Jesus spoke of a great and sudden disappearance of people from the earth. “In that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left” (Luke 17:34–36). Jesus’ disciples asked, “Where will these people be taken?” He answered, “Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together” (17:37). He was saying, “I am the Head of the Body and the Head is going to be united with the Body.”
Some scholars say the people taken up are sinners being swept away to judgment. But Scripture suggests otherwise. Isaiah speaks of eagles in reference to the Church: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). Also, God said to Israel, “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself” (Exodus 19:4).
In Matthew, Jesus speaks of the elect being taken up by God: “He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31). Paul makes this clear, stating: “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–18).
As dramatic as this great event will be, Jesus’ point was that it will happen on an ordinary day. It will be like those past days of judgment, in Noah’s and Lot’s societies. Men and women will be at their jobs, going about their day as usual. Then everything will happen suddenly, in a mere moment. Paul says: “We shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52).
It will be a day like any other. All of humankind will be unaware, but then, in a single moment, Christ will gather His Bride.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon