The entirety of Matthew 24 is about the disciple’s questions concerning the destruction of the temple.
1 Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2 But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.” 3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” Matt 24:1-3
The Lord Himself told them the destruction of the temple and the city would occur in their generation, or Biblically about 40 years. This was not to happen in a generation several thousands of years later. It would happen by an army that would advance through Judea on its way to Jerusalem.
Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place. Matt. 24:34
Our passages are completely in context with fulfilled history.
40 Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matt. 24:40-44
Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together; one will be taken and the other left.” And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the body is, there the vultures will be gathered together.” Luke 17:33-37
One of the keys to clarifying the statements about one taken and one left, is the statement by the Lord that vultures would gather to bodies. That is very clear. Some people would die, and the vultures would eat their bodies. Did this happen in 70AD?
Josephus wrote that upwards of 1,000,000 Jews were killed in the destruction and capture of Jerusalem. General Titus also took into captivity 95,000 Jews. The fulfillment of Deut. 28:47-57 and Jer. 19:9, where God told them they would eat their own offspring, is recorded in written accounts regarding the final siege of Jerusalem. ( see Appendix note: Roasted Child)
“And now, since his soldiers were already quite tired with killing men, and yet there appeared to be a vast multitude still remaining alive, Caesar gave orders that they should kill none but those that were in arms, and opposed them, but should take the rest alive. But, together with those whom they had orders to slay, they slew the aged and the infirm; but for those that were in their flourishing age, and who might be useful to them, they drove them together into the temple, and shut them up within the walls of the court of the women; over which Caesar set one of his freedmen, as also Fronto, one of his own friends; which last was to determine every one’s fate, according to his merits. So this Fronto slew all those that had been seditious and robbers, who were impeached one by another; but of the young men, he chose out the tallest and most beautiful, and reserved them for the triumph; and as for the rest of the multitude that were above seventeen years old, he put them into bonds, and sent them to the Egyptian mines. Titus also sent a great number into the provinces, as a present to them, that they might be destroyed upon their theatres, by the sword and by the wild beasts; but those that were under seventeen years of age were sold for slaves. Now during the days wherein Fronto was distinguishing these men, there perished, for want of food, eleven thousand; some of whom did not taste any food, through the hatred their guards bore to them; and others would not take in any when it was given them. The multitude also was so very great, that they were in want even of corn for their sustenance.” WAR BOOK VI; chapter 9; section 2 by Josephus
The instructions to His disciples were to watch for the coming of the Lord in judgment. Even if one were to misunderstand that, in Luke’s version the disciples ask where these people are to be taken. His answer is “Where the body is, there the vultures gather” [Hos 8:1]. The ones that are taken, are going to their deaths and destruction. The vultures would eat them.
FYI: Your English Bible may say eagles, but that is never the case. In both the Hebrew and the Greek, the word is alway vultures. But because there were no vultures in 1611AD England, the King James translators chose the closest bird in similarity, an eagle.
So, our question is: who is going to death and destruction? And what happens to the ones left.
The most obvious answer to both questions are that the ones taken died, and the ones left, survived. The onslaught of four Roman Legions marching into Judea over the space of one year caused many casualties. There would be those who also would not survive because of starvation behind the walls of a besieged Jerusalem [67-70AD].
The ones who survived are those who fled in advance of the armies, just as Messiah had told them. No doubt, more than a few unbelievers in Judea could also see this army advancing and they left to remain out of harms way.
Now we come to the part were the Futurists claim that there is a Secret Rapture. Because they have chopped this passage up and lost all the cohesiveness of the narrative, they are able to fool people into thinking that something is here that is not. So what compels them to place this prophecy 2000 years in the future?
Futurists suggest those people who are “taken,” are part of a secret rapture. This passage does not say they are taken to some glorious place or Heaven. In fact, the ones taken here, face death and their dead bodies being eaten by vultures!
This is not the Rapture. It simply cannot be! It is not an involuntary catching up without a passage of time to gather things that are corruptible. The implication here, is that there is time to make a decision to gather items from your home and even to make a decision whether to go or not.
A “catching up” consistent with scripture, can never be “secret.” The second coming of the Lord will be visible and accompanied by the sound of trumpets and many angels.
8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts1:8-11
The Futurists superimpose a “gap” of time from a serious misunderstanding of Daniel 9, the Seventy Sevens [See Also: Dan 9]. However, our passages in Matthew and Luke do not demand a gap of time. The only mention of a timeframe is when the Lord said it would happen in their generation. We know that the temple and the city were destroyed within 40 years, or a generation. This should be sufficient proof that it was fulfilled.
Futurists also claim that the destruction of the temple is yet to occur. There is absolutely nothing in this passage related to rebuilding a temple after the obvious prophesied destruction of the temple in the disciples generation. So, they claim the entirety of Matthew 24 is future yet. But, we know from the context of the three parallel passages in Matthew, Mark, and Luke that this is about the destruction of the city and the sanctuary. Messiah also linked the destruction to Daniel 9.
And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off, and shall have nothing; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war; desolations are decreed. Dan. 9:26
The one year that it took for the Roman armies to march through Judea, was the last sign of the impending destruction of the city and the sanctuary. After that, the Kingdom of God was to be given to another.
14 “But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; 15 let him who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything away; 16 and let him who is in the field not turn back to take his mantle. 17 And alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! 18 Pray that it may not happen in winter. 19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not shortened the days, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. 21 And then if any one says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 False Christs and false prophets will arise and show signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But take heed; I have told you all things beforehand. [Mark 13:14-23]
If you did not flee to the mountains, if you took time to enter your house to gather goods, if you were in a field and went back to get your coat, it could be too late. Prayers should be offered for this not to happen in winter, not to be pregnant or nursing. If one waited till the last minuet travel would be difficult.
This was going to be a time of incredible tribulation, not seen from the beginning of the creation! And it would never happen again. That should provide us some comfort.
If the Lord had not shortened the siege, no human would survive. The elect were to be saved, sheltered.
However, the time to watch for the signs, was over. This trial, this tribulation would come as a thief in the night. Live for the moment, and your life might be lost.