Luke records the words of Jesus: “And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man” (Luke 17:26). When conditions that existed before the Flood are repeated again, then we may know that the coming of the Lord is near at hand. The language is plain. Jesus foresaw that world conditions at the end of the age would be like the conditions that existed in the days of Noah just before the Flood. And so we need to find out what conditions were like before the Flood and then compare them with the events taking place today, and in this way we can see something about the approaching end of the age.
The entire record pertaining to the days before the Flood is contained in three short chapters in the Bible (Genesis 4, 5, 6). They are the only authentic record of the conditions that characterized the days of Noah. Secular history does not record the events that took place before the Flood. In Genesis 4:16-24 there is a description of seven striking conditions that prevailed in the days of Noah.
1. The Pre-Flood Age Was an Age of Godlessness
Notice the words of Genesis 4:16, “And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.” Cain forfeited God’s favor and moved to the land of wandering and his descendants become the founders of a great but godless civilization. Cain went out from the presence of the Lord. He simply did not want God in his company.
The general godlessness of the times in which we live can be demonstrated in many ways. For the most part, people have sold out to amusements, gambling, and sports. Even some church members can enjoy a double feature at the movies, sit up and watch TV until late hours, and shout at a double-header ball game—but let the preacher preach overtime on Sunday morning and those same people become quite disturbed. Many can sit for hours and read some secular magazine or a comic strip in the newspaper, but the Bible is dry and dead and uninteresting.
The general godlessness of the times is also noticed in the fact that many tend to put confidence in science and in the achievements of man rather than in the power of God. Instead of looking into the heavens and saying with the Psalmist, “When I consider the heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him?”—many are looking into the heavens and saying, “When I consider the satellites and the space vehicles which men have made, who is God that I should pay any attention to him?” We are living in an age of godlessness and this was a condition that existed in Noah’s day.
2. The Preflood Age Was an Age of City-Building
Genesis 4:17 says, “And Cain . . . built a city and called the name of the city after the name of his son Enoch.” Up until this time people had lived in the wide open spaces. They were not crowded into cities. When God created man He placed him in a garden, not in a city. Cities were first built by fallen man and have over the years been marked by wickedness and corruption. In the crowded life of the city, sin develops at an alarming rate. Thus large cities are often beds of crime.
The first great city-building boom took place in the days before the Flood, and we are seeing a repetition of the days of Noah. Less than a century ago, most of our population lived on farms and in small rural communities. But with the invention of labor-saving machinery (the Industrial Revolution) there was less labor needed on the farm, and more help was needed in factories. And today a large percentage of the population in many countries live in cities and metropolitan areas close to the factories, and fewer people live on farms. So it was in the days before the Flood.
3. The Preflood Age Saw the Breakdown of the Home
Genesis 4:19 says, “And Lamech took unto him two wives.” Lamech was the first man in history to break God’s law of creation—one man and one woman. Jesus deplored the abuse of marriage and said that in Noah’s day they were “marrying and giving in marriage” (implying “trading” or “swapping” in marriage). Yet from the beginning God made one man (Adam) to be the husband of one wife (Eve), and said, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and cleave unto his wife (singular), and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
In our day men divorce their wives for any foolish reason they can dream up. Divorce and remarriage is one of the greatest blots ever to come upon our civilization, and the USA has the distinction of having the largest number of broken homes anywhere on earth. Not too many years ago a divorce was the height of shame. The parties concerned often were so embarrassed that they began life in a new community. Divorces were hard to obtain. The promise “until death do us part” was taken seriously. Churches refused fellowship to those who were remarried while the first partner was still living. Today all this has changed and as a result there are many twisted, broken homes. Jesus said that the days just before His return would be like the days just before the Flood.
4. Noah’s Days Were Days of Agricultural Development
Genesis 4:20 says, “And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.” This is the first mention in the Bible of cattle raising for a profit. The age before the Flood was a time of great development in farming and in animal culture. Jabal was the originator of commerce. He most likely had a large and prosperous cattle ranch.
Today also is marked by developments in agriculture and animal husbandry. One encyclopedia article (under “agriculture”) says: “Great strides have been made in agricultural education in the Twentieth Century. Scientific research has developed many new crops and farm animal breeds. Until 100 years ago, agriculture had changed very little since ancient times.” In other words, just 100 years ago, farming methods were pretty much like they had been for hundreds of years before that. But now everything has changed and agricultural development is on the rise. Jesus included this concept when He talked about the last days being like the days of Noah.
5. The Pre-Flood Era Was an Age of Musicmaking
Genesis 4:21 says, “And his brother’s name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.” The descendants of Cain who had alienated themselves from God were without hope for the future and so they tried to entertain themselves here in this life with worldly music-making. It is surely correct to say that never before in human history has there been as much music as there is in our day. A large percentage of radio and television programs are musical in nature. CDs and tapes and DVDs are selling rapidly. We are living in an age of swing and jazz and rock n’roll which is beyond description. The words of most hit tunes express everything that is contrary to Christian virtue and to Bible standards.
Music does something to a person. It reaches the seat of the emotions. It can be helpful as well as harmful. The music that is popular today can actually stir emotions so that intense sexual lust, and even murder, can result. Some of the music popular today has done more to condemn the youth of our nation than any other single thing that the devil has on his list. Music-making characterized the days before the Flood and this too is a sign of the times in which we live.
6. The Pre-Flood Age Was Marked By the Use of Metals
Genesis 4:22 says, “And Zillah . . . also bare Tubal-cain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron.” The era before the Flood was a metallurgical age. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. Iron is the basic material for all steel. And the Bible says that Noah’s days were days when men were skilled workmen in the use of brass and iron. Iron is one of the necessary metals for modern industry.
The steel industry today provides the foundation for a great deal of modern technology. It is remarkable how strikes among steel workers tie up other manufacturers. The price of steel affects the price of many other commodities. As the supplies of wood decreased, men have developed the products of metal to an amazing degree, and today automobiles are made primarily of steel. The ship that plows through the sea is made of metal. Many household appliances are made of steel. The implements of farming are made of steel. Early automobiles had a wood frame, a wood dashboard, and even the spokes in the wheels were made of wood. Today we have skilled craftsmen in the use of iron and steel, and our Lord said that when the characteristics of the days of Noah return, then the coming of Jesus is at the door.
7. The Pre-Flood Age Was Characterized By Violence
Genesis 4:23 says, “And Lamech said unto his wives . . . hear my voice (and) hearken unto my speech, for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.” Lamech was saying, “I have slain a man because he wounded me. I killed him because he hurt me.” He was proud of his own violence and bragged about it.
Human life was cheap in the days before the Flood. It was an age of merciless killing. But has there been any age in human history that was more brutal and more full of acts of violence than ours is today? The violence manifested in the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 was shocking. Gun-related violence, child abuse, and forcible rape are rapidly increasing. One mother in a fit of anger choked her six-months-old baby to death because “he kept me awake with his crying.”
We all know too that nearly every nation on earth is working night and day to prepare greater weapons of war to be used in the wholesale killing of human beings. “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:37). The violence of the pre-Flood age is magnified many times in our own age.
With Lamech’s boast of bigamy and bloodshed in Genesis 4, the history of the line of Cain comes to a close. It was a brilliant generation. It was characterized by factors which are very much evident in our own generation. These are signs of a civilization which is overripe for the judgment of God.
In light of the times in which we live, none of us can afford to trifle with his soul. If you have never done it, why not turn your life over to Jesus so that you will be ready to meet Him when He comes? Jesus says that no person can come to the Father but “by me.”