . . only the Father.” Then he added: “Just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.”—Matthew 24:3-21, 36-39.
9. How do we avoid the destiny of those who ‘take no note’?
9 Yes, “they took no note.” But you do not have to be like them. You can escape when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven, executing God’s vengeance by everlastingly destroying “those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus.” (2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8) You do not have to be like worldly people whose main interest in life is pleasing self, pursuing a prestigious career or material wealth, with no thought of God. Truly, “their god is their belly.”—Philippians 3:19.
“Hate What Is Bad”
10, 11. (a) To gain God’s approval, what vices must be avoided? (b) What armor must we put on, and why?
10 In these final days, the lives of so many people revolve around sex, with or without the benefit of marriage. And for many of those who are married, divorce or annulment has become a norm. Disregarding clear-cut warnings by Jesus’ disciples, many in Christendom indulge in homosexuality. Already, some of these are “receiving in themselves the full recompense” in the form of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. However, there could be hope of salvation even for such persons. Remember, Jesus spoke favorably of prostitutes who cleaned up their lives and believed in him, in contrast with the proud, unrepentant religious leaders of his day.—Romans 1:26, 27; 2 Peter 2:9, 10; Jude 6, 7; Matthew 21:31, 32.
11 Any of Jehovah’s people who may have become tainted with, or who are tempted to indulge in, immoral practices must awaken and put on the full armor that God provides! (Ephesians 6:11-18) These days are truly “just as the days of Noah were.” That “roaring lion,” the Devil, and his depraved demons are working around the clock to isolate and entrap God’s servants. We must take our stand against those enemies, solid in the faith.—1 Peter 5:8, 9.
12. Why is it important to follow the counsel of Psalm 97:10?
12 Shocking as it is, even some who have been prominent in Jehovah’s organization have succumbed to immoral practices, including homosexuality, wife swapping, and child molesting. It is to be noted, also, that during the past year, 36,638 individuals had to be disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation, the greater number of them for practicing immorality. Jehovah’s organization must be kept clean! (1 Corinthians 5:9-13) This is a time for congregation elders, ministerial servants, and indeed all our brothers and sisters to avoid any circumstances that could lead to immorality. Loyalty to Jehovah’s standards will be rewarded, as Psalm 97:10 states: “O you lovers of Jehovah, hate what is bad. He is guarding the souls of his loyal ones; out of the hand of the wicked ones he delivers them.”
13. What sound advice is given by the apostles Paul and Peter?
13 At the latest, the “great tribulation” will clear out all those “who are disgusting in their filth.” How concerned we must be to hate, yes, abhor, and avoid worldly depravity! We must “flee from fornication”! (Revelation 21:8; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, 18) The apostle Peter, after warning against doubt-sowing apostates and about the reality of “Jehovah’s day,” exhorts us to “holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion.” He adds: “But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell. Hence, beloved ones, since you are awaiting these things, do your utmost to be found finally by him spotless and unblemished and in peace.” What a joy thus to attain to the “new earth,” where God will ‘make all things new’ and clean!—2 Peter 3:3-7, 10-14; Revelation 21:1, 4, 5.
Heed Further ‘Warning Examples’
14. Why was the cleansing by the Flood only temporary?
14 After the great Deluge had cleansed the earth of all demonic and human filth, Jehovah repeated the mandate originally given to Adam, by saying to Noah and his sons: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:1) In a token way they did this, 70 “families”—a figuratively perfect number—being listed in Genesis chapter 10. But mankind was still suffering the effects of sin inherited from Adam. And apparently demonic influence again led humans to sink into sexual depravity.
15. What do we learn from God’s judgment of Sodom?
15 In time, Jehovah’s “friend,” Abraham, and Abraham’s nephew Lot moved to the area of Canaan. Lot chose to transfer to the District of the Jordan, which was “like the garden of Jehovah.” But was it that way morally? Far from it! The city of Sodom, where Lot took up residence, and neighboring Gomorrah were steeped in homosexuality. Not even ten righteous men could be found there. For this reason, Jehovah brought upon those cities “the judicial punishment of everlasting fire.” Never will those depraved cities be restored! Jesus cited God’s judgment on Sodom, along with what occurred “in the days of Noah,” in underlining the need for us to be on guard!—Genesis 13:10; 18:32; Jude 7; Luke 17:26-30.
16. What demon activity calls for us to put up a hard fight for the faith?
16 Make no mistake! Satan and his demons are still on the rampage! Though thrown into figurative “pits of dense darkness” and restricted from taking on fleshly bodies, those depraved spirits are intent upon corrupting humans, and especially Jehovah’s servants. (2 Peter 2:4-6) No doubt the demons influenced Canaan to commit his immoral act toward his grandfather Noah. (Genesis 9:22-25) Certainly they must have spawned the perversions that became ‘the way of the land of Canaan,’ so that it finally vomited out its inhabitants. (Leviticus 18:3-25) Likewise, the demons foster the unnatural sex practices that afflict so many communities today. In putting up a hard fight for the faith, we must resist any attacks by those fallen angels that impel humans to ‘commit fornication excessively and to go out after flesh for unnatural use.’—Jude 3, 6, 7.
Build for Preservation
17. Like Noah and his family, how may we show ourselves to be no part of the world?
17 In view of the seriousness of our times, how can we find the way of deliverance? Well, how did Noah and his family survive? “By faith Noah . . . condemned the world.” (Hebrews 11:7) Likewise today, Jehovah’s Witnesses are “no part” of the wicked world. Moreover, we have demonstrated our faith by dedicating our lives to Jehovah and undergoing baptism in water in order to become disciples of Jesus Christ.—John 17:14, 16; Matthew 28:19.
18. What is typified by the building of the ark?
18 Further, we share in Jehovah’s work for this day, a spiritual building work directed by the Greater Noah, Jesus Christ. As a place of security and survival, the ark represents the spiritual paradise that Jehovah has been building up among his worshipers since 1919. It is the condition of a restored peaceful relationship with God. It is His arrangement for preservation of the Greater Noah’s antitypical family through the “great tribulation.”—Matthew 24:21; 1 Corinthians 3:9, 11; 2 Corinthians 12:3, 4; Revelation 7:13, 14.
19. Noah, his family members, and their work foreshadow what?
19 “Noah found favor in the eyes of Jehovah.” How well he pictures Jesus Christ, who walked humbly with God here on earth, doing nothing of his own initiative! (Genesis 6:8; Matthew 17:1, 5; John 8:28) Both were preachers of righteousness—a fine example for all witnesses of Jehovah. And we can be sure that Noah’s wife, foreshadowing the remaining anointed ones on earth today, was a model of submissiveness. (2 Peter 2:5; Luke 4:14-19; Ephesians 5:21-24) When we consider how gigantic the task of building the ark of preservation was, we can imagine how happy the aging Noah must have been in having as his assistants three energetic sons and their wives! Aptly these picture the present-day “great crowd” who are shouldering the bulk of the spiritual building work during the final countdown to the antitypical Flood.—Revelation 7:9, 15.
20, 21. (a) What bright prospects await Jehovah’s worshipers in the cleansed earth? (b) What joy is to be experienced even now?
20 When this earth has been washed clean, ready to be transformed into a literal paradise, those pictured by Noah’s sons and daughters-in-law may for a time have children born to them in righteousness. Then the miracle of the resurrection will bring to completion the filling of the earth with humans. All who accept the privilege of becoming Jesus’ “other sheep” will be restored to perfection, and on surviving the final test after Christ hands over the Kingdom to his Father, these will be declared righteous for life eternal.—John 5:28, 29; 10:16; 1 Corinthians 15:24-26; Psalm 37:29; Revelation 20:7, 8.
21 What joys lie ahead for Jehovah’s faithful worshipers! But great joy is to be found even now by wholeheartedly sharing in the building of the modern-day ark for survival. How is that work prospering? Our next study will provide the answer.
HOW WOULD YOU ANSWER?
◻ How should pre-Flood events forewarn us?
◻ What lessons should we draw from Matthew 24:37-39?
◻ Why is it so important to “hate what is bad”?
◻ How may we share in building the antitypical ark?
[Box on page 11]
LIKE ‘NOAH’S DAY’—
“Only 40 percent of college religion teachers . . . believe it is immoral for an unmarried man and woman to have sex.”—Saturday Oklahoman & Times, December 29, 1984
[Box on page 12]
Do Bible Principles Count?
An Episcopalian priest listened to a funeral service conducted by one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Afterward, at the priest’s invitation, two ministers from the Watch Tower Society attended a discussion with several clergymen in Brooklyn Heights, New York City.
The question of homosexuality came up. The Witnesses made it plain that the Bible forbids this and that the Witnesses disfellowship persons who practice any kind of immorality. (Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Jude 7) The Witnesses asked the clergymen about their stand on this matter and received the following replies:
A Congregational minister: “I think we have the excommunication rule somewhere in the bylaws of our church, but for the life of me, I can’t remember when we ever invoked that law!”
The Episcopalian priest: “If we invoked that law, we wouldn’t have any parishioners [left].”
A Catholic monsignor: “If we invoked that law, we wouldn’t have any priests [left].”
Though these clergymen’s comments may exaggerate matters, Jehovah’s Witnesses are happy about their own firm stand in keeping the congregation clean. They are “no part of the world.”—John 15:19.
[Box on page 13]
LIKE ‘NOAH’S DAY’—
“A New York City public school for homosexual high school students has opened in Manhattan.” Its teacher said: “We wanted an environment where gay and lesbian kids would not be subject to immature teen-agers.”—The New York Times, June 6, 1985
[Box on page 14]
LIKE ‘NOAH’S DAY’—
“Members of the Riverside Church yesterday approved a pro-gay policy that accepts homosexual relationships as part of the concept of Christian family life.”—New York Post, June 3, 1985