These Are the Days—Luke 17:22-37

Jesus’ teaching in Luke 17:22-37 pertains to his Second Coming and shouldn’t be avoided or thought to fall into some category of things “panning out” in the end, but carefully studied.

Matthew talks about his glorious return in Matthew 24:29-31. Paul elaborates on the event in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10. The Apostle Peter also talks about the days leading up to the Lord’s return in his second letter (2 Peter 2:4-6) using the days of Noah and Sodom as examples. There are, of course, other passages that address the Lord’s return directly or indirectly. What follows is my collective understanding of this blessed hope, but anchored in Luke’s account in Chapter 17, since this is a verse-by-verse study.

These instructions follow Jesus’ exchange with the Pharisees in verses 20 and 21, about them missing out on the presence of God in the here and now. A crying shame.

The disciples had pushed to the back of their minds his statement in Luke 9:22: “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, be killed and then raised up on the third day.” So in 17:22 he reminds them of an anxious future state of affairs.

22 And He said to the disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.”

There’s a saying that goes “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” For the disciples, times would never be better than those days accompanying the Lord on his earthly mission. He would send them his Holy Spirit when he left, yes, but his physical presence is what they’d soon yearn for, even but for one day. It’s what we all yearn for as we still live through the days Jesus describes in verse 22.

 23 “They will say to you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go away, and do not run after them.”

Knowing that we will be vulnerable during our wait, Satan will attempt to use our eagerness to fill the void, that is, if the Holy Spirit hasn’t. The devil will have our heads spinning with false messiahs if we let him. “Look there! Look here!” (See 2 Peter 2:1-3) Jesus warns (“do not go away, and do not run after them”) and Paul in Ephesians 6:11, tells us to stand firm against his schemes. “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”

24 “For just like the lightning, 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.” 

The illustration of lightning flashing in the sky is all too familiar to me living reportedly in the lightning capital of the world. Indeed, the heavens light up with just one bolt. When he returns on His Day, those present will be blinded by his light.

25 But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”

But first things first. He’d have to suffer a gruesome death, be buried, and rise again. Worse perhaps was the rejection he encountered at the hands of his own people.

 26 And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will 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. 28 It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; 29 but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.“

One thing I noticed right away reading this passage was the difference in the use of days and day. There are the days of Noah and Sodom, and the days of the Son of Man (Jesus Christ). At the conclusion of the days of Noah and Sodom, there was a day of judgement. When the days of the Son of Man suddenly conclude, there will be the day of our Lord, which always alludes to inescapable final judgment. Those affected will wish to be back in the days of the Son of Man (v. 22) when there was still time.

In Noah and Lot’s days, life was as it is now, in the sense of the normal things you’d expect to be occurring (pertaining to life in general). Then it happens…

34 I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left. 35 There will be two women grinding at the same place; one will be taken and the other will be left.”  

These verses have been erroneously interpreted and taught as referring to the Rapture of Christians. The woman “taken” is supposed to rise to meet the Lord in the air. I’ve heard this “take” even from esteemed pastors. But the opposite is true. Those taken have been judged. Those left populate the Kingdom of God. Verse 36 is thought to be added to the original text.

37 And answering they said to Him, “Where, Lord?” [meaning where are they taken?] And He said to them, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered.”

The word for vultures can mean eagles, but the context here is one of judgment, and we rarely see eagles gathered as we do vultures. Matthew 24:28 says, “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”

As I understand it, those on the planet at that time of Christ’s return will be the “ungodly” going about their daily business, a remnant of believers (the “elect” or “chosen ones” in Matt. 24:31) hiding out in the “four corners” of the earth, and those on the housetop or in the field who have one last chance to head for the hills (Luke 17:31).

Moreover, the times or days of the Son of Man go “on the clock” following the Rapture, at the start of the seven-year tribulation. So there will be a final day that can be somewhat “predicted.” It’s much like watching the ark under construction.

Again, it is important to remember there was a day and hour that the door to the ark finally slammed shut with only eight people inside, and the city of Sodom was incinerated.

For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
For it will certainly come, it will not delay.

Habakkuk 2:3

Like language incorporated into legal documents to address the seriousness of compliance, the readers of this passage must “govern themselves accordingly!”

About Rick Reynolds

You'll find me in the far right hand corner of evangelical Christianity. Been studying the Word for nearly 45 years and counting.
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