Right before the Lord comes to defeat the Antichrist and all the unsaved men who ally themselves with him, they’ll be eating and drinking like they always do (v.38) so won’t know when He’s coming (v. 36).
That phrase “eating and drinking” is associated with banqueting in the Bible, especially in conjunction with “giving in marriage” (v. 37). Any father who’s paid for a wedding reception knows that! But believers who don’t take the mark of the beast won’t be able to buy enough food and wine to eat and drink like that (Rev. 13:17). And believers will think twice before marrying due to the Lord’s warning in Matthew 24:19. Only unbelievers will feel safe enough to marry in the Tribulation, thinking Antichrist will give them “peace and safety” (I Thes. 5:2,3).
Believers will also be unable to plant and build (Lu. 17:26), for they can’t build or plant on land they’ve sold, and that’s what they’ll have to do to be saved (Lu. 18:18, 22 cf. Acts 4:34,35).
Now I know that “one taken and one left” scenario described in Matthew 24:40,41 sounds like the Rapture, but believers are taken to heaven at the Rapture (I Thes. 4:14). Unbelievers are taken to judgment here, like Noah was (Mt. 24:39)—the judgment of Armageddon (Lu. 17:36,37 cf. Rev. 19:17-20).
Some unsaved people will gather themselves to that battle (Joel 3:9-12), while Satan will hoodwink others into going (Rev. 16:13-16). God will gather still other unbelievers to Armageddon in the “reverse Rapture” depicted here in Matthew 24. We know God knows how to teleport people (Acts 8:39). Acts 17:30-34 shows it will be “day” in some parts of the world when the Lord comes and “night” in other parts.
In Matthew 24:42 we see more proof the Lord isn’t talking about the Rapture here. That verse sounds more like a warn-ing of a disaster than advice to prepare for a happy event!
The Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief in the night (Mt. 24:43,44), and if men are not ready they’ll suffer the same kind of serious damage as they do from a thief. But if you’re not ready for the Rapture you just get Raptured! Those who teach the “partial Rapture” theory say you’ll be left behind if you’re not worthy, but they base that on Luke 21:36. But that’s talking about being able to “stand” before the Lord after the battle. After the Lord defeats Antichrist’s armies, the worthy ones left standing will enter the kingdom (Mal. 3:1-3). But all who believe will be raptured, not all who behave (I Thes. 4:14-17).
How will they get ready? Well the Lord will expect them to be feeding His servants (Mt. 24:45). If they don’t, they can’t be saved (James 2:15-17). If they do, they’ll be “blessed” (Mt. 24:46) with the kingdom (Mt. 25:34-40). The Lord’s “goods” (Mt. 24:47) are “all that He hath” in the kingdom (Lu. 12:44), the Gentile nations (Ps. 2:8). He’ll rule over them (Rev. 19:15) with help from worthy Jews (Rev.2:26, 27).But you’ll be ruling over the angels in heaven (I Cor. 6:3).
Some Jews won’t be ready because they’ll believe the Lord’s coming is far off (Mt. 24:48 cf. Ezek. 12:27). So while worthy people will be feeding God’s people, unsaved men will be persecuting them (Mt. 24:49). They’ll be getting drunk and living it up—but not for long (v. 50,51)!
But eating and drinking and marrying is the opposite of what men will be doing before the Rapture (I Tim. 4:1-3). That’s another way you know that Matthew 24 is not about the Rapture. Only Paul talks about the Rapture. It was a “mystery” (I Cor. 15:51-53) until the Lord revealed it to him.
But an old saying says not to let your roots in this world grow too deep, or you might not want to leave it when He comes. The Greek word for “caught up” in I Thessalonians 4:13-17 is translated “take Him by force” in John 6:15. Don’t make the Lord have to tug on you twice when He tries to take you away from this life and all the things you love by loving them too deeply. Instead, be one of the ones who are honoring Him with your life, and serving Him with your words, your time, your talent, your money, and with every breath you breathe.