|By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. Renald Showers; ©1996|
|Bible Prophecy Questions Answered by Leading Christian Scholars.|
Dr. Renald Showers: Let me call your attention to Matthew 13:47, "Again the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea and gathered of every kind, which, when it was full they drew to shore and sat down and gathered the good in the vessels but cast the bad away." Here Jesus gives the application of that parable to His second coming. "So shall it be at the end of the age. The angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just." The angels are going to in essence cut off the wicked, remove them, from among the just, the righteous, "and shall cast them into the furnace of fire. There shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." Notice the same order, for His glorious second coming immediately after the seven year Tribulation period, His holy angels will remove all the unbelievers who are alive on the earth at that time from the earth in judgment and put them into a horrible place of judgment characterized by fire where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth, but the good fish, representing the believers, are left here to go into the Kingdom. He’s teaching that the order of things at His second coming will be just the reverse of the order at the Rapture. At the Rapture it’s all the believers who are removed from the earth to meet Christ in the air to return with Him to His Father’s house in Heaven; and it’s the unbelievers who will be left here on the face of the earth. Now, you have identically that same order again for the second coming after the Tribulation period taught by Jesus in Matthew 24.
Beginning with verse 37, Jesus says, "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 Noah 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." What Jesus is saying here is this: the order at my glorious second coming immediately after the seven year Tribulation period will be identically the same as the order of things in Noah’s day in conjunction with the Flood.
One of the ways in which the order would be the same is this: the Flood came and took them all away. Which group of people did the Flood take away from planet Earth, the believers or the unbelievers? The Flood removed all the unbelievers of Noah’s day from the earth in judgment. And the believers in Noah’s day, namely, Noah and his family, were left here on the earth in the ark to go into the next period of world history after the Flood. After pointing that out, Jesus says at the end of verse 39, "So shall also the coming of the Son of man be." It’ll be the same order of things then as it was in the days of Noah with the Flood.
And then to illustrate that, He goes on in verses 40 and 41, "then in the day that the Son of man comes [after the Tribulation period], 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." Now the question is, "Who is the one taken from the field and the one taken from the mill?" If it’s the same order of things as in Noah’s day with the Flood and the Flood took all the unsaved away and Jesus says it’ll be the same order at His second coming, then it seems to me you’re forced to conclude that the one who is taken from the field and the one who is taken from the mill are not believers taken by Rapture but unbelievers who are alive on the earth at Jesus’ second coming. They are taken by Christ’s holy angels from the earth in judgment just as we saw with the parable of the tares and the parable of the dragnet in Matthew Chapter 13, and therefore the one that’s left in the field and the one that’s left at the mill is the believer who is left here on the earth, the believer who is alive at the second coming of Christ after the Tribulation period left here on the earth to go into the next period of history, namely, the Kingdom. Just as in Noah’s day, it was the unbelievers who were removed in judgment, Noah and his family were left here on the earth to go into the next period of world history.
3. Who are taken, and who are left behind indicate two separate events.
· Rapture: believers are taken from earth to Heaven, while unbelievers are left on the earth
· Second Coming: unbelievers are taken from the earth to judgment, and those who are left on the earth are the saints
Dr. John Ankerberg: The third difference that indicates God in His Word is teaching that the Rapture must be a separate event from Christ’s Second Coming has to do with those who are taken from the earth and those who are left behind. At the Rapture, believers are taken from earth to Heaven, while unbelievers are left on the earth (1 Thess. 4:17). But at the Second Coming, it is the unbelievers are taken from the earth to judgment, and those who are left on the earth are the saints who will go into the Millennial Kingdom
But in spite of all this, some Christians still object to this line of reasoning and say there are a few verses in Matthew 24 which do refer to the Rapture and what’s more, these verses place the Rapture at Christ’s coming at the end of the Tribulation. I do not think they are correct, but let’s look at the verses. Matthew 24:31 reads: "And he will send forth his angels with a great trumpet. They will gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other." As a result of these words, some reason as follows: The Bible states Jesus sends forth the angels to gather the elect. The elect must be Christians, and since in Matthew 24 the Tribulation takes place before Christ comes, the Rapture takes place after the Tribulation. Again, I do not believe this is correct.