In Matthew 24:40-41 we read, “Two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.” A similar statement is found in Luke 17:34-36. Most prophecy teachers insist that this separation is the rapture. They portray a scene in which men and women will be going about their business and suddenly the godly will vanish. But the context and details suggest that “one taken and one left” event shall occur at the second coming, not the rapture, and that it will be the ungodly, not the godly, who are removed.
First of all, in both the preceding context (Matt. 24) and the following context (Matt. 25), the coming of the Son of man refers to the day the Lord descends to earth in judgment. On that day it is the ungodly who are removed, not the godly. In the light of this fact, it seems like dubious exegesis to lift a snippet of text from the context and insist that it refers to the rapture though every other instance in the preceding and following context refers to the coming of the Lord in judgment.
Secondly, this event takes fifty percent and leaves fifty percent. This can’t be the rapture. Five percent being taken would be an extremely optimistic estimate for the rapture. And the actual figure is most likely closer to one percent. God is not sloppy in his math. The 144,000 will be exactly 144,000—exactly 12,000 from each of exactly 12 tribes. The seventy years of captivity was exactly seventy years, not sixty-eight or seventy-two. The sixty-nine weeks of years from the command to rebuild Jerusalem was exactly 483 years from its utterance until the triumphant entry of Messiah the prince. And so the fifty percent will be exactly fifty percent, not twenty or ten or five or one.
Thirdly, this event does not take folks to a wonderful place but to an awful place—”where there is a corpse, there the eagles gather” (Luke 17:37). What do corpses and carrion eating birds have to do with heaven? Nothing! At what prophetic event do we find corpses and carrion eating birds? Armageddon. For those who care more about exegetical integrity than they do multiplying rapture passages, it is obvious that this is not a reference to the rapture but Armageddon.
So what event occurs at the time of Armageddon that involves a fifty percent division? The sack of Jerusalem on the day of the Lord that we read about in Zechariah 14:1-2. The invading army of the antichrist will take the ungodly half captive, presumably placing them in an internment camp in Armageddon where they will perish with the armies of the Gentile nations. The godly half will be left in Jerusalem to welcome the arrival of their Lord a few hours later.
The “one taken and one left” passages are a classic example of the damage that is caused by a wrong interpretation of a passage. Not only are we misled on the understanding of the passage itself, but we lose the light that it is intended to cast on the subject it addresses, and we grow accustomed to bad principles of interpretation that promote darkness rather than light.
Eyes wide open, brain engaged, heart on fire.
Lee W. Brainard