When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes. [Matthew 24:37-39 (NLT)]
Last Friday, there was hardly a spot in the parking lot of a local warehouse club, empty carts were at a premium, and the wait for gas was over 30 minutes. Inside, people were gathered around the fork truck bringing down more generators, packages of batteries were being grabbed by the handful, and cases of bottled water were being snatched right out of the stockers’ hands. The supply of things like toilet paper, garbage bags, bleach wipes, and paper towels was dwindling fast.
June was the official start of hurricane season and even though our Florida newspapers were filled with articles about hurricane preparedness and several days were set aside as sales tax holidays for hurricane supplies, most people did little to prepare until Friday. Up to then, the “spaghetti plots” of Tropical Depression 9 were all over the place but that morning’s weather report showed them coming together over our part of the state. By that afternoon, forecasters predicted a major Category 3 hurricane and warned us to be prepared. By Saturday, the storm had a name (Ian) and the governor had declared a state of emergency for 24 counties!
What part of being prepared didn’t we get back in June when the NOAA warned us to expect an “above average” year of named storms? Perhaps, we were lulled into a false sense of security by the season’s calm beginning and an August without any named storms. Until we see a storm heading straight at us, we tend to ignore the warnings. While better prepared than many, I’m not pointing any fingers; Friday morning, we were filling the gas tank and getting bottled water and batteries!
Thinking of the frenzied crowd at the store and gas pumps, I thought back to Noah. While Genesis focuses on the building of the ark and Noah’s obedience, such an enormous project couldn’t have gone unnoticed. Surely Noah’s neighbors wondered about the massive craft being built in his backyard. Genesis tells us Noah was righteous and blameless and 2 Peter 2:5 tells us that ”Noah warned the world of God’s righteous judgment.“ If he preached the need for repentance and cautioned that God would bring a flood and everything on earth would die, the people ignored his warnings and probably laughed at what seemed an impossibility. When the rain began and the water continued to rise, imagine their panic as the reality of what was happening set in.
In Matthew 24:36-44, Jesus warned of the arrival of another time of judgment and cautioned that the world would be caught off guard as it was in Noah’s day. When that day comes, there will be no spaghetti plots on the weather channel and no chance to run out and get bottled water or batteries. There simply will be two groups—those who are prepared and saved and those who are unprepared and lost.
By Sunday morning, Ian was expected to reach Category 4 intensity once it reaches the Gulf, the “cone of concern” broadened to include the Florida panhandle, and the governor declared a state of emergency for the entire state. With the latest news, the people north of us are now frantically filling gas tanks, water jugs, and sand bags. Jesus, however, wasn’t speaking about hurricane preparedness. He was speaking of His second coming. While many Floridians are fleeing out of the storm’s path, there will be no fleeing when that day arrives. Whether the Last Days or simply our last day here on earth, there will be no way to escape and no place to hide when it comes. Are we prepared?