Left Behind?

The concept of the rapture is an interesting one. It is Biblically based, but the popularised concept in the “Left Behind” series, isn’t really Biblically correct at all. If anything, it’s backwards.

I’ve been studying this a bit, and the key things to the rapture concept seem to me to be, the saved will be taken with no warning and the sinners left behind on earth.

That doesn’t seem to line up with what the Bible says though.

To start with, the Bible doesn’t indicate that there will be no warning. Only that no one knows the time.

Have a look at Matthew 24:42-44

42“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Also Luke 12:39-40

39But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

2 Peter 3:10

10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

Revelation 3:3

3Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Note that the references to coming like a thief are always the reference to time, no more. Lets look at how the Bible shows the second coming of Christ.

1 Thessalonians 4:16

16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

Luke 17:24

24For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other.

Matthew 24:30-31

30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Revelation 1:7

7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

Got all those? Ok, lets also look at Acts 1:7-11, when Christ ascended to heaven.

7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.

So, from all of these verses, its pretty clear that when Christ returns, it will be very visual, very audible, and impossible to miss. Acts 1:11 in particular should be noted, that the SAME Jesus that left the earth will return in like manner. He didn’t just vanish, he was taken up through the clouds out of their sight as they watched. In Revelation 1:7, even those that pierced him, those that aren’t saved will see him. That doesn’t line up at all with people just vanishing.

I haven’t really said anything about the rapture concept itself yet Biblically though, so lets look at that.

Matthew 24:36-41

36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.

Also see Luke 17:26-28

26Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.

28“It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building.

Luke 17:34-36

34I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”
36Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.

Okay, it sounds like there could be maybe something to it? Note the references to Noah and the days of Noah, also to Lot. Lets look at Noah and the flood shall we? Genesis 7:21-23

21 Every living thing that moved on the earth perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.

Particularly note the last part, only Noah was left. Does that sound like the language used in the other verses above? Similar, when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, as Lot and his family fled, it was only Lot and his daughters who were left. Note that in none of these verses does it say left behind, as though it is a bad thing, they simply say some people were left. In Matthew 13:24-30 Jesus told the parable of the weeds which explains it exactly.

24Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

28‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

29” ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.

30Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.‘ “

We don’t need to try and explain this parable, in Matthew 13:36-43, Jesus explains it to the disciples and it is recorded for us.

36Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

37He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

40As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

So, when Christ returns, it’s not the saved that will be taken. Like the weeds, the evil will be gathered up and destroyed, leaving behind those that are saved. With the knowledge of this parable and it’s explanation, it is pretty clear that in the above verses about some people being taken and some left, that it isn’t the righteous being taken, but rather, like during the flood, it is the evil that are taken and destroyed, and the righteous that remain, or that are left, like Noah and his family. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to be left!

Character Comparison

Recently I’ve been listening to a series of prophecy seminars presented by Pr David Asscherick. They’re quite interesting studies, I just thought I would share a few verses with you though that he pointed out which compare the characters of Christ and Satan, so clearly.

Have a look at Isaiah 14:12-14:

12How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

13For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

In verse 12, it is established that it is referring to Lucifer, Satan. Then starting in verse 13 and through to verse 14, Isaiah talks about his character, the thoughts of his heart, it’s all about “I” and self exaltation.

Each of these things, all 5, are about going up, pushing himself further up etc:

  1. I will ascend into heaven
  2. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God
  3. I will sit upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north
  4. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds
  5. I will be like the most High.

The thoughts in his heart are entirely of ascending above everyone, even direction wise he refers to the North which, looking from outside the earth (or on a map), North is up, South is down, East and West are right and left. Satan wants to be above everyone and everything else, he wants to sit on the mount, on a high place, in the North, above the stars and clouds, and be like the most High, like God.

Now, as a comparison, let’s look at Philippians 2:5-8:

5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Here, Paul is saying we should behave like Christ (verse 5), and he goes on to describe Christ from verse 6 through to verse 8. This is quite the opposite of Satan, where Satan is constantly reaching up and trying to push himself higher, Christ was going down, humbling himself, bringing himself down to our level and serving mankind.

  1. Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God
  2. But made himself of no reputation
  3. And took upon him the form of a servant
  4. And was made in the likeness of men
  5. He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Point one (verse 6), means that equality with God is not something that needed to be grasped, after all, as it says to start off with, Christ is in the form of God, and as we should be aiming to reflect Christ, we shouldn’t be reaching for God-like status either.

Christ made himself as nothing, as a servant made like men, bringing himself down lower and lower, he humbled himself and became completely obedient, even to death on the cross.

That is the complete opposite of how Isaiah described Satan. Satan constantly pushing himself up, where Christ was constantly bringing himself down.

The next part is even more interesting!

Jump back to Isaiah 14 and look at verse 15:

15Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

Lucifer is pushing himself up, but in the end, all his self exaltation will only result in him being brought down to hell. I’m using the King James Version here, but in my NIV Bible, instead of hell, it says that he is brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. So for all his attempts, all he will gain is death.

Jump back to Philippians 2, reading on through verses 9 to 11:

9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

So unlike Satan, as he humbled himself and brought himself down, Christ was exalted by God. In the NIV, it says exalted to the highest place. He received a name that is above all others, every knee will bow before him, both in heaven and earth, and every tongue will know and confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord.

The comparison is so simple and clear. The difference in character makes such a huge difference in the end.

Genesis to Chapter 23

I’ve been reading Genesis in the Bible over the past couple days and having a bit more of a look at it. I’ve read it before, but so far, I’m up to chapter 23 and I’ve already noticed some interesting things that I hadn’t realised before, including a life lesson.

In chapter 4 from verse 17 through to 22, we get introduced to the immediate decendants of Cain. According to verse 17, Cain’s first son was named Enoch. Going down four more generations, Lamech is born, a direct descendant of Cain.

Go over to chapter 5 and we look further at the immediate descendants of Adam’s son Seth. His first son was named Enosh, remarkable similar to Enoch. To my understanding they are both derived from the word Enos which I believe means man. Head down a few generations and we have Jared who’s son is named Enoch. This is the Enoch that walked with God and was the father of the oldest man to live, Methuselah. Now, Methuselah had a son named…Lamech.

I may be the only one that finds it interesting that the only two Enoch’s and only two Lamech’s mentioned in the Bible are so closely related, but hey, I find little things like that interesting.

Another thing I noticed is that when Lot and his family flee Sodom, his wife was not turned into a pillar of salt whilst fleeing from a burning city, as is stereotypically presented. In actuality, the destruction of Sodom did not even begin until Lot and his family reached the town of Zoar. Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there. From Genesis 19:22 NKJV. It goes on (NKJV):

18 Then Lot said to them, “Please, no, my lords! 19 Indeed now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have increased your mercy which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, lest some evil overtake me and I die. 20 See now, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one; please let me escape there (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.”
21 And he said to him, “See, I have favored you concerning this thing also, in that I will not overthrow this city for which you have spoken. 22 Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there.”
Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.
23 The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. 24 Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. 25 So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.

Looking at verses 23 and 24 here, it’s clear that Lot and his family had already reached Zoar before Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. It is not until verse 26 that Lot’s wife looks back at the destruction and is turned to a pillar of salt. But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. From Genesis 19:26 NKJV.

Further on, Lot and his daughters continue, fleeing to the mountains. However, it makes no sense that Lot’s wife could have been turned to salt prior to reaching Zoar, aside from it being out of chronological order, it was in the early hours of the morning (verse 15) that they fled, there would not have been much to see or anything to draw attention back until the sun had risen upon the earth (verse 23) and fire came down on the cities (verse 24).

The life lesson I mentioned earlier on is one that is fairly common sense really, but it’s something that we don’t often think about, and in today’s society, it’s even easier than back then to find it happening, especially given how much easier it is to keep in contact with people from all walks of life.

In Genesis chapter 19 from verse 30 through to the end of the chapter, we read about the deception of Lot by his daughters where they get him drunk in order to get themselves pregnant. The justification they give is that it is to continue the family line (verse 32).

Lot’s daughters pretty much grew up in Sodom, and Lot spent much of his life there. The influences of the people of the city had to have rubbed off on them. This ties in well with a sermon by Herb Larson that I was listening to earlier this afternoon where he compared our social interactions and environments to hypothermia.

As your extremities, your fingers and toes start to get extremely cold they sting. Similarly, when you first find yourself in a situation you find disagreeable. Such as a co-worker letting rip a string of profanities, or even just one or two dropped here and there. Initially they may offend you. After a while, your extremities go numb to the pain. Similarly you get used to and are no longer offended by the language. Soon, the stinging moves up your arms and legs and eventually goes numb there too. This can easily be compared to moving from just hearing your co-workers or friends swearing regularly to you doing it as well. Initially you don’t feel right doing so, but as you keep going you get over it and there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with it anymore. Lot and his family were saved from the destruction of Sodom because they were the only righteous people in the city. Ultimately though, the constant, consistent influence of the people within the city had taken it’s toll though, just like it will with us if we aren’t careful.

Now of course, that’s not to say we shouldn’t hang out with friends that might drink excessively, do drugs, etc, but we do need to make sure that they are not the only people we spend all our time with and that there are other influences in our lives that don’t have the same afflictions, especially remembering to keep a tight relationship with God. After all, what better influence is there than Him?