|Posted by Donna Dawson on June 10, 2009 at 11:56 AM|
Matthew 24:36-41 NIV
"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left."
I love this section of this chapter. It clarifies so much. We begin with three very important words: No one knows. Since the birth of Israel as a nation there has been a surge of 'false prophets' predicting the end of the world. People have marched in picket lines holding signs that declared 'the world will end tomorrow'. There are those who have written books appointing the turn of the millenium as the day of Christ's return. And yet what did Jesus say? No one knows. How often do we get caught up in the possibilities of his return and neglect the harvesting of souls before his return? Jesus was quite emphatic about no one knowing the day or the hour of his return. He even ruled out the angels and himself. Only the Father knows. The next time you hear a self-appointed prophet making pronouncements about when Christ will return, shake your head and pity them for they will answer for their folly.
The scripture goes on to make a comparison with the days of Noah. I have heard and read sermons preached about this phrase 'as it was in the days of Noah' and too many seem to think that it refers to the level of corruption. Not so. Jesus is simply pointing out that the people in Noah's day were ignorant of the importance of the flood. They had been told judgement was coming. They had been told it was because of their sin. But they went on their merry ways, eating and drinking and marrying as though it was all nonsense--just like today's generation worldwide is doing. When the believer talks about Christ's return there is a concensus that it is a nice fairy tale from a well-meaning group of people. It is this same uncaring attitude to which this portion of scripture referred. In Noah's day, the people hadn't seen rain. They had no idea what a flood was. I'm sure Noah explained it but would they really understand? What was key here was that it didn't matter that they didn't understand. They knew what sin was and they knew it was wrong. It doesn't really matter how God decides to deal with apathy and disobedience. The important point is that he WILL deal with it eventually. Jesus is making the comparison to the days of Noah because the concept of people suddenly disappearing is fantastic! Many can't wrap their minds around the idea of people vanishing into thin air--unless they are watching Star Trek. It was no coincidence that Jesus referred to that time. Because people couldn't wrap their minds around the incredibility of a flood--and people can't wrap their minds around the incredibility of a rapture--Jesus compared them. In essence, he was saying that it didn't matter how fantastic it was, the people still ended up dead. In the end times, it doesn't matter how fantastic a rapture sounds, those who reject Christ will still miss it.
Jesus then goes on to describe what the rapture will look like. He gives two examples and in both cases it is a literal removal of that person, physically, mentally, spiritually, from earth. It is a rapid event. Each person doesn't even have time to stop doing the task at which they are working.
I have heard people explain this portion as being written chronologically but it isn't really. Jesus prophecies and then he goes back and clarifies. In verses 27-31 Jesus describes future events in broad terms. In verses 36-41 he narrows it down and lets us see more detail. Like the people in the days of Noah, none of us can possible imagine what the Rapture will look like. Unlike those same people, we have the opportunity to prepare and to help others prepare.