This is an excerpt from a book to be published in the Fall of 2018 by Anne Davis, The Remnant Part III: Role of the Remnant in the End of Time
“One will be taken and the other left” is a startling announcement that appears in Matthew 24:40 and demands an answer to the question, “Who will be taken and who will be left?” The rapture theory proposes that those who are taken will be raptured into heaven to be with the Lord, thus receiving eternal salvation, whereas those who are left will have to suffer seven agonizing years of tribulation and will be condemned to eternal damnation (unless perhaps they believe in Yeshua the Messiah during the Great Tribulation). However, this study disputes this rapture interpretation.
We will now consider this verse in two ways. One will be the context where it appears in the Gospel of Matthew, and the other will be what the verse in Matthew echoes from the Old Testament book of Zechariah.
Begin by reading the verse in its context and ponder the following questions before considering my thoughts that follow.
37 The coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.
38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,
39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.
40 Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.
41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. Matthew 24:37-41
- At the time of Noah who was taken away?
- What was the behavior of those who were taken away at the time of Noah?
- Why do you think they were taken away at the time of Noah?
- Why do you think Noah was left?
- Given the context of the days of Noah, of the two men in the field who do you think will be taken away and why will they be taken?
- If those who are left are like Noah, how would you describe their way of living?
7. Why do you think God would leave them in times of great tribulation?
Taking a verse out of context can lead to misunderstanding. “One will be taken and the other left” in Matthew 24:40 (repeated in Matthew 24:41) appears in the context of Yeshua likening a future event to the prophetic symbolism of Noah and the flood.
In the Genesis account we learn that “the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence” (Gen. 6:11). Noah, on the other hand, “did according to all that the Lord had commanded him,” which is a description of righteous behavior (Gen. 7:5). In fact, God tells us that “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God” (Gen. 6:9). Noah’s righteousness is apparently why God delivered Noah and his family from the devastation of the flood, so Noah and his family were “left” and all the others were “taken” by the flood.
This understanding is important in our study because Noah is the first remnant identified in Scripture. “Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark” (Gen. 7:23). The word translated “left” is שָׁאַר (shaar) meaning to be left as a survivor; this word is often used in Scripture to describe the remnant (see, for example, Gen 45:7; Neh 1:3).
Considering “one will be taken and the other left” in its context, which is Yeshua likening a future event to Noah and the flood, is probably sufficient evidence to eliminate this verse as evidence for the rapture theory. This popular theory concludes that all believers in Christ will be taken up to heaven (raptured) like the ones who were “taken” in Matthew 24:40-41. However, there is another relevant verse in Zechariah that we should consider and to which the author of Matthew may have been referring.
I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. Zech 14:2
The Hebrew word translated “rest” is another word used for the remnant, which isיֶתֶר
(yeter) meaning what remains or is left over. In this verse in Zechariah, the devastation sounds prophetic of the coming Great Tribulation. Then we hear that those who will be “left” will not be cut off from the city, that is, they will remain. The term “cut off” refers to separation from God, and Jerusalem is the city where God resides, so those who are left will not be separated from God in His holy city. All the others will go into exile (separation from God), which seems to be an echo of the Noah account. Noah and his family were “left” and all the others were “taken” by the flood.
We must now ask why God will request that the remnant, those who are righteous in His eyes, must remain to endure the tremendous suffering of the Great Tribulation. I think the answer will be obvious for those who are dedicated and faithful servants of the Lord. God will need them to witness His love in the face of Satan’s evil.