Will You Escape Destruction?
Luke 17: 20-36 is a section of scripture that many Christians believes is talking about the rapture of the church. However, I believe it is talking about something entirely different. I believe Jesus is talking about escaping.
Jesus had been asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come? His answer to them immediately discounts any reason to believe that He is talking about the second coming when the physical Kingdom of God will be set up in Jerusalem.
“The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20).
Jesus is talking about the spiritual Kingdom on the inside of us that is set in motion by the Holy Spirit as He comes into our lives as believers. It is not something you can see or observe. It is not physical – not at that time anyway. It is something you get when you put your faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross and make Him Lord of your life.
Then Jesus does turn to a different time when He says to His disciples…
“The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it” (Luke 17:22).
He explains that people will be saying “look here” or “look there” and He warns us not to go after them. (paraphrased Luke 17:23)
“for as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day”(Luke 17:24).
So when Jesus returns it will be an unmistakable event. There will be no guess work as to what is happening.
In the days immediately prior to this great event Jesus describes what it will be like and about what will be going on during that time.
And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed (Luke 17:26-30).
In other words, Jesus is saying it will be business as usual. People will be about doing their own thing, living life as usual and, not expecting the return of God’s Son upon the earth.
The next few verses of this chapter are where I believe the confusion begins. Jesus talks about not going back into your house to get your stuff. Don’t run home from the field (work) to get your things. Then He makes a reference to Lot’s wife. She was told not to look back but she did, and, she lost her life. Jesus is giving a warning that will save your life if you listen.
“In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it (Luke 17:31-33).
Jesus is not talking about the rapture. He is talking about escaping. He is talking about the days prior to His return which will be as the lightning flashes from one end of the heavens to the other. The time will be so desperate that when you see the need to escape, you don’t need to be thinking about your stuff, your house, your clothes, your car, your money, or, whatever it is that you consider to be your life. Leave that stuff and get out of Dodge!
The next verse is where the rapture gets caught up in this, and, I believe Jesus is still talking about escape at this point.
I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left” (Luke 17:34-35).
I have heard many teachers and preachers say that these verses are talking about the rapture. However, I believe Jesus is still talking about escaping at this point.Why will one out of two men sleeping be taken? Because the other will hear the Spirit of God and will escape. Why will one woman grinding be taken? Because the other will be in tune with the Spirit of God and escapes. Why does one of the men in the field get taken? Because the other knows by the Spirit to escape.
There is one statement I have not mentioned up to this point. It was made by Jesus early in His speech about the coming Kingdom. It is verse 25 in the seventeenth chapter of Luke. Right after He says the coming of the Son of Man will be like lightning flashing from one end of the Heaven’s to the other He says…
But first He (the Son of Man) must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
Jesus ministry lasted about 3 and 1 half years. The great tribulation is prophesied to last about 3 and 1 half years. In the last days, I believe Christians will suffer many things and be rejected by this last generation just as Jesus was rejected in His generation. It doesn’t mean we will parish. We are already delivered in Christ Jesus, and, we will escape if we are paying attention to the times and know when to leave. This takes discernment and a close walk with God.
There is a rapture for God’s people. The problem is we have made a lot of assumptions. The majority of Christians have not studied the scripture concerning the end time for themselves without the influence of those who teach that the church will be raptured before the events of the great tribulation.
Matthew 24:29-31 Says this from Jesus’ own mouth…
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Notice the order in which these events happen.
- Immediately after the tribulation the sun and the moon are darkened, the stars fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven are shaken
- The sign of the sun of man appear in heaven, the tribes of the earth will mourn, and, they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
- Then He sends His angels with the sound of a trumpet to gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
I believe Jesus would have told us directly if we were going to be gathered before these events. His disciples were asking when shall these things be (the destruction of the temple) and, what shall be the sign of thy coming, and the end of the world? (Matt 24:3) They asked him some specific questions. Jesus was not vague in His answer. He knew what they were asking Him and He gave them a direct answer. The order of events is very clear.