LUKE 21:36  


 

Luke 21:36,

Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy
to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand
before the Son of man (KJV).

This is perhaps the strongest verse that can be proffered in support of partial rapture and granted, is one of the so-called “problem passages” for rejection of that theory.
But it does have an answer.
First of all the translation, “counted worthy,” is inaccurate. The Greek says, “have strength” (ischuo) to escape (as seen in the NASB).
Second, there are TWO things in view here. At verse 34, the issue is, “that day come on you suddenly like a trap.”
This refers to the actual arrival of the Day of the Lord. If the believer is out of fellowship with God, which is described as being “weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life,” then he will be unprepared when the signs in the sun, moon and stars appear that announce the arrival of Jesus. But as already demonstrated, his preparation for participation in the rapture is salvation itself. Any lack of “experiential” preparation through failure to grow spiritually or to maintain fellowship with God, will result in extreme shame at His presence. But not a forfeiture of the inheritance which is waiting to be given to all believers in Christ at the last time, the time of the rapture.
“And now little children, abide in Him so that we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His appearing,” (1 John
2:28).

And at verse 35, the issue is, “have strength to escape all these things.”
The “these things,” here refer to the events that take place during the tribulation. Specifically, the oppressive persecution from the beast. Luke does not delve into that, but Matthew does at 24:9-28.
It is during this time of tribulation when the world will be caught up in beast worship and enjoying “peace and safety” (1 Thes. 5:3) and the affairs of life (Mat. 24:37-39, as in the days of Noah) that the believer needs to be prayerfully alert and prepared by knowing and applying the truths of God’s word for strength and endurance. If he is not, then he will be unable to withstand the persecution wrath from Satan via the beast. The result for him in this situation is that he will live in constant fear of death instead of peace and joy at the privilege to represent Christ in this time of oppression. There even exists the possibility that these weak believers will seek to take the mark of the beast in order “to escape all these things,” but God will not allow His child to receive the mark. In all probability, when any believer attempts to take the mark, God will execute “ultimate divine discipline” upon him and remove him from the earth via physical death anyway. (The sin unto death:  1 John 5:16; 1 Cor. 11:30)


If not, he too will be unprepared and “caught off guard” (Luke 21:34; 1 Thes. 5:4-10) when Jesus comes back “like a thief in the night” to not only claim His own through rapture, but to pour out divine wrath upon the kingdom of Satan and the beast.
It is true that because believers are “sons of light and sons of the day,” that that day SHOULD not overtake them like a thief (1 Thes. 5:5). But 1Thes. 5:6 indicates the possibility for this child of God to “sleep as others do” and thus be experientially unprepared. However, there is no reason for the believer to be lulled to sleep.
This is no different than the prayer of Philip. 4:6-7 and 1 Pet. 5:8, where we cast all our concerns upon Him and experience the peace of God which surpasses human logic.
If we are not trusting Him for our daily needs in this time of severe oppression, we will not have strength to escape. And even though we will still be taken at the rapture, we will shrink away from Him in shame at His appearing instead of being able to “stand before Him” in confidence (1 John
2:28).

The “prayer” is a prayer of watchfulness, just a relaxed trust in God that He will protect His people ON HIS TERMS. Remember, many of the believers during this time will be betrayed by others and end up killed (V. 9-10) but the principle remains that even though the believer is martyred, “not a hair of his head will perish” (Luke
21:16-18). This then refers to spiritual protection within the midst of this physical oppression. BUT the issue at Luke 21:36 is “physical” protection which finds the believer still alive at the end of the tribulation to be “physically” delivered by the return of Jesus, and hopefully, to stand before him, “unashamed.”

The “watchfulness” is kind of like the three disciples whom Jesus told to watch and pray - and when He returned, they were all asleep (Mat. 26:40-41).
The believer who maintains watchfulness through knowledge and application of Bible truth (abiding in Him), will be well prepared to remain faithful during the oppressive reign of the beast so that when Jesus returns, “we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His appearing,” (1 John
2:28).
The one who is martyred during this time is not an “unfaithful” believer. God does not keep ALL His people alive in persecution situations - like with Stephen and James and ultimately Paul himself and Peter. That does not mean that they did not “endure” spiritually.
The issue here is endurance “physically,” that is, they remain alive until the end of the tribulation which will be “amputated” (cut short) by the return of Jesus.
The one who remains physically alive during this time is the one who will be DELIVERED from the oppressors. Paul describes this at 2 Thes. 1:6-7,
“For after all it is {only} just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and {to give} relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire,” (NASB).

Matthew 24:22 and 31 explain HOW that “physically” alive believer will be delivered.
If the tribulation is not “amputated” then ultimately ALL flesh (ie, all believers and those who resist beast worship) would be killed, “but for the sake of the elect (believers in Jesus, or more specifically, those chosen by God to be His representatives on the earth) those days will be amputated.” Jesus returns and gathers His elect at the rapture (V. 31).

The “elect” also refers to those who will believe in Jesus AFTER His return and the rapture of the living believers. There needs to be believers alive on the earth during the Day-of-the-Lord judgments in order to continue the ambassadorship representation of Christ and evangelistic activity to the unbelievers (the earth-dwellers). Also there needs to be believers alive after Armageddon in order to populate the earth at the start of Christ’s earthly kingdom (the millennium).

Thus, “for the sake of the elect” refers to both the present and the future believers.
If the tribulation is not cut short and the subsequent Day-of-the-Lord judgments do not curtail the severity of the beast’s oppressive reign, then there would be NO ONE alive on the earth except the beast worshippers. God’s plan and promises would be frustrated and Satan would win his reprieve from divine judgment.

See Refutation of the partial rapture theory.

 
 

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