Now, as we continue to look at the implications of Jesus teaching that “As in the days of Noah, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be”, we come to the issues of timing. We asked the question, “(3) How long a time frame was there that included the rescue and the flood beginning?” This is important because there are those, especially the Pre-tribulationists, that want us to believe that the rescue of believers comes unexpectedly, and at least 3.5 to 7 years before God’s wrath is poured out. Some even argue that the rapture/rescue could happen some time before the “tribulation” begins. There is further confusion in the end times teaching by conflating tribulation with wrath because they do not recognize that the Scriptures make a clear distinction (for an extensive analysis of this see “The Sign of the End of the Age” pages 115-123).
All of that is clearly negated if we understand what Jesus is teaching us about timing in His Noah analogy. First Jesus said in Matt. 24:38 that the people were “eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage until the day that Noah entered the ark”. In verse 39 He says, “and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away”. The point is there was one day when rescue came for the believers, Noah’s family, and the beginning of wrath for the wicked unbelievers. Just like judgment will be in the end times, it took more than one day to drown all the population of the earth, but on the one day of judgment it was all decided. Some were in the ark and rescued, and some were left on this earth to face the judgment. God did not take Noah and his family and all the animals into the ark and then wait 3.5 to 8 years to begin the flood. There was no “Left Behind” story where He gave the wicked people outside the ark time to repent and be saved.
To highlight this more, lets look at Genesis 7:13ff, where we see, “On the very same day Noah and Shem and Ham and Japheth, …entered the ark …”. And verse 23, “Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land…”. The point Jesus is making that there is one day of judgment and rescue, just as it was in the days of Noah.
This is so significant when there are theories about a rapture/rescue well before God’s wrath is poured out in the Day of the Lord. Both the Pre-trib and the Mid-trib theories fail badly on this issue. They both have a rapture/rescue at least some years before the Day of the Lord wrath, but Matthew 24:29-31 makes it absolutely clear that the rapture/rescue comes after the signs in the heavens that the old testament makes clear comes “Before the great and awesome day of the Lord” (Joel 2:31). Matthew 24 also makes it very clear that those signs of the day of the Lord in 24:29 come immediately after the great tribulation, which everyone agrees is in the 2nd half of the 7 year period. The Pretrib theory would be equivalent to having Noah in the ark for 4 to 8 years before the flood came. However, we know he was in the ark only during the flood and until it receded, about 200 days. The judgment came on the day God shut the door and started the flood.
In 1 Thess. 4-5, Paul gives us the very same sequence where he gives us the 2nd coming and rapture tied together with the resurrection in 4:13-18 and then follows that immediately with the teaching on who will be ready for the day of the Lord wrath, culminating that with 5:9 which says, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation (rescue) through our Lord Jesus Christ. By saying, “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord” in 4:15, Paul clearly ties his teaching back to what Jesus taught in Matthew 24. So Paul was teaching that the 2nd coming and rapture/rescue in 1 Thess. 4:15-17 comes right before the day of the Lord in 5:1-11, where we have the clear teaching about the two types of people that will come to this day of the Lord judgment. Those in darkness that go on living their lives, “saying, ‘Peace and safety’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly…”. Those of the light to be rescued by the aforementioned rapture/rescue. Clearly Paul is teaching the same sudden day of judgment which the ungodly don’t expect and the believers do expect, but certainly it is judgment on one day. None of what Jesus and Paul are teaching would make sense if rescue and judgment were separated by years, just as it did not happen in the days of Noah.
This teaching is overlooked or explained away by some tortured explanations of tribulation being part of God’s wrath or in some cases even two definitions of the day of the Lord, but it is best explained by the simple reading of these texts which all agree on what we call the Prewrath rapture of the church.
Immediately following this days of Noah analogy in Matthew 24, we have two more verses that resoundingly confirm our interpretation, and it is clear the Lord meant to teach precisely that! We will deal with that in the next blog.