Jun 16, 2009

Ask the Professor

Jeffrey Seif
By Jeffrey Seif

Q. I am concerned about our culture and wondering if this is The End. In your opinion, does a financial meltdown precede the Rapture of the Church?

A. I don’t think so.

Jesus said in Matthew 24:36-44: “of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven.” This Scripture should dissuade us Believers from too much conjecture. However, this passage tells us that the days of the “coming of the Son of Man” will be like the days of Noah’s time, when people were busy “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” (vv. 37-38).

Some students of the Bible suppose that Jesus saying, “eating and drinking, marrying and given in marriage,” meant that the world will be “partying it up” in advance of the Rapture. Others see the expression as indicating a “business-as-usual world.” They reason that, since the dawn of time, people have been “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,” and that Jesus is connecting the Rapture with a nothing-new world — one that will be caught off guard by an unexpected Rapture.

The view of the unexpected Rapture is supported by the verses that follow in the passage: “two men will be [working] in the field: one will be taken and another left” (v. 40), and “two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other will be left” (v. 41). The end—“watch therefore” (v. 42) and “be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (v. 44)—leads me to think that His coming to take His own will not occur in a world pressed by financial collapse and looking for salvation, but rather when many are feeling self-sufficient.

In his own way, Luke records much the same. He puts Jesus on record in 21:34-36 warning about sloth and indulgence in advance of His coming: “take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come upon you unexpectedly…watch therefore, and pray….” In the Matthew passage and here in Luke, I just do not see a picture of a bankrupted and famished world. To the contrary, the concern seems to be that the “good life” threatens to do in the nonvigilant: the culprit is affluence — not universal lack.

For these reasons, I don’t think that a financial collapse will precede Jesus’ coming for His bride. Those who argue to the contrary — who see America and the world falling apart at the seams and who say that our spiraling financial decay is a cascading event that precipitates Jesus’ coming for His own — will have a hard time finding Scripture to support their thesis. If that Scripture exists, I’ll listen. Until then, this is my position.