Sep 15, 2008

The Rapture Revilers

By Terry James

An e-mailer this past week addressed an ongoing matter that is perplexing, in that Christians read the same Word from God –the Bible--yet the message the children of God take from the same passages they read can be so different as to be troubling. Nowhere in the Holy Scriptures is this divergence of inferred meanings more pronounced than those pertaining to prophecy yet future--narrowing the problem, thinking about Bible truth about the rapture of the Church.

Here are the e-mailer’s words, with a few redactions for the sake of not wanting to violate privacy, or to cast aspersions on specifically named people.

“Hello Terry, I just wanted to ask you a question, and possibly have you post this on your 'Interesting Email' for other visitors who have possibly had a similar experience. I listen to [a well known Bible teacher and radio program host] every morning on my way to work. I consider him to be a ‘true born-again Christian’, and really enjoy hearing his teachings. He seems very knowledgeable of God's Word. I have never heard anything from him that contradicts the word of God. However, on a recent radio program, he was teaching on the millennium… [He] was expounding on premillennium, amillennium, and post-millennium. I know that he has a theological education of these issues [that] exceeds most layman's understanding, but there was something that he said that upset me during this broadcast. He happened to bring up the pretribulation rapture, and to me, he sounded as if he had contempt for the theory of a pretrib rapture.

"Now, here is where my question comes in. Why do most theologians today seem to have this contempt, if I may call it that, for any teaching on a pretrib rapture? To paraphrase [the radio host’s] on this, he said that he has never been able to find even one shred of evidence of a pretribulation rapture in the bible, and from the sound of his voice when he said it, I guess I formed my own opinion that he had contempt for this theory. Anyway, the point I am trying to make here is that I realize Christians do not have to agree on this idea to receive salvation and enter the kingdom of heaven as long as they are grounded in sound doctrine concerning the true meaning of salvation: that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, and no man can come to the Father except through Him and His blood sacrifice on the cross. I just don't understand why a pretribulation rapture theory seems to provoke people to the point of becoming hostile of this theory, and sometimes, even toward the Christians [who] believe it. Personally, I believe that the pretrib rapture can be found in Scripture if a person will just read God's Word with an open heart and mind, along with prayer for the Holy Spirit to guide them...”

This question by our Rapture Ready friend involves things that have always puzzled me, too, and I've written about matters attendant to the subject on a number of occasions. Why the vitriol, the seeming hatred for the pretrib view, even for those of us who teach the Bible from a pretrib rapture view?

I believe it flows from satanic rage that affects even the born again.

To know who is right--these like the radio host to whom the e-mailer refers, who believe the pretrib rapture is a lie from the pit of hell, as they sometimes put it--or we who teach the pretrib rapture, it is best to just examine what is going on all around us these days.

A large segment of the rapture revilers say that all prophecy was fulfilled with the A.D. 70 destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem by Titus and the Roman legions. Some believe the world has, since that date, been in the tribulation. They spiritualize and allegorize all prophecy we see as yet future. They believe that modern Israel isn't God's chosen, that God is finished with the Jew, and that the Church now has been given the promises God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Is God indeed finished with Israel?

God’s Word says that Israel will be a nation just before His Son returns. His chosen people will be hated. It will be at the center of all the world's national chaos and controversy. Is this happening, or not?

There will be a false peace made between Israel and its enemies that will affect the whole world, God's prophetic Word says. Do we see any peace process in progress that involves Israel, its enemies, and, in effect, the entire world?

There will be a great power due north of Jerusalem and Israel whose leader will think an evil thought. Do we see any sign of such a power due north of Israel? Take a string on a globe and put it on Jerusalem. Run that string straight up from Jerusalem. Does that string bisect any major city? Moscow!

Persia, the prophetic Word of God says, will be a key partner with that leader and his nation, Rosh, the ancient name for the area that now is covered by Russia. These and a coalition called “Magog” will invade toward Israel, according to Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39. Do we see any collusion between Persia (Iran today) and Rosh (Russia today)?

There will be a coming back together, the Bible says, of the ancient Roman Empire (the last empire of Nebuchadnezzar's metallic man-image as seen in the Babylonian king's night-vision). Do we see that development taking place in our news today? Yes. The European Union.

Many like the radio host/teacher the e-mailer mentions believe that this world will be made better and better until Christ comes back to assume the earthly throne. Do we see the world getting better and better? Or is the world getting worse, according to the daily and hourly news headlines, just like prophetic Scripture predicts?

There are another dozen or more signals I could mention to draw the comparison between the beliefs that the preterists and other anti-rapture teachers hold and the pretrib/dispensational view we hold. Space does not allow.

The preponderance of evidence, both biblical and literal (things in the news), comes down thunderously on the side of the pretribulational, premillennial view of eschatology.

Why do they hate the pretrib view and the rapture teaching in considering things to come? I'm convinced it is because Satan hates Israel and the Lord's plan to save remnants out of Israel and out of His creation called man in general.

These who hurl invective are deluded, in denial. I don't doubt their salvation. But I do doubt their faithful adherence to God's prophetic Word. They prefer man-made eschatology, and that is given not by the Holy Spirit, but by Lucifer, the fallen one.

One prophecy in particular speaks to the rapture revilers’ attitude toward Christ’s coming in a sudden, unexpected intrusion upon a world that will be conducting its nefarious business as usual: “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Pet. 3:3-4).