Why is this important? Because it determines our vision which in turn defines our mission.
The ones that are left behind remain for they are the children of the Promise. “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:29 This promise is emblazoned on their hearts longing for fulfillment. For they are the first fruits of the Father's eternal purpose - hidden in Christ from before the foundation of the earth.
They are the seed of the regeneration. And Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne,...: Matthew 19:28 That is as the First Born, when He puts all things to rights they will belong to the Company of the First Born.
Days Of Noah
As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:37 This verse and those around it could be said to represent an eschatological pattern.
In the days of Noah it was the wicked that were taken away while the elect were kept safe in the security of the Lord - an ark. Their purpose was to populate the newly cleansed earth.
Lot and his daughters were kept safe at the destruction of Sodom - but they were not caught away. They were the ones that were left behind after the conflagration of divine judgement.
At the Passover the first-born of the Hebrew nation were protected from the Death Angel by the innocent blood on the doorpost and lintel while the first-born of Egypt who were not protected were taken away in judgement. There was a promise in the bosom of Israel of a land that they were yet to inhabit.
The New Covenant
In 70AD - the complete destruction of Jerusalem and its form of Temple (place) worship - again it was the wicked that were taken in a great purging while the elect were kept safe in the surrounding hills. This fire was a cleansing fire to remove the last vestiges of the Old Covenant that as it passed away the New might fully supercede it. "Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." Matthew 24:2 This was the end of an age. As one age ends it makes way for a new one - until the final consummation. It is only the chrysalis which must be discarded that the winged beauty may take flight.
“The words of the blessing of Enoch, wherewith he blessed the elect and⌉righteous, who will be living in the day of tribulation, when all the wicked and godless⌉are to be removed.” Enoch 1:1 The elect remain while the godless are taken away. This book although apocryphal was relied on extensively by the early church fathers. It was also quoted by Jude in his canonical epistle.
A Great Company
We stand on the shoulders of a great company of martyrs who would consider it spurious to tell them they would not have to go through tribulation. I was in a meeting once with Richard Wurmbrand - Tortured For Christ - when he was asked if believers would have to go through tribulation. To him this was nonsensical - for the scars on his back were the mute answer to this question.
And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of ⌈His⌉ holy ones
To execute judgement upon all,
And to destroy ⌈all⌉ the ungodly:
The fire of God is not a fire of annihilation but a fire of transformation. It is a refiner’s fire. The dross (impurities) arises to the top that it might be scooped away leaving only the unalloyed precious metal. Those who remain will populate the new heavens and the new earth wherein righteousness dwells. If all things were created by Him and for Him can we expect a created being - man - to frustrate His ultimate promise? “-- all things have been created through Him and for Him.” Colossians 1:16
“For God to disregard or annihilate the present creation would testify to the failure of his purpose in bringing it into being, and this in turn would contradict the doctrine of the being of God, whose purpose, by definition, is incapable of meeting with failure.” Philip E. Hughes
“You’re the Word of God the Father
From before the world began.
Ev’ry star and ev’ry planet
Has been fashioned by Your hand.
All creation holds together
By the power of Your voice.
Let the skies declare Your glory;
Let the land and seas rejoice!
“It may be that, as the water of the Deluge was the baptism of the ancient world into a new life, so the fire of the great day will be the means of purifying and refining the universe, transforming it into new heavens and a new earth, making all things new.” Pulpit Commentary
“But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.” 2 Peter 3:13 A cleansing or purging must first come.
With such a hopeful expectation we are encouraged to live the life of the stewardship of His eternal purpose. “It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake.” Mark 13:34
Escapism is not an acceptable alternative. A catching away that abdicates responsibility has no place in the grand panoramic schema of God.
This is my Father's world:
O let me ne'er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet.
This is my Father's world:
Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King: let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let earth be glad!
Soli Deo Gloria!