As we study the Bible’s ancient account of Noah leading up to the flood we read that it was a wicked time.
But there is one verse that sticks out:
11 Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. (Genesis 6:11 NASV)
The earth was filled with violence.
In fact, the Bible refers to the violence the permeated Noah’s day a couple of times. The Hebrew word for violence is ‘hamas’ and refers to violent acts and the same word is used to describe a mass murder recorded in the book of Judges when a brother murdered 70 of his siblings (Judges 9:24). For one to murder his brothers there must be a raging hatred.
But ‘hamas’ encompasses all levels of violence words, intimidation and oppression.
It was a violent world in Noah’s day.
But the Bible adds one more key descriptor, it says the world was “full” of violence. The Hebrew word ‘timmale’ is not a complicated word. It means simply to “contain as much as possible.”
The violence was not found in one part of the world, it was everywhere.
In his description of the days leading to His second return, Jesus made an interesting statement. He said it will be like the days of Noah:
37 For he coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. (Matthew 24:37 NASV)
Does this mean that the end times will similarly be a world filled with violence?
This past weekend we saw a world brimming with violence.
On Saturday night (September 30, 2017), in Edmonton, Canada a man with alleged connections to the terrorist organization ISIS drove his car into a police officer directing traffic for football a game. After hitting the officer, the man then jumped out of his vehicle and stabbed the officer with a knife before fleeing.
Police later tracked him down as he drove a U-haul truck and during the chase he purposefully hit four walking people before police were able to apprehend him.
Then on Sunday night, America was stunned when a man holed up in the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas fired hundreds of rounds of bullets into a crowd watching an outdoor concert in the park below slaughtering 59 people and injuring 520.
It was the largest mass murder in American history.
The murderer, a 64-year-old multimillionaire named Stephen Paddock, killed himself when police stormed his hotel room. Police do not know why he killed, but what kind of anger, hatred and wickedness filled his heart.
Then on Sunday night, across the ocean in Catalonia Spain, things became violent when police tried to stop a referendum vote on whether the region should secede from Spain. One of Spain’s largest cities, Barcelona, is part of Catalonia.
Located in the Northeastern corner of Spain, Catalonia is a wealthy area made up of four provinces primarily inhabited by an ethnic group called the Catalans.
With a population of 7.5 million, Catalonia has its own language and culture. Because of this, Spain has given the region a higher level of autonomy designating it a nationality, but it is still very much under the control of the Spanish government.
For decades, the Catalans, who also range into neighboring France, have been wanting to form their own country, an action that Spain very much opposes.
Nevertheless, over the weekend, Catalonia held a referendum vote asking if people were interested in separation.
The Spanish government declared the referendum illegal and sent in police to stop the voting.
It became violent with over 800 people injured as police tried to shut voting stations and seize ballot boxes. Though no guns were fired, there are TV videos of police dragging women out of polling booths by their hair.
At another polling site police used batons to beat firefighters who were trying to protect the location. But at other voting stations, the Catalans outnumbered the police and were able to drive them back.
Despite the violence, the Catalonia government said over 90% of the 2.2 million people whose ballots were counted voted in favor of separation. This represented 42.3% of the 5.3 million people eligible to vote.
The Catalonia government estimated that police seized about 750,000 ballots that weren’t included in its count.
In response to the vote, Spain has threatened to remove the Catalonia government and take over running the region. Tensions are rising with more protests taking place since the referendum.
Curiously Jesus had something to say about the nature of the violence that hit Catalonia this past weekend. It may also be a prophetic marker of the end times.
7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. (Matthew 24:7 NASV)
In this passage, Jesus said the end of the age will be marked by time of war or violence between countries. But why did Jesus use two words to describe this violence: “nation against nation, and kingdom against kingdom?”
The Greek word for ‘kingdom’ speaks of countries, political divisions. But the Greek word for ‘nation’ is ‘ethnos’ and refers to ethnic groups who would rise against other ethnic groups.
It describes the conflict in Spain where the ethnic Catalans are trying to gain their independence.
The same thing is happening in Iraq where another ethnic group, the Kurds, are trying to create their own separate nation. Even in North America, we have aboriginal groups now referring to themselves as ‘First Nations.’
In fact, many of the conflicts we see in the world today are ethnic based. Because Jesus put “nation against nation” first, it suggests this will be the bigger problem.
Is this increasing violence and rising ethnic tension prophetic markers of the times?