A couple of weeks ago a friend and I were talking on the phone. We really have some interesting conversations. We like them anyway, and one of the things we talked about was how the world might end. You know the whole Left Behind idea? All those books? I told him I didn’t believe that anymore. Anymore goes back to 1986 for me. That was one of those times that some catalyst or other came along and prompted a whole sorting and sifting of what I believe and why. If we’re not careful, what we listen to and accept, our belief system, can start to look like a kitchen junk drawer rather than a place where a person could actually find something. I’ve learned to listen and try to understand, but not to accept everything.
Well, I’ve mentioned before that I changed denominations but this isn’t when that happened. So, I stayed where I didn’t think like everyone else – unless I felt like I could trust our relationship (and really those are the only kind to have) I only talked about the differences with close friends – for 15 years. I didn’t think how the world might end was a big enough issue to leave a church over! And since I didn’t have any idea what to put in place of what I had thought before…well, it seemed like it was so complicated I’d just have to wait till it all happened to see. If I was still here I’d see; otherwise I’d have a different vantage point. Oh, and in the denomination I’m in now, there are a variety of viewpoints on this – except for the Left Behind one. Didn’t really know there were so many.
So, my friend told me that he doesn’t believe all that either. Same reason I had for ditching it. It just didn’t make sense. Too much twisting and contorting and the math was really hard. All those 7’s and weeks and 1/2 times a bunch of other times…I told him I’ve been listening to a really good sermon series by Arturo Azurdia at www.spiritempoweredpreaching.com and it is a totally different and really not a complicated way of understanding Revelation. I also told him I’d write a blog of sermon notes and let him know when I did it.
This isn’t it. But this is what I was telling my friend I had learned about that Rapture part. And since that seems to be the burning question anyway with folks who question this system of interpretation, I’m going to write all this out for my friend. If you want to read along you are welcome to do so. This comes from a compilation of notes from Pastor Scott Campbell of Banner of the Cross Baptist Church (found him on Sermon Audio) and a conversation on White Horse Inn. The program was titled “Obsessed with Rapture.” I took the title of this blog from Pastor Campbell’s sermon title because I’m right there with him on wanting to be Left Behind.
Oh, one more thing. Why would I think these fellows know more about what they are doing than the others? Because they look at what it meant to the folks these books were written to at the time they were written. They look at the original languages of the writings, and the history and culture of the settings. And they understand Covenant Theology. Here’s a link to a good explanation of what that is: http://www.fpcjackson.org/resources/apologetics/Covenant%20Theology%20&%20Justification/ligoncovt.htm).
Also, because the newest interpretation on the block is this Left Behind series idea. It’s called Dispensational Premillennialism and is pretty different from the Classical Premillennialism because they see everything by way of dispensations, rather than by covenants. By dispensations they mean God worked one way for a time then another for a while and they don’t think the church – the conversion of gentiles – was part of God’s original plan. Like somebody can mess with God’s plan. What I am looking at is called Amillennialism. It’s based on Covenant Theology and is a totally different perspective than reading the newspaper headlines and trying to match it up with scripture. The guys on White Horse Inn are more consistent than Pastor Campbell (I had a problem with him switching from symbolic to literal) but he does know how to compare scripture with scripture in order to understand it.
Well, S., you know I’m not a theologian, and I don’t want to ramble on, so I’m going to do my best to just at least give you the part about two people in the field, and later I’ll aim for writing more on Revelation from sermon notes from Arturo Azurdia. When I start writing the rest it will cover a whole lot more. Like someone said, this is like grabbing a tiny piece of a puzzle to only discuss this one part.
So, you have Jesus talking about this in Matthew and in Luke. Matthew 24: 36-44 says, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 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, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Then, in Luke 17, Jesus told about the same event and the disciples wanted to know where they would be taken and Jesus said “Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” Eagles are meat-eating birds.
In Revelation 19: 17 & 18, it says, “Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, ‘Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.’ ”
First, Jesus is comparing this event to the flood. It wasn’t a good thing to be taken by the flood; better to be left in the ark. Then you see what he said about where they are taken in Luke and how those birds are called to eat the flesh of all people in Revelation. These aren’t literally birds that will eat everyone’s flesh, of course. This is apocalyptic language and it’s talking about judgment.
If it happens this way, there is no gathering up of Christians that leaves the rest of the world befuddled wondering why a bunch of cars lost their drivers, planes lost pilots and there are heaps of clothing and eyeglasses lying about. Like Ken Jones said on White Horse Inn, the voice, shout and trumpet is not a cosmic dog whistle that only Christians hear. This is the END and it comes AT the end.