Sermon Notes for 19 September 2021 Anno Domini (16th Sunday after Trinity), the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt 24:37-51; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
From the moment of the fall of our fleshly father, Adam, in the Garden at Eden, sins began to multiply among the children of man. The results of these sins also led to the increase of disease and pestilence where, in times past, there had been none. Roses grew thorns, and blood began to be shed abroad on the earth as a legacy of Cain’s grievous murder of his brother Abel. As the decades rolled into centuries, and centuries into millennia, the heart of man became all the more wicked and full of evil. The pattern of growing wickedness was temporarily abated by the Flood, but not long after, it began anew in earnest. It continues even to this day of the modern era. Because the memory of Noah is raised by Christ, it should signal to us the importance of knowing and remembering the conditions on earth that led to the Deluge.
“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” How were the days when the Ark was under construction? If the enormity of sin in the days preceding the Flood are heralds of the last days, we need to carefully examine those days and compare them with our own time to discover any signs of the Coming of the Lord of all Glory. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen 6:5) “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.” (Gen 6:11-12) When the heart of man is corrupt and full of sin, even the earth also becomes corrupt. After the sin of Adam, God said to him “…….cursed is the ground for thy sake…..” (Gen 3:17)
The Godly man, Noah, suffered the ridicule and rejection of all society as he labored at the Ark. Moreover, he preached righteousness to an unbelieving people for more than one hundred years. The scorners gathered about as Noah built the Ark under the Divine guidance of God. He warned them of God’s wrath at their wickedness and how God would destroy the whole earth with water. This was unbelievable to these people of Noah’s day for it had never before rained upon the earth from the Creation. Plants were watered by dew that arose at night and refreshed all life. A Flood! What was a Flood? They would soon find out. If God warns of impending judgment, we need not wonder how it can happen – we need only prepare for it! Faithful Noah walked with God. He heard His voice and responded in obedience. No matter how he may have been ridiculed by men, Noah knew that God would still sit on the Throne of Heaven even when these mortal sinners were suffering the flames of Hell.
“For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” The point made here is that of the complete surprise of the coming destruction of the flood by all living (except Noah and his family). Men had been sinning with impunity since Adam. They continued to sin, to drink, to marry, to given in marriage, to rob, to murder, and to commit every evil imaginable. They felt immune to retribution. The greatest travesty and miscalculation was that these people did not take God seriously. He was too God to bring a devastating judgment against them, so they continued with all disregard to the Creator God who made them.
The presumption of security that these people demonstrated reminds me of the true account of the Captain of the Titanic of the White Star Line just a day prior to its weighing anchor for its fatal rendezvous with an iceberg in the North Atlantic. Captain Edward J. Smith was asked by a reported if the ship was safe – if it could be sunk? Captain Smith responded with this awfully vane comment: “Sir, I tell you in complete confidence – God Himself could not sink the Titanic!” Do we of today believe that time shall go on indefinitely and that we may never face an end of it? Every reader of this devotion has a future place and time, determined by God alone, for dying. We know not the hour or circumstance, but we do know that we alone will not be the exception to dying. We may not know when or how, but we can certainly know and prepare for the condition in which we leave this world – either lost of safe in the arms of Christ. William Saroyan was an Armenian writer whose short stories I came to enjoy while abroad. He was at best a tepid believer. In the early 1980’s, William Saroyan passed away in a Los Angeles hospital. Days earlier, he had sent a note to Walter Cronkite to read only after his demise. After his death, Mr. Cronkite read Saroyan’s note on CBS Evening News: “I have always known that everyone has to die sooner or later but, I felt, in my case that there would be an exception – NOW WHAT?” If Mr. Saroyan felt the question one he needed to ask, I’m afraid the answer will not be pleasing. Do you know, friend, that you are called and chosen by God?
“Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” Though this prophecy may relate fully to the coming destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman Legions under Titus in 70 A.D., it has parallel bearing on the return of Christ at some point unknown to us. Many shall be employed in the same pursuit and action when Christ comes, yet one will be taken and the other left. Why? It is because our good works will not merit heaven for us, but that which is in our hearts.
“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.” If we are fervent students of history, we will see the ugly head of tyranny being raised in our won government as well as abroad. Defending the liberties of our people is not a sometime consideration, but one requiring constant vigilance on the part of the people. We face an even greater prospect with the Coming of the Kingdom of God. We must be on constant watch for our souls and those of our family and neighbors. Be a watchman is a serious business. It is a duty which weighs heavily on the shoulders of every clergyman, and every Christian layperson. We must be awake, we must be watching, and we must sound the alarm. Even in our contemporary times, sleeping on guard duty has ever been punishable with death, because on the carefulness of the watch may depend the safety of the army and the nation. In the Korean Army, our allies during the Vietnam War, a soldier found sleeping on guard would never wake up. He would be shot in his sleep. “In the Temple, during the night, the captain of the Temple made his rounds, and the guards had to rise at his approach and salute him in a certain manner. Any guard found asleep on duty was beaten or his garments were set on fire.” M. R. Vincent “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” (Rev 16:14-15) Christ gives here His charge to be watching, for the same reason but even more importantly, for His coming and clothed in the garments of justification and sanctification, so as to be accepted.
If you knew that the End would come at noon today, would your manner of living suffer great change? Near the end of the eighteenth century, there was a day which came to be known in New England history as the Dark Day. On this day, April 19, 1780, the sun was suddenly and inexplicably obscured at the noon hour. The darkness descended on the land from the middle, to the New England, states. The Connecticut Legislature was in session, and some of the members, moved with fear, proposed an immediate adjournment. “It is the day of Judgment,” they said, “and it is not fitting that we should be here.” But a Colonel named Davenport, one of the members, stood up and said, “I do not know whether this is the day of judgment or not. But if it be the day of judgment it cannot overtake us at a better place than at the post of duty. Let us light the candles and go about the business of the house.” And then he made his speech regarding the use fish nets in Long Island Sound. Will you continue your good duty until the Lord finds you then?
“Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” There are, today, many knowledgeable theologians of whom the Lord may not have been aware for they claim to know the day and hour of His return. I have two small books in my library attesting to the Lord’s return on September 22, 1988 and October 1, 1992 respectively. But wait! Something must be amiss with their reading since the Lord did not come as predicted. A more recent example is the prophecy of Mr. Harold Camping that Christ would return on May 21, 2011. Did we miss that gathering? Such false prophecies attract much attention (as well as money), but the price to be paid by those who speak falsely in the name of the Lord is a serious matter. No one knows the time of the Lord’s return, so let us live every day as if that is the day. “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.” “But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
When I was a child, my parents would often leave me and my younger brother in the care of my older sister. My mother gave me chores to do, and my sister was to be obeyed. As soon as the dust cleared, I usually did whatever I pleased and was not obedient to my sister. Some few minutes before the expected return of my parents, I tried to get my act straight and appear diligent when they returned. Quite often, I completely failed at this object for my parents sometime surprised me by returning earlier than expected. I always paid a greater price for my loathsome failure than I would have paid by doing my duty in the first place. Are we putting off a right relation with God until we are convinced that our days are ending? Live every minute of every day unto the Lord. That way, we will pray with John the Revelator that He shall come quickly, and we shall be ready!