Allow me to address a common misunderstanding:
Lk. 17:34-37 states, “I tell you, IN THAT NIGHT there shall be two men in bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”
Reading this passage again in light of what happened to Noah and Lot, those TAKEN are taken to safety, and the ones who are LEFT will soon be destroyed by the Lord.
Some confusion has arisen over that word taken. Here in Luke 17 (as in our post on Noah), the word used means to take to oneself; it's a good
thing. But, this is NOT the case in Matthew 24.
“And knew not, until the flood came, and took them all away: so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matt. 24:39)
The word used here for “took” is a completely different word. In the Greek, it is airo and means ‘to take away.’ To phrase it another way:
- The Lord takes the saints unto Himself
- The Lord takes away the ungodly in judgment
The disciples then asked, “Where, Lord?” Which begs the question: Where what? Where would the saints be at who are taken? Where would the saints be taken to? Where would the ungodly be who are taken away? The Lord’s answer to their question tells us what the disciples were asking.
Lk. 17:37, “And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.” (Matt. 24:28, “For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.”)
This is a reference to the destruction of unbelievers at the return of Christ. His disciples would have recognized the Lord's reference to Ezek. 39:17-23.
“And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD, Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood….And I will set my glory among the heathen, …”
These two prophecies are enlarged upon in Rev. 19:11-18, “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True,…And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses…and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. … And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings,…” etc. (cf. Zeph. 1:7-8)
So, according to Jesus, TWO things are happening at the same time.
- First, he mentions a worldwide event where some are “taken” into safety.
- Second, he mentions that some are “left” to be “taken away” by God’s judgment, with their dead carcasses being fed to the fowls of the air. This appears to also be a global event, but with emphasis on a more localized one — the battle of Armageddon.
Again, TWO very different happenings that occur at the same time, on the same day.
When the disciples asked, “Where, Lord?” They were asking, “Where will the ones be who are taken away in God’s judgment?” “Where will they be who are to be destroyed by God.”
Jesus’ answer refers back to Ezek. 39. He is in essence saying that those who have gathered themselves against Israel and the Lord will be the ones who are ‘taken away.’ And this agrees with other Scriptures. The Bible plainly states that some unsaved will survive AFTER the Lord’s return (cf. Zech. 14:16), therefore we know that not ALL the ungodly are destroyed. But ALL the ungodly who are gathered to Armageddon WILL be destroyed.
If you're alive at this time, will you be taken to or taken away?