What did Yeshua mean when He said in His Olivet discourse: “as it was in the days of Noach” (Matt 24:39)? In this and other Re(new)ed Covenant Scriptures (2 Pet 2; 2 Thess 2), the authors speak of a future world of great wickedness, such as has not been known since the times of Noach and Sodom. These Scriptures also speak of YHVH’s judgment on those who are deceived by the lies of hasatan and refuse to turn to the truth of the Creator and Redeemer of the world, Yehovah Elohim.
They also speak of YHVH our Deliverer saving and protecting His people during times of past trials or judgment:
- Noach and all his family were divinely saved from destruction by the protection of the Ark (2 Pet 2:5). Note that the Hebrew word for ark (tevah) not only means a box or covering, but it also means “word” – so you can think of Noach and his family truly being covered by YHVH’s Word!
- In the time of Sodom & Gomorrah, we are told that the people were very immoral and ungodly, but also that God [Elohim] rescued Lot from the fiery judgment because Lot was a righteous man who followed the truth (2 Pet 2:6-7)
- Moses (Ex 44:7), David (1 Sam :14-15) and Elijah (1 Kings 19:4-8) were all protected in the wilderness
- In the same way, when YHVH brought all the plagues onto the people in Egypt, He spared the Hebrews from the worst of those plagues (Ex 9). Yeshua became our Passover Lamb 2000 years ago, and now we can cover ourselves with His blood for protection from the enemy’s attacks
- Finally, in speaking about the end of days, Yeshua says in Revelation 12 verses 6 and 14 that YHVH will once again protect His people from both the unbearable attacks from the adversary hasatan, and also from His own judgments against the wicked
From these Scriptures we know that YHVH has protected His people many times in the past, and has said that He would protect us again during the Tribulation period. We also know from Yeshua’s words in Matthew 24 and Sha’ul’s prophecies in 2 Timothy 3 that the times before the end of this current world will be characterized by great sinfulness and evil.
What will lead the people of the world into such great lawlessness, though? We know there are plenty of greedy, boastful and wicked people throughout the world now, but Yeshua says the End will be a time like no other that has ever been seen or will ever be seen again. Several Scriptures speak of a great apostasy, deception, or falling away (2 Thess 2:3, Matt 24:10). Reading further in these Scriptures we see many reasons for this falling away of believers in Yeshua, so great that even some of the elect will be led astray (Matt 24:24). Yeshua speaks of many false prophets and teachers, and the great signs and wonders they will use to try to convince believers that they are the Messiah who is prophesied to return.
There is a stronger deception than simple signs and wonders that will be leading the saints away from YHVH, though. This deception becomes clear when you look at the expanded meaning of apostasy – it means “an abandonment of the truth”. In spiritual terms, this means that the end times will involve a wholesale rejection of YHVH’s revelation, a further “falling away” of an already fallen world. This “end times” falling away is confirmed as the sign that will come before the Tribulation ends and Yeshua returns for His saints (the set-apart ones) in several other Scriptures.
When Sha’ul talks about the end times in II Timothy 3, he talks first about all the wickedness that will mark that time, but then he goes on to say in Verse 7 that people at that time will be: “always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth”. This agrees with II Thessalonians 2:10-12 which states that the ones who will be judged in the latter days will be the ones who did not believe the truth of YHVH, but instead believed the enemy’s lies. The crux of this passage in Verse 11 says: “…God will cause them to be greatly deceived, so that they will believe these lies”.
Going back to Matthew 24, Yeshua’s first answer to His disciples about the signs of the end was: “Be careful that no one leads you astray! For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will lead many astray” (Matt 24:4-5). Remember that one of Yeshua’s harshest reprimands of the religious leaders was in John 8:44 when they accused Him of casting out demons and healing people in the name and power of the devil: “For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies”.
The essence, then, of the reason for the great falling away in the end times will be that a great majority of the people (believers and unbelievers alike) will believe the lies of the false teachers and prophets and of the anti-messiah himself.
So how do we prepare ourselves for these perilous times, so that we can discern false from true teaching and prophecy, and resist following the popular path of believing the captivating lies of the enemy’s allies? As with all temptations and allurements of our society, we need to put all our trust in our Rock and Redeemer, Yeshua HaMashiach, and be filled with Yehovah’s Holy Spirit. We need to ask Abba for guidance in discerning the truth from the lies, and then follow that truth no matter what are the world consequences. While it is true that not all believers will be delivered physically through the Tribulation, we know that if we remain steadfast in our trust and obedience, YHVH will help empower us to overcome the world, by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony. In this world we will have tribulation, but Yeshua has overcome the world, and greater is He that is in us (the Holy Spirit) than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).