Description
Jesus likened his coming to the days of Noah when people were unaware of the judgment that was about to befall them. The Noahic Covenant is also important when considering the end-time death toll.
Commentary
Although these chapters are about events that took place in ancient history, they are relevant to end times for the following reasons:

1) As in the Days of Noah
In Matthew 24:36-44 Jesus said about his coming, “But as for that day and hour no one knows it – not even the angels in heaven – except the Father alone. For just like the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. For in those days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. And they knew nothing until the flood came and took them all away. It will be the same at the coming of the Son of Man. Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one left. There will be two women grinding grain with a mill; one will be taken and one left. “Therefore stay alert, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have been alert and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Jesus compares his coming to the days of Noah because:
-his coming will be a surprise to most people
-many will be overwhelmed and killed in the events associated with his coming
-Noah spent years building a great ark that was a very visible and tangible warning sign of what was to come. As a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5), he surely also explained to them why he was building it and what they needed to do. Instead, they took no notice, and probably ridiculed his him. Today, there are many signs for those who are watching that Jesus' coming is near (see my commentary on Matthew 24). But few people are taking any notice.

Reflecting on Jesus' words, the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5, "Now on the topic of times and seasons, brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you. For you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come in the same way as a thief in the night. Now when they are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will surely not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in the darkness for the day to overtake you like a thief would. For you all are sons of the light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of the darkness".

It is clear from what Jesus and Paul said that the 'thief in the night' warning is directed at those who ignore the warning signs. Christians who live righteously and pay attention to the signs should be prepared for his coming and should not be overwhelmed. Sadly, many churches are failing to prepare their congregations for what is coming.


2) The Noahic Covenant is still valid today
This covenant is expressed in Genesis 8:21-22, "And the Lord smelled the soothing aroma and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, even though the inclination of their minds is evil from childhood on. I will never again destroy everything that lives, as I have just done. “While the earth continues to exist, planting time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease".

It is then confirmed in Genesis 9:9-17, "Look! I now confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that is with you, including the birds, the domestic animals, and every living creature of the earth with you, all those that came out of the ark with you – every living creature of the earth. I confirm my covenant with you: Never again will all living things be wiped out by the waters of a flood; never again will a flood destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the guarantee of the covenant I am making with you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all subsequent generations: I will place my rainbow in the clouds, and it will become a guarantee of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, then I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures of all kinds. Never again will the waters become a flood and destroy all living things. When the rainbow is in the clouds, I will notice it and remember the perpetual covenant between God and all living creatures of all kinds that are on the earth.” So God said to Noah, “This is the guarantee of the covenant that I am confirming between me and all living things that are on the earth".

At the end of the Millennium when this present earth is destroyed and God creates a new earth (Revelation 21:1), there will no longer be day and night (Revelation 22:5). But until that time, this ancient covenant is as valid today as it ever was. Every rainbow is a reminder of it.


3) The Death Toll During the Great Tribulation
When you look at end time passages that describe the death toll during the Great Tribulation, a reasonable question to ask is "Will God honour the Noahic Covenant?" Just think about Noah's flood. The population of the earth before the flood was probably in the millions. According to the bible, the flood wiped out all of humanity except for eight people. This was a 'population reset' on a massive scale.

According to Revelation 6:8, a quarter of the earth's population will perish during the events associated with the seven seals. The world's population is currently about 7.7 billion people. Let's imagine that it reaches 8 billion by the start of the Great Tribulation. So about 2 billion people perish, leaving about 6 billion survivors.

According to Revelation 9:15, another third perish during the trumpet judgments. That would reduce the earth's population to about 4 billion. So at least half the world's population will perish by the time Jesus returns at the seventh trumpet. It is also apparent that a huge number of Christians will be martyred during the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:9, Revelation 6:9-11, 7:9-17, 20:4-6). In addition, two-thirds of the population of Israel will perish (Zechariah 13:8). Let's make an optimistic guess that a billion Christians are still present at the seventh trumpet. If they are all raptured, that leaves Earth with a population of about 3 billion.

We are not told what percentage perish in the bowl judgments of Revelation 15-16, but it is clear that the bowl judgments are more severe than the seal or trumpet judgments. Given the progression from a quarter perishing at the seals to a third perishing at the trumpets, let's guess that a half perish in the bowl judgments. That would leave about 1.5 billion survivors.

Then at the Battle of Armageddon, it is likely that tens or possibly hundreds of millions perish. By the end of the age, the world's surviving population is likely to be a small fraction of what it is today, perhaps about a billion or even less by these estimates.

Isaiah portrays an even starker end-time death toll, suggesting that my guess of only half the population perishing at the bowl judgments is wildly optimistic. Isaiah 24:1-13 says, "Look, the Lord is ready to devastate the earth and leave it in ruins; he will mar its surface and scatter its inhabitants…6 So a treaty curse devours the earth; its inhabitants pay for their guilt. This is why the inhabitants of the earth disappear, and are reduced to just a handful of people…13 This is what will happen throughout the earth, among the nations. It will be like when they beat an olive tree, and just a few olives are left at the end of the harvest".

Also in Isaiah 13:12, a passage that describes the Day of Judgment, God says, "I will make human beings more scarce than pure gold, and people more scarce than gold from Ophir".

I assume that God is using hyperbole in these passages of Isaiah, but even so it paints an extremely stark picture of the Great Tribulation death-toll.

Those who survive the Great Tribulation will populate the earth at the start of the Millennium. During the Millennium, people will live much longer and in apparently ideal conditions (Isaiah 65:20-25). So it is likely the population growth rate will be high during the Millennium. I guess that Earth's population will be reduced to such a state at the end of this age that Earth will be able to sustain humanity's population growth under millennial conditions for another thousand years.

Earth's population has risen from about 1 billion to 7.7 billion in the last 200 years. Over the last few decades it has been increasing by a billion every twelve years approximately, and doubling in less than fifty years! It is hard to imagine how Earth could realistically sustain a population of more than about 10 billion. Even with 7.7 billion, we seem to be causing irreversible catastrophic damage to the planet. Even for the current population to be sustainable in the long term, great advances in technology are needed to generate enough food, energy and materials, and to contain and reduce pollution. So what kind of 'reset' would Earth's population need to allow for another thousand years of growth under ideal millennial conditions?

Even if Isaiah's olive tree analogy uses deliberate hyperbole, it suggests that Earth's population will be reduced at least from billions to millions! A very sobering thought!

Through all of that, God will still honour the Noahic Covenant. Noah's flood brought indiscriminate judgment on all of earth's inhabitants who did not enter the ark. When Jesus describes end time judgments in Luke 17:33-35 he says, "Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, in that night there will be two people in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left". These judgments are limited and targeted. In these verses Jesus is not talking about the rapture. It is clear from Luke 17:37 that they are talking about judgment, "Then the disciples said to him, “Where, Lord?” He replied to them, “Where the dead body is, there the vultures will gather". In other words, those who are 'taken' are killed.


4) As a Picture of Hope
The story of Noah's flood is not just a picture of overwhelming judgment. It is also one of hope. Every time we see a rainbow it reminds us that God wants to give us hope. As the Great Tribulation approaches, people desperately need hope. They might not realise it now, but when we enter the long dark tunnel of the Great Tribulation, it is hope that will sustain us.
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Tags: Days of Noah, End-time death toll, Thief in the night, Noahic covenant, Hope
God’s Grief over Humankind’s Wickedness
6 When humankind began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them,
2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humankind were beautiful. Thus they took wives for themselves from any they chose.
3 So the Lord said, “My Spirit will not remain in humankind indefinitely, since they are mortal. They will remain for 120 more years.”
4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days (and also after this) when the sons of God would sleep with the daughters of humankind, who gave birth to their children. They were the mighty heroes of old, the famous men.
5 But the Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind had become great on the earth. Every inclination of the thoughts of their minds was only evil all the time.
6 The Lord regretted that he had made humankind on the earth, and he was highly offended.
7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe humankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – everything from humankind to animals, including creatures that move on the ground and birds of the air, for I regret that I have made them.”
8 But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord.

The Judgment of the Flood
9 This is the account of Noah.
Noah was a godly man; he was blameless among his contemporaries. He walked with God.
10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
11 The earth was ruined in the sight of God; the earth was filled with violence.
12 God saw the earth, and indeed it was ruined, for all living creatures on the earth were sinful.
13 So God said to Noah, “I have decided that all living creatures must die, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. Now I am about to destroy them and the earth.
14 Make for yourself an ark of cypress wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it with pitch inside and out.
15 This is how you should make it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.
16 Make a roof for the ark and finish it, leaving 18 inches from the top. Put a door in the side of the ark, and make lower, middle, and upper decks.
17 I am about to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy from under the sky all the living creatures that have the breath of life in them. Everything that is on the earth will die,
18 but I will confirm my covenant with you. You will enter the ark – you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.
19 You must bring into the ark two of every kind of living creature from all flesh, male and female, to keep them alive with you.
20 Of the birds after their kinds, and of the cattle after their kinds, and of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every kind will come to you so you can keep them alive.
21 And you must take for yourself every kind of food that is eaten, and gather it together. It will be food for you and for them.”
22 And Noah did all that God commanded him – he did indeed.

7 The Lord said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, for I consider you godly among this generation.
2 You must take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, the male and its mate, two of every kind of unclean animal, the male and its mate,
3 and also seven pairs of every kind of bird in the sky, male and female, to preserve their offspring on the face of the entire earth.
4 For in seven days I will cause it to rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the ground every living thing that I have made.”
5 And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.
6 Noah was 600 years old when the floodwaters engulfed the earth.
7 Noah entered the ark along with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives because of the floodwaters.
8 Pairs of clean animals, of unclean animals, of birds, and of everything that creeps along the ground,
9 male and female, came into the ark to Noah, just as God had commanded him.
10 And after seven days the floodwaters engulfed the earth.
11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month – on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst open and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.
12 And the rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.
13 On that very day Noah entered the ark, accompanied by his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth, along with his wife and his sons’ three wives.
14 They entered, along with every living creature after its kind, every animal after its kind, every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, everything with wings.
15 Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life came into the ark to Noah.
16 Those that entered were male and female, just as God commanded him. Then the Lord shut him in.
17 The flood engulfed the earth for forty days. As the waters increased, they lifted the ark and raised it above the earth.
18 The waters completely overwhelmed the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the waters.
19 The waters completely inundated the earth so that even all the high mountains under the entire sky were covered.
20 The waters rose more than twenty feet above the mountains.
21 And all living things that moved on the earth died, including the birds, domestic animals, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all humankind.
22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died.
23 So the Lord destroyed every living thing that was on the surface of the ground, including people, animals, creatures that creep along the ground, and birds of the sky. They were wiped off the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark survived.
24 The waters prevailed over the earth for 150 days.

8
But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and domestic animals that were with him in the ark. God caused a wind to blow over the earth and the waters receded.
2 The fountains of the deep and the floodgates of heaven were closed, and the rain stopped falling from the sky.
3 The waters kept receding steadily from the earth, so that they had gone down by the end of the 150 days.
4 On the seventeenth day of the seventh month, the ark came to rest on one of the mountains of Ararat.
5 The waters kept on receding until the tenth month. On the first day of the tenth month, the tops of the mountains became visible.
6 At the end of forty days, Noah opened the window he had made in the ark
7 and sent out a raven; it kept flying back and forth until the waters had dried up on the earth.
8 Then Noah sent out a dove to see if the waters had receded from the surface of the ground.
9 The dove could not find a resting place for its feet because water still covered the surface of the entire earth, and so it returned to Noah in the ark. He stretched out his hand, took the dove, and brought it back into the ark.
10 He waited seven more days and then sent out the dove again from the ark.
11 When the dove returned to him in the evening, there was a freshly plucked olive leaf in its beak! Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth.
12 He waited another seven days and sent the dove out again, but it did not return to him this time.
13 In Noah’s six hundred and first year, in the first day of the first month, the waters had dried up from the earth, and Noah removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry.
14 And by the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was dry.
15 Then God spoke to Noah and said,
16 “Come out of the ark, you, your wife, your sons, and your sons’ wives with you.
17 Bring out with you all the living creatures that are with you. Bring out every living thing, including the birds, animals, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. Let them increase and be fruitful and multiply on the earth!”
18 Noah went out along with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives.
19 Every living creature, every creeping thing, every bird, and everything that moves on the earth went out of the ark in their groups.
20 Noah built an altar to the Lord. He then took some of every kind of clean animal and clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
21 And the Lord smelled the soothing aroma and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, even though the inclination of their minds is evil from childhood on. I will never again destroy everything that lives, as I have just done.
22 “While the earth continues to exist,
planting time and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
and day and night will not cease.”

God’s Covenant with Humankind through Noah
9 Then God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.
2 Every living creature of the earth and every bird of the sky will be terrified of you. Everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea are under your authority.
3 You may eat any moving thing that lives. As I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
4 But you must not eat meat with its life (that is, its blood) in it.
5 For your lifeblood I will surely exact punishment, from every living creature I will exact punishment. From each person I will exact punishment for the life of the individual since the man was his relative.
6 “Whoever sheds human blood,
by other humans
must his blood be shed;
for in God’s image
God has made humankind.”
7 But as for you, be fruitful and multiply; increase abundantly on the earth and multiply on it.”
8 God said to Noah and his sons,
9 “Look! I now confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you
10 and with every living creature that is with you, including the birds, the domestic animals, and every living creature of the earth with you, all those that came out of the ark with you – every living creature of the earth.
11 I confirm my covenant with you: Never again will all living things be wiped out by the waters of a flood; never again will a flood destroy the earth.”
12 And God said, “This is the guarantee of the covenant I am making with you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all subsequent generations:
13 I will place my rainbow in the clouds, and it will become a guarantee of the covenant between me and the earth.
14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds,
15 then I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures of all kinds. Never again will the waters become a flood and destroy all living things.
16 When the rainbow is in the clouds, I will notice it and remember the perpetual covenant between God and all living creatures of all kinds that are on the earth.”
17 So God said to Noah, “This is the guarantee of the covenant that I am confirming between me and all living things that are on the earth.”

The Curse of Canaan
18 The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Now Ham was the father of Canaan.)
19 These were the three sons of Noah, and from them the whole earth was populated.
20 Noah, a man of the soil, began to plant a vineyard.
21 When he drank some of the wine, he got drunk and uncovered himself inside his tent.
22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers who were outside.
23 Shem and Japheth took the garment and placed it on their shoulders. Then they walked in backwards and covered up their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so they did not see their father’s nakedness.
24 When Noah awoke from his drunken stupor he learned what his youngest son had done to him.
25 So he said,
“Cursed be Canaan!
The lowest of slaves
he will be to his brothers.”
26 He also said,
“Worthy of praise is the Lord, the God of Shem!
May Canaan be the slave of Shem!
27 May God enlarge Japheth’s territory and numbers!
May he live in the tents of Shem
and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth!”
28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years.
29 The entire lifetime of Noah was 950 years, and then he died.
(NET)