Series - Rapture Right

Trying to Get the Rapture Right (Part 12)

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This is the final part of this exploratory series on the rapture of the Church. Its main purpose has been to show that none of the competing positions on the “taking out” of the saints merits more than an “inference to the best explanation.” Within the Rules of Affinity this would be a C3. I have looked at posttribulationism and midtribulationism in the last post; here I shall look at the prewrath and pretribulational views.

PreWrath

This view is of very recent vintage, but for all that, it has articulated its position well and has won many advocates. In my opinion this position mounts some serious challenges for the other approaches. It deserves to be taken seriously.

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Trying to Get the Rapture Right (Part 11)

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As I bring this series to a close, I want to provide some summaries of the various rapture positions, along with a few pros and cons. Of course, I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, and I understand that much more could be said in support of each position. Still, my main goal has been to come at the doctrine from a slightly different angle and to present the theological issues which arise.

Posttribulationism

The posttrib position is that the church goes through the Tribulation. Proponents of this view rightly call attention to what they see as a natural correspondence between the Second Coming of Jesus and the rapture of the Church. Christ only comes once, they say, and it makes no sense to seek out any other event slotted into God’s calendar seven years before that great event.

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Trying to Get the Rapture Right (Part 10)

This installment may be thought of as a digression, but I think it belongs to the overall argument.

Imagine a world where the removal of the saints from planet Earth happened but no one had the foggiest idea of when that might be. If the NT alluded to such a thing there would still be some hope that we just may be the ones to get called up. The doctrine of the rapture would still be a “sure thing”, it just wouldn’t be very concrete in our minds. Well, as a matter of fact, as a starting place for considering the rapture this isn’t that bad; there are far worse ones. A “worse” one would be the dogmatic insistence that the catching away of the Church as pretribulational is a dead-certainty. Another would be the blithe notion that the rapture occurs when Jesus returns to earth and any theories to the contrary are speculative fancies.

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Trying to Get the Rapture Right (Part 9)

Israel means Israel

I am a pretribulationist. I think my main reasons for being so are theological, in particular the covenantal issues concerning the nation of Israel are a central concern to me. But I am not pretribulational because I adopt a form of theological hermeneutics (now so fashionable in some quarters). I have already made it clear that rapture scenarios cannot (in my opinion) rise above a “best explanation” conclusion. That is equivalent to a C3 in my Rules of Affinity. It will just not do to conflate Israel’s restoration promises with the future of the Church. The Body of Christ needs no restoration.

Often in the prophetic literature we come across predictions of final restoration and comfort for Israel, presaged by a time of great upheaval. Many times the texts involved include the phrase “In that day.” A sampling would include: Isa. 10:20-23; Isa. 24:17-23; Isa. 35:1-10; Isa. 40:1-5; Isa. 61:1-3; Jer. 30:3-11; Ezek. 34:11-31; Ezek. 36:1-38;Dan. 12:1-3; Zech. 13:8-9; Zech. 14:1-9.

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Trying to Get the Rapture Right (Part 8)

The Church in the Seventieth Week?

Of the several options on the timing of the rapture only the pretribulational view keeps the Body of Christ entirely out of the Seventieth Week of Daniel 9. But that fact says little if in fact the Church is said in Scripture to go through some or all of it. To my mind, it is no good trying to place the Body of Christ in the Seventieth Week unless there are solid reasons for doing so and appropriate excuses for diminishing the very Jewish emphasis in passages which do concern this period.

We have seen that God had in mind “Your [i.e. Daniel’s] people” in the prophecy. It also focused in on “your holy city”—Jerusalem. It is within this same period that the Olivet Discourse is situated. And there, as we have seen, Jesus is talking to Jews about Israel. We get the same story when we look at Daniel 12 or Jeremiah 30. In the Revelation the Church is not mentioned after chapter 3 and the stress is mainly upon all things Israel (7:3-8; 9:4; 11:1-2, 7-8; 11:19; 12:1, 13-14; 14:1-4; 15:3; 16:16), which is just what one would expect from reading earlier texts.

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Trying to Get the Rapture Right (Part 7)

pull quote

So far I have tried to establish these important factors in determining the timing of the rapture of the Church. I fully realize that each of these points could be studied in more depth, but for my purposes I think the coverage is satisfactory. The factors are these:

  1. The time of the rapture is exegetically indeterminable.
  2. Hence, if it is to be known it must be deduced.
  3. As such the timing of this event can only be arrived at by way of inference to the best explanation (i.e. the best rapture scenarios will be C3).
  4. The 70th Week of Daniel is seven years long and commences with “the prince who is to come” making a covenant with Israel. This period is divided in half by the breaking of the covenant. The 70th Week has Israel in mind, not the Church.
  5. The white horse rider who appears at the beginning of what I take to be the seven year period is the Antichrist. In light of the Day of the Lord in 2 Thessalonians 2 not coming until “the apostasy” and the revealing of the man of lawlessness/sin (2:3), the rapture seems to take place at the start of the seventieth week (although 2 Thess. 2:4 could be interpreted in a mid-trib fashion).
  6. The concept of the Day of the Lord and its attendant images (e.g. “birth pangs”) are not technical terms which can be restricted to one event. However, the Battle of Armageddon is strongly connected with it.
  7. In the Book of Revelation the Day of the Lord is associated with the Second Advent of Christ in wrath.
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Trying to Get the Rapture Right (Part 6)

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This series explores the various avenues which have to be gone down in order to get the doctrine of the Rapture of the Church right. I am deliberately avoiding the more conventional comparative approach. This may annoy some and intrigue others. I hope the former group is smaller than the latter!

The Day of the Lord, Cosmic Upheavals, and the Return of Christ

The concept of the Day of the Lord describes different yet related things. If I pick it up where I left off last time, with 2 Peter 3:10, the Day of the Lord is matched specifically with the dissolution of the present created order.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

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Trying to Get the Rapture Right, Part 5

Read the series so far.

In this piece I want to go behind the subject of the rapture so as to approach it from another angle. Please bear with me.

The book of Revelation has been the subject of varied interpretations. Since the Greek word apocalypsis means “a disclosure” or “unveiling,” the different interpretative approaches to the book are quite ironic if not a little embarrassing. The opening verses of Revelation inform us that it concerns “things which must shortly take place” (Rev. 1:1, 1:19). Because John write of “things which must take place after this” (Rev. 4:1) it is hardly surprising to read him describing his book as a “prophecy” (Rev. 1:3).

Now although scholars like to cite etymology to try to prove that prophecy is more “forth-telling” than “foretelling,” the Bible itself does not assist them much. For instance, when Jehoshaphat wanted to hear from a prophet of the Lord it wasn’t because he wished to hear a declamation on the present reign of his ally Ahab. Rather he wanted to know about the future (see 1 Kings 22). John’s Revelation is about the future. But it is about a particular time in future history. That time may be determined by the contents of the book.

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