The Rapture

9/11 and the Rapture

Most likely you remember where you were when you first learned of the terror that came to America’s shores on the morning of September 11, 2001.

It is not at all difficult for me to remember, as I first heard of the attacks after teaching a class on the book of Daniel at Maranatha Baptist Bible College, where I was serving as an adjunct professor.1

As I got in my car after class, I remember turning on the radio. First, I tried to listen to the news, but I could not truly comprehend what I was hearing. I remember switching to Dr. David Jeremiah on Turning Point. Ironically, his scheduled message for that day, from his series on the book of Revelation, was entitled—so appropriately—“When All Hell Breaks Loose.”

My wife Lynnette was on her way to Indianapolis, where her mother would have open heart surgery the next day. She had thought of flying, but drove instead. As she saw people lined up around the block to purchase gasoline that evening, her mind immediately raced to the events of the future tribulation.

Nearly 3,000 Americans died that day, with thousands more suffering injuries.

And all of our lives were changed.

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Trying to Get the Rapture Right (Part 12)

(Read the entire series.)

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 7)

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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 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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Trying to Get the Rapture Right, Part 4

(Read the series so far.)

So far I have tried to establish a base in biblical texts for my further inquiry into the rapture. Remember, I write as a non-too-dogmatic pre-tribber whose interest in these posts is to think through the various approaches.

Few Major Rapture Passages

All proponents of the rapture must acknowledge that there are very few direct references to the catching up of the saints. Without 1 Cor. 15 and Jn. 14, perhaps Matt. 24, but especially 1 Thess. 4, we would not be talking about it. Of these, only the 1 Thessalonians 4 passage can be deemed a direct statement about the “catching up” or “seizing out” of the saints in the end time. By a direct statement I mean a text which plainly and unequivocally puts across a doctrine. Examples of this in other areas include, Gen. 1:1 stating that God created all things, or Rom. 5:1 which says Christians are justified by faith. These are C1 statements in the Rules of Affinity. Well nigh all the major doctrines of Scripture can be ascertained and proposed via C1 passages.

What this means is that in addition to these texts, supporters of the viewpoints must marshal arguments from other statements of Scripture (hopefully direct statements) about related teachings. It is the proper inclusion and assimilation of these teachings which creates the differing schools of thought on our subject.

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Trying to Get the Rapture Right, Part 3

This post continues the introductory survey of key rapture-related passages begun in Part 2. Read the series so far.

The Main Verses: Matthew 24:36-44 Continued

There is no doubt in my mind that this passage is a second coming passage. There is also no doubt in my mind that the language of “one taken…another left” in Matthew 24:40-41 is apposite to the present discussion. In the surrounding context Jesus refers to a gathering up together (episounazousin) of the elect (24:31). So Jesus does speak of a removal of saints. But is this “taking out” to be understood as the being “taken” a few verses later? I think there is a real possibility that it should.

Perhaps most dispensationalists say that those “taken” are taken to judgment. In verse 39 those who didn’t make it into the Ark (because they couldn’t be bothered to go) were taken away by the flood waters. But from my reading of the Second Coming passages in Isaiah 63:1-6, Malachi 3:2 and 4:1-2, and Revelation 19:11-21, it does not appear to be such a good idea to be “left” hanging about. This agrees with the flood story, where it was infinitely preferable to be removed to safety in the Ark than to be left to face the elements. Further, in Revelation 14:14-16 the earth is reaped of the saints, “the harvest [which is a good image] of the earth,” before the wicked are gathered to “the winepress of the wrath of God” in terms too reminiscent of Isaiah 63 to ignore. Thus, Revelation 14 should not be overlooked in the discussion of this passage.

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