with Jeremy Westcott –
Important note: as with the previous post, our view of this has moved on some since this was first written.
There is nothing in what Jesus says in Matthew 24 that we would now see as referring to the ‘last day’.
Below is the original post as first published. Most of our comments about the ‘rapture’ still stand, but we would no longer apply Matthew 24:40-41 to the ‘last day’ at all, but (as with everything else in this chapter) to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
As we have seen, the Last Day is just that – the last day, and there are no more days after it. It is also the day of resurrection, and the day of judgment.
“He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day” (John 12:48).
We could be the generation which sees that last day. That is why removing stumbling blocks and being purified by fire is so important for us right now: we need to be ready, we need to be prepared to face judgment.
Holy and blameless
This is how Paul describes the church as she will be at that time: …that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless (Eph 5:27).
Holy and blameless? He has some work to do, then. That is what this purifying is for. We must heed the warnings. He will suddenly come to His temple, purifying and refining like fullers soap. We can fall on the Rock and be broken, or if we choose to remain stubborn and rebellious, the Rock can fall on us and we will be crushed (Matt 21:44).
Jesus wants to come back to a church which demonstrates the kingdom in fullness, a church which does what Adam and Eve would have done if they had not sinned: a church which subdues and overcomes (Gen 1:28).
Coming with the clouds
How is He going to come on that last day?
And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11).
Jesus levitated before their eyes, in a cloud of glory (we are not talking about a fluffy white cloud here). That cloud is the same cloud He will return with: a cloud of witnesses. Nowhere does it say He will set foot again on the earth. In fact, as we shall see another time, there will be no earth for Him to set foot upon. We will not need to be gazing intently into the sky in order to see His coming. His coming will be visible, sudden, glorious and noisy. There is no ‘secret rapture’ here.
The rapture of the saints
The whole idea of a secret rapture of the saints is just not there in the word of God.
The word ‘rapture’, by the way, is just from a Greek word meaning ‘caught up’. But a whole demonic doctrine has been built up around this concept, and has infiltrated the church like leaven – and you can easily tell it is demonic because it robs the church of power and effectiveness. It teaches a secret taking away of the church to be with Jesus and then everyone else being taken to judgment at some time later. The actual length of time between the two may vary, depending on the eschatology. But it means the church is expecting rescue, not victory.
What does scripture say?
Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left (Matt 24:40-41).
But who is taken first, and who is left? This is a trick question, so watch out!
Let’s allow the Bible to interpret itself:
Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’ (Matt 13:24-30).
…and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age (Matt 13:39-40)
It seems quite clear: what Jesus taught was that the first people to be gathered up and taken at the end of the age will be the tares. It will be sudden, it will happen in the midst of normal life…
And you do want to be ‘left behind’.
- The End Of The Age (freedomarc.wordpress.com)
- Rapture versus resurrection (annalizemouton.com)
- Left Behind? (brakelite.wordpress.com)
- Raptureless (complete ebook to download free of charge) – Jonathan Welton (raptureless.com)
All scripture quotations are taken from the NASB.