Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
In verse 36 Jesus taught that it would be a waste of time to try to calculate the exact time of Jesus’ return at the end of the Tribulation. We know that there is no way to calculate the Lord’s timing for the Rapture. Jesus is referring to the end of the Tribulation in our text. The Bible is clear that the Tribulation is a 7 year period. However, that still gives room for miscalculation. Some of those who are alive during that time will be saved and they will be in grave danger from the antichrist and his goons. They will be looking for the Lord’s return, but the exact day and hour will not be known to them.
Jesus then turned to a familiar Old Testament event to further explain that reality. God stated in Genesis 6 that there would be a 120 year time frame prior to the flood, from the time that He spoke of the wickedness that was in the world at that time. Noah was directed by God to build that Ark and the people had plenty of time to observe what Noah was doing. They could ask him questions and they could have repented and been saved. Yet none did. They continued on in their wickedness. Noah did not know the exact day when the flood would begin. He walked obediently with the Lord and he was ready when the day came for God to close the door and for the rains to begin. God brought all the animals into the Ark and everything was prepared and then God shut the door. After that, it was too late for those outside.
In verse 38 Jesus stated that the people carried on prior to the flood just as they ever had. They had no concern for what was coming. They rejected Noah’s words and they ignored the fact that he was building the Ark as a refuge from the flood that was coming. They had never seen a flood before. They had never seen rain before. Noah had never seen it either. Noah walked by faith, while the rest of the world lived for the moment.
In verse 39 we see that the people ignored everything that happened prior to the flood. They could have known, but they chose not to know. Jesus stated that His coming would be like that event of old. The lost would be continuing on with life as usual. The antichrist would continue to pretend that he was God and his followers would continue to follow his wicked dictates. They would not be prepared for the return of the Lord and the ensuing battle that would take place. It is not that they could not know, but they will be in a state of rejection of the truth.
Those who are saved at that time will also not know the day nor the hour, but they will be living in anticipation of that time just as Noah was. They will be listening to the Word of the Lord and they will be prepared to enter the Millennium.
In verses 40-41 Jesus gave further warning of the need to be prepared for that time. We know these verses have been used for our time as well. People have taught that we need to be ready because we do not know the day nor the hour of the Lord’s return. That is true. We need to be watching and waiting and busy serving the Lord. The lost do need to get saved today. Death is imminent and the Rapture is also imminent. Those who reject the Lord will be caught off guard but they will not have another opportunity to be saved.
The context of verses 40-41 is still with the end of the Tribulation. Jesus stated that in verse 29. In the midst of all the turmoil that will mark the last half of the Tribulation time, people will still be out in the field. People still need to eat and they will be looking for whatever food they can find to eat. It is important to keep the account of Noah and the Ark in mind as we seek to understand what Jesus is saying in these verses. It is important to note that the order here is the exact opposite of the time of the Rapture. At the Rapture, the saved will be taken out of this world and the lost will be left to enter the Tribulation. Here, just as with Noah, the lost will be taken out in judgment and the saved will be left to enter the Millennium.
Of the two in the field, one shall be taken in judgment. One shall be either killed or die suddenly. The other shall be left to enter into the Millennium. The same is stated for the two women grinding at the mill. One shall be taken in judgment and the other shall be left to enter the Millennium. There will be saved people at that time and there will be lost people at that time. From what we read, not all the lost will express the same hostility toward the saved. We know that no one will buy nor sell without the mark of the beast. We do not have the details of how this will all work, but we are told by the Lord Jesus that there will be labour taking place and that in a moment of time a major change will take place. There will be those left, just as Noah and his family were left to refill the earth.
Jesus reminded the disciples and us of the need to be watchful. We do not know the hour of the Lord’s return at the Rapture. Those who will be alive during the Tribulation will also not know the hour of the Lord’s return at the end of that time.
In either setting, the need is to be saved. There are many today who are putting off the imperative of being saved. They are living carelessly. Many do not believe that death is that devastating. They assume they will enter a time of happy bliss at death. Yet they have not followed what God says. They are not saved and they have no interest in following God. They have their own religion and they believe that is good enough. Many false teachers have encouraged this foolishness.
The Bible warns that there will be many at the great white throne judgment. It will be too late then. Death closes the door on the opportunity to be saved. Death can come in many ways. It might come in old age or it could come due to some type of sickness. It could come due to the careless nature with which many live. The drummer who just recently died as age 50 lived the typical life of people like him. He liked his drugs and he took more than his body could handle and he died. Illicit drugs are bad, regardless of how much a person uses. Many have died and are dying due to the use of illicit drugs. Sadly, that man is not resting in peace today.
There will be many during the Tribulation who will die at the hands of the wickedness of that time. There will be many who will die in the judgment of the Lord during that time. Yet, for many that survive, they will not take that seriously. They will continue to do what they can to survive and carry on. Jesus warned that at the end of the Tribulation there will be a reckoning at His hands. Only those who are saved will enter the Millennium. The rest will be taken out of the world and cast into hell awaiting the great white throne judgment.
For those alive today, this is a sober warning. Those who are living carelessly as if there is no need for concern are foolish. Those who want to stubbornly follow their own religion are also foolish. God has given us His Word. Jesus is giving detail here of what is coming. His warnings are not to be taken lightly. The warning in verse 42 is not something to shrug off. Living without God’s forgiveness is never wise.
For those who are saved, let us watch. Watching includes warning. It includes praying. We need to look to God to lead us to be a help to the many who are lost all around us. We need to be praying for their salvation. We need to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us with meekness and with fear. Many do not want to hear, but God can work to change their attitudes. We need to be ready to help them know His peace.