One week ago, the re-make of Left Behind hit theaters. Please be aware, this is not a movie review. I have not seen the movie, and probably won’t see it until it I can borrow it from the library. (Just so you know, this applies to almost all movies my family watches, unless it somehow makes it to Netflix first.)
Anyway, I digress.
The reason I bring this up is because of the plethora of anti-Rapture articles that I’m noticing all over the internet. The one that caught my attention the most was titled, “Nobody Is Getting Left Behind (Because The Rapture Is Never, Ever Going To Happen)” (originally from The American Jesus and written by Zack Hunt).
Now, am I absolutely sure that this guy’s theology is wrong? No. Of course not. To claim that I know for a fact that he is wrong would be to say that I know everything, which clearly is not the case. But I do believe that, Biblically, he’s made some errors, and I would like to share my thoughts. Whether you agree with me or him or neither, that’s fine. I just ask that you go to the Word first, because while our opinions (and, yes, theologies) are not infallible, God’s Word is forever and completely true.
The first thing I want to go over is what he mentioned of his struggle, in earlier years, to pinpoint a date for the rapture. Of course, this is now something he no longer struggles with since he doesn’t believe in the rapture, but I would like to point something out. Matthew 25:13 says this:
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
This statement comes at the end of a parable Jesus taught. This parable is basically a warning to always be prepared, because we “do not know the day or the hour” that Christ will return. Period. There’s no predicting it. And unfortunately, many people have overlooked this key verse and made attempts to predict the date of the rapture–and we all know how that turned out. These failed predictions have only served to weaken people’s faith regarding end-time events.
Now we come to one of the major points. The author states that no one in the church believed in the rapture until the last 200 years or so. He mentions some major figures in the history of Christianity whom he says never mentioned the rapture.
Why is this? Consider this: It wasn’t until five centuries ago, through Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, that the Gospel–salvation by grace through faith–re-emerged. Prior to that, Roman Catholic doctrine had corrupted much of the early church’s original teachings–which, I would add, included a belief in the rapture. Ultimately, we shouldn’t be looking back to a period of time in church history that, doctrinally, Christians no longer agree with to prove or disprove rapture.
Next: the idea that the Rapture isn’t mentioned in the Bible, and that it wasn’t “invented” until somewhere in the eighteenth to nineteenth centuries. I can understand where this is coming from. After all, you won’t find the English word rapture in the Bible. The closest you’ll come to it is a passage in 1 Thessalonians that mentions the believers being “caught up” in the air. However, in the original Greek, this phrase is harpazo, meaning to snatch or take away. In Latin, the word is rapturo.
So, yes, the word rapture is in the Bible–but does that really matter? What I mean by that is, should the fact that this word is in the Bible affect whether or not we believe in the rapture? No. A word is a word. The evidence for the rapture that we find in the Bible, that is what matters. Not what we call it.
And now, love, which is what the last point revolves around. The idea is that Jesus’ love, shown for us on the cross, doesn’t fit with the image of Jesus we see presented in both the rapture and the Tribulation. How does the enormous love Jesus has shown for us translate into the utter awfulness of the Tribulation? And beyond that, why would Jesus in His love take His church just when the world needs us most?
First of all, the Tribulation is God’s judgment of the world. God is love, yes; but He is also just. We are currently in a grace period, which is a demonstration of God’s love for us; but the grace period will end, and God will judge the world during the Tribulation.
As difficult as this may be to grasp, bear with me. Just because the church will be raptured, that does not mean there will be no more Christians in the world. For example, Revelation mentions the martyrs who were slain during the Tribulation and then went to heaven. It also mentions the 144,000 from Israel, “servants” who were sealed by God (Revelation 7). Thus, we can see that people will continue to be saved during the Tribulation.
Here we come to a very important point. The Tribulation is an example of God’s mercy. As crazy as it sounds, it’s true. He has every right to simply say, “It’s over”, and let that be it–but that’s not what He’s going to do. He gives us numerous chances to come to Him during our lives; the Tribulation is His final attempt to draw us to salvation. And the Bible shows us that people will indeed respond to this last, loving call from our Father.
Is the rapture going to happen? I believe so. I invite you to share your thoughts, but I would like to say this: I’m not trying to start a debate. I’ve shared my thoughts in response to Zack’s article, and I’d be very happy to hear your response to mine.