"But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 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." (Matt. 24: 37-39)
"Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed." (Luke 17: 28-30)
These verses say that the last generation of men who exist at the time when Christ returns in judgment will be like those people who existed prior to the deluge and prior to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. However, there is no mention, in these words of Christ, of the great wickedness of those peoples. Christ says that they ate, drank, bought and sold, married, etc., the ordinary and legitimate things of life. The intent of Christ is not to focus on the extreme wickedness of those former peoples but on the fact that the judgment that came upon them was totally a surprise to them. They were ignorant of such a coming judgment. But, this ignorance manifests their great wickedness. If divine judgment upon ungodliness is imminent, it ought to be known. "And thinkest thou this, O man...that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?" (Rom. 2: 3)
"For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night."(I Thess. 5: 2)
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night..." (II Peter 3: 10)
The coming of the Lord in judgment upon the antediluvians, upon "the world of the ungodly" (II Peter 2: 5), came unexpectedly and unawares, as a thief comes in the night. This does not mean that there were no warnings, for Noah was a "preacher of righteousness" (ibid), but that they were largely ignored. So today men carry on their daily lives, eating, drinking, marrying, etc., and are oblivious to any coming judgment from Lord God. They have no real belief that there will be any judgment of God upon them, for they do not judge themselves as worthy of any divine judgment. The evil and immoral things that they are doing are not viewed by them as being evil and immoral. They are greatly deceived about their corrupt condition.
But, with the righteous, it is not so. Paul said to the early Christians:
"But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief." (I Thess. 5: 4)
Those who are "in darkness" do not expect any divine judgment. Only those who are enlightened expect God to judge wicked men. Only those "in light" expect a coming day of judgment.
"And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares." (Luke 21: 34)
The word "overcharged" means to be "weighed down," or overly concerned with. There are three things that occupy the minds of those "in darkness." They are overcharged with "surfeiting" and with "drunkenness," and with the "cares of this life." Those thus overly concerned with these things are the ones who will have the day of judgment come upon them "unawares." The omega generation is a generation of people who live for the moment, who do not concern themselves with consequences. It is a generation of people who have rejected the idea an afterlife of judgment, of any idea of Hell. It is a willing ignorance (II Peter 3: 5), a living in denial.
The antediluvians and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were people who said - "let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die." (I Cor. 15: 22) Of these sort Paul said - "Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things." (Phi. 3: 9) So too is it the case with that wicked people who will exist at the end of the age upon the coming of the day of judgment.
Paul predicted: "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth." (I Tim. 4: 1-3)
In the previous postings focus was upon the great wickedness of the masses, or of the world in general, at the time of the Lord's return in wrath and judgment. In these verses, however, Paul focuses on the apostasy of professing Christians as well.
Apostasy from the Faith
This sign of the coming of judgment is ecclesiastical. As has been already stated, description of the state of the world at the time of the end was given, but here there is a description of the state of Christendom is given. Jesus also spoke of the state of the church at the time of the impending day of judgment.
"Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18: 8)
The Lord seems, in these words, to assert that the time of the end will find that faith is rare. By "faith" Christ seems to intend the Gospel or doctrine of faith. In the original Greek there is the presence of the definite article "the" before "faith." Christ's ask - "will he find the faith on the earth?" In the apostate days of Samuel, the statement is - "And the word of the LORD was precious in those days" (I Sam. 3: 1), meaning not that the word of God was so esteemed but that it was rare, or little known. Though the time of the end will be a time when the Gospel will have been preached in all the world for a witness, there is no evidence that it will have been believed except by a small remnant.
Jesus gave testimony regarding the career of the Gospel in the parable of the leaven in the meal.
"Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened." (Matt. 13: 33)
Leaven is symbolic of corruption or what causes decay. The purest Christianity, generally speaking, existed in the days of Christ and the apostles. Since that time there has been a gradual decline in the purity of the Gospel meal.
The letters to the seven churches (Rev. chpt. 2-3) may be taken as prophetic of the career of the church and the last, the church of the Laodiceans, shows what condition the church will be in at the time when Christ returns to judge the world.
This is seen in the statements "giving heed to seducing spirits" and to "doctrines of demons." This will not only characterize societies in general, but also the Christian church. The line of distinction between the church and the world will have become almost indistinct. One cannot help but think that the widespread belief in ancient "aliens" is a manifestation of this. In the Apocalypse we read:
"And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts." (Rev. 9: 20-21)
This is but another description of the culture of the end times. Notice the religious apostasy of the masses. They are worshippers of demons and paying attention to "seducing spirits." Involved in this religious deformity is idolatry and sorceries. It is interesting that the Greek word for "sorceries" is "pharmakeia" from which we get our word "pharmacy." The word refers to the use of drugs in connection with idolatrous religion. A look at our world today reveals that it is indeed a drug culture. It is also a culture that is involved in fortune telling, necromancy and channeling, spiritism, etc.
The text of both John and Paul, viewed together, describe a culture that has accepted the existence of demons and not only seeks contact with them but "worships" them. That is, they adore them and are infatuated with them. Not only does the worship of demons go hand in hand with occult religion, with sorceries, with idolatry, but with the adoration of self. We saw this earlier where Paul spoke of the omega generation as being lovers of self. Here they are pictured as adoring and glorying in their achievements, in the things that they have built. It is self aggrandizement on a world wide scale.
Not only is false religion, paganism, associated with idolatry, superstition, demon worship, sorcery, and self love, but also with fornication. So it was with the ancient Israelites who, in their idolatrous worship around the golden calf, danced naked and committed all kinds of sexually immoral acts.
Also involved in this occult religion of Babylon will be violence, lawlessness, and murder. No one will be safe in such a world. The world was "filled with violence" in the days when God brought the flood upon the world. So too will it be in the end of this age.
Liars and Hypocrites
Everything is false about the omega generation. It is the common practice of the masses to be deceitful. What a perilous world! Not only will faith be hard to find on earth when Christ returns, but so will truth and fidelity. But, not only will such be the general state of the world, but also of the professing Christian church. It will be full of those who teach lies and who are hypocrites.
A seared conscience is one that has been, metaphorically speaking, "cauterized." Cauterized flesh becomes dead and insensitive. This is a fitting picture of the consciences of men in the time of the end. They will sin with impunity, without any sense of guilt. The omega generation will be a people who "believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (II Thess. 2: 12) and will therefore be condemned.
The Greek word "forbidding" includes the idea of preventing and hindering, or discouraging. Though some find this fulfilled in the Catholic church with its forbidding of priests, bishops, nuns, and monks to marry, yet the prophecy includes much more than this. Vincent in his NT word studies says:
"The ascetic tendencies indicated by these prohibitions developed earlier than these Epistles among the Essenes, an ascetic Jewish brotherhood on the shores of the Dead Sea, who repudiated marriage except as a necessity for preserving the race, and allowed it only under protest and under stringent regulations. They also abstained strictly from wine and animal food. This sect was in existence in the lifetime of our Lord. strong traces of its influence appear in the heresy assailed in Paul's Epistle to the Colossians. The Christian body received large accessions from it after the destruction of Jerusalem (70 A.D.). The prohibitions above named were imposed by the later Gnosticism of the second century."
I think that Paul is describing the negative attitude that now exists in our world towards traditional marriage, the marriage between one man and one woman.
Cult of the Body
"Commanding to abstain from foods." There has always been a religious connection between diet and spirituality among the false religions. One cannot divorce this descriptive practice of Paul, relative to the end times, with the context of occult practices.
In commenting upon Revelation 9: 20-21 and I Tim. 4: 1-3, J. A. Seiss wrote (1870-1884):
"Modern spiritism, or so-called spiritualism, is but a revival of the same thing—a branch of the same iniquity. There doubtless is some reality in it; and it is confessedly a system of intercourse with the dead, whose spirits are invoked in various forms and methods, to teach wisdom; to dictate faith, religion, and life; to comfort and help in trouble and necessity; and to serve as saviours and as gods. It is demon-worship brought to life again. It claims to have vast multitudes of adherents, even among the baptized and nominally Christian. It is influencing whole communities of men and women, who are prepared to commit themselves body and soul, for time and eternity, into the care of these lying demon guides. It has made inroads upon people of all classes, and is received by many as a distinct and the only true religion. Its oracles are loud and hopeful in the prediction, that it will soon enlist to itself the governments and reigning classes of the whole world. The Word of God also forewarns, that it will be vastly successful. "The Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the Latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats." (1 Tim. 4: l-3.) Instead of fearing, loving, and trusting in God above all things, people will bestow their loving confidence upon unclean spirits, invoking them for guidance, and placing religious dependence in their impious falsities. Having no relish for the saving Gospel of Christ, God will send them strong delusion, that they may believe a lie, and be visited with the damnation their perverseness deserves. And at the time this sixth trumpet sounds, the prevailing religion of the world will be this selfsame worship of demons, and following of demons' doctrines.
In connection with this demon-worship, will be the revival of idolatry. It is itself idolatry; but, with it, idols of gold, and silver, and copper, and stone, and wood, which can neither see, nor hear, nor walk, will again command the genius of men for their construction, and be set up to please their demon-lords, to facilitate spiritual intercourse, and to help out the foul devotions of the infatuated people.
It may appear too disparaging to the understanding of this enlightened age, to entertain the possibility of a return to the ancient worship of images. People may feel insulted at the thought. But the way for it is opening, and the process to effect it is already going on. The minds of anti-christian religionists everywhere are fast relapsing into the old heathenish philosophies, and I know not what is to hinder their acceptance of the religions with which those philosophies are conjoined. Modifications of them may be made, to conform them somewhat to the requirements of an altered condition of the public mind and taste; but idol worship will again become, as it is even now becoming, the religion of some who claim to be among the most enlightened and the very illuminators of mankind. Socrates had his demon guide, and Socrates approved idolatry; and if men accept the Socratic philosophy in preference to the religion of the Bible, and submit to be taught by demons as their most trustworthy oracles, what is to prevent them from becoming philosophic idol worshippers, especially if their spirit-friends should so dictate, and accompany those dictations with that power of working wonders. A little further on in this book, we read of a "false prophet," who teaches the dwellers upon earth to make an image, to which he gives the power of utterance, so that it both speaks and causes all who refuse to worship it to be put to death. (Rev. 13 :14-16.) All this is simply the culmination of the system already in vogue, showing a base, persecuting, and murderous idolatry, also the source and manner of its introduction. The symptoms and tendencies are even now strongly in this very direction." (Apocalypse pg. 101-105)