Some theologians estimate that 3 to 5 billion people lived on the face of the earth when the global flood occurred and "all flesh died that moved on the earth . . . all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on dried land, died" (Gen. 7:21-22). All except for Noah, his wife, his three sons and each of their wives. Everyone--possibly billions of people--perished.
Jesus refers to Noah's world when He teaches about the coming of the Son of Man: "But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Mt. 24:37-39).
Noah, "a preacher of righteousness" (2 Peter 2:5), preached for a hundred years while he sawed lumber and built the ark. No one listened. Why?
Paul hits the nail on the head: "With all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved" (2 Thess. 2:10). They lived normal lives without any reference to God--like many today.
Unbelief, like a fungus, thrives in fertile conditions; normalcy and the passage of time create fertile conditions in which unbelief thrives. Normalcy and the passage of time are the petri dish for deception.
Jesus uses two parables to reinforce the truth about living in expectation and the passage of time: The story of the ten virgins and the brevity of time (Mt. 25:1-13). Only five of the ten virgins are prepared to meet the Bridegroom; they carry excess oil to refill their lamps after prolonged use. The remaining virgins run out of oil at midnight and miss the coming of the bridegroom. They presume upon the five wise virgins (they will share what they have), the passage of time (they will have time to replenish their oil), and the bridegroom (he will wait for them).
The story of the three servants and the lengthy passage of time (25:14-30). Two of the three servants are good stewards of what they have been given, utilize their time well, and are rewarded. The third servant has the same amount of time as the other two servants, but he buries his talent, wastes the time given to him, and is cursed.
Jesus doesn't condemn eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage; He simply highlights the normalcy of life and the passage of time as the backdrop of life before the flood and contrasts it with Noah's living in expectation of the coming flood. Similarly, the first two servants live in light of the return of the investor; the third servant does not.
Paul addresses the deceit that will occur during the last hour, "The coming of the lawless is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish" (2 Thess. 2:9). Deception will the be norm in the last days. Those enamored by anything but truth will be deceived and live life accordingly.
Normalcy and the passage of time--the backdrop of His coming and the backdrop of unbelief.
Describe the difference between the servants' views of their master. How do their views affect their investment of the talents they have been given?
What parallels exist between the story of the ten virgins, the story of the three servants, and the division between the sheep and goats (Mt. 25:31-46)?
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