The image on the right is a lot closer to our reality, in 2021, than it being a tongue and cheek cartoon from December of 2012. Each and every day around the world, normal people are aware that something is dreadfully wrong. People are looking for answers, in a world that seems to be rushing over a cliff of despair. Christians do have the answer, if we are willing step out in faith and testify to the truth.
The cartoon above represents a way of truth telling that many Christians either are uncomfortable with or utterly despise. It is my biblically informed opinion that our disdain for this type of declaration is absolutely out of step with the biblical narrative as a whole.
Consider Jonah. Though he may not have had a sandwich board with “Repent or Perish” boldly written across front and back, it was Jonah’s bold proclamation to a people who were dedicated for destruction by the LORD for their wickedness. Let us consider Ezekiel’s message on God’s behalf to the people of Israel.
Ezekiel 14:6-8 (NKJV) “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations. For anyone of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who separates himself from Me and sets up his idols in his heart and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, then comes to a prophet to inquire of him concerning Me, I the LORD will answer him by Myself. I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of My people. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.
To understand the force of the prophet’s message against Israel, which warns of judgment for unrepentant sin, we look no further than the call of God to Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 3:16-18 (NKJV) Now it came to pass at the end of seven days that the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.
The call of the children of God is to reveal the love and grace of God, but without the guarantee of the LORD’s judgment on the unrepentant, His love and grace are not love and grace. Another way to frame it is that to be saved means we are saved from something: THE WRATH TO COME.
When seeing a person such as the brother in the image to the right, many American Christians have an adverse reaction. Some would say it is not a proper way to share God’s love or that it is even foolish. Is it really? Is it more foolish to call people to repentance to avoid the coming judgement of the wrath of God, with a bull horn and sandwich board, or to be as Noah and build an ark?
This is more than a fair question. Consider that Noah was called to build a very large boat-like structure, in a region where there is no significant body of water to float his boat. Consider that he was called to pronounce through building this vessel (over the course of over 100 years) and through his preaching, that God would send a flood upon the earth, which will kill all the unrepentant. Consider Noah’s object lesson and preaching were to people, who had never seen it rain, in a region with no significant body of water.
In comparison to the sandwich board Christian, Noah would certainly win the contest concerning what appears to be more foolish.
Let us now consider we live in times where the character of man is eerily similar to that of the majority of the world’s population around the time of Noah. Genesis gives us a sobering snapshot of that character.
Genesis 6:5-6 (NKJV) Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
The point is not that we ought to all wear sandwich boards, but that we need to use the sign of the times and the coming wrath of God, as a means to call people to repentance, that they may receive God’s love and grace in salvation. Remember that God is working with us to reveal His wrath to come and His grace through the Lord Jesus Christ
Romans 1:16-20 (NKJV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…
It is the fear of the LORD (which is the beginning of knowledge), which leads to conviction of sin. This in turn begins a process leading to salvation.
2 Corinthians 7:10 (NKJV) For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
NOAH’S ARK FORESHADOWS CHRIST
Christians have been mislead by teachers and pastors for decades concerning not only how to share the Gospel, but about the very nature of the gospel itself. Even 23 years ago, when the Lord Jesus Christ saved me, I would hear of “Hell fire and brimstone preachers” almost in a derogatory fashion. It was as if preaching the judgment to come was supposed to be off limits, being deemed legalistic or even cruel.
Christians were also inundated with statements such as this “If the lost do not know you love them, they will not want to know what you have to say about salvation”. At first, hearing that statement sounds compassionate, perhaps even loving, but it is a total falsehood. The word of God expressly declares that we are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Our motive is love, but our mission is that of Paul the apostle.
Colossians 1:28-29 (NKJV) Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.
What is it that we are warning them of? THE WRATH TO COME, upon the unrepentant! It is this warning that leads to the fear of the LORD, which brings wisdom to understand the weight of our sin. Knowing the weight of our sin brings godly sorrow, working repentance leading to sorrow.
Remember that Noah is defined in scripture as a “preacher of righteousness” (II Peter 2:5). We must consider that this means he preached repentance from sin and a return to God, for the covering of their sins. The covering of their sin was in the blood sacrifice of an animal, which was to point to the coming of the Lamb of God, in the fullness of time.
His preaching of righteousness, had to come with a warning, or there would have been no incentive to repent or return to faith in God. For over a century Noah’s preaching came with a really big reminder of the judgment to come… the ark.
The message to be considered by Noah’s generation… only those who repent and walk after God, can be saved from the wrath to come through the flood.
Noah preached how to be counted righteous through repentance and faith. To do so is God’s love to the lost of this generation.
Noah preached that those who reject repentance and faith in God’s mercy, would die in the judgment to come. This warning is God’s love to his generation. Sadly none but Noah’s family responded.
Noah’s ark was antitype (a pattern of something greater to come), revealing something for future generations concerning Christ. What does the Noah’s ark foreshadow?
Without repentance and faith in Christ, where we are saved by grace through that faith and placed inside Christ, the true ARK of God, there is only the expectation of God’s wrath and eternal judgment. I Peter 3:20-21 illuminates this truth and shows water baptism as a sign we are in Christ.
We also, like Noah, Jonah and Ezekiel are called upon to preach the wrath to come, because it may lead the lost to seek Christ for salvation. It is true that the majority will not heed the warning, but it must be given and we know that it is and will be given.
In the Book of Revelation, we find that the world is not atheistic in the last days, but living in hatred of the the one true God, as they follow the antichrist, whom is Satan’s counterfeit.
Revelation 6:15-17 (NKJV) And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
Revelation 6:15-16 (NKJV) And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!
Revelation 16:8-11 (NKJV) Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.
All three of these passages reveal the state of men, after the church is raptured and before Christ’s physical return to have His victory over the wicked world, at Armageddon. How do they know it is the Wrath of the Lamb? Because the church warned them of the wrath to come.
Brothers and sisters, we need to love the lost around us. We do this by warning them of the wrath to come. If we do not they will die in their sin, but their blood will be upon us.
The people of the world understand that something very threatening is growing every day. We know it is the unfolding of prophecy. which will end judgment for them, without hearing the full gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We understand that as it was in the days of Noah, where “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”, so it is now.
Time is short, the world needs to know that the end is near, that they may have a everlasting beginning in Christ. Let us pray for God’s grace to be His messengers of Christ’s love in the cross. It is our calling.
Philippians 2:14-16 (NKJV) Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.