“As the Days of Noah”

“ON APRIL 19 at approximately 5 p.m., our 42-ft. flatbed trailer was stolen from the lot of Continental Can Co., Bedford Heights, Ohio. Two International Harvester Payloaders were on the trailer.” This notice was broadcast by the trucking company from whom the trailer and its $35,000 load were stolen. Result? Nothing was ever heard of them again.

“Crackdown on Cheaters Who Draw Jobless Pay,” reads a headline in U.S. News & World Report (May 15, 1978).

Item: A fishing guide works for the winter season in a southern state, fires himself at the end of the season, and collects jobless pay until the following winter fishing season starts.

Item: A secretary making $15,000 a year quits her job to vacation in Europe, returns home to collect unemployment pay for 42 weeks at $145 per week.

Item: A sales clerk is fired for stealing and immediately applies for—and gets—unemployment pay.

Another easy form of cheating is the collection of disability compensation for minor or nonexistent injuries. A postal worker won a tennis tournament while on light duty assignments, collecting disability pay. Another postal worker was put on disability pay after convincing his superiors that he had injured his back and arm by slipping on a leaf. A few days later he was found lifting 60-pound cartons at a grocery store of which he was part owner.

In 1970 disability outlays for federal employees alone amounted to $131 million. At the present rate of increase they are expected to reach $1 billion by 1980.

Another recently publicized case involves a woman who is charged with receiving over $300,000 in the last half dozen years in welfare claims, using many different names and addresses and claiming to have some forty-odd children. The children were nonexistent, but her three expensive cars were real.

Cheating on income taxes is another widespread evil. This can take one of many forms of tax dodging, among them failure to report income from outside jobs, from tips, or from small individually owned businesses. “The practice of under-reporting is pervasive, and there is nothing that anybody can do about it,” says an official of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Tax Analysis office.

A man from Oakland, California, writes to U.S. News & World Report (October 10, 1977), “Cheating is self-perpetuating. Most people learn by example, and corporate payoffs, congressional influence buying, Watergate and the Lance affair appear to be the norm. Unfortunately, it has gotten to the point where the only real crime today is getting caught.”

Indeed, in some cases it is worse to be honest than to get caught being dishonest. Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont has released a 500-page report of actual cases in which federal workers tried to expose corruption and other forms of wrongdoing by their fellow workers, only to be fired, passed over for promotion, or subjected to abuse.

Stealing, corruption, and bribe taking are engaged in, not merely by those for whom the laws are made, but also by the lawmakers themselves. For many months an investigation has been going on in Washington, attempting to bring to light the relationships between powerful members of the United States Congress and Tongsun Park, a Korean-born businessman operating in the Washington, D.C., area. Mr. Park is charged with buying political influence to obtain military aid and material for South Korea with gifts, campaign contributions, free trips to Asia, lavish parties, and other dubious forms of largess. That members of the so-called “Ethics Committee” of the United States Congress have themselves refused to take an oath denying they had accepted gifts of cash from Seoul’s lobbyists is evidence of the state of things in the nation’s capital itself.

As the investigation drags on, we are told that “Congress is getting cold feet on ethics. The votes still are not there to provide criminal penalties and upgrade the congressional code of behavior.” (U.S. News & World Report, May 8, 1978) Why are our congressmen jittery? They fear the disclosures will strike too close to home for their own personal comfort. And from Washington the foul winds of corruption blow out in all directions to state, county, and municipal governments.

Terrorism on its present scale is another modern evil that is well-nigh worldwide. Today’s terrorists are more brutal than in the past. Says U.S. News & World Report (May 22, 1978), “Terrorists leave a bomb in a supermarket and couldn’t care less who gets killed.”

Newsweek says (May 15, 1978), “The Red Brigades have made Italy the main arena for terrorism in Western Europe. For sheer violence, only West Germany compares. … Sapped by social decay, Italy is a more fertile breeding ground for terror. … The postwar emigration from the countryside, the weakening of religion, and the fragmentation of the family have filled the cities with rootless people. The government is inept and frequently corrupt.”

Italy’s wealthy class are going virtually into hiding. Many keep watchdogs, others employ armed bodyguards when they emerge into the open. Ostentation is avoided, and plain automobiles protected with armor plate are in demand. “Shops that specialize in converting existing cars into four-wheeled fortresses have a backlog of service orders,” states Time magazine (May 15, 1978).

“Violence is a way of life. ‘There is a great tolerance for violence in our society,’ says a Rome University sociologist. ‘We also like to resist authority—especially when it is found as wanting as ours.’” A Red Brigades sympathizer recently stated, “We know that we are not going to bring the state crashing down in a couple of years. … But each of these blows accelerates the process of decay.” Italy is already in an advanced state of decay, stated Newsweek, and the only question was how long democracy there could continue to heal itself.

Right here in the United States the people were shocked by five separate attacks that occurred in just seven days in February, 1977, in various parts of the country. In Indianapolis a mortgage company executive was held hostage by a man with a shotgun; in Silver Spring, Md., a young man held several bank employees hostage; in Cincinnati eight hostages were held at gunpoint by a couple seeking to adopt a child; in Wheaton, Md., a man fired shots at police while they were trying to rescue the man’s own son from being held hostage; and in New Rochelle, N.Y., five men were killed and five others were wounded by a man with a rifle before he turned the weapon on himself.

The following month (March, 1977), the nation’s capital itself was thrown into a state of panic when a dozen Hanafi Muslims armed with knives, pistols, and sawed-off shotguns seized 134 hostages in three separate buildings only blocks from the White House. Although that particular incident was resolved without bloodshed, it is clear, as stated by U.S. News & World Report, that “no big city is safe from a few willful men with their own ideas of justice.”

The list of evils could be continued almost endlessly. Assaults, robberies, and murders; hijacking, skyjacking, and kidnapping; arson, computer fraud, and extortion—these news items are the stock-in-trade of the news media. Truly, respect for law, for lawmakers, and for law enforcers is at a low ebb. The disease of cheating, crime, corruption, and evil of every sort that infects the world today seems to have progressed to a point beyond human ability to cure.

The Bible records an earlier period in the history of mankind when man had so far forsaken the righteous ways of his Creator, and evil had become so prevalent that the Lord in his great wisdom saw fit to destroy all the people, except Noah and his immediate family, from the face of the earth.

The account reads: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. … And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air. … And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them from the earth.”—Gen. 6:5,7,12,13

God would accomplish this by bringing “a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and everything that is in the earth shall die.” (Gen. 6:17) But righteous Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, the Bible tells us. God instructed Noah to make a great ship called an ark, which would be capable of preserving not only his own little family from the destruction wrought by the great Flood but also specimens of all living creatures, along with ample food for all.

“Thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee. And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind. of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.”—Gen. 6:18-21

In due time, even as the Lord had foretold, the Flood came upon the earth. Noah and those with him in the ark were preserved, but all others perished. “All flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man; all in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.”—Gen. 7:21-23

Thus did God justly deal with mankind because of the gross iniquity man had brought upon the earth. “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.”—Gen. 9:1

The Apostle Peter refers to this awful event in man’s history as the end of a world. He wrote: “The heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water; whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. (II Pet. 3:5,6) Peter is not telling us here that the literal earth was then destroyed; rather, it was the manner and character of life that men had developed that was destroyed; and at that time it was a very evil manner of life.

But the earth itself remained. This is evident from the fact that Noah, his family, and all the animals in the ark continued safe through the Flood and eventually lived again on the same literal earth. That first world, or social arrangement, was destroyed because it had become violently wicked.

Peter continues his remarkable statement by prophesying that another social order, or world, will also be destroyed; and it will be for the same reason that the first world was destroyed—because it is iniquitous. Using the same phraseology as he did to describe the first world, he calls this second world “the heavens and the earth, which are now,” and says that this world is being “reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition [destruction] of ungodly men.”—II Pet. 3:7

The Apostle Paul also refers to this second world which is destined for destruction, calling it “this present evil world,” of which Satan is the god. (Gal. 1:4; II Cor. 4:4) Through the Prophet Isaiah the Lord of the universe says this destruction shall come upon this present evil world in the day of Jehovah. He says: “I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; … I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the [day of the] wrath of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.”—Isa. 13:11-13

Peter graphically describes the utter destruction that shall come upon this present evil world in the day of Jehovah and states that it shall come upon the world of mankind completely unawares. He says, “But the day of the Lord [Jehovah] will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”—II Pet. 3:10

Again, let it be noted that Peter is not talking about the burning up of the literal Planet Earth but rather about the destruction of this present evil social order, which is made up of evil spiritual ruling powers (the heavens) and the iniquitous earthly arrangements that control and corrupt mankind. After the destruction has done its cleansing work, the literal earth will remain.

The Prophet Zephaniah speaks of this same “day of the Lord’s wrath.” He writes: “Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey; for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.”—Zeph. 3:8

Let us notice, once more, it is not the Planet Earth that shall be devoured but the existing evil social order. For the following verse indicates that the Planet Earth still exists after the consuming fire and is inhabited by people. “For then [after the evil social order is demolished] will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.”—Zeph. 3:9

When Jesus was asked to give the sign of his second presence and of the end of the world, or age, he concluded his prophecy by saying: “As the days of Noe were, so shall also the … [presence] of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the Flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the Flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the … [presence] of the Son of man be.”—Matt. 24:37-39

Thus we find our Lord likening the end of that first iniquitous world, or social order, in the Flood, which came unawares upon an unbelieving mankind, to the destruction and end of this present evil world, or social order, which will likewise come upon mankind unawares, or, as Peter puts it, as “a thief in the night.” (II Pet. 3:5-7,10) As there were scoffers and unbelievers in Noah’s day, when an iniquitous world was about to pass away, so there are now, as a second evil world approaches destruction.

Among the indications of his presence and “of the end of the world,” or age, Jesus said it would be a time when “iniquity shall abound.” (Matt. 24:12) The Revised Standard Version renders this passage, “wickedness is multiplied,” while the New English Bible reads, “lawlessness spreads.” Surely, we are in a time when wickedness is being multiplied and lawlessness is spreading. We are in a time when man is daily growing farther away from love for, and allegiance to, the great Creator and his righteous laws, and is pursuing the ways of selfishness and materialism, which ultimately lead to destruction.

It might have been thought that one who had escaped the cruel and barren prison house that is Russia and was fortunate enough to establish a home in the United States, as did exiled Russian novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn, would have found much here to praise and support. Not so! In a recent address at Harvard University’s commencement, he deplored the spiritual decline in the United States and in the entire western world, and the elevation and pursuit of materialism. In the western world, he said, man’s responsibility to God and society have grown dimmer and dimmer. And who is there to deny him?

But let us get back to the Apostle Peter’s prophecy. How glad we are that he does not end his statement merely with the destruction of this present evil world, or social order! For he concludes with the best part of all, telling us of a glorious new world, or social order, to come. He says, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”—II Pet. 3:13

This coming new dispensation will begin with the thousand-year reign of Christ and his glorified church. This is the long-awaited period of the times of restitution that God has promised by the mouth of his holy prophets since the world began. The resurrected world of mankind will be given an opportunity to gain everlasting life right here on earth. All men will love their Heavenly Father and their Lord Jesus and will love their neighbors as themselves.

God’s law will be written in their hearts; evil will be banished from the earth. There will be no more sorrow or sighing or crying, and even death will be destroyed!—Rev. 20:6; Acts 3:19-24; John 5:24-29; Isa. 35:1-10; Rev. 22:17; I Cor. 15:22-28; Jer. 31:33,34; Rev. 21:4

“And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.”—Rev. 21:5

Dawn Bible Students Association
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