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A Sudden End and New Beginning

• Greg Boyd

As Christians, we often give a lot of attention to passages in the Bible that refer to Jesus’ return, but often only to speculate about the end of the world. Instead, we should use these teachings to reflect on how we live here and now. One specific application of this principle is making daily decisions that honor God’s creation.

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Today’s message centered around two aspects of the passage found in Luke 17:22-37. The first focal point was to answer the question, “What is the main point of this passage?” The second focal point was to offer an alternative to a common misunderstanding when interpreting what it means that “one will be taken and the other left.”

1. The point

Scholars disagree about what the “days of the Son of Man” refers to. Some think this refers to the end of human history and others think it refers to the Roman war on Israel from 66-70AD. Greg suggested that both may be true. It is often the case that prophetic language applies both to specific fulfillments throughout history and also to a larger event at the end.

Regardless of how we understand the phrase “days o the Son of Man” there are plenty of passages in the New Testament that make it clear that there will be a return of Jesus that does concern all of us. The point of this passage is that we are to live with that recognition and remember what it means for how we relate to the time and stuff we are responsible for in this world until either our death or Christ’s return.

Jesus reminded his disciples of the time of Noah when Lot and his wife needed to flee the coming disaster and Lot’s wife hesitated, she looked back to her home and her things and was caught up in the destruction. The main point here was that we must live life holding on to things very loosely. We must always be ready and willing to let go of our normal goals, associations, possessions, etc. and be free to join in with Jesus when he calls us to do so and when he returns. This is the freedom Jesus speaks of when he says, “Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.”

2. Historical context for “one taken” and “one left”

The common idea of the “rapture” where a person is taken up into the air and away to some other place, presumably heaven, is a very new idea that stems from a questionable interpretation I Thess. 4:17. There are several problems with this understanding, but the main one is that in the context of the 1st Century, people would have assumed that to go up in the air was a way of speaking about joining God as God approached us here on earth. Just like the villagers would leave the village to go and welcome the king as he approached, and then they would all come into the village together, so also, this passage is speaking figuratively of how we would anticipate the coming of Jesus and engage with the world with him as our Lord. In this text and in many others, it is assumed or stated clearly that God’s reign will be here on Earth. Heaven will come to earth rather than earth being abandoned for some other place or way of existing. So, the “one taken” (from our text today) would be the unfortunate one who the disciples asked about. Jesus’ answer confirms that those taken are not raptured and saved but rather will face a clearly negative fate. The one left, then, remains with Jesus and is a member of the new kingdom of God here on earth.

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Topics: Creation Care, End Times, Heaven


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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 17:22-26

    Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. People will tell you, 'There he is!' or 'Here he is!' Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.

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4 thoughts on “A Sudden End and New Beginning

  1. james wilson says:

    please send me your sermons

  2. Jim LePage says:

    Hey James – If you’d like to order any of our sermon resources, you can do that here:

    https://whchurch.org/sermons-media/purchase-media

  3. Nicole says:

    I am so glad to hear someone in the church talking about how we treat animals that we intend to eat and how our eating choices affect the life of animals. We are sooooo responsible for seeing that these animals are not living in torture. I just refuse to eat any animal that has lived with torture and pain – I don’t want that flesh to be a part of my flesh. So there are many mainstream meat labels I will not buy. I ask the vendors about the habitat and treatment of the animals that provide the meat they sell. Naturally they will say their animals are cared for humanely but when the vendors and meat suppliers know that their sales depend on good care of the animals, they will either try to hide their farms or they will live up to the challenge. We do need to become responsible for what we support. If we support factory farming, it will continue and the animals will be brutally butchered after living lives of absolute torture! I still think we should all have to kill for ourselves the meat that we want to eat. People would stop eating more meat than they really need to be healthy if they had to butcher it themselves.

    I love your teaching, Greg Boyd!

  4. Matt says:

    It’s funny, I felt the Lord leading me first to vegetarianism, then to fruitarianism. Diet is NOT required to follow Jesus and there are many verses that support that. And I don’t judge anyone else for what they eat, but I found it strange that I truly felt led in my Spirit to change my diet over time and didn’t know why. Now, with Greg’s teaching on Stewardship and God’s Accomodative will versus Ideal will, it finally makes sense.

    Thank you Jesus, and thanks Greg for letting yourself be used for the kingdom.

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