A Plea to Reconsider Rapture Timing...
Rapture timing is an issue today, due in part to the popular fictional "Left Behind" series, a bestseller on both Christian and secular book lists. This fictional end times scenario incorporates the popular pre-tribulation (pre-trib) rapture teaching which holds that all true Christians will be raptured to heaven before the tribulations of the last seven years of the age take place as outlined in the book of Revelation. Those not raptured will be "left behind" to face persecution by the antichrist. There are many different schools of thought concerning rapture timing, but there is only one true authority, and His name is Jesus. We need to realize that what He taught differs significantly from the scenario suggested by this popular fictional series.
When Jesus' disciples questioned Him about the end of the age and His return, He told them that those who endured to the harvest at the end of the age would be saved. Lest we think He was not speaking to us, remember that these were the same disciples who were later told to go and make disciples of all nations. He told them (i.e., us) that He was warning them of certain events in advance, so that when these events happened, they would not be stumbled.
Jesus went on to say that many of His followers would fall away at the end of the age and that the love of most would grow cold. Will it be because they fail to heed His warnings? The pre-trib rapture teaching contains a dangerous snare, because it promises escape from events that Jesus taught we should endure! Which scenario is the most probable deception, the one which says the church will be here during the great tribulation but she is not, or the one which says the church will not be here but she is? Which one is a snare? Which one has the fingerprints of the deceiver all over it? I would much rather find myself raptured out earlier than expected than to find myself entering a time of great tribulation I neither expected nor prepared for, wouldn't you? Please saints, let us reconsider His words. This is not an attack on those who believe or teach the pre-trib rapture doctrine, but it is a cry to reconsider what Jesus said for our own sakes so that we might have vision and understanding in order to endure to the harvest that He said we must endure to.
Let's consider the illogic of the potentially dangerous pre-trib doctrine from a completely different viewpoint. Scripture clearly says that God has tremendous purposes for His church on earth at the end of the age. Early rapture is a pleasing scenario to the flesh, but it is not true to the deeper issues of God's plan to demonstrate His wisdom through His church to the powers and authorities in the heavenly places (Ephesians 3:9-11). This demonstration of His glory through His church supercedes all other considerations, and is stated in these several verses as the reason He created all things and as His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus. Much of this demonstration, according to the book of Revelation, will take place during the last three and one-half years of the age, where the saints overcome satan by the Blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and by loving not their lives unto death. Victory is gained by the wisdom of the cross demonstrated by an enduring, overcoming church. Who would want us to miss this and fail to rise to embrace this challenging destiny?
Do you have questions about rapture timing and the end of the age? Listen to Jesus, the true authority. He has told us everything we need to know about these things. Readers who are interested in a more thorough discussion of these points are invited to visit the author's website at www.restoringthevision.com, where a complete on-line book entitled "Restoring the Vision of the End Times Church" is available for reading or downloading.