In 1981 a group from the Lighthouse Gospel Tract Foundation quit their jobs, closed their businesses, got rid of their possessions and gathered atop a hill in Tucson, Arizona to await the return of Jesus Christ on June 28, 1981, as predicted by their leader, Bill Maupin. June 28 came and went…
Edgar C. Whisenant published 88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be In 1988 and predicted the event to take place between September 11-13 of that year. September 11-13, 1988 came and went, but Edgar realized he was one year off and quickly published Rapture Report: 1989 and named September 1, 1989, as the new date. It came and went…
Can anyone forget the hysteria of Y2K and the end of the world?
Harold Camping, General Manager of Family Radio predicted the Rapture in his book 1994? Well, 1994 came and went, but Camping now predicts this Saturday, May 21, 2011, as the beginning of the end.
We’ll see… Oh yeah, don’t forget the Mayan calendar which predicts our demise on December 21, 2012!
The return of Jesus Christ and the end of the world is a topic that brings out a wide range of opinions and emotions. It’s a subject written into novels, made into movies, and is a hotly debated issue in some Christian groups. I think we can cool it down and keep it real if we hold a few important ideas in mind.
1. While Jesus makes it clear that He will return, the dates, times, and details are not clear. Language is a limited vehicle. The writers of scripture are attempting to capture a supernatural, infinite event with human-based, finite words. There’s a reason this type of biblical literature is called “Apocalyptic”. It is highly symbolic and mysterious. I think we should respect the mystery by approaching these portions of scripture with great humility. While Jesus made clear the fact that he would return, the details were hidden…even from him! See Matthew 24. Jesus kept the disciples attention on the work to be done here on earth and emphasized what they needed to know (that he would return), and what they didn’t (dates, times, etc…). See Acts 1:2-11.
2. The mysterious nature of this issue has led to some unfortunate speculations and extreme reactions.
– Escape Artist – “I’m just praying Jesus comes back to get me before things get too uncomfortable down here”
– Dis-engaged Pessimist – “Why bother loving my neighbor or sharing the Gospel? Don’t re-arrange deck chairs on the Titanic”
– Obsessed Speculator – Every world event is “the” sign. 88 reasons why the rapture will happen in 1988. Oh wait, make that 89 reasons…
– Dogmatic Interpreter – “Only those who agree with my eschatology are biblical believers”.
It’s easy to forget that every generation has read apocalyptic literature through the lens of their historical and cultural settings. Again, respect the mystery and approach the text with humility.
3. The reality is that men and women who love Jesus deeply, and who take scripture seriously come to different interpretations of this issue. While the return of Christ is not in dispute. There is room for differences of opinion in how his return will take place. These differences should be understood in light of the non-essential nature of the “how”.
So, is there a unifying principle? You bet there is!
A solid foundation for understanding this issue depends greatly on how we balance hope for tomorrow and strength for today. So here’s the principle: My perspective on the future impacts my present-day living. I think the quote below offers a great view of the balance we should strive for:
“We should be so eager for the coming of our Lord that if he should come tomorrow we would not be taken by surprise. We should so hold ourselves in restraint that if His return should be delayed a thousand or ten thousand years, we would not be disappointed.” – E.Y. Mullins
Have a great weekend…no matter what happens!!