[This is an excerpt from “Are You Hoping In The Rapture?”]
The verses that pre-trib teachers use to place the rapture prior to the great tribulation and the glorious coming of Christ, say that “two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left.” (Matt 24:40-41). Pre-trib doctrine interprets this to mean that those who are “taken” are Christians, and those who are “left” are unbelievers. They believe that around the world Christians will suddenly disappear when Jesus takes them up to heaven, and unbelievers will be left to face a time of great tribulation. Pre-trib proponents have elaborated in great detail on these two verses, speculating, with no Biblical support, what it will look like when all these people suddenly disappear and everyone else is left behind. There have been several highly successful books and movies based on this theme. However, their interpretation and application of these verses are taken totally out of context. These two verses must be interpreted within the context of the preceding verses.
For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38 “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 “Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 “Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. (Matthew 24:37-41 NASB)
Jesus says his coming will be “just like the days of Noah”. This provides an excellent opportunity to understand what takes place at His coming. To help us understand this future event, Jesus references an event that has already taken place and is recorded with much detail in the Bible. By taking what Jesus said in the verses above and combining it with what the book of Genesis tells us about the events in Noah’s time, we get an accurate picture of what will happen when Jesus comes again.
In the days of Noah:
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 7 So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:5,7 ESV)
With the flood, God destroyed wicked mankind from the face of the earth.
But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. 9 …Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:8-9 ESV)
Noah was righteous and was instructed by God how to escape the flood 3.
He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. (Genesis 7:23 ESV)
Notice that Jesus said the ungodly “did not understand until the flood came and took them all away”. And Genesis tells us that after the flood destroyed the ungodly “only Noah was left”. This sets a clear precedent for interpreting who Jesus was talking about when He said, “one will be taken and one left”.
The coming of the Lord, as declared in Mathew 24:37-41, will be a day of judgment to destroy the ungodly and cleanse the earth of wickedness, just like the days of Noah. Believers and unbelievers will both be on the earth right up to this time of judgment. The ungodly will be taken away, and the righteous will be left to inhabit a cleansed earth, just like the days of Noah.
So, the verses that say “one will be taken, and one will be left” are not even talking about the rapture. The pre-trib concept of people suddenly disappearing, while others are left behind to continue living on earth, is a misinterpretation of these verses, and there are no other verses in the Bible that support this concept. Pre-trib doctrine is built on one misinterpreted phrase. A friend noted that it’s like playing a game of Jhenga, and there’s one block at the bottom of the tower that everything is resting on; pull out that block, and the whole structure comes tumbling down.
Truth is an integrated whole that is contained in all that the Bible has to say. It’s rather easy to misinterpret a passage of scripture if it’s isolated from other scripture, but eventually, it becomes evident that the misinterpreted verses aren’t in harmony with everything else the Bible has to say on that subject.
Because pre-trib doctrine is in error, it has to manipulate other scriptures to accommodate pre-trib doctrine. For example, the phrase “the coming of the Son of Man” occurs several times in the Bible. Pre-trib teaching selectively interprets one verse to be talking about His invisible coming and another verse to be talking about his glorious coming. They jump back and forth between two comings of Jesus although there is nothing in the text to indicate this is anything other than the second coming of Jesus. They do this to accommodate their predetermined doctrine. It’s a case of interpreting scripture to support what you believe, rather than letting scripture determine what you believe.