Eschatology

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)

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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 6)

Read the series so far.

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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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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Trying to Get the Rapture Right, Part 2

The Main Verses

In this installment all I want to do is to set down the main verses which are used in discussions about the rapture. Let me make it clear that this is not to say that many other passages must be considered so as to understand the doctrine. As I will be at pains to show, the rapture is not a teaching that can be established by simply comparing proof-texts. The doctrine excites many passions and this can lead to wishful thinking in exegesis. Some of the verses listed below are brought very hardly and reluctantly to bear on the doctrine we are considering.

We have already taken a quick look at 1 Thessalonians 4:17, but there are other salient passages. 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 is often brought in to help. Then Jesus’s words in John 14:1-3 must be considered. Also joining the fray are 2 Thessalonians 2:3 and 13, Matthew 24:36-44, 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9, and Revelation 3:10. Let’s try to situate each one of these.

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Trying to Get the Rapture Right, Part 1

I had been intending to write about the removal of the Church (the rapture) for quite a while now. What galvanized me to do so now was a couple of entries by Ben Witherington and Roger Olson about the pretribulational rapture. These men, (like them or not), do not usually write poorly, but their articles attacking the concept of the pretribulational rapture are pretty lame ducks, rehashing the same old populist presentations of Dispensationalism by sniping at Clarence Larkin’s charts, and bringing into the frame the names of Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye, only to mock them.

Now let me be clear about this, although I am a pretribultionist, I am not about to contend for the parity of the doctrine of the rapture and its timing with the doctrine of the Trinity, or justification by grace through faith. I will not die on a hill fighting for the timing of the rapture, be it pre-, mid-, prewrath-, or post-tribulational.

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