A while ago I was reading the story of the crucifixion and I was struck by the words spoken by Christ as He made his way towards Golgotha (Luke 23:27-31). The multitude was following Him and as He heard some of the women mourning and lamenting, He asked them to divert their tears and sorrows to a future generation who would have it far worse off than they.
For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’
He then spoke the words that really gripped me: “For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?”
Or in other words, if man crucifies the very Son of God when it is actually quite hard to do so (ever try starting a fire with green wood?), what evil will man be capable of when it is quite easy to be so (ever try starting a fire with dry wood? It’s simple!).
During His Olivet Discourse, Jesus told His disciples that “as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man” (Luke 17:26). If we look back at the story of Noah, we see that mankind was capable of such great evil, that God was stirred to remove those He created in His image from existence. At this point in history, “the wickedness of man was great in the earth and every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” That’s pretty bad! Yet, we’re promised by Jesus Himself that those days are returning to the earth, because “as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man.” This might very well be the coming period of dry wood that Jesus was referring to.
So, we know that those days will hold great evil. But what really did it look like back in the days of Noah? The Bible shares a little—“all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth”—but the non-canonical Book of Enoch, which is held in incredibly high esteem by many Jewish and Christian scholars and ministers, gives us great insight.
Chapters 6-10 of the first section of the Book of Enoch tells of 200 angels lusting after women and swearing an oath to enter the earth realm and commit sin with them. Not only did they pollute the gene line of the human race (except for Noah’s, for he was “perfect in his generations”—or his bloodline), but they also “taught them charms and enchantments (the dark arts), and the cutting of roots, and made them acquainted with plants (drugs).”
The perverted human race continued to depreciate as they were taught “to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates”—obviously for the purposes of war and violence. Genesis 6:11 confirms this, saying “the earth was filled with violence.” This suited the Nephilim, the offspring of the fallen angels, just fine, for they had a thirst for blood and destruction. Chapter 7 of the Book of Enoch says these “giants turned against them and devoured mankind. And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another’s flesh, and drink the blood.”
Grim times, indeed. But not any more so than what’s coming. Jesus says in Matthew 24 that preceding His return, the people of the earth will endure “Great tribulation that has never before been experienced by mankind.” The weight of sin upon the earth in this generation will be greater than that of Noah’s day. For “the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” Judgment by fire is more severe than by water.
I share these things not to stir up fear or anxiety, for in the midst of these awful times, Daniel promises that “the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” Christ is our blessed, living hope and if He is for us, nothing and no one can be against us. But at the same time, we have to dump naïve Pollyannaism, because all is not well nor will be well.
For, as Galdalf says in Return of the King, “We come to it, at last. The great battle of our time.”