The Rapture

rapture

However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. (Matthew 24:38)

Read: Exodus 23:14-25:40, Matthew 24:29-51, Psalm 30:1-12, Proverbs 7:24-27

Relate: It was the beginning of the school year, I think I was a sophomore at the time, when some guy had made this prophecy about God coming back. Everyone was talking about it and the Christians on campus were using the opportunity to witness. Our basic message was that the guy was wrong in picking a day but God is going to come back eventually… are you ready? This insane guy had even gone so far as to predict a specific time for the rapture.  Funny thing is, few minutes before that predicted time someone in our school pulled a fire alarm. Of course it was a big joke once we got outside. Someone told me God needed to get us all outside so that I wouldn’t bump into the ceiling.  Before heading back inside, I got together with a couple Christian friends and we decided we would hang out in the bathroom for a few minutes before heading back to our classes. I am sure there were others but I was the only vocal Christian in my specific classroom. You could almost hear that entire group sigh in relief when I finally walked through that door since no one saw when I had “disappeared”.

Harold Camping got it wrong. So did countless others through time. To a degree, so did the disciples. At the beginning of the chapter, Jesus predicts the fall of Jerusalem. The disciples ask three things. When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your return and of the end of the world? Jesus answered all three and a lot of what we look at as end times prophecy here was fulfilled leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem. A lot more of Jesus’ predictions are things that have been happening consistently through time. Google search it and you’ll find that the number and intensity of major earthquakes and such hasn’t changed much. What has changed is the interconnectedness of our world and the global population. So when we now we hear about major disasters on an almost daily basis it seems more damage is being done than ever before. Well, yes and no.

React: The disciples were absolutely convinced God was going to come back in their lifetime. They were wrong but that certainty motivated them to greater efforts. The generation following the was convinced of the same and worked with the same fervency. Throughout history a belief in His soon return has also been marked with a fervency to be about God’s work. Harold Camping was wrong. Twice. No, three times. Maybe he is up to four, I don’t know. He changes the end times date more than the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Mayans didn’t predict the end. Apocalyptic prophecies have come and gone and will continue to do so until, suddenly, He does come. I’m convinced it will be soon. His soon and my soon might not be the same but He will come back. The greatest danger is that, like those in the days of Noah, people will be so caught up in the ordinary drudgery of life that we don’t realize what has come upon us until it is too late. Will I be ready? Will you?

Respond: 

God, I know You’re coming. Let it be soon. Help me not just to be ready but to consistently live in the urgency of that immanent return. Let me pray harder, walk straighter, and speak bolder because this might be my last day to do those things. Don’t let that final hour catch me living ordinary. 

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15 thoughts on “The Rapture

  1. Some people say, and I agree, that Jesus won’t come back until every tribe and tongue have at least heard the gospel. And right now there’s about 2 billion people who have yet to be reached by the gospel. That’s almost as many as those who profess they’re Christians! I think you might enjoy looking through this site, http://joshuaproject.net/

    I’ll be ready when He does come, and I eagerly await that day.

    • I’m a huge fan of the Joshua Project. I love what they’re about and used their research before in preaching. That said, I don’t think there’s anything holding back God’s return except His perfect timing. That immanent possibility should motivate us to reach those people, languages, and cultures that have not yet heard. His love compels us.

  2. I have a rough time viewing the rapture with anything but extreme skepticism. I believe that Jesus is coming back, I believe He will carry with Him the fullness of God’s Kingdom, and I believe that the world will be judged.
    I do not believe that there will be a rapture. The doctrine of the Rapture is not described anywhere in Scripture (I would argue that the discussion in 1 Thessalonians deals with the return of Christ rather than the rapture – which is what the context seems to describe pretty explicitly), and until the 18th century the doctrine doesn’t even exist in Christian theology. Scripture seems to be pretty clear that that Jesus is coming back once, not twice, and that when He DOES return, with Him will come judgment and the fullness of the Kingdom.
    I worry that we make too big a deal about the rapture, that too many make it the central hope and motivation of their faith, and it is something that isn’t even Biblical.

  3. [Yo BJ. Great blog. I discovered the following on my computer screen. Any reaction?]

    Pretrib Rapture Pride

    by Bruce Rockwell

    Pretrib rapture promoters like Thomas Ice give the impression they know more than the early Church Fathers, the Reformers, the greatest Greek New Testament scholars including those who produced the KJV Bible, the founders of their favorite Bible schools, and even their own mentors!
    Ice’s mentor, Dallas Sem. president John Walvoord, couldn’t find anyone holding to pretrib before 1830 – and Walvoord called John Darby and his Brethren followers “the early pretribulationists” (RQ, pp. 160-62). Ice belittles Walvoord and claims that several pre-1830 persons, including “Pseudo-Ephraem” and a “Rev. Morgan Edwards,” taught a pretrib rapture. Even though the first one viewed Antichrist’s arrival as the only “imminent” event, Ice (and Grant Jeffrey) audaciously claim he expected an “imminent” pretrib rapture! And Ice (and John Bray) have covered up Edwards’ historicism which made a pretrib rapture impossible! Google historian Dave MacPherson’s “Deceiving and Being Deceived” for documentation on these and similar historical distortions.
    The same pretrib defenders, when combing ancient books, deviously read “pretrib” into phrases like “before Armageddon,” “before the final conflagration,” and “escape all these things”!
    BTW, the KJV translators’ other writings found in London’s famed British Library (where MacPherson has researched) don’t have even a hint of pretrib rapturism. Is it possible that Ice etc. have found pretrib “proof” in the KJV that its translators never found?
    Pretrib merchandisers like Ice claim that nothing is better pretrib proof than Rev. 3:10. They also cover up “Famous Rapture Watchers” (on Google) which shows how the greatest Greek NT scholars of all time interpreted it.
    Pretrib didn’t flourish in America much before the 1909 Scofield Bible which has pretribby “explanatory notes” in its margins. Not seen in the margins was jailed forger Scofield’s criminal record throughout his life that David Lutzweiler has documented in his recent book “The Praise of Folly” which is available online.
    Biola University’s doctrinal statement says Christ’s return is “premillennial” and “before the Tribulation.” Although universities stand for “academic freedom,” Biola has added these narrow, restrictive phrases – non-essentials the founders purposely didn’t include in their original doctrinal statement when Biola was just a small Bible institute! And other Christian schools have also belittled their founders.
    Ice, BTW, has a “Ph.D” issued by a tiny Texas school that wasn’t authorized to issue degrees! Ice now says that he’s working on another “Ph.D” via the University of Wales in Britain. For light on the degrees of Ice’s scholarliness, Google “Bogus degree scandal prompts calls to wind up University of Wales,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “be careful in polemics – Peripatetic Learning,” and “Walvoord Melts Ice.” Also Google “Thomas Ice (Hired Gun)” – featured by media luminary Joe Ortiz on his Jan. 30, 2013 “End Times Passover” blog.
    Other fascinating Google articles include “The Unoriginal John Darby,” “X-raying Margaret,” “Edward Irving in Unnerving,” “Pretrib Rapture Politics,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrets,” “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy,” and “Roots of Warlike Christian Zionism” – most from the author of “The Rapture Plot,” the most accurate documentation on pretrib rapture history.
    Can anyone guess who the last proud pretrib rapture holdout will be?
    (Postscript: For another jolt or two Google “The Background Obama Can’t Cover Up.”)

  4. In the small, Jesus is with us whenever any two gather in his name.
    In the large, Christ will enter completely into the world when we stop resisting his love. The argument that he presented to his people was this: “You’ve been using rules to try to prevent corruption for 2000 years. Look where it’s got you: a king subservient to foreign rule, and priests that charge you to enter the temple. Now witness this: when I allow the love of the Father to enter the world through me, healing follows. And not just me: look at my apostles do the same. So forget your fears, wade into the dirt of the world, and be healed – even, I tell you, even of death itself!”
    That’s the work that we forsook in Eden. We’ve found so many reasons to put it off. We’ve categorized people, demonized them, exploited the natural world that was put in our care, and took the love that we were given for granted. All that I can say is “Stop! Just stop!” Follow Jesus: pour your love onto everything, and trust that God will pour it back on you, and that the vessel he will use will be the entire world that surrounds you. Call love to you, pour it out into the world, and Jesus – humble servant that he is – cannot help but come.

  5. The original Rapture song and movie really traumatized me at age 12…for the good. At various times in my life (I’m now 55), I retest my thinking and my heart, according to scripture.

    I really appreciate this post, because I wasn’t certain, at first, what the core message would be…

    The line that struck me most, I hold near to my heart, because it is so true: the disciples didn’t even get it right. This helps me remain humble, quiet and trusting while I continue to do my journey…

  6. Good BJ, I still think that a pre trib Rapture is the only way to make sense of all the references to the return of the Lord. The Day of Jesus Christ will come to an end with the Rapture and the Day of the Lord finishes Jehovah’s business with Israel; the amount of dispensational overlap that we see currently are in preparation for that momentous 7 years.

  7. Just wanting to connect – I love your writing! So cool the way God shows us different things form reading the same scriptures!! In looking over some of your earlier posts, I hope things have settled down for you. In any case, praying the Lord will reveal His plan for you and make a clear path as you obviously walk in obedience. May you be blessed with encouragement, protection and abundant provision!

  8. Hey BJ ,

    If one lets the Bible speak for itself . . . a pretrib rapture isn’t there. It can be read INTO Scripture . . . but it’s not stated there.

    2 Thess. 2:1-5 “We ask you, brothers, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling with him, 2 not to be shaken out of your minds suddenly, or to be alarmed either by a “spirit,” or by an oral statement, or by a letter allegedly from us to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For unless the apostasy comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one doomed to perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god and object of worship, so as to seat himself in the temple of God, claiming that he is a god–” NASB

    The “apostacy” (or the “falling away”)
    What would cause a great number of people who believe to “fall away” or turn away from the gospel. One possibility is that a large number of them were led to believe they wouldn’t be in the tribulation . . . yet they were.

    The “lawless one” (the one “doomed to perdition,” the Antichrist) isn’t revealed until the tribulation is halfway done . . . and yet this verse says the return of Jesus (The “coming of our Lord Jesus”, the “Day of the Lord, “our assembling with Him”–a.k.a. the Rapture) WILL NOT happen until there is a great falling away and the Antichrist has been revealed. Peter said (2 Pet. 3: 3-4) that in those days the taunt would be “you keep saying he’s coming back–but where is he?” Those words don’t have much of a bite unless you begin to suspect you’ve believed a lie.

    The pitch that so many evangelists make for a pretrib rapture is that the early church believed it could happen at any moment . . . but nobody ever seems to ask themselves WHY the early church believed this. We are told that it is simply because Jesus could come back any second. But let’s DO give it some thought for a moment. What was the church going through and how does it compare to what “signs” they were told would precede the return of Jesus (such as in 2 Thess.1 quoted above)? If we look we will see that the early church thought they were IN the tribulation (something pretribbers say is impossible). They were being slaughtered for their faith (a tribulation sign) AND they thought they knew who the Antichrist was (another tribulation sign). They had no idea that this was just a foreshadowing of future events.

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