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Matthew 24 > The Return of the King

December 2, 2007

As a kid I dreaded the rapture. First, I lived in constant fear that I would come home and find that my whole family minus me would be raptured away and I’d be left to fend for myself among a host of godless pagans. I would literally come home from school some days and if I didn’t see someone in the house instantly a mild panic would settle over me and I would literally run through the house yelling for my mom until I got visual confirmation that she was in fact not raptured and I wasn’t left behind. Thankfully she never was. The other dread producing item was there was so much I wanted to experience here on earth. I had never had sex and felt like i was in a pickle because I had to wait till i was married but what if the rapture happened before I had the opportunity? I also dreamed of visiting the gorgeous natural places of the earth. I loved the outdoors and camping and fantasized at an early age about seeing far off wonder lands like Montana, Colorado, Yellowstone park, the Grand Tetons… and the ultimate, Alaska. I was worried God would destroy all of these places with fire (not a flood; i wasn’t stupid) before I had a chance to see them. I actually used to imagine God showing me video footage in heaven of all these places before he decided to torch them. As you can tell, I had serious issues with the rapture. I believed it was true but I dreaded it and it scared the hell out of me… which in some ways was probably the point of it or at least why my earliest teachers taught it. My end times theology has undergone a vast restoration in recent years. ( I wanted to do a joke here about “Pimping my Eschatology” but could figure out how to fit it in.) Matthew 24 begins with Jesus disciples ooohhh-ing and ahhh-ing about the temple architecture. Jesus is not so impressed and tells them it will be a pile of rubble someday. Was Jesus a prophet and did he know that in AD 70 that very temple would literally be a rubble heap just 35 years from when he said that? < insert teenage girl voice here > Uhhhh, yeahh!   So the disciples ask the obvious question, “When will this happen?” Jesus response is clearly given to them in a way that only makes sense if he thought they (or most of them) would literally live through it. Read the rest of the chapter that way and see if it makes more sense. It did for me. Especially the part about “This generation will not pass away until all these things have happened.” (Matthew 24.34) That is pretty pretty clear. And he said “all these things.” That is startling. He expected a timely fulfillment to all the prophecies of Matthew 24. Either he was right on that or he got it wrong. If he got it wrong he was a false prophet and everything about him is necessarily thrown into question. We would then have to conclude or at least wonder if the Bible is trustworthy, or worse, if Christ is trustworthy.  Serious stuff, my friend, hinges on this passage. So what about the clear reference to the rapture where Jesus says 2 men will be working in a field and one will be taken…. and (to show that he is not sexist) he then says two women will be grinding flour and one taken, one left behind. (Mt 24:40-41) The question must be asked, who will be left behind and who will be taken? Right before this passage Jesus references Noah and the flood… who was taken in the flood? (hint: it was the unrighteous) and who was ‘left behind’ (i.e. saved) ? (hint: it was the righteous) And this is where the ‘yeahbutts’ start….Yeah but, yeah but…. Didn’t Paul say Christ’s people will “meet him in the air” (in I Thessalonians 4 I think)… yes he did. But the language there is not such that Christ will meet them in the air and then ‘take them to heaven.’ The language has more to do with meeting a conquering King outside a city and then processing into the city victorious with the King at the front of the line. That is Christ coming back to earth to announce his place as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.The rapture is often taught as an escape from earth… but God is very pro-earth. That’s why Christ taught us to pray “Your kingdom come and will be done ON EARTH as it is in heaven…” and why the New Jerusalem descends from heaven to earth in Revelation 22. Yeah but… didn’t Peter (I Peter 3?) say that God is going to destroy the earth with fire… No he didn’t. That passage has to do with Christ purifying the earth not destroying it. Fire is for purifying < cue the Vineyard song, “Refiner’s Fire”… >  ….and I’m spent…  

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. George permalink
    December 3, 2007 2:51 am

    Hilarious. I had the same thoughts as a kid…”Mom? Dad? (Long pause). Could it be that the Rapture has happened and I’ve been left behind?” I even remember seeing a wacky movie about the Rapture at church–there was a scene at the end where anyone left behind who didn’t receive the mark of the beast faced the guillotine. Nice.

    Today at church our pastor’s homily was from Matthew 24. Advent is like an “Alarm Clock” within the church calendar. It wakes us up to the reality that Christ HAS come and IS coming again.

    I like your take on Matthew 24 and eschatology. It sounds a lot like NT Wright.

  2. December 3, 2007 11:22 am

    exactly…what is up with the scare-tactics. i saw that movie and i remember having a dream where everyone was gone but me…and the werewolves…

    thanks for sharing your own childhood nightmare

    even so, come Lord Jesus…

  3. December 6, 2007 10:15 pm

    Me too! It happened to me when I was a kid and when I was freaking out on drugs in my late teens. The Lord uses fear too. Thankfully He has brought me past all the fear stuff and into a mature relationship with him.

  4. December 10, 2007 12:55 pm

    time to take that trip to the himalaya’s… i gotz connectionz over there… say the word

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