Why Invoking Doomsday Scenarios Can Be Harmful
Invoking end-times biblical passages may actually bolster some peoples faith by giving meaning to events that seem cruel and arbitrary.
But people who invoke the terrifying imagery of Revelation in connection with COVID-19 can do more than get scripture wrong. They can damage others psychological health, Beal says.
I had one student who was reading Revelation outside on the waterfront and she fell asleep and woke up in the middle of a thunderstorm. She had an absolute panic attack because she felt like she was in the book, says Beal, a religion professor at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio.
Doomsday predictions from the Bible can also lead to another danger doing nothing, Beal says. He believes people who are seized with panic over something like COVID-19 may ignore other chronic issues threatening humanitys survival, such as climate change.
It can lead to a call to inaction, Beal says about misinterpretations of Revelation. That is to say, people will say this is all happening because of Gods plan and its going to get worse before it gets better so theres nothing we can do about it because its Gods will.
But that probably wont stop people from invoking Revelation when a pandemic hits. For centuries its been the go-to book for doomsday prophets warning about the spread of end-times plagues and bizarre weather patterns.
The book of Revelation is not a book about predictions but a book of consolation, Lehner says.
How Old Is The Rapture Theory
Historically, the belief in the secret rapture is relatively new. Many of the notable Christian leaders of the faith understood from the Bible that Christs coming would be a literal, audible, glorious event for Gods persecuted people who would be raptured after they endured the great tribulation brought about by the antichrist including:
Of course, the truth of a teaching is not dependent upon who believes it, but whether or not it is in line with all of the Scriptures.
What The Bible Really Says About The Rapture
What would the end times really be like? A new HBO series airing Sunday night, The Leftovers, attempts to answer that question, sort of. In the show, based on a Tom Perrotta novel, 2% of the global population vanishes suddenly, and without explanation. The disappearance is mostly attributed to some kind of religious event, and the show deals with how life might be afterward for those left behind with all the grief, guilt and confusion that something like that would entail.
Despite the setup, neither the show nor the book are overtly religious. The word rapture is never used at least not in the book and the ranks of the disappeared seem to have been chosen at random. With many sinners among the vanished, the true believers still on earth are left to wonder how they missed the cut.
The word rapture isnt used in the Holy Bible, but the idea of Judgment Day appears in all the canonical gospels. Its probably most frequently associated with the apocalyptic imagery of the Book of Revelation to John, but its most clearly laid out in the Book of Matthew, in which it is prophesied that the Son of Man will send out his angels with a trumpet call to gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other, before separating the righteous sheep from the accursed goats .
Pauls first epistle to the Thessalonians contains passages along the same lines:
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View : The Rapture And Return Of Christ Occur Simultaneously At The End Of The Tribulation
Another view maintains that there is only one return of Christ and at his return believers, both those who have already died and those that are still alive, will rise to meet him in the air as he descends. It is called the post-tribulation view because it locates the rapture at end of the tribulation. Those who affirm this view reject the notion of a two-stage return or a separate secret return of Christ for his church prior to the tribulation. Instead it maintains that Christ only returns once and prefer to identify the rapture, as the resurrection of the saints, as a public event. Until the rise of premillennial dispensationalism, this has been the traditional understanding of the church and some form of it is typically affirmed in amillennial, post-millennial, and historical premillennial eschatological readings of Scripture.
Only Believers Will See Christ And We Shall Be Transformed We Shall Be Like Him
11. 1 John 3:2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
12. Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
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Some Clarification About The Rapture In The Bible
If you are unfamiliar with what the rapture in the Bible is let me give you a very brief definition.
The Rapture, as commonly viewed today, is the belief that Jesus will remove the church before the great tribulation. This will be suddenly and without warning. One moment Christians will be going about their business and the next, gone. They will be taken to heaven while the rest of the world is plunged into a terrible tribulation. Following the great tribulation is the Second Coming of Jesus in which He will return to earth in a triumph entry defeating His enemies.
There are some that view the rapture differently than this description. But for the sake of clarity this is how I will use it through this article.
This is a touchy subject for some, because this belief is held tightly. I know that because whenever I mention something that has to do with ends times I get a slew of emails, comments, name calling, and plenty of accusations about my intentions. Few topics bring as much heat and opposition as this one.
So, before we go any further let me clarify a few things that typically come up.
First, I firmly believe the Bible is the inspired word of God. And I strive to uphold it and help people understand it.
Second, I believe in the Second Coming of Jesus. However, this article is not about that. Its about questioning whether the pre-tribulational rapture is Biblical.
And finally, I want to show my cards early on. I do NOT believe in the rapture. Okay, deep breath
When Is The Rapture
When you are studying the rapture of the church, there are several things you need to keep in mind. First of all, the second coming of Christ is in two parts, separated by a period of seven years.
The first part is sometimes referred to as the Rapture . The second part occurs when Christ physically, bodily returns to this earth on the Mount of Olives from which He ascended. The interval between these two events, known as the Tribulation and Great Tribulation, is divided into two, three-and-a-half year periods each. The seventy weeks described in Daniel 9:24-27 speaks of this.
The Great Tribulation is the wrath to come from which the believer is delivered by the Rapture . The children of God, because they have kept the word of His patience, will be kept from that hour of trial. .
We believe that the Scripture teaches that Christians will not be judged with the world when God pours out His wrath in the day of the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 5:9 says, God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture teaches us to look for the Lords return, not for the tribulation .
Jesus said regarding His second coming, But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only. We should live like Jesus is coming today. It may be closer than we dare dream.
This view is referred to as premillennialism. Learn more historical and theological details of this end times view in “What is Premillennialism?“
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The Rapture In 2 Thessalonians : 110
The Rapture in 2 Thessalonians 2:110
Myron J. Houghton, Ph.D.
The ContextIn verses one and two, Paul states: Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
Pauls purpose, then, in 2 Thessalonians 2:310 is to show these believers that they were not in the Tribulation. In v. 3, he states that two things must occur before the Tribulation can begin the falling away, and the revelation of the man of sin. For those aware of Daniels prophecy that the prince that shall come will confirm a covenant with many for seven years and then break it in the midst of the week, the lawless man of sin is made known when he confirms the covenant, not when he breaks it. II Thessalonians 2:4 indicates the identity of this man rather than the time of his revelation by relating him to Daniels prophecy.
There are four reasons which, when taken together, seem to indicate that Paul was referring to the rapture when he mentioned this term.
If both the removal of the Restrainer and the falling away refer to the rapture of the Church, then II Thessalonians 2:110 offers two proofs for the rapture occurring before the Tribulation.
What Is The Tribulation
The tribulation refers to a time of judgment upon the nations that precedes Gods final movement before the New Heavens and the New Earth. It is His last act of mercy with the unbelieving nations in hopes that some would repent and turn to Him. It will be a time of great suffering and perishing. Daniel 9:24 explains Gods purpose for the tribulation:
Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. Daniel 9:24 ESV
The tribulation is described through three series of seven judgments found in Revelation chapters 6 through 16 that culminates in a final battle described in Revelation chapters 17 and 18.
8. Daniel 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.
9. Revelation 11:2-3 But exclude the outer court do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. 3 And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.
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Will The Rapture Happen Soon
Jesus, Himself, said,
However, no one knows the day or the hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.
Jesus also said we should not believe anyone who claims to be the Messiah or anyone who claims to know when He is coming again. The second coming of Jesus will be sudden, unexpected and unmistakable, like lightning flashing across the sky ” rel=”nofollow”> Matthew 24:23-51, , ). The important thing is not to know when or how the end will come, but to be spiritually prepared when it does ” rel=”nofollow”> Matthew 25:1-13, , ).
What Is The Rapture
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangels call and with the sound of Gods trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air and so we will be with the Lord forever.
Apparently, doubts had arisen among the Thessalonian Christians regarding the fate of those Christians who had died before Christ returned. Would they miss out on the glorious events of Christs second coming and the resurrection? Paul assured them in this way that God would save those who had already died, as well as those still living.
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Reason : The Rapture Is A Surprise Event
While many through the years have predicted the date of the Rapture and Jesus Second Coming, Jesus words in Matthew 24:36-39 should be taken literally: No one, including Jesus and the angels, knows the time of His return. Only God the Father knows. Not knowing when Jesus will come for His Church causes us to be ready at all times.
What Is The Rapture Of The Church
There are several passages in both New and Old testaments that speak to the second coming of Jesus to redeem His church and to judge the nations. Some of these passages speak to what many believe will be an event that will remove, or rapture the church, before judgment comes.
Three of those passages are 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, Matthew 24:29-31, 36-42 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-57.
These passages describe a miraculous removal of Gods elect from the earth, whether living or dead, to be immediately transported into the presence of Jesus. We learn from these passages that the rapture will happen quickly, at a time that is known only to the Father, that it will be preceded by some kind of heavenly announcement resembling a trumpet blast, that the dead in Christ will be risen bodily along with those who are alive in Christ with both being transformed into the glorified state, and that believers will be taken while unbelievers will remain.
2. 1 Corinthians 15:50-52 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
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What Does The Bible Say Will Happen At The Rapture
When the rapture does occur, what will happen? In Matthew 24, Jesus simply tells us that we will be gathered by his angels. But Pauls writing gives us a little more detail. Both 1 Corinthians 15:52 and Thessalonians 4:16-17 tell us that the rapture is not just of those who are living at the time, but that those believers who have already died will be resurrected and together we will meet our Lord.
In 1 Corinthians 15:45-54, Paul gives us some additional information about this rapture. When the Lord returns for us, we will be changed. The bodies we have now are not suitable for an eternal existence in the presence of God. This perishable and mortal body will be changed into one that is imperishable and immortal. Just what it will look like though is unknown. Earlier in this fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul expressed that what is sown often bears little resemblance to what is raised. So it will likely be with our bodies. At the resurrection/rapture our bodies will go through a radical transformation and may or may not resemble what they do now.
How Long Will The Rapture Take
1 Corinthians 15:52 states that the process of the change that will take place during the rapture will be immediate, in a moment, as fast as the twinkling of the eye. One moment alive saints will be doing whatever it is they are doing on earth, whether it is working, sleeping or eating, and the next moment they will be changed into glorified bodies.
37. 1 Corinthians 15:52 In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
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Are The Elect Raptured Before The Tribulation
One must question, if the elect, or Gods people, are raptured before the great tribulation, why would they need the days shortened? Actually, all throughout the Bible, we are given examples of Gods people being saved in the middle of tribulations, not being saved before it.
- When the Israelites were captive in Egypt, God preserved them in the midst of the plagues that devastated Egypt. Just as Israel was delivered from Egyptian bondage after the plagues, so God’s church will be protected through the plagues and be delivered from the hand of the oppressor .
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego entered the flames when they refused to yield to the universal death decree of Babylon’s King. Their death-defying faith forced them to face the flames of tribulation, and in those flames God miraculously delivered them .
- Daniels decision to be faithful in his daily prayers caused him to be tossed into the lions den. God saved Daniel while he was going through tribulation, not before it came .
Similarly, right before Christ returns, the faithfulness of the elect will cause them to be the target of the ungodly, bringing about a time of persecution and great tribulation. However, just as throughout all of Biblical history, God preserves His elect. The same Jesus that was with the Hebrew men in the fire and lions den, will go with us through our trials. When the last day judgments are poured out on the world, God will shield those who follow Him with all their heart and mind.