Last Updated on : November 23, 2014

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The Parable of Noah or
An Unheeding World
By Pearce Mansfield, Story of the Bible, Vol. 11


Following immediately upon the Olivet Prophecy, the Lord uttered series of parables that have particular bearing upon believers, emphasizing the need for watchfulness, of preparation for his return, of using one's talents in the work of the Truth, and finally, of the inevitabiity of the Judgment.

Matthew records these (see Matt. 24:37-25:46) in such a way as to make them exactly parallel with a series that Jesus had delivered at the beginning of this portion of his ministry (Matt. 21:28-22:10), and which provided a series of warnings to the Jews of the awful judgment that would come upon them nationally, because of their rejection of his ministry.

These two series of parables (the first directed to Israel after the flesh, and the second to Israel after the spirit) were given in conjunction with the Olivet prophecy -- because they were based upon the judgments it pronounced. It predicted two such: the crisis of A.D. 70 on the Jewish world; and that which is today impending upon the Gentile world. The parables before the prophecy had relation to the former; those given after it concerned the latter. The first of the latter, as recorded by Matthew was the Parable of Noah or that of An Unheeding World.


The Need For Vigilance

By now darkness had encompassed the city of Jerusalem, and the slopes of Olivet above. On part of the latter, the Lord rested with his Apostles, instructing them concerning their attitude in view of the crisis then impending in his life. Around the little group of Apostles were many people, for it was customary for visitors to the city to camp on the open spaces around Jerusalem during the period of the Passover.

A hum of conversation ascended on all sides as family groups began to settle down for the night. But the Lord continued his instruction. He emphasised the need for watchfulness, or wakefulness, by delivering unto the Apostles a parable based upon the life of Noah; one that warned them that the judgment of Yahweh would overtake both the Jewish world of A.D. 70, and the Gentile world of today, as suddenly and completely as did the flood in the days of Noah.

He urged his disciples that they must be on their guard against becoming too engrossed with the world about them:

"As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" he declared.


The days of Noah were noted for the widespread indifference of people to the requirements of God. Men were heedless of their individual responsibility, and regardless of the signs of the times.

It was a time when "every imagination of the thoughts of men's hearts was evil" (Gen. 6:5), when God's way was universally corrupted (v.12), when tyrants (The word "giants" has been rendered by some as "tyrants" e.g. Luther.) dominated in the earth (v.4), and it was filled with violence (v.13).

Saddest of all, it was a time when believers were so involved in the world's affairs that they, too, joined the mocking voices of scorners in ridiculing the warning counsel of Noah, and pleased themselves in what they did (Gen. 6:2).

So evil had mankind become, that God decided to blot that civilisation out of existence (Gen. 6:7); only Noah and his family found grace in His sight.

Now, on the side of the mount, overlooking the darkened city, Jesus warned his disciples again (He had on an earlier occasion spoken in similar terms in Luke 17:20-21) that the crisis of the last days was typed by that of the flood.

That means that people would be completely unheeding of the times, and would devote themselves to the everyday affairs of life, without thought that God is about to intervene:

"For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah 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. 24:38-39).

The Presence Of The Judge

There are significant suggestions in this statement of the Lord.

Firstly, Noah was called into the ark before the storm broke out upon an unheeding world.

In like manner, believers will be taken out of the world before the storm of Armageddon will break over it (Isa. 26:20).

Indeed, Peter taught that this is a principle with God. He declared that "judgment must begin at the house of God" (1 Pet. 4:17). He was writing to believers years later, putting them on their guard against conditions that were developing in the world. His teaching shows that Christ will first come to raise the dead and judge his household, before dealing with the world.

The type of Noah, who was shut in before the flood came and destroyed the world, requires this sequence.

But does not the word "coming" signify the "returning" of the Lord, and was not the Lord speaking of his actual coming in the reference above?

The word "coming" in that verse does not refer to the Lord's arriving, but to his presence in the earth. The word, in the Greek, is parousia, and signifies "presence," and not the act of coming.

The world will be ignorant of the presence of the Lord, even though he will be in the earth, because he will be with his house hold in the isolated fastnesses of Sinai. The first the world will know of his actual presence will be when it feels the weight of his judgments, as he moves against it in company with his saints (Ps. 149).

It is therefore significant that he referred to himself as "Son of man" in the above context, for that is the title of Jesus as judge. He declared: "The Father hath given the Son authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man" (John 5:27). It will be when his judgments are in the earth, that the inhabitants thereof will learn righteousness (Isa. 26:9).

Judgment Of The Household

The Lord's warning, however, was for his disciples, and not for the world at large. They must be on their guard that they do not manifest the same attitude of indifference towards his coming, as is the case with the world.

It is a fact of solemn import, that in the days of Noah, believers had become so involved in the affairs of the world, that they could not extricate themselves therefrom when the judgment of God was poured out upon it.

They perished with the world that they loved so much!

Christ warned that it would be so at his second coming.

He solemnly told his disciples of this on the dark slopes of Olivet's hill, in order that they might be alerted to the tremendous responsibility that rests upon individuals at such times. He declared:

"Then shall two be In the field, the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken and the other left" (Matt. 24.40-41).


What did he mean? He was warning that the crisis would come so suddenly and unexpectedly, as to not provide any time for specific preparation, so that unless disciples had earlier prepared for it, they would be completely taken off guard,

In stating that two men shall be together in a field, or that two women shall be grinding meal together, one of whom shall be taken and the other left, the Lord did not mean that one would be taken to the judgment seat and the other left behind, but, rather, there would be close acquaintances whose friendship would be severed at the judgment seat, in that one would be accepted and the other rejected.

The men working in the field, the women grinding at the mill, are acquaintances and friends, working in conjunction with each other. But the judgment will reveal that they had no real fellowship together. It will be like the crisis in Noah's day, when only he and his family found the refuge of the ark, and the rest of the sons of God perished with the world (Gen. 6:2).

Prior to the discrimination revealed by the flood, the sons of Cain would have classed all the sons of Seth as associates and co-workers together; but some of them were taken into the Ark, and the others were driven away.

This will be repeated at the Judgment Seat of Christ. To the world, all believers are equally members of the Ecclesia, associating together in a common labor. But Christ perceives a difference; and he will reveal this at the Judgment Seat, for "one shall be taken and the other left."

The Greek word for "taken" is paralambano, and it signifies to take to oneself, as God took Noah into the ark, or as a man takes a wife (see its use in Matt. 1:20,24). On the other hand, the Greek word for "left" is aphiemi, which is compounded of two words: apo meaning "from," and heimi, meaning "to, send," and therefore signifying "to send from, forth, or away."

This word, therefore, does not mean to leave behind, but to drive away. Both parties are called together for judgment, but one is accepted as part of the bride of Christ (Rev. 19:7), and the other one is driven back into the world which is given over to destruction.

There must have been many such scenes of sadness at the ark when the sons of God realised their foolishness in rejecting the warning sent from God, and were driven away, whilst Noah and his family were taken into its shelter.