At the end of the Great Tribulation, there will be a short period of several weeks that will kill more people than the previous 2000 years, which is the wrath of God. In Matthew chapter 24 Jesus describes the Great Tribulation and wrath of God in detail, then he gives several parables about being prepared for those events. Jesus said:
32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. . . . 36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Matt. 24:32-33, 36)
Notice that Jesus said we will not know the day or the hour, but we will know for a fact that his return is very near, even right at the door. The Bible is very specific, and it means what it says. Do you know for a fact that Christ will return within 5 years? No, you do not. You can only say He might return in 5 years. If you know that his return is at the door, then you won’t be saying he might return and he might not, because you will KNOW that he is about to return. By looking at the signs, we can KNOW for a fact when to expect Jesus to return, we just will not know the exact day or hour. To extend out that statement to say we will not know anything about when he will return, is just plain Scripture twisting and is just as bad as the nuts to profess to predict an exact day and hour, like Harold Camping.
One of the worst beliefs that has been propagated within Christianity is that we cannot know when Christ will return. If we listen to most prophecy teachers Jesus was soon to come for the past 150 years, but that is not true. Matthew 24 continues:
37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. (24:37-41)
In this passage people are living their lives as usual when the flood came and killed them all. Even though Noah warned people of the coming flood they did not believe him. The reference Jesus makes here does not refer to being spiritually ready, but to being physically ready for the coming destruction. This refers to those who do not go in the Rapture at the end of the tribulation, which is most of Christianity. (The full unrestrained wrath of God will take place at the end of the tribulation.)
Those who are taken, in the above verses, do not go in the Rapture, they are killed in the global destruction at the return of Christ. We should be ready like Noah so we will not be killed like the man in the field and the woman grinding grain who are going about their lives as usual. Most people not prepared like Noah, will die. Noah did not know what day it would start to rain, but he did not wait until it started to rain to start building the ark.
Jesus could have worded the above passage like this, “I’m coming with destruction as great as Noah’s Flood, therefore you should watch the signs and be ready like Noah, otherwise, you will die.” People who are watching the signs and the world events will know when to seek shelter.
This shows that even though we will not know the day or the hour in advance, we can know the year well in advance so we can prepare like Noah. And when that year arrives we can know when we must seek shelter for a short time in order to be protected from the natural disasters of God’s wrath. Even though the Bible proves this point, there still will be many people crying and screaming that we cannot know when Christ will return, because they believe what they want to believe rather than what the Bible says.
Spiros Zodhiates Th.D. in, The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament, says:
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In Matt. 24:40; Luke 17:34, 35, paralambano in the passive form is used as the opposite of aphiemi (863), to let be. In these verses, those who are taken are not to be misconstrued as those whom the Lord favors, as if they were the same saints spoken of in 1 Thess. 4:17 who will be raptured (harpazo , to seize, catch away, as if by force) to meet the Lord in the clouds.
The verb paralambano in most cases indicates a demonstration in favor of the one taken, but not always. In Matt. 4:5,8 it is used of Satan taking Jesus up to tempt Him. In John 19:16 it is used of taking Jesus to lead Him to the cross. . . .
It is used to refer to those in the days of Noah who were taken away, not being favored but being punished, while Noah and his family were left intact. Therefore, in this passage in Matt. And the parallel passage in Luke, paralambano must not be equated to the believers who are to be raptured at the coming of the Loard for His saints. It refers rather to those who, as in the days of Noah, are taken to destruction. (Page 1108)