In my study of prophecy, I have learned how the feasts of Israel actually represent the fulfillment of prophecy on God’s calendar. My general understanding is as follows.
Passover = Death of Jesus on the cross as our Passover lamb
Unleavened Bread = Sinless sacrifice of Jesus to destroy sin
First Fruits = Resurrection
Pentecost = Birth of church and possibly rapture
Rosh HaShana/Feast of Trumpets = Rapture and/or regathering of Israel
Day of Atonement = Second Coming of Jesus as King of kings
Feast of Tabernacles = The Millennial Kingdom
Every year around the time of Pentecost and Rosh Hashanah I get a little more excited about the possibility of the rapture of the body of Christ. Both celebrate the harvest, and it makes sense to me that the rapture could be associated with either one. I tend to lean towards Rosh Hashanah since it follows in sequence from Pentecost and allows for the months in between to represent the church age. It is also interesting that it is associated with the blowing of trumpets.
1 Corinthians 15:51–52 “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but 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 Thessalonians 4:16–17 “For 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.”
Commentators note that on this day that the Jews celebrate as their new year with one hundred blasts on the trumpet. The last blast is a much longer blast called the Tekiah Gedolah and could represent the reference to “the last trump” in the passage from Corinthians quoted above.
This feast is also associated with the thought of not knowing the day or the hour because it is based on the sighting of the new moon. This year the Jews celebrate this feast over two days beginning the evening of September 24th-the evening of September 26th. Jesus said that we would not know the day or the hour of His return.
Matthew 24:36–37 “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
All this being said, I know that the rapture could occur at any time and will occur at a time when most “think not.”
Matthew 24:37–44 “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 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, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.”
Following is an excerpt from my study of this section of Matthew.
I continue to struggle with this section. Though the context throughout has been the return of Jesus as King and the tribulation period, I believe after reading through this again, that the plain meaning has to apply to the rapture. Jesus is using an example of life going on as usual when He comes. That just won’t be the case in the tribulation—especially as it gets closer to the end and people on earth are suffering the effects of the vial judgments. Just as with the other prophets, this prophecy is not necessarily revealed in chronological format.
Again, the Lord is painting a word picture. I think the main point of these verses is that life will be going on as normal, just as it did until the very day that Noah entered the ark. Only then did the people recognize the truth of Noah’s preaching. Only then did they realize the truth that they would die in the flood.
I think it is interesting to note that Noah knew all along that God was going to destroy “all flesh wherein is the breath of life” under heaven.
Genesis 6:13 & 17 “And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.”
Scripture also tells us that Noah was a preacher of righteousness.
2Peter 2:5 “And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly….”
“taken” = to receive near, i.e. associate with oneself (in any familiar or intimate act or relation)
“left” = to send forth, in various applications (as follow):—cry, forgive, forsake, lay aside, leave, let (alone, be, go, have), omit, put (send) away, remit, suffer, yield up.
“know not what hour” – This emphasizes the need to be expectant daily.
I think the most natural reading of these verses fits the rapture. It is describing when some will be “taken” (Greek: “received near” – to be with Jesus) and others left behind to go through the coming time of judgment.
The emphasis of these verses is on being prepared—watching. The root word in Greek for watch is a reference to mental awareness. Men and women of faith should be ever vigilant and expectant regarding the Lord’s return. The Lord will continue to emphasize the importance of being prepared by presenting that truth in several different ways in the coming verses.
This tells me that Noah’s situation was much like that of Christians who share the truth of God’s coming today. He knew the truth and was faithful to preach it, but the people ignored his message because they didn’t believe it. We who have been redeemed by Jesus know the truth and are faithfully declaring it to those around us, but they choose to ignore it because they don’t believe it.
Noah entering and sealed in the ark = Israel fleeing to and protected in the wilderness
I also don’t deny that there is a secondary truth in making a comparison between how things were in the days of Noah and how things will be in the tribulation that will coincide with God’s wrath and destruction of the heathen when He returns as King of Kings.
Genesis 6:5 & 12-13 “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually….And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.”
Again, this is not the first time that Jesus had taught the disciples this truth.
Luke 17:26-30 “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.”
Jesus also included the example of Lot in His earlier teaching to emphasize His point.
I think the important truth to note is that God is going to deliver His own before exacting judgment on the wicked.
“and knew not until” – This indicates many will not recognize the truth until the time of judgment comes—at which point it is too late. It would also tie in with the truth of 2Thessalonians.
2Thessalonians 2:10-12 “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Could this be the turning point regarding the people of Israel and their faith in the Messiah? The teaching of the rapture is widely known today, and I think it will serve to cause many Jews to realize that Jesus was who He claimed to be and the teachings of the New Testament are to be taken as scripture.
Jesus now uses a different word picture. He tells us that the master of the house would be able to protect his house from thieves if he knew when they were coming.
In other words, the Son of man is going to come like a thief—without warning.
Revelation 3:3 “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”
Revelation 16:15 “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”
These verses from Revelation tie directly to the truth the Lord is presenting here in Matthew. He will come as a thief to those who are not watching. The one who is truly watching will be prepared—will not be in a position of shame to meet the Savior. This is a truth that has become much more important and real to me as I have grown older and more absorbed in His Word. I am so much more aware of what I am doing each minute. I so want the Spirit to be at home in my being. This makes it much easier to make choices in entertainment and in how I prioritize my time.
Come Lord Jesus!