The Rapture is a human construct. This need not be a controversial statement amongst Christians. Look past dogmatic schematics and study the Scriptures in context of historic Hebrew prophets, Jesus’ own words and historic evidence before us. ♦
When it comes to topics like eschatology (study of End Times), the truth is that many Christians simply take what others have told us as gospel truth. I know I did for many years before diving into deep study of the book of Daniel and Revelation that opened my eyes to all points of views, not just the one I’d grown up hearing. Many American Christians have simply relied on legacy dogma, well-intentioned but silent or mainstay pastoral teaching, popular books (John Hagee, John Walvoord, Tim LaHaye), a book series (Left Behind), and small and large doses of misinformation and bandwagon teaching.
More Debatable Teaching
Again, many Christians believe that there will be a Second Coming of Christ (see 3/23 post Rapture Miscalculations). While there has always been a futile debate of when, there should also be a real question and review of who says? Yes, Christ himself, in Matthew 24, specifically predicts that “people will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, in power and glory.” But this is a direct reference to the ‘Son of Man’ imagery used in the book of Daniel when prophesying of the demise of the last kingdom (Rome) that would signal the end of the Jewish Age; that is, after historic Babylon, the Medes & Persians, and Greece. This is also the same words used by Christ when he was before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin on the evening of his trial. At these very words, the high priest tore his clothes in anguish and claimed “He has spoken blasphemy!” and steered Christ toward a Roman death sentence. Certainly the high priest did not think Jesus was referring to his coming, post-rapture, 2000 years later.
Clouds Have Symbolic Meaning
In the scriptures, clouds symbolically represent a covering and the context determines what it is that covers, such as God’s care, God’s wrath, armies, etc. (See Exodus 13:21-22 and Job 37:11-16.) Generally coming on a cloud as used by the Old Testament prophets represents God’s coming with armies. He is directing one army against someone else in judgment. (See Isaiah 19:1, Jeremiah 4:13; Mark 13:24-26; Matthew 24:30 and 26:64.)
In Matthew 24, Jesus is speaking about his coming in judgment. But who is God judging here? The judgment is on apostate or disbelieving Israel, who had sealed their fate with their wholesale rejection of God’s Son, the Messiah, in their own midst. The book of Revelation, read in this light, or heard as it literally was by an emerging Church made up of many ex-Hebrews in Jerusalem and surrounding regions who were following the “new way” even unto death in martyrdom (tribulation), was a last prophetic warning of the coming sentence and destructive judgment of the Jewish nation. Of course, this prediction came historically true in AD 70.
I believe we should consider Christ “returning” twice: once in final judgment of fallen Israel in AD 70 (a final blow of curses for disobedience per Deuteronomy 28), and once more, someday, in final judgment of a fallen world. Relative to Christ’s prophetic call in Matthew 24, most miss or ignore the connection to his own disciples and current generation (“Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass till all these things take place” – Matthew 24:34), as well as the fulfillment of this prophesy in the Roman total destruction of Jerusalem, the once faithful city now turned harlot (Revelation 17), and the decimation of the Holy Temple. All of this took place 40 years later (within a generation) as He returned in final holy judgment against a thoroughly warned and disobedient Jewish nation who now had rejected and killed their promised Messiah.
With over 500 Old Testament references, the imagery, language and historical context of the book of Revelation reveal it to be the ample warning it literally was to the early Christian church. Most early Jewish Christians knew their Old Testament scriptures and got out of town (Jerusalem) before the 3 and a half year Roman siege and massacre occurred in AD 70 in which up to 1 million Jews were killed. Yes, Christ nailed the prediction and John was shown the vision/warning “revelation” of Christ and spread the word. The early Church survived and the rest is history.
Such teaching may disturb you as it rattles long-held beliefs and notions. But ask yourself: Who told you otherwise?
“The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.” (Revelation 1:1)