Raptured or Left Behind?
Examining the doctrine of the secret rapture.
The Secret Rapture Debate
A Key Verse
Matthew 24:37-42 has been a focal point in this debate. To shed some light on this matter, let's delve into the words of Matthew and explore their meaning.
In these verses, Jesus draws a parallel between his second coming and the days of Noah. He describes how people in Noah's time were preoccupied with their daily lives, oblivious to the impending flood. They were unaware of the flood until Noah entered the ark and the waters came, sweeping them away. The flood took them all away. This is important to keep in mind.
Understanding "Taken" and "Left"
Digging deeper into the text, we find that those who are "taken" at the coming of Jesus are not the saved ones, as one might initially think. Instead, they are the ones who are lost, taken away, and destroyed by the brightness of His coming (see 2 Thessalonians 2:8).
To make it simpler, think of it like this: Imagine a flood sweeping through your town. Those who managed to escape and survive would be the ones "left" by the waters of the flood, while those who perished would be "taken" away by the water's destructive force. Matthew makes it clear that those who perished in Noah’s time were taken away by the flood. Contrary to popular belief, being “taken” does not mean being raptured or whisked away to be with Jesus. The Bible picture for being “taken” is to perish.
Taken = Destroyed
The Truth About Those Who Are "Taken"
Moreover, a parallel passage in Luke 17:37 provides additional insight into the fate of those who are "taken."
In this passage, Jesus' 12 apostles ask Him, "Where, Lord?" and his answer is in reference to those who are taken (perish). Jesus responds with a cryptic but revealing statement: "Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together." This response clarifies that those who are "taken" will, in fact, meet a grim end, symbolized by the gathering of eagles seeking to consume the dead. Much like Noah’s flood.
A Biblical Perspective: Left vs. Taken
Thus, when examining these scriptures, it becomes evident that the Bible does not support the idea of a secret rapture for the saved. Instead, it paints a picture where the ones taken are the ones who face destruction, while the saved are "left" to partake of the blessing of the second coming of Jesus.
Further Evidence: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17
This understanding is supported by other passages in the New Testament, such as 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, which describes the resurrection of the dead and the gathering of believers to meet Jesus in the air. This passage does not mention a secret rapture, but rather a public gathering of all believers at the time of Jesus' return. While the concept of a secret rapture has gained popularity in recent years, it does not find support in the Bible.
A Clear Evaluation of the Secret Rapture
In conclusion, Matthew 24:37-42 offers a clear perspective on this question. It emphasizes the importance of being spiritually prepared for the return of Jesus and warns against misinterpreting the fate of those who are "taken." When approached with a simple and thoughtful perspective, these verses encourage us to be vigilant, live righteous lives, and stand among those who will be "left" to receive God's blessings when the Son of Man returns.