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Forgotten Lessons

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Many people today are concerned that world events are heading in a dangerous direction. Spreading violence, global brutality and widespread corruption in governments and society dominate the news. Many see the erosion of Western society's foundational Judeo-Christian values and the ensuing moral decay—and they wonder, where are these trends leading? What does the future hold? While critics scoff, Bible prophecies reveal that our modern world is approaching a fateful milestone in history.

Nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ promised His disciples that He would return (John 14:1–3) and set up His kingdom on this earth (Daniel 7:27; Acts 1:6). He also predicted that His second coming would surprise many (Matthew 24:44). Yet, He told believers to "watch" for a series of specific events indicating that His return was near (see Matthew 24). One prominent sign that Jesus said would immediately precede His return would be that conditions in the world would resemble an earlier moment in human history, right before a worldwide crisis, "as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matthew 24:37). We are witnessing these end-time prophecies coming alive today!

Days of Noah

Many assume the biblical story of Noah is simply a myth. Yet, Jesus refers to the events of Noah's day as fact. The Apostle Paul warned us to learn from these ancient events because they "were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Corinthians 10:11). Noah lived during a time when God dramatically intervened in human affairs for definite reasons—reasons that are re-emerging today. The Bible records that God brought human civilization to a stand-still because "the wickedness of man was great… and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually… The earth was also corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence… for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth" (Genesis 6:5–12). Humankind had turned totally away from God and His ways in headlong pursuit of evil. That is why God destroyed the ancient world with a flood.

The Scriptures and historical sources reveal sobering parallels between Noah's time and our age. The Bible states that men of Noah's day "took wives for themselves of all whom they chose" (Genesis 6:2). Considering the wickedness that characterized the times, rabbinical scholars 1,500 years ago observed these unions probably included other men's wives, other men, and even animals. The influence of this perverted behavior persisted beyond the flood when a homosexual act took place between a drunken Noah and his grandson Canaan (Genesis 9:20–25). The Bible clearly labels this kind of sexual activity as an "abomination" (Leviticus 18:22). God terminated a civilization that had gone totally off track—one riddled with violence, perversion and all sorts of evil—and this historical record has been preserved as a warning for us today.

Sodom, Gomorrah and Beyond

Both the Bible and history demonstrate that human civilizations have a tendency to turn away from biblical standards of conduct. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah provide a vivid example of how human wickedness results in divine punishment. The Bible records that a major reason why God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah was the people's rampant homosexuality. When two angels visited Lot, who lived in Sodom, "the men of Sodom, both old and young… surrounded the house… they called to Lot and said to him, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have sex with them'" (Genesis 19:1–5, NIV). The prophet Ezekiel records that the sins of Sodom also included "pride, fullness of food… abundance of idleness" and lack of support for the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:49–50). However, the biblical account refers to the activities that characterized the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah as an "abomination" to God—which is how God views perverted sexual practices (Leviticus 18:6–24). As a result of these sins, "the Lord rained brimstone and fire [burning sulfur] on Sodom and Gomorrah" (Genesis 19:24). Archeologists have found ancient settlement remains (Early Bronze III), located near Bab edh-Dhra on the southeastern edge of the Dead Sea, showing evidence of destruction by earthquake and fire (see Archeological Study Bible). God's punishment for wickedness was final!

Warnings Ignored

A sobering lesson for us today is that throughout history, multiple warnings of impending divine judgment were ignored and ridiculed by people who heard them. Noah was a "preacher of righteousness" (2 Peter 2:5) who warned his generation of its impending demise for about 120 years (Genesis 6:3), yet only eight people—Noah's family—heeded the warnings. Lot's sons-in-law thought he was "joking" when he told them to flee from Sodom because it was going to be destroyed (Genesis 19:14). The prophet Ezekiel repeatedly warned the nations of Israel (Samaria) and Judah (Jerusalem) that God would punish them because they had forgotten why Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed—yet they were guilty of similar abominations (Ezekiel 16:46–52)—and they suffered terrible consequences.

The Apostle Paul predicted that "in the last days" men would be "lovers of themselves, lovers of money… proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents… unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors… lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God" (2 Timothy 3:1–5)—an accurate description of our modern world. Today, we live in a society that is increasingly violent and corrupt—just as in the days of Noah. Beheadings, crucifixions and torture are again making news. Adultery, fornication, pornography and divorce are rampant in the Western world. The acceptance and promotion of homosexuality and same-sex marriage—once condemned as perverted behaviors—are now termed "alternative lifestyles" and are rapidly spreading in nations that once professed belief in biblical morality. Killing unborn babies by abortion has gained acceptance, and euthanasia is an option in some of these same nations.

When societies ignore the lessons of history and begin to live as if there is no God—as if there is no such thing as right or wrong—there will be consequences. David wrote in the Psalms that only fools say "There is no God" (Psalm 14:1) and "nations that forget God" will be destroyed (Psalm 9:17). A series of prophets warned the ancient Israelites they would suffer divine punishment because they had forgotten God (Hosea 8:14; Jeremiah 13:24–27)—which included military defeat, destruction of their cities and foreign captivity. Moses warned the Israelites, "after my death you will become utterly corrupt… and evil will befall you in the latter days, because you will do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger (Deuteronomy 31:29)—which is where we are today. In spite of these ancient warnings, Bible prophecies reveal that "scoffers will come in the last days" who will forget history's lessons, ignore warnings and mock the idea that Jesus Christ will return (2 Peter 3:1–10). We need to remember George Santayana's sobering observation, "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." As the world approaches another critical turning point, the question is: Will you forget, or will you remember the lessons of history?

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