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November 9

Matthew 24, 36-39

Something to read

'But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man.'
New Revised Standard Version

Something to think about

When Jesus uses the story of Noah to illustrate his teaching, he omits everything that is irrelevant to the point he wants to make.

So we hear nothing about the wickedness that God decided to stamp out (Genesis 6.5), or the instructions to Noah to build the ark and fill it with animals. Just one thing matters: no one knew what was going to happen and life went on as usual.

Nobody knew. It wasn't just a question of people surviving in the short term – eating and drinking. They continued to make plans for the long term – 'marrying and giving in marriage'.

So when it's a question of the coming of the Son of Man, and we learn that the angels did not know, even Jesus himself did not know, when heaven and earth would pass away (v35), our human efforts to make predictions about it are made to look pretty pathetic.

We also have a timely reminder about God's all-embracing knowledge. A matter of days before the crucifixion, there is here the reassurance that regardless of the confusion that was surely troubling the disciples, God knows.

Something to do

Reflect on God's omniscience: do you find that reassuring or alarming?

Something to pray

'I will never again curse the ground because of humankind … As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease' (Genesis 8. 21, 22). Think of the natural disasters that people sometimes attribute to God's anger and ask for forgiveness for the times when we fail to trust God's promises.

Today's contributor is the Rev Dr Paula Clifford, a former Head of Theology for Christian Aid, now Vicar of Minster Lovell (Oxon) and Oxford Deanery Mission Enabler. 


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