Noah and Lot were far from perfect men, but they listened to their God (see Genesis 6-9 and 18:16-19:29). When God’s merciful warnings came, they had ears to hear and were saved. The rest of the people during their times chose their own terrible ends by treating the words of their Maker with contempt. It was the same sin that Adam and Eve committed in the Garden and that the religious leaders committed against Jesus. It is happening right now in the hearts of humanity all over the planet. It will still be happening when Jesus returns. Each person throughout history has had a choice about whether they will heed the righteous ways of God or not.
Those who reject the Lord have decided that they can make life work their own way. If they fail to repent in this life, God will honor their choice. He will give them their way. He will separate them from Himself and all the good things He provides, which is every good thing in the universe! It is pure human arrogance to believe it can be any other way.
This judgment to come is a cataclysmic, awesome, frightening thing. It should cause us to have a holy, reverent fear of God. It could draw us into our rightful place of worship and wholeness before Him…to enter into the grace He has made the way for. It could bring us to our knees, where we will know the supreme peace and joy of right relationship with the Almighty Lord! That’s if we let it. Right now, we have a choice. Will we respond to His Spirit and His transforming power?
Somehow, in a paradox that the divinely inspired authors of Scripture never choose to make absolutely clear, God holds humanity responsible for our response to Him. And yet we also know that God chose those who would respond to Him. We were chosen from before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. We are the elect (see Ephesians 1-3 for an epic vision of what it means to have life in Christ or Romans 8:26-39 for the incredible security of that gift of grace).
Yet many will not be numbered among those who put their faith in the Lord. Jesus went on to describe how it will be for the people walking the earth on the Day of the Lord, the time of His righteous judgment at the end of the world:
“‘It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.’”
Can you picture it? When the moment has come, somehow, the Lord Jesus will return as the Son of Man with great, flashing brilliance in the sky above. Heaven will invade earth finally and completely through the power of God’s Son. Nothing will ever be the same. This is how the Apostle Paul described that astonishing moment:
“…the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
Wow. What will you do when He comes? Will you run inside? Will you try to grasp a hold of all your worldly goods? Will you be like Lot’s wife, who looked back towards the city of sin with longing? Or will lift your arms to your Lord, ready to leave it all behind for Him?
Jesus revealed to His disciples amazing and glorious mysteries about how He was going to return in cataclysmic glory on the great and terrible Day of the Lord. But even as He spoke of how He would come flashing across the sky, He told them how to live their lives on earth. The way to prepare for His coming was by living lives of absolute devotion to Him. It is the only right response of love to the One who is Love.