The first story Jesus uses to emphasize the suddenness of his coming is the destruction of the earth by flood in the days of Noah. This was a well-known case of God’s judgment of wickedness in history, and it is referred to quite naturally by Old Testament prophets like Isaiah (Isa. 54:9) and Ezekiel (Ezek. 14:14, 20) and by New Testament writers like the author of Hebrews (Heb. 11:7) and Peter (1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5). Jesus refers to it in verses 37-39.

One of the most well-known passages dealing with the end times is not found in the book of Revelation, but in Matthew, chapter 24. In this passage, Jesus is teaching his disciples what signs will accompany his return. What the disciples were to know is that "when you see all these things" the end will be "near, right at the door." It refers to the terrible characteristics of their age, and ours–false messiahs, wars, earthquakes, famines, persecutions, apostasy, and false prophets–all of which Jesus’ disciples saw in their time and we continue to see today. Having seen these things, we should know that the return of Jesus Christ is near, even at the door. That door could be flung open by Christ at any moment.

Finally, this text also says something to those who are already Christians. As you think about what is needed to live a Christian life, to live in a way that is honoring to the Lord Jesus Christ, you naturally feel inadequate to such things; and indeed you are. You say to yourself, "Even with my wisdom I am still foolish; even with my strength I am weak; even with my nobility I feel like a nobody; I still fail to achieve; I still have no status in God’s sight." So you say to yourself, "Of what use am I? How can I be useful?" Each of those questions is good, and the insights are excellent. But at this point God speaks to you further and says, "Yes, yes, all these things are true. It is true that I have not chosen the wise, the mighty, the noble. I have chosen people just like you. But look, even though in yourself you are inadequate, I am adequate. And so I want to become your wisdom so that in your newfound wisdom you can make the wisdom of this world look foolish. I want to become your strength so that in your new strength you can tear down strongholds. And I want to become your status so that in your new status you might stand high and speak my word to those who are without it."

Do you know what God hates most? One of the things he hates most is boasting by sinful men and women who want people to notice how well they are doing spiritually. Moreover, he says that one reason why he does things the way he does is that he does not want us boasting in his presence. If God did not receive us entirely apart from whatever ability or credentials we might be able to present, but if instead he looked for those who had made some achievements in life, even though he saved them by grace, adding much to that little bit they had already done–there would be boasting in heaven.

Years ago, Donald Barnhouse wrote an interesting little pamphlet called How God Uses Little Things. It was excellent. In that pamphlet he went through the Bible from beginning to end, listing all the things that God uses. He began with Genesis, asking, "What did God use when He made man?" It was not plutonium. It was not gold. It was not steel, or any of the many other things we would consider valuable. It was dust, one of the most useless things there is. But what happened? God breathed into the dust so that man became a living soul.