There are many things about eschatology I do not understand. One thing I have come to firmly believe is that I will not accept a view of eschatology that has sacrifices legitimately re-instituted, as I've mentioned in a previous post. Aside from that, however, there are many things that are still not settled for me.One thing that was pointed out to me the other day was the description of “the rapture” in Matthew 24, and how what is described in verses 36-34 is actually quite different from what many people interpret it as. Let's look at it:
But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,* but the Father only. 37 As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (ESV)
This passage has often been used to describe the taking of Christians out of this world, while the unsaved are “left behind” to go through a period of tribulation. Now there is much more said on the subject of eschatology in this chapter, but what I would like to point out here is the nature of this “taking away.”Notice that this is compared to the days of Noah. Who exactly does it say was “swept away” in the days of Noah? Those who were not safely in the ark because they didn't believe. Now since the “rapture” is supposed to correspond to this, who is it that will be taken away in the rapture? The unsaved. The elect (as the passage calls them a bit higher up, will be gathered together, but it is the unsaved who will be “raptured.”I think this lends support to the eschatalogical belief that Christ will return, gather his elect, and renew heaven and earth, ushering in eternity (I realize this is a very simplistic and incomplete overview, but you get the idea).