A guy I know is telling everyone he knows that "according to the Bible," Jesus is rapturing the church THIS WEEK.
He has constructed an elaborate mishmash of Old Testament festivals, Jewish holidays, and random verses from the New Testament (especially 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) to arrive at his conclusion.
And here's the kicker:
He's not a crazy whack-job. He is a well-educated professional person, in fact he's a certified Project Management Professional (PMP)...and that's not easy to obtain.
But being a PMP has not shielded him from believing the escapist version of Christianity that is advocated by Tim LaHaye, John Hagee, Ed Hindson, and others. According to this view, the church will be raptured out of the world, leaving it behind to face the unspeakable horrors of tribulation. For instance, David Jeremiah, a popular Christian pastor, writes, "Followers of Christ who are raptured will be spared the trauma of death and the coming disasters that will occur when the Tribulation breaks out upon the earth" (What in the World Is Going On?, 99).
A healthy corrective to that line of thinking is the one put forth by N.T. Wright. He says, "Paul's mixed metaphors of trumpets blowing and the living being snatched into heaven to meet the Lord are not to be understood as literal truth, as the Left Behind series suggests, but as a vivid and biblically allusive description of the great transformation of the present world of which he speaks elsewhere [like 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, Colossians 3:4, Romans 8:18-27]" ("Farewell to the Rapture" in Bible Review, August 2001).
Beyond that, I raise the most convincing point of all (for me, at least):
The rapture/escapist is view is totally foreign to the Hebraic worldview found in the Bible.
In the Bible, the earth is God's good creation, but it's been infected with sin down to its roots (figuratively yielding thorns and thistles from the ground instead of good fruit). Therefore, God begins a plan to redeem the creation and deliver it from decay. That plan starts with the redemption of human beings - who bear the image of God - and extends throughout the world until the project to refresh everything is completed.
This is in direct contrast to the view that supports the gist of the guy's announcement that I reported at the start of this post.
So I'm not expecting anything overly dramatic to happen this week. The kingdom of God will continue to spread, slowly and surely, like a seed planted in the ground or like a little yeast added to the dough. But then again, that sounds a lot more like the Jesus we read about in the Gospels.
"The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches....The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough" (Matthew 13:31-33 NLT).
This is something that students need to know. Teach them with the refreshEVERYTHING series.
Book Review: The Hole in Our Gospel (Richard Stearns)
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