Wow. In case you haven’t been following the news the last several days, the Rapture was supposed to occur yesterday evening at 6:00 pm. At least, that is according to the predictions of Harold Camping, an 89 year old, self made multi-millionaire in the broadcasting business. Mr. Camping originally thought that the Rapture would occur in 1994, but later modified his prediction. According to Bible prophecy, according to the way Camping had it figured out, the date of May 21, 2011 would be the taking away of the believers to heaven. As time zones around the world clicked off 6:00 pm, Camping was quiet as to what happened and why his predictions did not come to pass.
I have done some study as to why this particular date was chosen, and it seems that there must be several numerological assumptions to get there. In short, he believed that each day is as 1000 years and the 7 days that Noah and his family were locked up in the ark prior to the beginning of the Flood were symbolic of the 7000 years since that time – and that has brought us to 2011. The May 21st date has to do with the exact time that Noah and his family were sealed in the ark by God. The rest of the timeline gets a little confusing, but suffice it to say that it all has to do with the dates of the Flood, the presumed end of the Church Age in 1988 and a 23 year Tribulation period. None of this jives with the way I learned theology, but I thought you would like to at least have an idea of how this date came to be.
Atheists around the United States were throwing Rapture parties yesterday in a parody of Camping’s beliefs. A group in Seattle actually organized a fundraiser to provide a “Rapture Relief Fund”, with the proceeds to assist “the poor souls who are left behind.” They said that in case the Rapture did not occur, they would give the money to a camp that teaches children critical thinking skills. I suppose that’s what is going to happen.
But not everyone was convinced Camping’s prediction was a prank. One man in New York spent his entire life savings buying up billboard space to announce the end of the world, at least as we know it. In the words of one atheist, that man is suffering financial “Armageddon” today. But 41% of Christians do believe in an eventual Rapture. The key here is whether any man, or woman, can predict when that will happen.
Now I was taught, and I believe, that nobody knows the day or the hour of the Rapture. The Bible is quite clear, in 2 Peter 3:10 – “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” Matthew 24:36 also tells us, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
So here are two passages that let us know that the Day of the Lord will come silently, when we least expect it, life a “thief in the night.” We are told to stay alert and to not fall asleep – to be ready at any time. We are to prepare our hearts and live our lives as if the Rapture can occur at any moment. Because it can! And Christ himself acknowledges that nobody knows the timing of this event; not the angels in heaven, or even the Son, but just the Father. So, anybody who professes to know the exact time is not accurately presenting what the Bible says about the Rapture. So why guess? What is to be gained by this? It is a no-win situation for everyone.
My encouragement this evening is to suggest that you live your life in a Christ-like manner, recognizing that at any time the Rapture could occur and the Tribulation period could begin. But as I said before, nobody knows the time or the day. And my prayer is that you will live your life in such as way so as to influence as many people as you can about the coming events of the endtimes. As Christians, it is our belief that we are to participate in the Great Commission – to go and preach the Good News to the outermost reaches of the earth. The more that we do this, the more we can influence others for the Kingdom of God. So I stand ready, and alert; my prayer is that you will also. Have a great day in the Lord…..
There are differences between Christ’s 2nd coming, and the “rapture”.
The fact is that “rapture” was created in the mid-19th century, in the United States, by dispensationalist protestants. As a reference point, Mormon theology is older than “rapture”.
It is beyond the scope of these comments to explain all of the differences between the 2nd coming and the “rapture”, except to note:
* “rapture” creates a “3rd coming of the Lord”: the 2nd coming for the believers, then a 3rd coming after the tribulation period. This is not orthodox.
* 2 Peter 3:10 tells us that there is only one 2nd coming, when the earth will be destroyed immediately (and rebuilt).
* 2 Timothy 4:1 (NIV): “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge”. Now look at a more accurate translation from the Greek of the same passage: “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom”.
For almost 2,000 years now, Christians have passed on the orthodox teaching that there will be only ONE return of Christ, followed by the judgment.
Thanks for your take on all this. As with most things in Scripture, there are many different thoughts on the Rapture and the Tribulation. I am a pre-millenial, pre-tribulation person myself; believing that the Rapture will come first, and then also the Tribulation period before the 1000 year reign of Christ until we enter eternity. Many of my dear theological friends are mid-trib, post-trib, or amillenial in their personal theologies, but I personally can find no evidence to support those positions.
And, in the scheme of things, I would consider myself a dispensational theologian; even though that view is pretty “old school” and conservative. It should also be noted that most of the original dispensational theologians considered themselves Baptist and not Protestant in their beliefs. As you undoubtedly know, the ana-Baptist movement is as old, or older, than the Catholic Church, and therefore, they were not “protesting” Catholicism, but had a parallel timeline in opposition to the Catholic view. In any event, none of this would cause me to enter deep debate with any of my friends on this topic. I do appreciate you weighing in on this, and hope that you have a great day!
The Catholic and Orthodox churches can trace their roots, through an unbroken chain of church leadership, back to Pentecost, in 33AD. Scott, just so I understand, are you saying that ana-Baptists are claiming to be a 3rd original branch? Thanks.
In studying the history of the Church, it seems to me that at Pentecost, Peter certainly emerged as the spokesperson to the Jewish sector and eventually Paul had his ministry to the Gentiles. In general, it is acknowledged that the organized Catholic Church did not start at Pentecost, but became more organized throughout the first and early second centuries.
Those who did not wish to become part of the Catholic Church, led in part by the Donetists, considered themselves faithful to the early church at Pentecost and did not embrace the use of robes, incense, and other practices of the Jewish faith that were adopted by the Catholic Church. In fact, the Eastern Church did not originally significantly differ from the Western Catholic Church, and as Rome became more powerful, doctrinal issues eventually split the Eastern Church off, as I recall, in the 1200″s, thus completing the break with the Western Church (Catholic).
Since the Baptists (sometimes called Christians, Donetists, and other names throughout the ages) never embraced the move to a more formal ritualistic practice of Christianity, they have never been Protestants; the name reserved for those denominations or religions that protested western Catholicism and broke apart from it. In fact, Pope Gregory, in 590 A.D. was the first real Pope with any significant authority in the Catholic Church.
While there were popes before him, the church had not untied its power and authority in Rome earlier in its history. Not until Augustine and other early Church Fathers, and never in the annals of the Apostolic Fathers, at the end of the first century, do we have any real split in the church – east and west.
For whatever it is worth, I would say that Baptist, Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic, can all trace their roots to Pentecost. Just like Islam, Jewish and Christian can all trace their roots to Abraham. The Baptist position is that they stayed with the original practices of the faith, as we saw at Pentecost, without adding all the pomp and circumstance that Rome and Constantinople eventually embraced.
Until I went to seminary, I never knew that the Baptists never considered themselves “Protestant”. I grew up Methodist and always thought of Baptists as part of the same community that I had come from. But that is just not the case.
I hope that this clears up my position; even if it is not the same as your understanding of the origins of the church, Peter. Have a great day!