by Paul George
Matthew 24:40- 42
The illustration used in this parable is a separation where one individual will be taken and the other left behind. The question related to this passage is who is taken and who is left behind, the believer or the unbeliever. It is true that when the rapture occurs there will be a separation of believers from unbelievers. The believers taken away and the unbelievers left to pass into the Great Tribulation.
Matthew 24:40-42 points back to Matthew 24:37-39. Two classes were living in Noah’s day. The one who were unbelieving and these were swept away by the divine judgment. The other class was Noah and his house, and he and his own were left and not destroyed by the judgment. It will be so again in the coming of the Son of Man. The unbelievers will be taken away in the Day of Judgment and wrath; the believers will be left on the earth to receive and enjoy the blessings of the coming age and enter into the kingdom, which will then be established.
Another reason to see verses 40- 41 as illustrating ones who are taken in judgment is the parallel passage found in Luke 17:24- 37, Jesus speaks of the coming of the Son of Man being just like the days of Noah and Lot, in both illustrations, the wicked are taken in judgment. Luke 17:27 says, “the flood came and destroyed them all.” Luke 17:29 says “fire and brimstone from heaven destroyed them all.” The disciples asked Jesus “Where Lord?” This question means where are the unbelievers taken. Jesus answers: “Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered” This refers to vultures hovering over a dead corpse. Therefore, anyone would be able to see where a dead body is because of the vultures hovering above (Revelation 19:17-21). Such language clearly supports the notion that the ones taken are removed to judgment.
“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will” (Matthew 24:42- 44).
This parable tells us about an owner of a house that has received a warning that a thief was coming to break into his house. Since he knows the time in which the thief was to arrive, the responsible owner prepares for this impending event by setting a watch to guard the house and protect it from a possible break-in. The point of the lesson is that if one knows the time and place of when something will occur, then the responsible thing to do would be to take conscientious action in light of the impending event.
The meaning of this parable is clear and understandable. Believers will be watching because they know that a thief is coming during this time. Therefore, they are prepared and alert. Israel was not prepared and ready when Christ came the first time, but the remnant will be prepared and ready when He arrives the second time. In this context, being “ready” refers to being saved, of being spiritually prepared to meet Christ as Lord and King rather than Judge. Jesus is letting Israel know that they need to be prepared for His return, whenever that is. Preparation is made when one trusts Jesus as their Messiah.
The entire passage from Matthew 24:36 teaches that (1) in Jesus’ day, no one knew the date of the advent except the Father, (2) that Noah’ s days were analogous to the last days; (3) that the unsaved in Noah’ s day did not know when the flood would come; (4) but that the saved , Noah and his family, did know at least seven days in advance; (5) when the Lord comes, He will divide between the saints and sinners, (6) we ought to be watching the signs of the times for hints that will tell us when He will come, inasmuch as (7) we do not now have such information.
Three major themes are emphasized in the parables that conclude the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew. Watchfulness was the emphasis concerning the parable of the fig tree (24:32- 34). The comparison of Christ’s return to the days of Noah focuses on preparedness (24:36- 41) and faithfulness in service to our Lord (24:42- 44).
The parables in this section, prepares the way for the parables lessons in Matthew 25