Luke 17:34 - 37
ESV - 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.
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In my opinion, Jesus was speaking of a difference in eternal state -- favorable outcomes (those "taken") versus adverse outcomes (those left behind) -- with no reference to any specific beliefs or teachings regarding the events related to that state (such as the Rapture or the fall of Jerusalem). The main admonition was to be continually spiritually ready and prepared for eternity because of the suddenness with which that state can come upon one.
Was Jesus referring to the Rapture or judgment in Luke 17:34-37? At first, I thought this was the Rapture (one being "taken" and the other being "left.") But now, after reading Luke 17:37, my rapture theory disappeared! The disciples asked where these individuals in vv. 34-35 would be taken. Jesus answered, "Where there is a dead body, there the vultures would gather." Jesus' reply clearly indicates judgment. (34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.") Jesus' answer in Luke 17:37 plainly points to judgment. In the Old Testament, God is seen as leaving His enemies as food for vultures. In the New Testament that is the fate of those unprepared for the kingdom (Mt 24:28; Rev 19:17-19). RR The Luke 17:37 passage is "a reference to the carnage of Armageddon (Rev. 19:17-19)." RSB Wiersbe says Vultures symbolize Corruption (Matt. 24:28; Luke 17:37). Those left behind are believers who will enter Christ's millennial kingdom--a period of 1,000 years during which Christ will rule the earth (Rev. 20:1-6; Mt 25:31-46). RR
Judgement. Not necessarily eternal judgement, at least immediately, but judgement by death. We see several clues to this in the text: "Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man: People were eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage...Then the flood came and destroyed them all." Luke 17:26-27 The people were unprepared and living life as usual (and refused to heed Noah) - then they were destroyed by the flood. The literal flood waters literally killed them. They physically died. "It was the same in the days of Lot: People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all." Luke 17:28-29 Again, they are unprepared, unrepentant, and living their lives. Then the judgement of eternal fire comes, and their land is destroyed. Literal fire from heaven literally killed them. They physically died. "It will be just like that on the day the Son of Man is revealed." Luke 17:30 Just like that? We should expect some sort of literal judgement or peril, with literal death as a consequence. It's also important to note here that this is not "the Son of Man appearing" in the sense of the parousia, His Second Coming, but the "Son of Man revealed" in the sense of apokaluptó - revealing the hidden mystery. Basically, the evidence Jesus is Messiah unsealed for the world to see. "On that day, let no one on the housetop come down to retrieve his possessions. Likewise, let no one in the field return for anything he has left behind. Remember Lot’s wife!" Luke 17:31-31 Lot's wife physically died because she looked back. "Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it." Lk 17:33 More evidence this is about losing one's life, but with the interesting addition that trying to "save" one's life will actually backfire, wheras those willing to lose their natural life (Matt 10:39 clarifies, for Christ's sake) will preserve their higher one. The next verse contextually it seems to be a prophecy that half of the people will die: "I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed: One will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together: One will be taken and the other left.” Then when they ask, "where" (presumably, where will they be taken) Jesus answers, "Jesus answered, “Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures (more literally eagles) will gather.” Carcass, gathering vultures = dead bodies. We can look back over history, most notably as recorded in Josephus' "The Wars of the Jews" and see when these prophecies were fulfilled, as well. (Though it doesn't preclude a possible double fulfillment in the future.) First, the eagles hint at Rome being involved - the standard of the Roman flags being Eagles. The siege of Jerusalem, which culminated in 70A.D., was preceded by several years of warnings to the Jewish people - including a prophet crying "Woe, Woe, Woe..." for three and a half years. (Judean rebels had taken control of Jerusalem in 66 A.D.) During a sixth month break in the siege, Christians of the era took these prophecies of Jesus as warnings, and fled through the mountains to various cities like Pella, where they took refuge. But the Jews themselves thought the break in the siege meant peace and safety - even that they had won and Rome would now leave them alone. They returned to daily living, thinking the threat was over. Then when general (later emperor) Titus came in 70A.D, they were unprepared, and it was too late. The final five month stage of the siege cost the Jews their temple, much of the lower city, and half of them (around two million) their lives. Even those who sought to save their lives by joining Rome ended up dead. Meanwhile, chariots in the sky, the opening of the East Gate, voices from heaven, etc. Revealed for all Jews that the Messiah had indeed come (1st coming.)
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