Are you ready?

I don’t know what the event we commonly call “the rapture” will be like. The bible gives us some information, but only a few verses are used to justify the popular image of what to expect. I’m not entirely sure it will be like that at all. Certainly both the common people and the religious leaders of Jesus’ time didn’t expect things to play out as they did. Even Jesus’ own disciples didn’t get it until after it played out. Do you think we are arrogant to imagine we have interpreted “the rapture” correctly? How do you think it plays out?

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About Lance Ponder

Christian author of "Ask James one"; public speaker; husband and father. Available to speak on Creation and the Gospel.
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14 Responses to Are you ready?

  1. Bobby Grow says:

    I have always been a dyed in the wool pre-tribber, but more recently I think that I’ve switched to a pre-wrath view (which is not mid-trib as some have very wrongly caricatured it). The question revovles around how one views God’s wrath relative to Jacobs trouble (cf. Jer. 30) and Daniel’s 70th week; so obviously, as you know, before we ever get to the “rapture” discussion we have to presuppose other things first; like being a “premiller” (vs. an “amiller” or “post-miller” or “pan-miller” πŸ˜‰ ). Obviously I am a premiller (but of the “historic” variety) [although I have flirted with amil once or twice, I just can’t end up going that way primarily because of the Greek grammar embedded in Rev. 20 and the preceding contexts).

    Of course this whole discussion is on the outer rim of the funnel of theological importance (e.g. nothing to divide over), yet, I do think it is more important than many amongst us (in academia, at least) seem to think.

    So you don’t have a rapture view, Lance? And I’m assuming you’re premil of some variety, then?

    • Lance Ponder says:

      I think “pre-wrath” is a perfect summary. I wouldn’t go so far as to label “mil” or “trib”, though I do lean toward “post-trib/pre-mil”. I say that because I don’t think we get hoovered out in a rapture that leaves the earth empty of believers. I think Jesus comes back. Once. We meet him, but we don’t leave with him. He comes and we join. Meeting in the air is akin to when the people of a city would rush out as their king approached victorious from a battle. Think of the end of Star Wars I when Jar Jar and Boss Nass and the princess and young Aniken and all of them make their triumphant entry. Lots of pomp and ceremony and jubilation. Well, not a perfect example, but I think you get it. Anyway, Jesus comes, gathers, settles, rules. I think the 1000 years represents eternal life on earth as resurrected (or changed) beings in a “new” earth, regenerated (de-cursed) like Eden. I take 1000 years as non-literal symbology in the same way I take the 144,000 as symbolic. Anyway, post-trib / pre-wrath in the sense that scripture pretty strongly says believers will be there experiencing great tribulation, but we are promised that we will not experience the great final wrath. I don’t think trib and wrath are the same at all. I know it says Satan will be loosed after the 1000 years, and maybe that means after the first 1000 years Satan will get one last chance before getting tossed in the lake. I could be completely whacked, but that’s what I’m thinking. I think I’ve only ever met one other person who shares substantially the same view. Would you make the second?

  2. eclipsenow says:

    As an amil, I don’t accept the ‘rapture’. I mean, does that word even occur in the bible?

    I take the clear verses of scripture over the unclear.

    1. We will not know, Jesus will return like a thief in the night. This is clear.

    2. When Jesus will return, it will be just like in the days of Noah. People will be saying ‘peace, peace’ and then the Lord will return and raise us up… why up? Because Noah was raised up. Why was Noah raised up? Because immediate and conclusive judgement was falling on the land. (Note: the word in Hebrew is also used for ‘land’. EG: We don’t render it the ‘earth’ of the Israelites, the ‘earth’ of the Canaanites, and Joshua’s trumpet did not sound out around the whole ‘earth’). Check the text. Matthew 24:

    36 β€œBut about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[f] but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

    Just as I don’t see room for Noah to be raised up and then have 7 years of ‘tribulation’ on the ungodly, so I don’t see room for that with the return of Christ.

    3. If Revelation is primarily about future events and a future timetable, what GOOD has it been for God’s people for the last 2000 years other than to distract them?

    I just can’t stand the whole approach of trying to fit Revelation into today’s geopolitics and nail down when the Lord might return when we’re warned not to do that. We don’t know when, that is clear. I also can’t stand the idea that all those Christians that have been martyred in the 20th Century aren’t in the ‘tribulation’. Somehow that just seems patronising to them. Yeah, things were tough for you guys but there’s WORSE to come! Yeah? How is that comforting?

    Indeed, when the whole context of the OT imagery in Revelation is comfort to the 7 churches that are being persecuted, how does it ‘comfort’ them to have John then go on and say “You think this is bad, things are going to get a whole lot worse!” And then after all that, he’s actually not writing to them at all, but us 2000 years later? I don’t get that at all. It’s out of context, and bad hermeneutics.

    Try Dr Graeme Goldsworthy’s ‘big picture’ talk on how to approach Revelation. It’s one hour, and describes a Covenant theology approach to Amil eschatology. This is the main vibe of Moore College, the bible college for Sydney Anglicans. I think it does a good job of explaining why Revelation is not a timetable of the future. Please give it a go, it is worthwhile stuff. Even if you don’t change your mind, you’ll have a better idea of where us Sydney Anglicans are coming from.
    [audio src="http://audio.christchurch.com.au/97-126.mp3" /]

    Or try Phillip Jensen’s talk which covers Ecclesiastes through to the NT, and hardly mentions Revelation at all. But again, explains the Sydney Anglican Amil eschatology quite well because, basically, we see Revelation as not adding anything substantially new to the earlier books of the NT. It’s rehashing the message of the OT and NT gospel in a format delivered to the suffering first century church.

    [audio src="http://audio.christchurch.com.au/97-138.mp3" /]

    EG: Grame Goldsworthy claims that everything that needed to be done was done at the cross. Much of the ‘end of the world’ language we read in the bible happened at the cross. Jesus not only took human form so that human rebellion could be judged at the cross, but Jesus as ‘creation’ was judged at the cross. Then as ‘new creation’ he is the first-born, the first-fruits of what is to come. So basically when was the end of the world? Jesus death and resurrection. What is Revelation about? Patient endurance during the ‘end of the end’, these ‘last days’ which we’ve endured for 2000 years. When is Armageddon? At the cross, during the Acts of the apostles, and every time God’s people fight for the truth, even today. When is the tribulation? Now in China, in Moslem countries, in the Sudan. And definitely during the Romanian persecution.

    When will Jesus return in final judgement? In 5 seconds, or in 5000 years. We just don’t know. But it will be decisive, and final, and unmistakable.

    Interpret the unclear parts of scripture by the clear, and we can’t go wrong.

    • Lance Ponder says:

      Thanks so much for your input. I know there are almost as many perspectives on Revelation as there are people who read it. I don’t pretend mine is right and everyone else’s is wrong. If you read my response to Bobby above you get a pretty good feel for what I think. I do not believe in the rapture in the sense this video portrays. In fact, you’re absolutely right that the word does not exist in scripture. I don’t think there a rapture then 7 year trib either. That doesn’t make much sense to me either. It sounds from your comment like the nearest label to your take on things is “preterist.” You believe most of Revelation has already happened, as to do with the end of the second temple? As for me, I don’t think the visions of Rev are necessarily in any chronological order of fulfillment, only in the order they were received. I’ve spent some time in the OT prophets and many of the visions they record were fulfilled completely out of order to the way they were recorded.

      As for Revelation being a comfort, I actually think it is. I’d much rather know that God will see us through tough times to come than to think its all going to get better without strife – then get all ticked off when it isn’t so nice. More importantly, God isn’t a man to hide his plans. He says several times that He says what He will do then does it. The comfort isn’t in the trials, but in knowing He is victorious and we who believe with Him.

      Finally, I think you’re definitely onto it when you say use the clear to interpret the unclear. We are given much and to ignore it is foolishness. Thanks for the comment!

  3. eclipsenow says:

    Note: I can see that my ‘First and last things’ page needs splitting into separate pages covering Genesis and Revelation, and that these pages are going to be huge. I’ll put them back up when I’ve done a bit more work. Cheers.

    • Lance Ponder says:

      Well, Gen and Rev are very closely related. I have a hard time separating them myself at times. For example, Gen begins with creation and Rev ends with new creation. Near the beginning there’s the first marriage. Near the end of Rev there’s the last great marriage. So many parallels. So little time. πŸ˜‰

  4. eclipsenow says:

    Hey, you’re absolutely right! I do agree with you a lot more than I at first thought, especially from your comments.

    I think Jesus comes back. Once. We meet him, but we don’t leave with him. He comes and we join. Meeting in the air is akin to when the people of a city would rush out as their king approached victorious from a battle.

    Well put. I was just listening to this approach from Amillennialism 101 from Kim Riddlebarger. He’s putting his whole lecture series online! It’s brilliant stuff. Good to see some sound exegetical work and, before that, clever analysis of presuppositions and biases, all finally breaking out in the good old USA! Who woulda thunk it? πŸ˜‰
    http://kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com/welcome/

    Sometimes us Sydney Anglicans despair of the States, and shrug, and ask, “Can anything good come out of America?” πŸ˜‰

    Well it seems so!

    PS: I’m just a lay-person who nearly went into ministry. (Did a year of our Ministry Training Scheme). So my arguments are probably not as conclusive as the blokes I link to. I’m still trying to work through the language and terms of exactly where the overlaps are between accepting Covenant Theology and disagreeing with Dispensationalism, and how that impacts on my Amillennialism / Partial Preterism / Historicism. There’s a bunch of labels that have their own unique emphasis and subtle differences. However, I have been highly influenced by our historian Bishop, Dr Paul Barnett, and his book “Apocalypse Now and then” which β€” as a historian β€”Β is most probably “Partial Preterist” with a lot of Amil thrown in. (Phew… where does one end and the other being?)

  5. eclipsenow says:

    I think Jesus comes back. Once. We meet him, but we don’t leave with him. He comes and we join. Meeting in the air is akin to when the people of a city would rush out as their king approached victorious from a battle.

    Oh yeah, one last thing I wanted to say about this great image… there’s another sense in which ‘we go up in the air’. OT imagery, borrowed from previous Babylonian and other ancient near-east imagery, has God the King riding on clouds. The OT prophets were in effect saying “No, your God isn’t King, Yahweh is β€”Β he rides on the clouds”. So going up to meet Jesus in the air is both meeting the King ‘outside the city’ as you put it and also joining the King in His judgement of the world ‘below’. We are like Noah, riding high through the immediate judgement on the ancient world. ‘Up’ is both greeting the victorious King and away from the judgement in this metaphor.

    But both ‘up’ and ‘down’ appear to be just metaphors for the reality will involve the very laws of physics being changed and transformed and ‘upgraded’. There is also a lot of talk these days in Sydney Anglican circles that there will be a lot of continuity between this world and the next. Something of this creation is saved, in a sense, even though radically transformed. It’s not so much the ‘end’ of this world as the transformation of it, just as Narnia gave way to a bigger, better Narnia, that was still recognisably Narnia! It’s something I like to remind our kids. I’m starting to think we need to chuck the ‘going to heaven’ language. There’s simply too much western baggage sending out other messages about what that might mean.

    • Lance Ponder says:

      Thank you for all this great info and feedback. I didn’t want to get into this earlier, and I’m only going to just mention it now, but there’s even larger prophecy in the OT, the Torah in particular, that people seem to miss quite deliberately. The whole story of Moses dealing with Pharaoh, the escape across the sea, the wilderness, and the crossing of the Jordan all strike me as extremely prophetic of the whole first and second advent thing. Like so many other OT prophecies we can’t go overboard examining details, but the big picture lays out something astounding when you look at it from 50,000 feet, so to speak. The feasts of Lev 23 are like a snapshot as well. The spring feasts appear to lay out the first advent and the fall feasts seem to point to the second advent. Just something to think about. πŸ˜‰

  6. meanlittleboy says:

    Everytime in the Bible, When God was about to judge a person or city, he removed the obedient followers to safety. We can debate all day, about whether, we are going to meet God in the clouds or not.

    Personally, I look in the mirror every morning to see if any wings are growin? wink. Until proven wrong. I am getting ready, with my family, to fly out of here, when the trumpet is sounded.

    Hopefully, we all can get together someday and revisit this subject, cheers MLB..

    • Lance Ponder says:

      Great reply. Still, there was that whole Egypt/Pharaoh thing. As I recall the Israelites were present for all of it. They only suffered from some of the plagues and were spared the last bit, but they were present. Not so sure the faithful were always pulled out. Lot and his family is one example, and then there’s Rahab. Oh, wait, she was there – just protected. What are the other examples?

  7. eclipsenow says:

    Shouldn’t we let scripture interpret scripture? I say leave the other ‘patterns’ we might start to see unless Jesus or the Apostles spell them out for us. Noah has been spelt out. “It will be as in the days of Noah… some will be taken, the others left behind…”

    Don’t get left behind for the flood follows immediately after!

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