This entire chapter is about the Lord Jesus talking with His disciples about His return to the earth in judgment.  It’s important that we realize that the Lord is not speaking about the Rapture in this chapter, but He is talking about when He returns at the end of the Tribulation Period, to judge the sinful nations and establish His kingdom on the earth for 1000 years.  The Rapture is a truth that the Lord made known to us through the Apostle Paul.  As we writes in 1 Corinthians 15:51, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.”  This verse and following verses concern the return of the Lord Jesus to the clouds to gather His church to Himself.  The word ‘mystery’ does not mean something that is too hard to understand; it refers to something that had not been revealed before.

In Matthew 24:3, the disciples asked the Lord, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”  So, the Lord goes on to describe incidents that will occur just before He returns in judgment.  Although many of these events are occurring today, and have been for centuries, they will intensify during the Tribulation Period.  The Lord said in verse 15, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:).”  He said in verse 21, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”  He said in verse 33, “So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.”  Time and space doesn’t allow us to go into this chapter in its entirety, but I encourage you to study it for yourself and carefully consider this chapter, along with Matthew 25.

Now, to answer your question, let’s read Matthew 24:37-39, “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 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, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”

What we see here is that people were carrying on their lives as if everything was okay.  They ignored the obvious warnings of impending judgment, so they were surprised by it.  Were these people warned?  Yes they were!  2 Peter 2:5 calls Noah, “… a preacher of righteousness.”  He obviously warned others.  Genesis 6:3 tells us of the building of the ark.  That says, “And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.”  This seems to tell us that the Lord would be striving with men about their salvation until the building of the ark was complete.  That took 120 years, yet no one listened.  After all that time, the swift and harsh judgment of the Lord was a complete surprise to them.

In Matthew 24, the Lord is instructing His disciples about His return to the earth and the attitude of those He was coming to judge.  It is to those unsuspecting and disinterested people that the Lord says in 2 Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”  While many people refer to the Rapture as the Lord coming ‘as a thief in the night’, this is speaking, not of the Rapture, but of the Lord’s return to the earth to judge and set up His kingdom.  The thief coming in the night is not a pleasant event.  The Rapture is a wonderful event.  It is the Lord coming in harsh judgment that will take the world by surprise.

If you have never put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, I encourage you to ‘flee from the wrath to come’, by trusting in Him as your Lord and Savior before it is eternally too late.  (183.10)