Lately I’ve come to rely on the WordPress.com Reader, which has left me sifting through large amounts of blog posts daily as I try to engage in conversation with other bloggers. Having a special interest in Bible Prophecy as can be seen by what I’ve been posting on my own blog lately, I’ve found myself upon occasion searching up terms like “End Times”, “Matthew 24”, or “Second Coming.” A vast sea of ideas and beliefs about these subjects can be found on Word Press alone.
The concept of the Rapture, the seven years of tribulation, and the debate as to when the Rapture will take place have stuck out prominently to me as I’ve searched through the various posts on Word Press. Reading some of this material, at times it feels as if my heart sinks. I have a burden for my Christian brethren who hold to these beliefs about the final events of this earth’s history. In fact, this is why I’ve put as much emphasis on it as I have in my commentary on Matthew 24.
There is a very real danger to these ideas, especially the concept of a pre-tribulation rapture, which is not sensed by those who hold them. It is based on the idea that they will be extracted from this earth by God, and therefore will not have to endure the persecutions and deceptions of the last days. This would leave them unprepared to engage in conflict with these things, which would hit them in such a manner that it would be as if these things had never been revealed in Scripture. Some have been burdened, worried that they might be “left behind” when the Lord returns, while others would be raptured away to heaven.
The debate as to whether or not the Rapture will occur prior to the tribulation, in the middle of the tribulation, or after the tribulation at times has caused much confusion to honest Bible Students seeking to understand Prophecy for themselves. Combined with the cryptic nature of some of these Prophecies found in the books of Daniel & Revelation, as well as the gospels and other books of the Scriptures, the task of attempting to understand final events can often seem daunting.
I want to propose some radical suggestions. If the Rapture of the faithful prior to the tribulation, and this concept of seven years of tribulation are apart of your belief system than you might be upset by what I’m about to say. Unfortunately sometimes toes need to be stepped on when the truth is spoken. This would be therefore your official disclaimer. Otherwise you might be blessed by my suggestions, especially if you’ve been confused about these issues.
For those that are confused, I would first counsel you to abandon the Rapture entirely. Lay aside all of your preconceived ideas about it, and anything you may have heard from the pulpit with regards to this subject. Just the same, I would suggest that you set aside any ideas about a seven-year period of tribulation, a future one-man hitler antichrist, a rebuilt Jewish temple, and the entire chronology of events you’ve always heard about. [Whether or not it will be pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, or post tribulation.] Ask yourself some questions, “is any of this really true? Is this what the Bible really teaches about the end of the world?” My counsel to you essentially boils right down to the request that you stop approaching the Bible with the assumption these things are taught in Scripture.
Afterwards, I want you to lay aside all Bible commentaries and books you may have purchased about last day events. This includes novels, especially the left behind series by Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins. But any novels or movies about the end of time need to be set aside. Your next task from here will be to set aside all sermons on this topic, YouTube videos, audio recordings, and even presentations you have attended in person at your own church. You do not want to study your Bible through the eyes of your Pastor, Theologians, or ‘teachers’ that you may have heard. Otherwise you will end up simply accepting their views as ‘truth’ whether it is or is not, and may not be able to see things in Scripture as they actually are.
From there your task is to sit down with your Bible and a Concordance. The search engine E-sword comes equipped with is also a good option. Begin with earnest prayer for light on the matter and commence a deep dive into your Bible. Use the Concordance or Bible search engine to find everything you possibly can in the Scriptures that has any bearing on the subject of last day events or the second coming of Christ. Then I want you to line up every single passage before you form your conclusions, and watch how each text adds details to and complements the other. Research everything you can possibly find in the Bible on the matter. Especially view proof-texts which are used in Support of these teachings with a degree of skepticism. Ask yourself, “is this really what the verse is saying?” Check to see if such passages have been studied in context, read with Eisegesis [reading something into a text which isn’t there], or studied in view of other passages.
Once you finish, ask yourself the same questions as you did at the beginning. “Is any of this really true? Is this what the Bible really teaches about the end of the world?” When you come to the Lord in prayer over the matter ask him repeatedly and persistently if these views are true and found in the Scriptures. These prayers should be combined with your in-depth Biblical research project on the matter.
If you struggle to understand prophecy because of its cryptic nature, than focus on the plain passages of the Bible first. Not every prophetic text in the Scriptures is highly symbolic. A good place to start would be the gospels, going over Christ’s teachings in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John regarding the second coming and the end of time. When you come across a passage of Scripture which seems to support these views, compare it with other passages to see if an alternative explanation can be found. This would not be to ‘get around it’ but instead to determine if the text has been interpreted properly.
It all boils down to this. If you’re confused about it, stop being so reliant on teachers in your church or particular denomination and research it for yourself. Do your own thinking, and stop reading the Bible through the lens of what others say about it. For those that have held a strong belief in this school of prophetic interpretation my only suggestion for you is take a look at the evidences which will be posted on this blog countering those viewpoints and study them prayerfully.
This has been addressed already through these two pages, and this article. In addition, my commentary on Matthew 24 presents some limited evidence against this thinking in parts 1 and 2. If this is your traditional thinking about Prophecy, if you’ve long-held this belief and look at it as gospel truth, than I only ask that you take a candid look at the evidence which I do and will present on this blog, and reconsider your position.