Revisited: Pre-Tribulation Rapture in Luke 17 :: by Gene Lawley

In my prior article on this passage, “The Case for Pre-Trib Rapture in Luke 17,” I emphasized the obvious points that I will again touch on, but more intensely, I want to deal with some other issues—like, what Jesus did not say in a couple of places. Let’s look at the passage here, for convenience (Luke 17:26-36):

“And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left.”

There are three things in the passage to be considered in detail, such as what is said, what is not said, and why:

·         In light of the settings referenced, the surprising list of activities He makes.

·         The turning point when everything fell apart.

·         And, who is taken, and who is left behind.

Jesus lists activities going on in the populations of Noah and Lot that are common in our day—buying and selling, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, building and planting. (Did you notice that in Lot’s scenario, He does not mention marrying and giving in marriage, yet in Noah’s day they were marrying wives and giving in marriage? And, was He referring to Lot’s situation when He later said, “two men were in one bed”—an uncommon arrangement in any day? (Read Genesis 19 again for a possible answer.)

Jesus does not mention the things for which the coming judgment would address. No, not at all.  Genesis 6:5 tells us, “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Earlier in that context we are told that some strange inter-marrying of human women and creatures from a spiritual dimension had produced “giants in the land in those days.” The early language called them “nephilim” and the words, “as it was in the days of Noah” leads many prophecy watchers to head to that topic when discussing strange sightings and stories of UFO activities in these days.

So, why did Jesus only mention those common and seemingly innocent activities instead of the real reason that the flood of judgment was coming upon them without any cry of alarm? It seems to me that His leading phrase, “As it was in the days of Noah…” says the message is for the people of today who are saying in their hearts, “It has been 2,000 years and He has not come yet; let’s drink

and be merry!”

Where is the fear of God today?

Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…” and Proverbs 8:13, “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil….” The lemmings are headed over the cliff, following the Pied Piper, racing in lock step!

The fact is that the activities of the people in both situations were common to their societies, just as they had known them to be in all the days of their lives. It speaks of a pre-tribulation rapture because once the seven years of destructive judgments begin and continue, the more disrupted society will become.  The major concern, as the judgments become more severe, will be mere survival—no buying or selling, nor marrying and giving in marriage—just survival, and not many will be left by then even for that!

Another observation to be considered for our present day outlook is  if it will be for us, “as it was in the days of Noah and of Lot,” then the coming judgments that people of the media and political commentators keep warning about—economic collapse, primarily—will not happen before the Rapture occurs. In those days their regular daily activities continued right up to the day of judgment.

Therefore, given the worldwide economic condition, raging hatred between ethnic people groups, and other converging elements of end-time prophetic pronouncements, I am expecting that sudden and surprising shout from on high—sooner rather than later. That is because those signs of impending disaster—America’s demise as a nation of effective importance (which seems to be Obama’s plan), the eruption of all-out war in the Middle East, including the inevitable war of Israel with its neighbors—cannot happen, and there remain a people whose activities continue as they always have been.

What Jesus did not say about the condition of men’s hearts toward God in those days of Noah and Lot, was that they had come to the end of their rope and their cup of evil was running over the brim. And He did not list the sinfulness of their generations. Why not? I think it was because His message is to the believer who is caught up in the activities of life and not aware that He has said that this Rapture event will happen like a thief in the night.

The timing of the judgments in those days were set to happen immediately after another event. Here is how Jesus worded it, in both cases:

“…until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:27), and  “…on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:29). Go back and read Genesis 19 of Lot’s experience. It is an astounding example of God delivering from the path of judgment even the most reluctant, backslidden believer.

There is no way that this account can be placed in a post-Tribulation setting. (The angels told Lot they could not do the job they were sent to do until he was out of the city. “As it was in the days of Lot…, even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:30).

The next part of the passage tells of two being together in various situations—at night, morning and mid-day, when this surprising event will occur, indicating that in one instant, all around the world, this extraction of the righteous from impending judgment will take place. Not an easy timeframe to figure out ahead of the scene, is it? No wonder Jesus said no man could know the day or the hour. It would take Someone outside of time to know that very moment in time when the Son of Man will appear.

In a related passage Jesus speaks of the days of Noah and their likeness to the Day of the Lord and may have a wording that confuses some as to who is taken and who is left behind in that sudden event:

“For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:38-39).

Then He goes on to tell of two people being together.  One is taken and one is left, etc. In the passage above, it says “the flood took them all away,” but where to? Those in the flood were already in judgment; it looks like they were taken to their deaths. In the Luke 17 account it is clear that the righteous in God’s eyes were taken away to safety and those left behind were in judgment. The judgments were literal, physical judgments on earth, just as those will be in Revelation. The final spiritual judgment is that they went into hell, forever.

Imagine with me for a moment a possible situation as is described in that part of the discourse in Luke 17:

A retired couple sit together on the porch swing in the fading sunlight of the day recalling their years together; their children, grandchildren, even the two great-grandchildren. In a moment of silence the husband thinks about how he had returned from the war, worked over at the mill and stayed on for fifty years—moving up to a supervisor position and a director. It had provided for them well, and now a good retirement plan was giving them a comfortable lifestyle.

Our years could have been much better, he thought, If she didn’t have that nutty hang-up on religion and Bible stuff. He looks off in the distance thoughtfully, and simultaneously feels the swing shift, slightly. He looks around to speak to his wife. Only she is not there! Only her clothing lying crumpled up, her eyeglasses lay to the side, and of all things, her wedding rings were there, too!

Then it hit him like a bolt of lightning. She had been telling him this might happen—suddenly, and that she was expecting it soon. He ran to the television and checked the news outlet to see if others had reported anything like this. To his amazement the news reporters were in chaos with total confusion everywhere—plane crashes, highways full of car wrecks, fires raging in the cities. Then suddenly, the electricity shut down and the lights and television died out.

This scenario or others like it, will be duplicated around the world when the advance notice of 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 comes to pass:

“For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.”

The next thing that happens then, will be the gathering of leaders from all the nations where a confirmation of a covenant of peace with Israel for seven years is made by many, among which is one who claims the role of leadership of the now chaotic world that is in total disarray and dismay—the man of lawlessness.

Time is edging toward eternity!