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Is the Left Behind Movie Series Correct?
Do You Want to be Taken or Left?

left behind

The Left Behind movie series takes its theme from the so-called Biblical rapture. This rapture, as commonly believed, refers to the idea that the saved will be secretly and suddenly caught up to heaven before a seven-year period of tribulation on earth that precedes the Second Coming of Christ.

The Left Behind movies series is supported by many churches and the concept of a secret rapture is believed by a great number of people. One website about the rapture says:

"In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, we are given a clear description of the rapture: 'the dead in Christ will rise, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord.'"

There is even a rapture index; a sort of prophetic speedometer of end-time activity:

Below 100 Slow prophetic activity
100 to 130 Moderate prophetic activity
130 to 160 Heavy prophetic activity
above 160 Fasten your seat belts!

When I last saw the index, it's developers had it set at 173! They must think the rapture could happen at any time. But could it? Or could they be all wrong? Could this even be part of a dangerous deception that has been further spread by the Left Behind movies series? On this page we will examine the one factor of the meaning of "taken" and "left" as they are used in verses related to the rapture theory.

In the common rapture theory, the righteous are taken away, and the wicked are left behind, to have a second chance at salvation during the tribulation. Thus the name of the Left Behind movie series. And it is hugely popular. There have been over 15 million copies sold in the book series.

Have you ever tried to understand the rapture theory and gotten a little confused over the verses talking about who is taken and who is left? There are verses that talk about being taken to heaven and verses that talk about being taken by destruction. I'll admit that I have had to sort it out more than once.

How do you understand this verse?

"Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left." (Matt 24:40)

The choices are:

  1. some people are taken to heaven and others left behind on earth
  2. some people are taken by destruction and others left alive

Let's look at the whole passage and sort it out. Before verse 40, we read:

"But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." (Matt 24:37-39)

They were taken away by what? - the flood. They weren't taken to heaven; they were killed in the flood. The "them" that were taken and died were the wicked; the ones who were disregarding the warnings. They were taken and died, not taken to safety.

Verse 39 could read:

"And (the wicked) knew not until the flood came, and took them all away (and killed them); so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." (Matt 24:39)

The wicked were taken away. Now consider the next two verses.

"Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left." (Matt 24:40-41)

Believers in the rapture would say the ones in verses 40-41 are the ones taken to heaven. But clearly, the ones taken in verse 39 are taken and destroyed by the flood. So are the rapturists wrong?

Actually, the rapturists are right about equating those "taken" in verse 40 with the saved but they are wrong about their understanding, especially in the timing, of the event. (But that is another topic, which I will cover on another page)

Let me explain. Here is verse 39 again:

"And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." (Matt 24:39)

We need to look at the original words and how they are used.

On verse 39, "took" is Strong's number 142; the Greek word is "airo." There are quite a few definitions and a wide variety of uses for this word but here is one example of another use, also by Matthew:

"Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take <142> him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt 22:13)

This is not saying to take him to a place of safety - it is more like get rid of him. However, when we go back to Matthew 24 and look at verse 40:

"Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (Matt 24:40)

we find that the word "taken" there is quite a different word. It is Strong's number 3880. The Greek word is "paralambano" with the meaning given by Strong as:

1) to take to, to take with one's self, to join to one's self.

Here is an example of its use:

"Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took <3880> unto him his wife:" (Matt 1:24)

The "took" in "took them all away" describing the flood has quite a different meaning than uses like "took unto him his wife."

The second case is more like taking to yourself what is already yours.

The prefix "para" in "paralambano" means "beside." Some examples of its use are:

  1. paraclete
  2. paramedic
  3. paralegal
  4. parallel

In Luke's gospel there is a parallel passage:

"They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed." (Luke 17:27-30)

From this we can reason that Matthew's phrase "the flood came, and took them all away" definitely refers to their destruction and not to going to some place of safety.

A few verses further along we read:

"I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. 35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 37 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together." (Luke 17:34-37)

Here, Jesus mentions some taken and some left without mentioning any location. And the disciples ask "Where, Lord?" They don't ask "Where are they taken to?" or "Where are they left?" The question is not even recorded in Matthew although it is the same conversation. However, earlier in that conversation, in Mathew's account we read:

"And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (Matt 24:31)

So the disciples know, from Jesus' saying so, that the angel's will gather the elect; that they are on their way to the kingdom of heaven that they so often talked about. So their question "where, Lord" must be concerning the whereabouts of the lost. Jesus' answer would have been a reference to the fate of the lost at His Second Coming. This is described in Revelation:

"And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great." (Rev 19:17-18)

This page was just to help sort out the meaning of "taken" and "left" in its different uses. It still remains to examine the timing of the rapture - because the saved are definitely taken to heaven at some point. Watch for a future page on that topic.

The Left Behind movie series and the books have lead many to believe that if they are not right with God now and suddenly the real Christians are gone then they will have another chance to choose God. This has the great danger of causing people to delay their decision for God.

"... choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Josh 24:15)

My advice would be to Leave the Left Behind movie series and the books behind and concentrate your attention on God's word. That is where you will find the answers.

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