Jesus spoke of the days preceding the destruction of Jerusalem (67–70 AD) when the church would need to pay close attention to what was happening in their world. Yes, “normal” life was to carry on, but with keen watchfulness for things such as wars, worldwide advancement of the gospel, followed by apostasy and the like. And when they saw the Roman army advancing and beginning to surround Jerusalem, they were to flee (Matthew 24:3–16). There would be no time for delay. If they paid attention, and if they obeyed his word, they would be spared. Historians tell us that this is precisely what happened.
In a follow up to this, Jesus also warned that many would ignore his prophecy and would be destroyed. That is, many would assume that life was merely going on as normal, with no need to be alarmed. He used the example of those who in Noah’s day, were “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and—”. Well, you know the rest of the water-logged story (Matthew 24:36–39).
Unfortunately, many misunderstand what Jesus was condemning. He was not condemning “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.” In fact, most likely, Noah’s sons got married in those very days (Genesis 6:9–10; 7:6–7). Noah’s family, in other words, enjoyed wedding celebrations, good food and drink—just like the rest of the community—but they enjoyed it in a much different way; they had a much different perspective. In the words of the hymnist, they knew, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.” This was literally the case for them, as the flood would carry them to a new world order. This perspective, though daunting, no doubt gave them a greater appreciation for the delights of eating and drinking and marriage. For you see, even amid days dark with sin and the threat of judgement, life for Noah’s family carried on in the gracious and ever-growing shadow of the ark. God’s promised salvation empowered them with a hope that added joy to the normal experiences of a life carrying on, even in a world that was sinfully carrying on.
On their wedding days, Shem, Ham, and Japheth would have combed their hair, donned their finest attire, and nervously stood waiting for their beautiful brides. The brides would have taken the calloused hands of their groom, covenanted their lives, and perhaps, after a short honeymoon, hubby would get back to helping dad build this strange thing that looked like a box but which would save their lives. The wives, along with Mrs Noah would have laboured together in their responsibilities, and at the end of the day, the family would sit down eating and drinking. There was nothing wrong with any of this and so much that was right about it. Sure, life had changed dramatically, and it would soon change cataclysmically. At the same time, life carried on meaningfully because of the grace of the Triune God.
Tomorrow, Nathan and Shalyn will be “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.” How wonderful! It’s not what they had planned back in December, but it is what it is, and the joy will still abound, because God’s grace still abounds. Having experienced the ark of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ, their wedding day will be special. Tomorrow they and their families will make the most of God’s gifts—gifts such as marriage (and don’t forget the food and drink!).
Brothers and sisters let us gather at the throne of grace asking the Lord’s blessings on the soon to be Mr & Mrs Jordaan. And like those newlyweds back in Genesis 9:1, may they be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth! Well, at least some of the earth. Happy wedding, Nathan and Shalyn!
Celebrating with you,