Eschatology

Recalculating... after Another Round of Failed Rapture Predictions

Republished with permission from Baptist Bulletin May/June 2011. All rights reserved.

As Americans approach 2012, many eyes are upon the presidential elections and the scores of difficult political and economic challenges. While political pundits exchange views and posture their positions, another group of New Age thinkers and scientific doomsayers claim that December 2012 marks the end of the world as it is currently known. They portray the end of the world either through cataclysmic destruction or, more often, through a kind of corporate spiritual enlightenment.

Sri Ram Kaa and Kira Raa describe this spiritual enlightenment as a major inner human transformation resulting in greater spiritual awareness, spiritual activism, and global peace (2012 Awaking: Choosing Spiritual Enlightenment over Armageddon). But their idea is only one in a sea of voices that offer competing ideas about the end of the world.

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The Rapture of the Church, Parts 4 & 5

Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

The Glorification of Dead Christians

The most detailed description of the rapture of the church is found in Paul’s first letter to the persecuted Christians whom he left in Thessalonica. He wrote this letter from Corinth, where he confronted much confusion about the personal destiny of believers. Some Christians in Thessalonica had already died (perhaps by martyrdom), and the saints there were concerned that their dead loved ones would miss out on the second coming of Christ.

But dead Christians will not be forgotten by God at the second coming. In fact, they will be the first humans to experience glorification since the Lord Jesus. Yes, Christ was “the firstfruits.” He is the first and only human ever to have been glorified. But “afterward”—nearly 2,000 years already—members of His body and bride, namely, “those who are Christ’s,” will share His glory “at His coming” (NKJV, 1 Cor. 15:23).

Now Paul was emphatic in his letter to the believers in Thessalonica on this one point: Dead Christians will be glorified even before living Christians!

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Noah Knew? Why Harold Camping is Wrong about May 21

Last year Harold Camping of Family Radio caught the attention of national media by displaying a series of billboard ads declaring that Christ would return on May 21, 2011. Apparently, a significant number of Christians believe his interpretation of the Bible. Many others have reacted with scorn.

Recently, a fellow pastor remarked to me, “Well, I guess we know one day the Lord will definitely not come back!” I didn’t inquire, but his reasoning was probably that if “no man knows” the day, and Camping knows the day is May 21, then the day must not be May 21.

But Harold Camping does not really know the day. May 21, 2011, is still a possibility, but not for any of the reasons Camping and his followers have claimed. Here’s why.

Camping’s case

Camping et. al. build their case for a May 21 rapture on two pillars. The first is that the faithful can know—indeed, will know—the date of Christ’s return.

In the Bible a wise man is a true believer, to whom God has given a profound trust in the authority of the Bible. True believers have been in existence since the beginning of time. But the timeline of history as it is revealed in the Bible was never revealed to the hearts of the true believers. … However, about 35 years ago God began to open the true believers’ understanding of the timeline of history. … However, it was not until a very few years ago that the accurate knowledge of the entire timeline of history was revealed to true believers by God from the Bible. (“No Man Knows the Day or the Hour?”)

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Gog from Magog

The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, set your face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him and say, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. (NKJV, Ezekiel 38:1–3)

The approximate time of the invasion of Israel’s land by Gog from Magog (Ezek. 38:2) remains a debatable question among pre-tribulational theologians.

Three options are available. First, some place an invasion at the very beginning of the 70th week (i.e., the coming seven-year tribulation, which follows the rapture of the church; see Dan. 9:27). A second possibility would be just before the middle of that week. Thirdly, some place it at the end of the week.

For several reasons, the second option, namely an invasion just before the middle of the 70th week, seems to involve the fewest problems.

The first and third options face the very difficult problem of having Gog entering the Holy Land (“the midst of the land,” Ezek. 38:12) when its inhabitants “dwell safely” (Ezek. 38:8, 11, 14) in “unwalled villages” (v. 11).

The third option is immediately eliminated because at the end of the great tribulation period the Jews will have been driven out of the land (Matt. 24:15-22, Rev. 12:13-17).

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God's People and the Future of Egypt

Republished with permission from Baptist Bulletin Mar/Apr 2011. All rights reserved.

Riots erupted in Egypt in January, an explosion of popular anger that seemed to have little warning. Protesters demanded the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, demanding a new government that would address issues of police brutality, free elections, political corruption, and a stagnant economy. Believers who watched the news unfold considered Egypt’s place in Bible prophecy and its relation to the nation Israel.

I will not soon forget that hot Egyptian afternoon, Aug. 5, 1952, when I climbed 450 feet to the top of the Great Pyramid of Cheops at Giza. How did this wonder of the ancient world get there?

Two-and-a-half millennia before Christ, tens of thousands of workers spent more than 20 years gathering 2.3 million blocks of stone—some weighing up to 15 tons—on a base covering 13.1 acres to prepare an eternal home for their Pharaoh-god.

What brilliance this took! What dedication! Remember, this was not long after the dispersion of mankind from the Tower of Babel, when the Egyptians demonstrated their amazing building skills along the Nile River.

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