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Blog Category: Eschatology (5 posts)
Luke J. Wilson | 21st September 2020 |
Most people have some idea about what the rapture is – or do they? Generally there is an idea or concept of a form of escapism from the world when Jesus returns, which happens pre, mid or post tribulation and in some connection to the millenium. Now, if you understood any of those terms, you are most likely on, or aware of, the Dispensationalism side of things.
There’s a lot of doctrine all bundled together in “end times” beliefs, and a fair bit of speculation around “the rapture” with its timing and logistics etc. which makes the whole thing a but murky, but nonetheless, it’s pretty much taken for granted as a staple belief within the Evangelical world. But has this always been so, and does it have any biblical basis?
In short: sort of.
What is The Rapture?
This is the primary verse where the doctrine finds its footing:
…then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. — 1 Thessalonians 4:17
On the face of it, that is a pretty obscure (and short) text, yet so much has been written on and speculated about around this event.
I’m not going to cover every aspect of rapture doctrine here, but rather want to just highlight the context of this verse and its parallels in Paul’s other letters, as this seems to get lost under centuries of doctrinal baggage, which, incidentally, also the leads to the next point to look at: is the rapture biblical?
The origin of The Rapture
The word “rapture” itself comes from the Latin word rapere, which means: “to seize” or “to abduct”. It is a translation from the Greek word that is rendered as “caught up” (ἁρπάζω / harpázō) in our English Bibles today.
For many, asking if this belief is biblical is a non-starter because it is assumed so based on 1 Thess. 4 so obviously it is. But this is a presupposition, reading the modern ideas of what “the rapture” means into t...
Luke J. Wilson | 26th October 2016 |
What is the “eighth day” you may ask; surely we know there are only seven days in a week!
But in ancient times, Sunday – which was also known as the first day of the week, was also referred to as the eighth day by Christians.
This day was considered a holy day from the earliest of times by Christians (despite some weak arguments that Constantine, or the Pope, “changed the Sabbath” some 400 years later), and this was because it was the day on which Christ rose from the dead!
I will make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world. For that reason, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day on which Jesus rose again from the dead.
Barnabas, in his epistle, makes the first recorded mention of this day as specifically called the “eighth” which is as early as somewhere between 70 - 130 AD.
But the concept of an "eighth day" isn't new and is found throughout the Scriptures in the Old Testament, specifically in the last of the great feasts: the feast of booths (Leviticus 23:33 onwards), and circumcision on the eighth day after birth. The priests and Nazirites also had seven days of cleansing before offering sacrifices specifically on the eighth day (Numbers 6, Leviticus 8:33ff).
The apostles pick up on these themes, like with the eight people, including Noah, who were “saved through water” (1 Peter 3:20) and how we now have a spiritual circumcision of the heart instead of a physical procedure (Romans 2:29). But if we look back at the gospel in John 7:37-38 and also John 8:12, we can see that during the festival of booths Jesus used the symbols of that festival (water and light) to declare that he himself is the true fulfillment of that! You can read a more in depth explanation of that at jewsforjesus.org.
After Barnabas, we find scattered references in other early writings which show understanding of Christ's fulfillment in these things – such as Justin Martyr, who wrote saying that the...
Luke J. Wilson | 20th July 2016 |
The importance of context of what's being said, and to whom, in Scripture.
I came across this image the other day (in the header above; see larger here) that links together three parts of Matthew’s Gospel to highlight the connection which many often miss, or read as separate events. I like the image because it shows that when Jesus spoke these things, he would have been saying them directly to the disciples and others who were listening to his teaching, and not in some cryptic, ambiguous dictation to a prophetic scribe, devoid of all context and meaning to those around him at the time.
Update Feb 2017: I am adding some additional information to this to display some of the counter arguments/alternative interpretations used by dispensationalists, sometimes also called “Futurists” (those who believe these passages refer to a distant future event centred around the “Second Coming” of Jesus, and is typically the most popular and recent interpretive framework taught in churches today) to try and give a more well rounded view and a defense of the non-dispensational interpretation.
So let's break it down and look at each quote in a bit more detail to see how these all connect together coherently.
Matthew 10 is Jesus telling his disciples about their mission and the persecutions it would entail. He explains to them all the things that would happen to them – "they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me" (Matt 10:17), which we can see fulfilled in Acts (cf. Acts 8:1; Acts 11:19; Acts 13:50; Acts 14:22; Acts 20:23).
Jesus rounds this short discussion off by telling them to flee from one town to the next and that they "will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes." (Matt 10:23), which gives us a time statement and some parameters about the coming of the Son of Man.
On the face of it, this sounds like...
Luke J. Wilson | 25th June 2016 |
Has "Brexit" just spoiled “End Times” prophecy?
In a word, no.
Unless of course you are of a Dispensationalist view, then this sudden exit from the European Union by Britain will have caused you some theological holes you may feel the need to patch up.
There’s already been some satire articles posted in light of this, highlighting the errors of Dispensationalism and its main adherents tendency to interpret Biblical prophecy by the current news headlines. One such article, by The Babylon Bee, poked fun at the current events by writing that “premillenial dispensationalists around the world held emergency meetings Friday morning, frantically adjusting their prophetic charts to include the completely unanticipated new development” and another on Patheos has the headline of “The Antichrist is a Little Sore About One-World Government Plans After Announcement of Brexit”.
As humorous as these articles are, it really does affect this theological view in some serious ways; and as one person on Facebook said to me, they are “completely at a loss” at how this lines up with the “greater scheme” of world events and prophecy. Considering that for years now, many “End Times” preachers have been going on about this “one world government” and predicting that it was all tied up in the EU, I’m not sure how they will fit the current “Brexit” into it ‘officially’ – though I’m sure they will, like some already have by saying things like: “Bible students have long expected Britain to leave the European Union, and current events are fulfilling this Bible Prophecy before our very eyes”, and that they knew “that the EU would only last a short time”.
Except I’ve never heard anyone state that. Ever. Until now, that is.
Many different websites and preachers will tell you that the EU is some type of “revived Roman empire” which sets the stage for a one-world government (which is also the “beast” of Revelation and...
Luke J. Wilson | 27th September 2015 |
September 28th 2015 will be a supermoon and a red moon at that.
I last wrote about these four "blood moons" way back in April last year when certain self-styled prophets John Hagee and Mark Blitz's "End Times" teaching gained some popularity (and subsequent book promotions). One thing that I predicted in my previous article was that if nothing else comes from all of this "end is nigh" nonsense, is that these "prophets" would indeed profit from their books – as has been shown to be true in which the "Four Blood Moons" book has been in the top 20 on the New York Times Best-seller List, and has also recently been turned into a docu-drama!
Other than these pastors reaping in loads of cash from books sales and movie rights via gullible people, there is a potentially worse consequence to all of this: to get on the NYT Best-sellers List it means that hundreds, if not thousands, of Christians have bought the book and have possibly accepted their doctrine of the blood moons. I've seen countless online discussions and Facebook posts concerning all of this, with many believers defending the doctrine vehemently, many of whom often have a very strong Zionist emphasis. Without the nation of Israel being something special, these predictions fail.
That is also another issue with these predictions: they are based on the assumption that the natural, national Jewish people are still God's chosen people who are separate from Gentile (non-Jewish) believers. That there are two "chosen people," two covenants with two different ways in which God deals and interacts with the people concerned. This leads to the Zionist theology that can be seen mainly in America, although it does come across sometimes here in the UK too, where Churches and Christian organisations are striving so hard to "Support Israel" with time, money and resources because they have also bought into this line of thinking. But it isn't so, and I'm not sure how it can be when the New Testament repea...