Preparing for Jesus’ Return

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Matt. 24:36-44

From the above passage, I have heard scholars explain that the time where “two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left” is the time when Israel is under attack during the Tribulation. According to Irvin Baxter, a horrible scenario will happen in Judea, or the West Bank, after the so called “peace deal” is signed with the Palestinians, for there are many well established Jews living in that area at the moment and do not wish to move. But this is most likely what Jesus is referring to in verses 16-22 where he calls out Judea by name and tells of people fleeing with haste. This horrible scene that Jesus spoke of will be after the “peace deal” with the Antichrist. Soon afterwards, the Antichrist will turn on the Jews and show his true colors which Jesus refers to as the abomination of desolation in verse 15. At that point the residents will need to run for the hills!

That still doesn’t explain what Jesus is talking about when he says that two will be in the field, two will be grinding, and people will suddenly disappear. I suppose “taken” could refer to the evil forces of the Antichrist seizing people, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense why he would be so selective, taking one and leaving the other. Also, this scenario is likened to the swiftness of the flood that came upon mankind and “took them all away.” Then this scenario is followed by another analogy of a thief in the night. Had the man of the house know at what hour the thief was coming, surely he would have been prepared. Jesus leaves us with this warning, “Therefore be yea also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 24:44).

Let’s suppose that those who argue for a mid-tribulation or even post-tribulation rapture of the Church, where right for a minute. Then I don’t see what the surprise would be at that point. Even a backslidden Christian that came to church 10 times a year should know that if I see a world leader sign a “peace deal” and suddenly turn on the Jews by setting himself up as God in the rebuilt temple, then he or she would need to start the countdown. From the peace deal to Jesus’ Second Coming is without dispute seven years. No one disagrees with that! Then there would be no reason to be looking for Jesus as coming as a flood or as a thief in the night because the major mile markers are already in place and the clock is ticking.

No, our passage today seems to be a topic of different discussion than the timeline of rest of the Olivette Discourse, verses 1-31. The variable, or the element of surprise, spoken of here is obviously the Rapture spoke of in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18. Here Jesus does not touch down as he will at his Second Coming, for at the time of the Rapture, we will meet him in the air (1 Thes. 4:17). There is no specific sign that precedes this other than the figtree or Israel becoming a nation. At this point, Jesus says summer is nigh, “that is near, even at the door” (Matt. 24:32-33). And then in verse 34 Jesus speaks of the terminal generation that we discusses in previous articles. Jesus just tells us to live right and be ready for he could come for the Church at any moment.

My friend, this could happen tonight. The question is will we be ready? There is another sign though. Again, Jesus said that “as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matt. 24:37). Read Genesis 6 and see if you think we are living in the days eating and drinking and carrying on business as usual like tomorrow is guaranteed. See if you think people are scoffing at God’s warnings. We must heed God’s warning and be ready, for the variable that will set the sequence of events in the first part of Matthew 24 is the Rapture where we meet Jesus in the air. This, I believe, is coming soon.

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