Who was taken and who was left behind, choosing between Noah and his family, and everyone else outside the boat? Noah and his family were left behind and everyone else was taken.
Try this one: Between Abraham and his cousin Lot, and the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot’s wife? Yes, Abraham was left behind but the two cities along with Lot’s wife was taken.
I’d rather be left behind, that is, not judged for my sins, than to be taken into judgment. Let’s take a look at the two main texts that teach this. First, Matthew 24:36-44:
From this text alone, the one thing that helps us understand that “taken” means judgment and “left” means not judged, is the example that Jesus provides. You have to ask yourself, does the phrase “the flood came and swept them all away” refer to being left behind, or does it refer to be taken away? Was Noah taken or was he left? Was he judged or was he spared, left out of judgment? The very flow of the imagery would lead us to connect “the flood came and swept them all away” with “taken” – not “left.”
But Luke gives us more in 17:26-37.
In this passage we have two additional items to help us determine that you want to be left out of the judgment and not taken into it.
First, we have the event of Lot and the city of Sodom. Did Lot live to see another day because he was “left” or “taken”? He was left.
Second, we have the disciples question and the Lord’s reply. Jesus paints the picture that when he returns, one person is taken while one person is left. Fair enough, but not helpful. But then the question comes: “Where, Lord?” Now that’s helpful. Are the disciples asking where the one at the mill is left or the one at mill was taken? It’s silly to think that they’re asking where the one at the mill is left – SHE’S STILL AT THE MILL!!! They’re asking where the one at the mill was taken to. Again, are the disciples asking where the one in bed is taken, or are they asking where the one in bed is left? That’s just nuts to ask where the one in bed is left – obviously – STILL IN BED!! They’re asking where the one that was in bed taken to. Jesus’ answer is judgment. That is, the one that was taken, was taken into judgment. The one that was left, was spared.
What happened to Noah and Lot both fit the pattern that they were left and the ones outside the boat and in the city of Sodom were taken away, swept away into judgment. And the disciples question clearly seems to be aimed at where the taken are taken – into judgment. Therefore, when Jesus returns, I want to be left behind, left out of his judgment. I don’t want to be taken into judgment. And furthermore, this leads me to lose my life for Christ, that is, keep a watch on my life so that when Christ returns, I won’t be taken into judgment for valuing my life above his, but rather, will be left out of his judgment for prizing Christ above all things – including my own life.