Our Lord’s words relating to His coming made mention of “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, buying, selling, planting and reaping”. These are all acceptable and normal daily and annual activities known to mankind. The message was really saying that no one was taking any notice of Noah’s preaching, neither did they see the purpose of the Ark he was building. Therefore they either took no notice, or worse still, mocked and scorned Noah.
If I am reading it correctly, God gave a probationary period of 120 years before the Flood came. It makes me wonder whether, based on our Lord’s words “As it was in Noah’s day . . .” there could have been a similar period of probation given to this earth before the final judgment comes. If so, then we must ask, when did this 120 years start, and when will it finish? Is there some way of recognising the progress of recent years so as to give us a clear message and warning?
I believe two most significant events happened in the years 1894 – 1906 which could well mark out the beginning of a period of probation. The first refers to the Jews, the second to the Church. Let’s have a brief survey.
In November 1894 Alfred Dreyfus was arrested on a charge of treason. He was made a scapegoat because he was Jewish. The Catholics of Paris were antisemitic and could be heard shouting outside the court house, “Death to the Jews.” But an Austrian-born Jew, Dr Theodore Herzl was covering the case for his newspaper, and was appalled by what he saw and heard. After some years in solitary confinement on Devil’s Island, Dreyfus was returned to Paris for re-trial, and it was found that he had been framed, based on his Jewish origin. This event, known in France as L’affaire was the springboard that propelled Herzl into action. Calling himself a Zionist (the first time the word had been used), and writing a book entitled Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) he called for Jews world-wide to consider it the right time to return to Palestine and become a nation again. Several Zionist Congresses were held in Basle to galvanise Jews into action. Hence this one event, based on the conjunction of two people, Dreyfus and Herzl, began the process that finally led to Israel becoming a nation in 1948. Therefore 1894 was a watershed year.
In 1900 there was a great surge of interest amongst American evangelicals for a return to Apostolic Christianity, what became known as the Holiness Movement. Charles Parham, an evangelist of Topeka, Kansas, taught that speaking in tongues was the sign of spirit baptism, and asked his students to consider this, and pray about it. William Seymour was one who heard and took it to heart. AgnesOzman was the first to speak in tongues, on 1st January 1901, and Seymour began the movement at Azusa Street in Los Angeles in April 1906, the same year that Dreyfus was finally re-instated in the military. News of the return of spiritual gifts spread like wild fire, and within a few years “the baptism of the spirit” was being preached across America and most of Europe. And so 1901 was another watershed year.
History has shown the development of the Jewish people, the return of nationhood, and the associated rise in antisemitism across the world. History has also shown the rise and development of Pentecostalism, and more recently the Charismatic Church, and the sad way in which triumphalism has grown out of that instead of prayer, fasting, and the propagation of prophecy warning people of imminent judgment upon the world. God’s gift of the renewal of “power from on high” to His Church was meant to be the start of the countdown to “the Day of the Lord’s Judgment” but the Church has failed to recognise the true significance of His gracious outpouring.
120 years after November 1894 brings us to this very month in 2014, and there may very well be some significance in this fact. The period of time from November 1894 to 1st January 1901 is just over six years. I felt led to bring these chronological facts to your notice, in the hope that it might encourage an attitude of prayer for a world that is full of violence, corruption, self-seeking, and God-rejection, exactly as it was in Noah’s day.
The dark thunder clouds and the first few drops of rain taught Noah’s compatriots the folly of their laughter. Likewise the very first of God’s elect to appear in this world in resurrection will have the same effect. There will be no turning back to days of comfort and mockery. Suddenly everything will be seen in its true light and men will run to the caves to escape the righteous judgment of God. That day may be very near.