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Antediluvians Made Temples from Trees; Gold and Silver were Abundant
These antediluvians had received many and rich gifts from God; but they used the bounties granted them by Divine Providence to minister to their own selfish desires, and turned them into a curse by fixing their thoughts and affections upon the gifts instead of the Giver. They had goodly trees of great variety and almost without limit; but of these they made temples, where they reveled in scenes of pleasure and wickedness. Gold, silver, and precious stones were in abundance; but they used these also to gratify the desires of their own proud hearts.
The Irreligious and Hedonistic Condition of Antediluvian Society
These sinful men could not deny the existence of God; but they would have been glad to know that there was no God to witness their deeds and call them to account. They delighted to put Him out of their minds. The children were not taught to fear and reverence their Maker. They grew up unrestrained in their desires, and destitute of principle or conscience. Their minds were absorbed in devising means to rival one another in pleasure and vice; and they neither looked nor cared for a heaven beyond this world.
The Faithful Few
Yet the whole world was not corrupt. There were a few faithful witnesses for God. Methuselah, Enoch, Noah, and many others labored to keep alive on the earth the knowledge of the true God, and to stay the tide of moral evil. God declared that His Spirit should not always strive with guilty men, but that their probation should be a hundred and twenty years; if they did not then cease to pollute with their sins the world and its rich treasures, He would blot them from His creation; and these faithful ministers of righteousness gave the warning message. But the light was not heeded, and the preaching of Noah and his co-laborers impressed hearts less and less. Many, even of the worshipers of God, had not sufficient moral power to stand against the corrupting influences of the age, and were beguiled into sin by the bewitching allurements that were constantly before them.
Antediluvian Vegetation Destroyed
But at length the patience of God was exhausted. By their obstinate resistance to the reproofs of conscience and the warnings of God’s messengers, that generation filled up the measure of their iniquity, and became ripe for destruction. Because mankind had perverted His gifts, God would deface and destroy the things with which He delighted to bless them; He would sweep away the beasts of the field, and the rich vegetation which furnished such an abundant supply of food, and transform the fair earth into one vast scene of desolation and ruin. And guilty man should utterly perish in the overthrow of the world upon which he had set his affections. - The Bible Echo, July 1887
Various Reactions of the Antediluvians to Noah’s Message
The message given by Noah, the building of that strange boat, called forth questions, just as God designed it should, and excited the curiosity of the people. Crowds of people came from all parts of the world to see the strange and wonderful structure, and heard the message of condemnation and the promise of deliverance. . . . When his voice was lifted in warning of what God was about to bring upon the world in judgment because of the wickedness of men, great opposition was manifested against the words of the messenger. The opposition, however, was not entirely world-wide; for some believed the message of Noah, and zealously repeated the warning. But the men who were accounted wise were sought, and were urged to present arguments by which the message of Noah might be counteracted. . . .
The talented men of Noah’s time set themselves in league against God’s will and purpose, and scorned the message and the messenger that He had sent. . . . It was true that Noah could not controvert their philosophies, or refute the claims of science so-called; but he could proclaim the Word of God; for he knew it contained the infinite wisdom of the Creator, and, as he sounded it everywhere, it lost none of its force and reality because men of the world treated him with ridicule and contempt. —The Signs of the Times, April 18, 1895.
Not All Antediluvians Who Rejected Noah’s Message Were Idolators
Because of his holy integrity and unwavering adherence to God’s commands, he [Noah] was counted singular indeed and made himself an object of contempt and derision by answering to the claims of God without a questioning doubt. What a contrast to the prevailing unbelief and universal disregard of His law!
Noah was tested and tried thoroughly and yet he preserved his integrity in the face of the world — all, all against him. Thus will it be when the Son of Man shall be revealed. The saved will be few, as is represented by Noah and his family. The world might have believed the warnings. God’s Spirit was striving with them to lead them to faith and obedience, but their own wicked hearts turned aside the counsel of God and resisted the pleadings of infinite love. They continued their empty ways as usual, eating, drinking, planting, and building, up to the very day Noah entered into the ark.
Men in Noah’s day were not all absolute idolaters, but in their idolatry they professed to know God, and in the grand images they had created, their plan was to represent God before the world. The class who professed to acknowledge God were the ones who took the lead in rejecting the preaching of Noah and through their influence leading others to reject it.
To everyone comes the time of test and trial. While Noah was warning the inhabitants of the world of the coming destruction, it was their day of opportunity and privilege to become wise unto salvation. But Satan had control of the minds of men. They set light and truth for darkness and error. Noah seemed to them to be a fanatic. They did not humble their hearts before God, but continued their occupation the same as if God had not spoken to them through His servant Noah. But Noah stood like a rock amid the pollution and wickedness surrounding him, and wavered not in his faithfulness. He stood amid the scoffs and jeers of the world, an unbending witness for God, his meekness and righteousness shining brightly in contrast to the crime and intrigue and violence surrounding him.
Because Antediluvian Seasons Came Regularly Many Concluded the Flood Was Impossible
Noah connected with God, and he was strong in the strength of infinite power. For one hundred and twenty years he daily presented God’s warning in regard to events which, so far as human wisdom was concerned, could not take place. The world before the flood reasoned that for centuries the laws of nature had been fixed; the recurring seasons had come and gone in regular order. Rain had never yet fallen, but a mist or dew had fallen upon the earth, causing vegetation to flourish. The rivers and brooks had never passed their boundary, but had borne their waters safely to the great sea. Fixed decrees had kept the waters from overflowing their banks. The people did not recognize the Hand that had stayed the waters, saying, “Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther.”
Men began to feel secure and to talk of the fixed laws of nature. They reasoned then as men reason now, as though nature was above the God of nature, that her ways were so fixed that God Himself would not or could not change them, thus making God’s messages of warning of none effect because, should His word be fulfilled, the course of nature would be disturbed. The men before the flood sought to quiet their consciences, which the Spirit of God had aroused, by arguing how impossible it was for the message of Noah to be true and a flood to deluge the world, which would turn nature out of her course. . . .
They reasoned that it was not in accordance with the character of God to save Noah and his family, only eight persons in that vast world, and let all the rest be swept out of existence by the waters of the flood. Oh, no. There were great men and good men on the earth. If they did not believe as Noah did, Noah was deceived. It could not be otherwise. Here were the philosophers, the scientific men, the learned men. All could see no consistency in this message of warning. This fanciful doctrine was an illusion of the brain. If this was the truth the wise men surely would know something about it. Would all of these learned men perish from the face of the earth and Noah be found the only one worthy of being spared?. . . .
But the days before the flood steal silently on as a thief in the night. Noah is now making his last effort in warnings, entreaty, and appeal to the rejecters of God’s message. With tearful eye, trembling lip, and quivering voice, he makes his last entreaty for them to believe and secure a refuge in the ark. But they turn from him with impatience and contempt that he should be so egotistical as to suppose his family are the only ones right in the vast population of the earth. They have no patience with his warnings, with his strange work of building an immense boat on dry ground. Noah, they said, was insane. Reason, science, and philosophy assured them Noah was a fanatic. None of the wise men and honored of the earth believed the testimony of Noah. If these great men were at ease and had no fears, why should they be troubled? Ms. 5, 1876 (EGWSRGES, 41,4)
Powerful Animals Now Extinct Existed Before the Flood
I was shown that very large, powerful animals existed before the flood which do not now exist. Spiritual Gifts 3:92. (The Spirit of Prophecy 1:87.)
Vegetation Before the Flood
Before the flood there were immense forests. The trees were many times larger than any trees which we now see. They were of great durability. —Spiritual Gifts 3:79. (The Spirit of Prophecy 1:81-82.)
Antediluvian Flora and Landscapes
The hills, mountains, and very beautiful plains were adorned with plants and flowers, and tall, majestic trees of every description, which were many times larger and much more beautiful than trees now are. Spiritual Gifts 3:33. (The Spirit of Prophecy 1:24.)
Trees Now Extinct Existed Before the Flood
The heights were crowned with trees more majestic than any that now exist. Patriarchs and Prophets, 44.
The Quality of Antediluvian Wood; Antediluvian Giants
The trees far surpassed in size, beauty, and perfect proportion, any now to be found; their wood was of fine grain and hard substance, closely resembling stone, and hardly less enduring. . . . There were many giants, men of great stature and strength, renowned for wisdom, skillful in devising the most cunning and wonderful works. Patriarchs and Prophets, 90.
Fossils and Artifacts from Antediluvian Times
Bones of men and animals are found in the earth, in mountains and in valleys, showing that much larger men and beasts once lived upon the earth. I was shown that very large, powerful animals existed before the flood which do not now exist. Instruments of warfare are sometimes found; also petrified wood. Because the bones of human beings and of animals found in the earth are much larger than those of men and animals now living, or that have existed for many generations past, some conclude that the world is older than we have any scriptural record of, and was populated long before the record of creation by a race of beings vastly superior in size to men now upon the earth. Spiritual Gifts 3:92-93. (The Spirit of Prophecy 1:87-88.)
Antediluvian Men and Animals Buried by the Flood
God so ordered that men, beasts, and trees, many times larger than those now upon the earth, and other things, should be buried in the earth at the time of the flood, and there be preserved to evidence to man that the inhabitants of the old world perished by a flood. God designed that the discovery of these things in the earth should establish the faith of men in inspired history. Spiritual Gifts 3:92-93. (The Spirit of Prophecy 1:87-88.)
Fossils and Artifacts Buried by the Flood
Bones of men and animals, as well as instruments of warfare, petrified trees, et cetera, much larger than any that now exist, or that have existed for thousands of years, have been discovered, and from this it is inferred that the earth was populated long before the time brought to view in the record of creation, and by a race of beings vastly superior in size to any men now living. Patriarchs and Prophets, 112
Explanation for Fossils Found in the Earth
It is true that remains found in the earth testify to the existence of men, animals, and plants much larger than any now known. These are regarded as proving the existence of vegetable and animal life prior to the time of the Mosaic record. But concerning these things Bible history furnished ample explanation. Before the flood, the development of vegetable and animal life was immeasurably superior to that which has since been known. At the flood the surface of the earth was broken up, marked changes took place, and in the re-formation of the earth’s crust were preserved many evidences of the life previously existing. Education, 129.
Antediluvian Arts Buried by Waters of the Flood
The worldly churches cannot read a “Thus saith the Lord,” in regard to the seventh-day Sabbath; and why? — because they are wise in their own conceits; because they are following the example of men who were only one step from the Eden of God, and who, because of their mental and moral capabilities, began to work out their human inventions, and worship the things their hands had made, supposing that they were improving upon God’s plans and devices. In this they worshipped and extolled themselves. [Genesis 6:5-8, 11-13, 17, 18 quoted.]
There perished in the flood greater inventions of art and human skill than the world knows of today. The arts destroyed were more than the boasted arts of today. The great gifts with which God had endowed man were perverted. There was gold and silver in abundance, and men were constantly seeking to exceed their fellow men in devices. The result was that violence was upon the earth. The Lord was forgotten. This long-lived race were constantly devising how they might contend with the universe of heaven and gain possession of Eden.
When men talk of the improvements that are made in higher education, they are aping the inhabitants of the Noachian world. They are yielding to the temptation of Satan to eat of the tree of knowledge, of which God has said, “Ye shall not eat of it, lest ye die.” God gave men a trial, and the result was the destruction of the world by a flood. In this age of the world’s history there are teachers and students who suppose that their advancement in knowledge supersedes the knowledge of God, and their cry is, “Higher education.” They consider that they have greater knowledge than the greatest Teacher the world has ever known. Letter 65, 1898
Works of Art and Science Buried by the Flood
In the antediluvian world there were many wonderful works of art and science. Fresh from the hand of the Creator, these descendants of Adam possessed capabilities that we do not now see. — EGWSRGES 40-44 (The Signs of the Times, February 1, 1889.)