Noah was now five hundred and ninety-nine years old. He had been preaching the approach of the world-wide cataclysmic flood for over one hundred nineteen and one-half years. As the crowd of mockers gathered around Noah to listen to his oft-repeated warning, there was unusual interest on the part of one listener. This was the first time he had heard Noah in person, for he resided in a distant land. Yet, so universal was the knowledge of this message that he knew it by heart and he had thought up some excellent rebuttals and was keen to provoke the speaker by his interjections. Nevertheless, he listened to Noah’s sermon in silence though with an air of expectancy, waiting to hear from Noah’s lips the absurd prediction that one day there would be universal flood.
This young man was a Sabbath-keeper and a worshipper of the true God. He was well aware of Cain’s sin and never offered sacrifices other than a lamb without blemish. He had received a fine education and was well able to discern matters related to his faith. But he did hold a real concern for the reputation of God’s church among unbelievers. He recognized that Noah shared most of his beliefs. He even acknowledged that Noah was a sincere follower of God. But Noah’s fanaticism caused him embarrassment. Noah and his followers on the lunatic fringe were doing more to hold God’s people in disrepute among infidels than any other group.
To him Noah’s views were of an archaic nature. It was understandable that in earlier, less enlightened eras, Noah’s message might have been received by the more gullible, but in these modern days the message simply lacked validity. Not only could it be shown to be unscientific nonsense by men of vast experience and expertise in these matters, but the theologians of his own faith had also demonstrated quite conclusively that he was taking God’s message far too literally and was ignoring the context and the era in which that message was given. Whatever else may be said in Noah’s favor, one matter which was indisputable was that he was decidedly unscholarly in his approach to God’s word. In any case Noah was not a theologian and would be far wiser to restrict his pronouncements to areas of his own training and to leave the things of God to scholarly theologians.
However, the new listener, giving rapt attention to every word Noah preached on this occasion, heard no warning about an approaching flood. He was swept by mixed emotions. He was decidedly disappointed that Noah had not allowed him to interject his unanswerable questions on this topic. Yet he was rather pleased that Noah now seemed to have his feet squarely on the ground and was preaching only those truths fully accepted by the established followers of God. Noah’s sermon on the love of God and the promise to Adam and Eve of the birth of a Redeemer to save sinners was an excellent one. The young man could not fault a single word. There was not the slightest hint of fanaticism, and even the atheists in the crowd were silenced for once.
Unwilling, however, to have his finely tuned arguments against the flood left unheard, the young man interjected a question at the end of Noah’s discourse: “You mentioned nothing of the forthcoming flood. What is its present status in your thinking?” Noah’s reply was rather indirect: “I have been preaching the message for over one hundred and nineteen years now. I want to say that I still firmly believe that it was a message relevant to the last century. But times have changed and the themes of God’s servants must change to keep pace with issues relevant to the needs of today. In the preaching of the flood I found I was addressing questions no one was asking. When I took stock I found that there are many modern questions demanding answers. For instance, I had not concentrated much recently on the home lives of God’s people. They are in disarray. I have now pledged myself to hold marriage enrichment courses, for God demands marital fidelity and would have our homes as little heavens.
There are many of God’s children who have problems of great variety. I feel well qualified both by experience and education to provide a wise counseling service for these people. You must also be aware that there has been an upsurge of illness recently. Modern science has indicated that much of this is preventable if right habits of living are pursued.
Since medical missionary work is the right arm of our faith, I believe it most proper that I hold preventive medicine seminars for my fellow men. We need to meet the people where they are. In addition, recently I have been asked to take on many more administrative tasks in God’s cause. Since my efforts in this respect will greatly enhance my influence among the flock, I could hardly withhold my services. Thus you can see that I have more than enough to keep me busy with this program without making the flood yet an addition to my already heavy load of labors. Yet let me assure you that my faith in the coming flood some time in the centuries to come, and not too many centuries at that, is unshaken. As that time nears, the message will again become relevant, and I trust that God will once again lay upon my shoulders the preaching of this message.”
No reader could fault the good that this hypothetical Noah could accomplish. The question we must examine is whether he was preaching truth or present truth; whether he was doing God’s will, or falling short of God’s expectation.
Clearly, if Noah had adopted such an attitude, he would have denied by his silence the very message of the hour. We simply cannot conceive of Noah relegating the great message of God for his day to the category of irrelevancy in order to emphasize other messages, albeit truths. These other messages needed emphasis, but in the context of God’s great warning pronouncement to a doomed world.
Outside that context they became powerless and somewhat meaningless discourses. Noah’s efforts in marriage enrichment, counseling, health education and church administration were noble, but surely should not have become ends in which he felt he could substitute these features for the preaching of present truth. Perhaps the mightiest marriage enrichment seminar could be a study of God’s last message for mankind. Do we counsel from the perspective of this great theme? Are our health education programs designed for public plaudits or for warning those attending that the hour of God’s judgment is nigh? In our administrative duties do we base our decisions upon the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus? Or have we so lost our vision that we are using these avenues simply as an escape route from preaching this last great message? Are we Noahs forgetting to mention the flood?
Was Noah’s message more relevant or less relevant two or three months before the flood? Is our message less relevant today than it was when our pioneers preached it a century and a quarter ago? Is it less relevant when wars multiply and hopes for world peace fade? Is it less relevant when the Pope stands on English soil for the first time and preaches in Canterbury cathedral? Is it less relevant when the economic ills of all nations baffle the most numerous and sophisticated economists this world has ever known?
Is it less relevant when sections of Christendom in the US are pressing for the enforced observance of Sunday sacredness? Is it less relevant when man could destroy himself several times over? Is it less relevant when even some Sabbath-keepers reject the biblical account of creation? Is it less relevant when some professors in our colleges question the sanctuary doctrine, disparage the writings of God’s servant, and deny God’s power to bring obedience to sinners?
Is it less relevant when even the Sabbath day is questioned among God’s people? Is it less relevant when ministers of the gospel will deny the plain words of God condemning homosexuality, and implicitly condone such acts? Is it less relevant when some church congregations retain among their members men and women who have deliberately broken their marriage vows before God and have deserted their spouses and children? Is it less relevant when Christians clandestinely watch pornography on home videos? Is it less relevant when church members can take the funds of other and dishonestly use them? Is it less relevant when Bible study and prayer have become rare features of many Christian homes? These questions demand but one answer.
Never before has the great message of the three angels been more relevant, never more urgent. The three angels’ messages are the most modern, the most pressing messages that God has for the world today! We must know them and preach them!!
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