Remember Lot's Wife: Part 2
May 28, 2007
In Luke 17:22-24, Jesus told His disciples not to look here or there to see the "days" of the Son of Man. The reason given is found in verse 24,
"For just as the lightning [Greek: astrape], when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day."
When Matthew quotes Jesus' words, he is a little more specific. Matt. 24:27 says,
"For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be."
I posed the question last time how lightning flashes. Personally, I have never known lightning to flash specifically from east to west. It normally flashes vertically, unless it is "heat lightning," which can flash in any direction from cloud to cloud. What did Jesus mean?
First of all, astrape does not necessarily refer to lightning that we see in a storm. The same word is used in Luke 11:36,
"If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it shall be wholly illuminated, as when the lamp illumines [astrape] you with its rays."
The adjective form, astrapo, is used in Luke 24:4 about the two men standing by the empty tomb after Jesus' resurrection:
"And it happened that while they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling [astrapo] apparel."
From these examples, it is obvious that the word astrape does not always refer to lightning, but to other sources of light as well.
Since we know that lightning does not necessarily flash from east to west, it is more likely that the word astrape here is referring to a different source of light. What type of light shines from east to west? Well, THE SUN, of course, which rises in the east and sets in the west.
With that in mind, the context makes more sense in Luke 17:22-24. Jesus was telling them not to think of the days of the Son of Man as if they were suddenly popping up: "There is it!" This may be how we view lightning, which comes in an instant and makes everyone say, "There!" But Jesus was making the opposite point. He had just said in verse 20 that "the Kingdom of God comes not with observation." So there is something more gradual about the fulfillment of this prophecy.
When the sun rises in the east, the light comes gradually. We call it the DAWNING of the new day. This is the idea portrayed in Hosea 6:3, which says literally, "His going forth is fixed as the dawn." So the "days" of the Son of Man will come more gradually as the dawn, rather than as a sudden lightning strike, as is so often pictured in the modern rapture theory.
Luke continues in 17:25,
"But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation."
This is, of course, a reference to His crucifixion and rejection. All we can say about this is that the days of the Son of Man could not begin prior to His rejection and crucifixion. The two doves and two goats in the law depict two manifestations of the Messiah, each with a different purpose. Likewise, the breach between the Scepter of Judah and the Birthright of Joseph which occurred after Solomon's death made it necessary for Christ to come twice--the first time of Judah, and the second of Joseph.
Because the days of the Son of Man follow His suffering and rejection, it is apparent that these days are part of His second manifestation and not the first.
Jesus then continues in Luke 17 with the sign of Noah.
" (26) And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it shall be also in the days of the Son of Man: (27) they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all."
In other words, the people were living normal lives, going about their normal business, oblivious that the days of the Son of Man were upon them. If those days had come as lightning, the people would have seen them coming. But because they came naturally and gradually as the dawn, they paid no attention to the increasing light.
Then, suddenly, the rain came and began to flood the earth. There is a suddenness about the flood being portrayed here, but that would compare better with the actual sunrise after the dawn. Even as the sun suddenly appears in a moment, so also the rain suddenly begins to fall after the gathering of the clouds.
Again, if we compare Matthew's account, we can glean a few more details about this. Matt. 24:40-42 adds the following to "the days of Noah":
" (40) Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. (41)Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. (42) Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming."
The main idea portrayed here is the uncertainty of the day of His coming. This is the reason for being watchful and being led by the Spirit. Also, strangely enough, this is one of the most misunderstood passages in modern eschatology. Verse 39 says, "the flood came and TOOK them all away," speaking of those unbelievers who did not understand what was happening. And then verses 40 and 41 support this idea, telling us that "one will be TAKEN, and one will be left."
The ones "taken" are obviously the unbelievers, not the believers. The modern rapture theory completely turns this around, making the believers "taken" and the wicked "left behind." In fact, this is the central idea of the recent movie, "Left Behind," which portrays the wicked being left behind. It is hard to fathom how Christians can twist the Scripture to mean precisely the opposite of what it plainly says.
The purpose of the flood was to destroy the sinners from off the earth--not to rapture Noah from the earth. Proverbs 2:21, 22 says,
" (21) For the upright will live in the land [or earth], and the blameless will REMAIN in it; (22)But the wicked will be cut off from the land [or earth], and the treacherous will be uprooted from it.
This idea of the wicked being uprooted and cast out of the land (or earth) is repeated in Isaiah 13:9,
"Behold the day of the Lord is coming, cruel, with fury and burning anger to make the land a desolation; and He will exterminate its sinners from it."
Psalm 37 is an entire psalm devoted to the idea that the meek would inherit the earth, while the sinners would be cast out. Psalm 37:9 says,
"For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land [or earth]."
The biblical promise is that the righteous would inherit the earth, while the wicked would be taken away, as seen in Noah's flood.
It is in this context that both Luke and Matthew record Jesus' words about Sodom's sudden destruction and Lot's deliverance. And in the midst of this prophecy comes Luke 17:32, "Remember Lot's wife."
We will continue this next time.
This is the second part of a series titled "Remember Lot's Wife." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones