THE SECOND MOST IMPORTANT EVENT IN THE BIBLE
By Bill Sizemore
There is little doubt that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important event in the Bible.
In one three day period, Jesus made it possible for sinful man to be restored to God and for all believers to have a promise of a bodily resurrection and eternal life. Sin was dealt with and death was defeated. Nothing else compares to that.
But what is the second most important event in the Bible?
Just reading that question has probably caused several thoughts to spring to your mind. You might be thinking, the week of creation or perhaps the fall of Adam in the garden, or perhaps the virgin birth.
Sure, all of these are important, pivotal events. The week of creation demonstrated the awesome omnipotence of God. The fall of man in the garden was the tragic event that necessitated the virgin birth and the death and resurrection of Jesus. So, maybe second place ought to go to the fall of Adam, but I am going to suggest something else.
Admittedly, the question posed here is a foolish one. After all, who cares about the ranking of biblical events? But the question got you thinking, didn’t it? It at least made you wonder what this writer was going to posit was the second most important event in scripture. So without further adieu, here it is:
I suggest that the second most important event in the Bible and in fact all of human history, above the discovery of fire, the invention of the wheel, and the splitting of the atom - was the flood of Noah.
Think about it for a moment. Approximately 1,650 years after creation, God sent a flood so catastrophic, that out of the tens of millions of people then living on the planet and out of the countless millions of air breathing animals walking on the face of the earth, the only ones left alive were Noah, his wife and their three sons and their wives, and of course the animals that were on board the ark.
Out of the tens of millions of humans on the planet, only eight were spared.
What if God did the same thing today? Somewhere in the neighborhood of six billion people would perish. Everyone not on board God’s new “ark” would be lost.
And who are all of those people who would not survive the judgment of God? Well, that’s the scary part. Most of the people in the world today would not make it. Lots more will be saved than were in Noah’s day. We know that, because in the Book of Revelation there are at least ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands worshipping before God’s throne. But out of the billions who have ever lived, including those on the earth today, that’s not so many.
Now, let’s talk about those who don’t make it. What will the vast majority of mankind be doing when the end comes? The Bible answers that question, at least in a general sense.
According to Jesus, if I understand His words, those billions of people will be doing normal stuff. Jesus says they will be doing things like eating and drinking and marrying.
Why would Jesus mention marrying? Well, weddings imply things like romance and dating and talking about how many kids you are going to have. Weddings imply making plans for a new house and new furniture and deciding what kind of dishes and cookware you will have.
What’s wrong with such things? Nothing. Well, unless you are making all of these plans for the future at a time when there isn’t going to be a future, at a time when God is about to judge the whole world for sin and unbelief.
The fact that people will be eating and drinking and marrying and giving in marriage right up to the end means they are oblivious to the reality that there is a righteous, holy God and that He is about to judge all of humanity for their sin and unbelief, just as He did in the days of Noah.
It means they are ignoring God and ignoring the condition of their souls.
The flood of Noah’s day was so powerful that the whole earth, even the hills and mountains were completely inundated with water. This was not just a local flood centered around a part of the Middle East, as some have suggested. Why would God have had Noah spend a hundred years building an ark, if all Noah and the local animals had to do was hike for a few weeks until they crossed the nearest mountain range and be safe?
While it is true that the geological and fossil records of Noah’s flood provide us with the answers to many of the more difficult questions about “beginnings” with which modern science continues to struggle, the flood of Noah’s day also tells us something very important about the nature of God.
The flood tells us that God is so serious about sin and unbelief that He is willing and able to pull the plug on a whole world full of sinful men. The flood of Noah tells us that God is willing to judge the entire human race and to do so catastrophically.
The flood also tells us that God does not consider all humanity to be His “children,” as many believe. (We are not all God’s children. Biblically, we become God’s children only when we are born again and place our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. People believe otherwise at their peril.)
The flood tells us that those who ignore His warnings and reject His truth will see an end to God’s mercy and patience. The clock will strike midnight and it will be over. The Bible says that when the rains began to fall on Noah’s world, it was God himself who closed the door of the ark.
The Apostle Peter warned us that in the last days scoffers would choose to deny or ignore the fact that the flood of Noah occurred and even mock the return of Jesus, saying “Where is the promise of his coming?” (II Peter 3)
If you read this passage carefully, you get the impression that in the end times people will be saying, “Jesus is not coming back. Everything will go on tomorrow just as it always has and the same natural processes will be at work tomorrow as today. Nothing supernatural is going to happen. Some almighty God isn’t going to do come down from Heaven and judge us.”
Willful ignorance is a pretty scary concept. A person can be willfully ignorant simply by ignoring a fact or by being too busy with less important things to give a more important truth due consideration.
Peter goes on to explain that like Noah’s world the current world is also awaiting its day of judgment, only this time the judgment will not be by a flood of water. The apostle wrote 2,000 years ago that in the end the heavens will pass away with a great noise and the elements will melt with a fervent heat and be burned up.
Two thousand years have passed since the Apostle Peter wrote those words. Two thousand years seems like a long time, but the apostle explained that to God it is only a couple of days for, “to Him a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years are as one day.”
This kind of time frame may be difficult for people who only live for eighty years to comprehend, but God’s willingness to wait long periods of time before judging should not come as a surprise to Bible scholars. The following examples illustrate God’s timeframe:
God told Eve way back in the Garden of Eden that the “seed of the woman” would bruise the serpent’s head. That seed, however, was not born until 4,000 years later. God’s promise was fulfilled, but not for four millennia.
Here’s another example of God’s timing: God told Abraham that He would give the Promised Land to Abraham’s descendants, but that they would not actually possess the land until 400 years had passed. To put that number into perspective, go back four hundred years in American history and consider what it was like here in the year 1609.
It’s worth noting that the reason God gave Abraham for the 400 year wait was that the current inhabitants of Palestine were not yet wicked enough for them to be judged and their land taken from them. Their “cup of iniquity” was not yet full, but God knew that four centuries later, it would be.
When God told Noah to build the ark, He wasn’t actually going to send the flood for another hundred years. God had already pronounced judgment on the inhabitants of the earth, but that judgment was not going to fall until a full century later.
The last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, says that God would send a prophet before the day of the Lord. After Malachi spoke, four centuries passed with no further word from God. Then, when it was time, Jesus was born and history was forever changed.
Think about that. Four centuries of silence passed. No word from God. No prophecies. No reminders. God waited. It seemed like nothing was going to happen. Then suddenly, the day came. The thing God said would happen, happened. It always does.
As in Noah’s day, when the end comes to this world, people will be busy building houses, starting new businesses, and worrying about which team will win the Super Bowl or the World Series. They will be planning hunting trips and family vacations. They will be planning for the future as if they were going to have one.
And then the end will come.
When the world is falling apart around you; when spiritual and moral collapse are evident everywhere you look; when you routinely hear people mocking God and cursing His name and committing the grossest of sins with no shame; but you continue living as if your sin and that of your fellow man are never going to be judged; then you are living as the human race was living right up to the day Noah’s ark was finally finished and the rain began to fall.
That’s a pretty sobering thought. It’s like the rich man Jesus spoke of, a man who had such a prosperous year that he told his servants to tear down all of his barns and build bigger ones to hold all of his riches. Then that night God required that he give account for his soul.
At that moment, none of his riches did him any good. He had made lots of money but neglected his soul. For him, judgment came in one night, just when he thought he was at the top of his game.
The Bible says that in the midst of an evil generation Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Noah built the ark as an act of obedience to God and as an act of faith. In so doing, he and his household were saved from a flood that killed everyone else on earth.
You may deny that fact if you wish, but God really did this thing. The flood He sent was catastrophic beyond imagination. The God who had created the world wiped out most of what He had created because He saw that His creation had become corrupt and full of violence. (Genesis 6)
The Apostle Paul wrote in the Book of Romans regarding how God exhibits both divine mercy and divine judgment, “Behold the goodness and severity of God.” For believers and unbelievers alike, that is a concept worth noting.
God is for sure good, gracious, and longsuffering, but to those who reject Him, for those who reject the sacrifice of His Son, there is an end to His mercy. It is at that end that men behold the severity of God. One day, everything seems as it was the day before, but suddenly the clock runs out and the end comes.
In the Bible, this happened many times.
As we have seen, there was an end for the entire world when the flood of Noah came. There was an end for the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah when fire from Heaven utterly destroyed them for their debauchery. There was an end for the inhabitants of Palestine in Joshua’s day when God ordered seven Canaanite nations totally annihilated.
There was an end for Israel and Judah when God gave those rebellious nations over to the cruel Assyrians and the Babylonians, severely judging His own people for their disobedience and unbelief.
And later, after Israel had been restored back to their land, the Jews rejected their Messiah, and were judged again, this time even more severely. After a terrible siege lasting more than three years, God gave Jerusalem over to the Roman general Titus in 70 A.D. More than a million Jews died in that siege and the city and the temple were utterly destroyed, just as Jesus said would happen.
As with all these historic instances, so will it be on the last day.
Those who have anchored their faith in Jesus Christ, God’s final ark, and have believed in their hearts and confessed with their mouth that He is the Son of God and that God raised Him from the dead, those people will be spared from the judgment to come and will inherit eternal life.
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Everyone else will continue eating and drinking and planning weddings, vacations and Super Bowl parties and buying stocks and bonds right up to the end.
© 2009 Bill Sizemore - All Rights Reserved