September 13, 2009
Taken/Left vs Wheat/Tares (Mt13,24, Lk17)
When we speak of the Rapture, we often also liken it to Jesus' words, "one is taken and the other is left" (Mt24:40-41) And many people promote their own variations of what they think the Bible teaches; and we have addressed many of them on other occasions.
But there are many, an aspect that I don't think we have ever yet properly addressed, with other beliefs (post-trib or no rapture) or agendas who will quote from Lk17:34-37, where the "one taken/other left" is repeated, followed immediately with the disciples asking, "Where, Lord?" and Jesus answers, "Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together" And with no real supportive Scripture, except for some things taken out of context, and quoting words that are not in the text, they will say that the 'wicked' are "taken" TO DESTRUCTION, and the 'righteous' are "left". So they assume the "Where?/eagles" are related to those who were "taken". i.e. "Question: -Where- were they -taken-? Answer: Where the eagles will eat them. Because they were wicked."
This seems to be a favorite counter teaching on the part of those who scoff at what they taunt as being "escapist theology" of the 'pre-trib' Rapture. But I've never heard from them a convincing explanation as to 'how' the "two" who are together, get separated, if that is the case, without the one who is "left" also being injured or killed...since their context is that it is soldiers or officers, or whatever, who come busting along and violently haul off the one who is "taken". The only one I know who can pull of such a separation of 'close' pairs (i.e. in bed) is God, in something like the Rapture.
And also... where is "eagles" mentioned in Mt24? In the context of the Son of Man coming like "lightning" and "affliction" (vs27-30); the context of conquering warfare. It is not anywhere near (considering how much stuff is packed into those verses) the mentions of "taken/left" (vs40-41)
They also connect this "taken/left" with the parable of the wheat/tares parable. (Mt13:24-30,37-43) [link] And since the farmer is gathering the tares -first- to burn them; and like that SDA teacher (on TV) added that the wheat was, thus, "left" (adding that word), but ignoring it being "gathered" into the barn; they transfer that same order to the "taken/left" of Mt24 [link] & Lk17.
Another thing we need to remember clearly: the difference between Israel and the Church. And also, like we continually say about prophecy: there are very few passages that arrange prophecy in time-line (sequential) fashion; such as 2Th2:7-8, Rev4:1, 1Co15:23-25, Dan9:24-27. The Jews of Jesus' day did not understand His first coming, because they did not understand from Is61 that there were several comings of Messiah. As we have addressed on other occasions, Isaiah ch61 covers 3000 years of prophecy. And when Jesus read up to the middle of vs2 and closed the book, and proclaimed that "Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your ears" (Lk4:21), by the time He was finished proclaiming His fulfillment, on that occasion, of those few sentences He had just read, the mob took Him out, hoping to push Him over the edge of the hill, to kill Him. So, if they didn't receive it when Jesus explained it, it is to be expected that many today will also not understand things. Then it was just Israel. Now, we also must distinguish both Israel -and- the Church; and not everything in Scripture for one applies to the other.
In Matthew ch13, notice that the tares are burned up, and the righteous shine forth "in the kingdom of their Father" (vs43) To the Jews (Jesus' audience) the "kingdom" is the 1000 year reign on this earth. (That parable is not about the Rapture) At Armageddon all the nations that come against Israel will be destroyed, and a third of Israel will survive (Zec13:8); and then Israel (that survives) will "all [be] saved" (Rom11:26) They do not get raptured, because right now they are yet in unbelief. Unbelieving Israel is -NOT- the Church. The Rapture is for the Church... those "IN CHRIST". (1Th4:16-17) Thus, the evil that is taken out is from out of the world and Israel's midst: e.g. including the "names of the idols" (Zec13:2), and such.
If you read the (above) link to Mt24, please remember the delineation of "them" vs "your Lord". Some of the stuff was about "them" (Israel); other stuff was to the disciples and Jesus was not the conquering King of kings, but "your Lord"; those who were to go to Jerusalem to "wait" for the Holy Spirit (Ac1:4) at which time the Church would begin. The "of the day and hour..no one knows", "days of Noah", the "taken/left", the "watch" for "your Lord"... are all in one group. (Mt24:36-42)
Now, let's look at the Luke ch17 passage: Noah "entered" the ark. (vs27) In other words, he left the evil to enter into safety. Notice that the wicked are not "taken" (as those teachers pontificate), they are "destroyed". Noah is not "left" (as they continue to say), he enters the ark. Lot "went out of Sodom" (vs29) and Sodom was "destroyed". Sodom was not "taken"; when Lot went out, what was "left" was Sodom. (These false teachers twist these things around)
OK... So, Mt24:39 says that the flood "came and -took- them all away". But again: Noah goes into the ark (first), and (then) the flood comes. Opposite their logic. It does not support their theory that the wicked are "taken", and the righteous are "left"; just because the tares (from a totally different parable) were burned up first, and then the wheat was -gathered- into the barn; not "left".
Jesus says, "Even in the same way will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed" (vs30) -NOT- when the Son of Man 'comes'. No... when He is "revealed". There are yet prophetically two more 'comings' of Jesus: There is the "coming" of Jesus -and- our "gathering" to Him. (2Th2:1) There is His "appearing" and His "kingdom" (2Ti4:1) To be "revealed" is synonymous to "appearing". When we are "gathered" to Him, He is in the clouds. (1Th4:17) He descends to the clouds (vs16), to where those "in Christ" are caught up. But that is not yet His "coming"; where He sets foot on the Mt. of Olives. (Ac1:11 Zec14:4) But He is in the clouds, making an 'appearance'.
But when the righteous have been taken, then destruction begins, precipitating the need for those remaining (Israel) to run into hiding. (vs31-33)
With the words "I tell you" (vs34) is like a paragraph mark. Another mini-thought. The "taken/left". In Matthew 24 those series of comments were in the context of "your Lord"...not 'them'.
And so the disciples ask "Where?" Those with other agendas have the "eagles" answering the "taken/left" grouping. In Mt24:27-28 the "eagles" are in conjunction with Jesus' coming; which we can easily correlate with the -invitation- to all the birds at the end of Gog/Magog. (Armageddon Re16:16 & Valley of Jehoshaphat Joel ch3)
Even to Israel, Jesus does not say to "stay", but speaks of their "flight". (Mt24:20) Those who are fleeing are doing so out of "Judea" (vs16) That's Israel. (Re12:6) But before the troubles come upon Israel (Jacob's Trouble), the Church is "taken" (raised out of the midst 2Th2:7). As the Geneva Bible even says, "one will be -received-" (Lk17:34,36) It's the same word as where Jesus says, "I will -receive- you to Myself" (Jn14:3) It is not a 'taking' -AWAY- to judgment, but a 'taking' (gathering) -to- Jesus, to be -with- Jesus.
The word "took" in Mt24:39 has the opposite meaning: it means to take away, to separate from, to remove, to take by force. Jesus will call from the clouds to invite (take/receive) the Believers -up- to be with Him; but those at the flood was more like... being (figuratively) hauled off in handcuffs.
So... why does the disciple's question "Where?" with what appears to be the "eagle" answer in Lk17:37 appear next to "taken/left", but in Mt24:28 "eagles" is next to Jesus coming in judgment, and there is no 'question' from the disciples? It is -prophecy-. Matthew has one box of puzzle pieces, Luke has another; they are two boxes of the same puzzle. But as each one dumped his box out on the table, the pieces landed in different places; and the picture assembly hasn't yet been completed. Matthew was a tax collector, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He was -there- and heard the words directly from Jesus' mouth. Luke was a physician and was reporting -after- the facts, as he collected the data from "eyewitnesses" (Lk1:2) Anyone who gets information from eyewitnesses (plural) knows that each person's account is going to vary slightly. The information comes in snatches and pieces, so the reporter reports as the information was received and puts it all together. I don't know how taxes were calculated in Roman times, but in this country it is very -orderly- and 'easy'. If a person has the capacity to follow numbers in order (1-2-3-4) and follow the instructions and fill in the appropriate figures, it is easy to calculate one's own income tax. But if a person's mind is flighty, like the collection of data from various (different) sources, it is not as neatly sorted out.
And... I really think God somewhat -purposely- also records prophecy somewhat cryptically IN ORDER THAT those who refuse to believe can be smuggly content in their disbelief (See? The Bible contradicts itself! But I've sorted it out to suit my false desires and lusts.) There is -PLENTY- of Scripture given to indicate what we need to know about the Rapture. If somebody is going to ignore all that, and twist a couple of puzzle pieces around, in the face of ALL THE OTHER PASSAGES, to nitpick their favorite slant on the doctrine... they can then also look forward to the appropriate judgment.
"looking for the blessed hope and glorious -APPEARING- of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ," (Tit2:13)