The Pursuit of God

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No Rapture Before the End Times: Why It’s Not a Bummer

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End time theories in the Church are like clothing fashions.  In the world of clothing, new styles emerge, they become super popular, then they fade away.  After a popular fashion trend has come to an end, there are always some people who keep wearing the style, while others move on to the next trend.  In the same way, if we look over the history of the Church’s theories about how the end times will play out, we can see new theories emerge, become super popular, then fade into the background when another theory emerges.  Today we can still find some Christians who are hanging onto theories that had their heyday centuries ago.  But we can also see that the Church is pushing one end time theory much harder than any others. 

Today’s popular theory–which goes by the awkward name of dispensational premillenialsm—tells you to obsess over the political nation of Israel, expect the rise of an antichrist figure, and fear some terrible tribulation during which Christians will be brutally persecuted (see The Modern Christian View of the End Times: Its Origin & Its Absurdity).  But the current theory also offers a new kind of hope: it guarantees that current Christians won’t have to endure the whole period of tribulation.  Instead, it predicts that we’ll all be magically raptured out of this world either right before the tribulation starts, or partway through it.   This theory of a pre-trib or mid-trib rapture is a fairly new idea.  If we look back over time to when all of this end time hoopla began in the early Church, we can see four major theories becoming popular.  The three that came before today’s theory didn’t include the idea of an early rapture.  Before the current end time theory became popular, the only rapture Christians looked forward to was the Second Coming of Christ.  But at some point we got tired of waiting for that moment to come, so we cooked up the idea of a second rapture—one that comes years before the Second Coming.  So today we expect a pre-rapture rapture: one which will only benefit current believers.  The theory is that after we all get whisked out of here, some of those who get left behind to grind through the tribulation will become Christians, and those new converts will be the ones who get raptured during the Second Coming (assuming they live long enough to see it).

RAPTURES IN THE BIBLE

So what does the Bible say about this rapture business?  Well, the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus’ return was supposed to take place centuries before the fall of the Roman Empire…and yet here we still are.  And that’s a mess.  You see, the Roman Empire was alive and well when Jesus gave the end time prophecies that you’re taught to rely on for guidance today.  Shortly before His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus sat down with His disciples and laid out a specific timeline for how the end of the world would play out.  He said the Temple would be destroyed and that the Romans would brutally attack the Jews.  He said that His own followers would be viciously persecuted by both Jews and Romans, and then He countered all of this bad news by promising that the whole ordeal would be very brief—no more than a matter of decades.  He promised that His glorious Second Coming would occur within the lifetimes of the folks who were currently alive on the planet.  So what Jesus said was fabulous news—at least the part where He guaranteed that He’d return so quickly.

“I assure you: This generation will certainly not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.” (Matt. 24:34-35)

With Jesus using such adamant language, His followers believed Him, because how could they not?  Jesus promised them, and God never goes back on His promises…right?  It’s because of Jesus that we find the New Testament authors declaring that they were truly living in the last days.  They had every right to make this claim, based on what Jesus had told them.  Peter writes:

Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer. (1 Pet. 4:7)

John writes:

Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. (1 Jn. 2:18)

So were they right?  No, they’d been completely snowed by Jesus, who was being quite intentional and strategic in lying to everyone the way that He did.   When it comes to motivating humans in the midst of hard times, false hopes are every bit as effective as real hopes.  Why do you think this is?  Because it’s how our Creators designed us to work.  First Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit create humans who are very easy to both deceive and inspire, then They use a bunch of deception in Their dealings with us.

So with Jesus putting out such a clear timeframe for when the end of the world was supposed to happen, why do you find the Church today talking like the Second Coming is still coming?  Because no one wants to face the fact that Jesus so intentionally lied to His followers.  Today Christians think that if they cling to the lie that God never lies, somehow that will make God lying a non-issue.  And yet all it’s doing is causing the whole Church to go down the road of idiocy by clinging to a bunch of end time predictions which have been so clearly disproved.

UNDERSTANDING JESUS IN CONTEXT

Once you stop lying to yourself about what Jesus said, you realize that everything Jesus said about the end times is as useless to us as all of those yahoos who told us that the world was going to end in 2000.  Jesus simply didn’t attempt to give modern day Christians any pointers about end time events.  But His false predictions do give us a lot of useful insights about how God works with humans. Rather than leave His disciples traumatized with abandonment issues after His ascension into the clouds, Jesus gave them all cause to hope that He’d be back any minute.

For a guy like Peter, who had given up everything to follow a Man who he thought was Israel’s Messiah, Jesus’ crucifixion was an epic trauma.  Just when Peter is reeling with all of that grief, Jesus comes back from the grave, which pitches Peter into a whole new kind of quandary.  But before Peter can settle back into a comfortable dynamic with his beloved Mentor, Jesus up and leaves him again.  Peter was in desperate need of some hope to hang onto—especially since Jesus totally failed so many expectations that the Jews had for Israel’s Messiah.  Jesus didn’t free Israel from Roman oppression, He didn’t set Himself up as a great king in Jerusalem, and He certainly didn’t lead Israel into some golden age of prosperity.  According to the Scriptures the Jews had to go by—which we call the Old Testament—Jesus failed to fulfill many of Yahweh’s predictions about what His Messiah would be like.  Suddenly we’ve got lies popping up everywhere as it starts becoming clear how intentionally both Yahweh and Jesus misled the Jews with the Messiah business.  How is a guy like Peter supposed to process such a theological mess?  How are any of Jesus’ disciples supposed to keep pressing on in the face of so many new questions and epic disappointments?  And for a guy like the apostle John—who would outlive Peter and witness the horrifying destruction of Yahweh’s Temple in Jerusalem—there was a desperate need for Jesus to put some kind of hope on the horizon.  So that’s what Jesus did. As He was breaking the terrible news that Yahweh’s Temple was going to be destroyed again, He threw in a promise that He’d return very soon—so soon that there was a very good chance that some of the original twelve would live to see it.

For ethnic Jews, Jesus’ announcement that the Temple was going to get leveled was as traumatic as it would be for modern Americans to suddenly be told that the White House was about to get razed to the ground.  The Temple was a powerful symbol of hope, security, and national pride for Jews.  As long as the Temple was standing, it felt like Israel was still standing, even in the midst of Roman oppression.  But when the Temple was destroyed, the Jews felt like Israel had been thrown to the ground with Rome stomping on her face.  Symbols are very powerful for humans.  Once we start relying on physical things to maintain our hopes and beliefs, then when those things get harmed, we end up in a major crisis (see Symbol Warfare in the End Times).

Today no one talks about the particular crisis that Jesus’ disciples were in.  No one takes the time to appreciate all of the hopes those men had riding on Jesus, and how badly those hopes were dashed when Jesus went through with His crucifixion plans.  Today we’re constantly ripping off words that Jesus spoke to a very specific audience and pretending that He was really talking to all of us today.  We do the same with many of Yahweh’s words, and by the time we’re acting like every word in the Bible was specifically written to us, we’re naturally going to be drowning in delusions.

How egotistical is it to say that Jesus was talking to modern day Christians when the text clearly states who His actual audience was?  Revelation is not a letter to modern day believers: it was a message that was given directly to the apostle John and it was specifically addressed to seven churches in the Roman Empire.

This letter is from John to the seven churches in the province of Asia. (Rev. 1:4)

How do you jam “modern day Christians” into this very clear and specific address?  No one is talking to us in the book of Revelation.  And when Jesus gave His famous Olivet Discourse—the speech in which He predicted His Second Coming—He was having a private conversation with four of His disciples.

Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives across the valley from the Temple. Peter, James, John, and Andrew came to Him privately and asked Him, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will show us that these things are about to be fulfilled?” (Mk. 13:3)

How can we possibly argue that Jesus was talking to us when He was having a private conversation with four specific men? We can’t.  But when we deflate our massive egos and stop pretending that Jesus can’t open His mouth without addressing our current generation, then we can finally see that when Jesus said “this generation will not pass away” before His return, He meant the generation of folks that Peter, James, John and Andrew considered themselves to be members of—a generation that died off centuries ago.  And since Jesus swore that His Second Coming would occur before that generation died off, clearly Jesus was deceiving people.

As God, Jesus knows the end from the beginning—He defines what the future will be.  Today, we should understand this, because we’re not stuck viewing Jesus through the eyes of Peter, Andrew, James and John.  But for those four, it was not clear who Jesus was.  They knew He was special, but they were miles from seeing Him as equal to the magnificent Yahweh.  It was because those four men were not viewing Jesus as God Almighty that they so easily bought Jesus’ ridiculous claim to not have all future knowledge.

“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son Himself. Only the Father knows.” (Matt. 24:36)

As a modern day Christian, you should find this a rather humorous fib because you’re supposed to understand that Jesus is God Almighty.  But do you get a chuckle out of this obvious lie?  Or do you view Jesus as being subordinate to Yahweh—some kind of lesser Being who doesn’t get told all of the important scoop because Yahweh doesn’t view Jesus as worthy of having top security clearance?  You see, once you ignore the original audience and historical context of Divine predictions, you end up in a major mess.  When Jesus made this comment about not knowing when He was scheduled to return to earth, He was speaking to four Jewish monotheists—men who believed that Yahweh was the only true God.  Today you’re supposed to understand that there are three Gods: Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  You’re supposed to understand that Jesus is far more capable and magnificent than the early apostles ever grasped.  You’re supposed to be seeing how wrong the early apostles were to portray Jesus as a bumbling created being who had to “learn obedience through suffering” and who needed Yahweh to raise Him back to life because He was too impotent to raise Himself (see How the NT Epistles Define Christ: Not God, Just Another Flawed Human).

Today you’re supposed to be shaping your theology based on the current convictions that God is giving you—and if you do this,  you will end up perceiving Jesus much differently than the New Testament Jews did. But instead of encouraging you to listen to what God is teaching you today, the Church pressures you to imitate a bunch of Jewish monotheists who lived and died many centuries ago.  She teaches you to hang on the words of men like Paul, who taught that Jesus was just another human who will be sharing His power and glory with us when we get to the other side. And yet is this really who Christ is?  Of course not.

RELYING ON GOD DIRECTLY

If you really got it through your head that your Creators are actively teaching you in your life today, then you’d stop being so intimidated by the fact that the Bible doesn’t contain any end time predictions that are relevant to you. All of the predictions you find in the Old and New Testaments were only valid for folks who are long dead.  Yahweh is never talking to you when He prophesies to various nations in the Old Testament, and Jesus wasn’t talking to you when He put out a very specific timetable of end time events for His Jewish disciples.  In the book of Revelation, neither Jesus nor Yahweh are trying to give you tips about what your experience of the end times will be like.  But so what?  So what if your Gods weren’t dropping hints about the real end times thousands of years in advance?  Why should They?  You weren’t alive on the planet 2,000 years ago.  You’re on the planet today, and what you need is relevant information about what God wants from you today.  If He’s about to start some global crisis in your lifetime, it would be quite helpful if He were to give you a heads up about this using language and metaphors that you can understand in your current historical context.  It worked for ancient Jews for Jesus to talk about fig trees, slaves, and bridegrooms, but today you could really use Him to talk to you in your current vernacular.  It really doesn’t help you for God to wax on about Babylon, Gog and Magog.  The nations of your world go by different names than they did in ancient times.  Is God willing to address modern issues in a modern style, or is He the kind of Creator who likes to sit back and watch you endlessly stress and struggle over language and symbolism that you don’t understand?

With the end times about to begin, it’s time for you to reject the very negative view of God that the Church is always shoving on you.  When it comes to the end times, she always points you back to ancient documents that only end up confusing you, or she sends you in to get endlessly jerked around by a pool of false prophets who couldn’t care less about your spiritual well-being.  She never points you to God directly—instead she takes every opportunity to undermine your confidence that God would ever bother with some numskull who has never even been to Bible school.  Well, the Church is a rebellious idiot, which is why she has less wisdom than a fork.  God has not left you at the mercy of these bloodthirsty vipers who go around spouting endless words in Jesus’ Name and prophesying great things for anyone who they think they can personally profit from.  God certainly doesn’t expect you to look to the Bible for end time predictions when the He knows that the Bible does not address the subject of the real end times.  If you really want to know the truth, you need to cut out the middlemen and start treating God like He’s actually the God of you—not just the God of everyone else.  You need to own Him as your Shepherd, your Guide, and your personal Source of truth.  When you stop throwing Him over for every irreverent human who is trying to make a buck off your gullibility, you’ll discover how much He can be counted on to lead you personally in life.

Regardless of whether you call yourself a Christian or not, God is constantly communicating with you in life.  His guidance floods into your life through countless channels, only one of which is words He speaks through other humans. Is He really planning to whisk Christians out of here before He pitches the world into a new kind of chaos?  No, He’s not.  Unless He kills you off very soon, you’re going to be here for the start of the end times.  There isn’t going to be any rapture.  But there’s not going to be an antichrist, a global persecution of Christians, or a one world government, either.  Your end times theology has been greatly impacted by fools who are refusing to respect the historical context of Scriptures.  If you’re going to step out of the lies and get on track with truth, you need to ask God to fix anything that’s wrong with your current expectations about the end times.  You need to go into this period relying on God directly and trusting in His willingness to guide you.  When strange things start happening, it’s God you need to immediately turn to, not some fool in the Church who thinks collecting a bunch of manmade degrees at some useless seminary gives him a free pass to disrespect God in his personal life.  If you treat God with respect in your own life, and root your trust in Him alone, then He will certainly guide you through this period and steer you clear of all kinds of deception and fear.  But if you refuse to treat God with respect, and if you insult Him by refusing to acknowledge His involvement in your life while you worship idiot leaders who are misinterpreting everything God does, then He will find creative ways to discipline you for your foul attitude.

THE IMPORTANCE OF SOUL ATTITUDES

While the Bible is useless on the subject of the real end times, it does provide us with many valuable lessons about the kinds of soul attitudes that our Gods want from us.  In the Bible we find both Yahweh and Jesus saying harsh things towards those who are treating the wisdom of humans as being superior to the wisdom of God.  In the Old Testament, Israelite leaders brought all kinds of misery down on their heads for trying to handle crises on their own.  Instead of asking Yahweh for guidance and obeying His instructions, Jewish kings tried to solve their problems with money, manpower, war, and alliances.  Yahweh retaliated by intentionally sabotaging people’s plans. When Israel sought help through military alliances, Yahweh made her allies turn against her and attack her.  When she tried to buy off her oppressors, He pitched her into even worse oppression.  When she clung to false gods as her saviors, Yahweh destroyed the whole nation.  Then Jesus came onto the scene, and in the Gospel books we find Him frequently ripping on Israel for her misplaced faith. The Jews of Jesus’ time were blindly believing whatever their human preachers told them.  No one was bothering to ask God what He thought of the teaching that was being put out in Jewish synagogues.  No one bothered to question the way Pharisees like Paul were applying Scriptures.  Instead of sincerely living for Yahweh, Jewish leaders were just using the idea of Yahweh to manipulate the masses, and the masses were glad to be manipulated.  It was the rebellious Pharisees and Sadducees that people cared about pleasing—not God Himself.

Today we’re still sucking up to the rebels of ancient Israel as we call dingdongs like Solomon “wise” and praise the apostle Paul as a brilliant theologian.  We teach our children to admire twerps like Samson, Gideon and Jonah while we pretend that blatantly defying God as those men did is no big deal.  We rip lines from the book of Psalms that please our egos while never acknowledging how foul the soul attitudes of many psalm writers were.  A man might be acting like a self-righteous, entitled brat who is bossing Yahweh all over the place, but if his name is David and if his tantrum is expressed in the form of a psalm, then we call it “Divinely inspired” (see Psalm 35: Bratty David Bosses Yahweh). It doesn’t matter if some human is spitting on Yahweh’s principles and demanding that He bless people who delight in insulting Him—because a bunch of spiritual morons have decided to include the man’s rant in a collection of “sacred Scriptures,” that means God has to like what is being said (see Psalm 74: Asaph Flaunts His Contempt for Yahweh).

Today most Christians are refusing to seek the wisdom of God directly in life, and God is retaliating by keeping the Church shoved down in a sea of corruption.  Our leaders are idiots, our doctrines are useless, our rituals are rebellious, and our faith is rooted in lies which we endlessly rehearse with our snarky prayers.  While we direct our awe at angels and demons, we treat Jesus like some spineless Pushover who died on a cross because He couldn’t stand the thought of living without us.  And yet no matter how much effort we put into minimizing Christ, bashing on Yahweh, and objectifying the Holy Spirit, our Gods remain the Supreme Authorities over all that is created.  We are already being judged by Them, and we are about to cross the threshold of a period in which They will be flaunting Their infinite ability to make us suffer in hideous ways.  These Gods who the Church teaches you to constantly command, disrespect, and mock are not Beings who you want to be provoking during the end times.  Our tiny little imaginations do not even conceive of the kinds of plagues and problems They are going to be rolling out during this period.  How stupid is it to withhold submission from the Gods who control your quality of life?  You cannot die until They say, and you cannot choose what methods They will use to kill you off.

Here’s a sobering thought: as a modern day Christian, you are basing your expectations about Heaven on the book of Revelation—a book which cannot possibly be taken literally.   In the Church today, you’re taught to assume you can toss some half-hearted suck up prayer at Jesus, spend your life living for you, then end up in some perfect Paradise.  Well, who says Heaven is a paradise?  On what are you basing the idea that there will be “no more tears” in that place?  You get all of that from Revelation—from a vision that was specifically given to John and addressing seven churches in the Roman Empire.  No one is talking to you about Heaven in the Bible, and an honest look at the Heaven imagery in Revelation proves the whole package to be far from accurate (see Applying Revelation 21: A Disturbing Paradise).  If you can’t depend on descriptions of Heaven in the Bible, then what can you know about eternity?  All you can know is that you are entirely at the mercy of your Creators.  Where They decide to place you and how They decide to treat you in the next life is entirely up to Them.  The only thing you have to go on is Them telling you that how you’re treating Them in this life will play a big role in how They chose to treat you later on.  So how are you treating Them?  Are you treating Them like the Supreme Authorities that They are, or are you treating Them like your Servants who exist to make your life better?  When you pray, what kinds of things are you asking for?  Do you even bother to ask how They want you to spend the life They have given you, or are you only interested in Them helping you get your own agenda done?  What if They don’t want what you want—what then?  Whose opinion should matter more—yours or Theirs?  They effortlessly sustain whole universes, while you can’t even breathe without Them making your lungs work.  You see, life is not about you—it’s not about any of us.  We humans were designed to revolve around our Creators: to focus on Them, pursue relationships with Them, and live to please Them.  We are called to seek, trust, and follow Them.  When we submit to Them, we thrive.  But when we blow Them off, we only incite Their wrath against us.

When you’re an all-powerful God, you don’t have to put up with anyone’s attitude.  You don’t owe anyone a comfortable life, you don’t have to take orders from anyone, and you can dish out whatever rewards and punishments you feel like dishing out.  When you’re a created speck of a human, you have zero control over what your Creators do to you—all you can do is make the most of the very limited choices They give you.  When They invite you closer to Them, you can choose to either ignore Them or run towards Them.  When They speak, you can choose to listen or not.  Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit tell us that the soul choices we make are the only chance we have of affecting how They will handle us in eternity.  Then They tell us that the end times are at the door, which means that we’re suddenly all running short on time to make wise soul choices.  In normal life, it’s easy to tell yourself that you’ve got plenty of time to get around to God. But during the end times, we’re going to see the number of human fatalities increase to staggering heights.  What happens when God starts wiping out whole cities and millions of people are dying simultaneously?  Ready or not, those souls will suddenly find themselves thrust into a very different kind of dimension where they will be forced to deal with the Gods who created them.

CHERISHING THE PRIVILEGE

Time becomes a precious gift when you realize that time is all that stands between you and a tidal wave of consequences for the soul choices you’ve made during this life.  The longer you are here, the more chances you will have to please your Creators with your soul’s response to Them.  Since time is so critical, you should be greatly relieved to realize that the theory of a rapture is hooey.  You really don’t want God to suddenly whisk you away in the midst of some spiritual bratittude.  And why would you want to miss out on experiencing the end times when there are so many valuable lessons to be learned during that period?

There’s no such thing as having too much reverence for God, and nothing deepens reverence faster than having God thrust miracles of mass destruction in your face.  When you see God tossing skyscrapers around like toys, defying the laws of physics, and doing things to human anatomy that you didn’t know were possible, you’re not just going to be revering Him: you’re also going to realize how utterly dependent you are on Him.  Reverence drives submission.  Dependency deepens trust.  Living in the end times is going to be like having God stomp on the accelerator of your personal spiritual development.  The challenges will come flying at you, and the crises will suck you in.  The only way you’re going to thrive in this period is by throwing yourself wholly into God’s hands, and throwing out your long list of things that “God would never do.”

It’s not some limited fool of a human who will be directing this period, but three limitless Gods with infinite power and absolute control who are perfectly brilliant at accomplishing Their agendas with humans.  You can either submit to Them, or you can try to war against Them. The choice is yours to make, and yours to live with afterwards.  If you’re wise, you’ll choose the route of submission and not gripe about the fact that God has chosen to involve you in His end time drama.  It is a privilege to be invited to participate in this period. It is a thrilling opportunity to be epically challenged.  It’s a chance to have your personal definition of God massively revised, expanded and improved.  It’s an invitation to trust your Creators as you have never trusted Them before.  To be raptured away and miss out on all of this?  That would be a bummer.

FURTHER READING:
Divine Judgment in the End Times: Dealing with a Less Patient God
Miracles in the End Times: The Mechanics & The God-Honoring Response
Prepping for the End Times: The Non-American Advantage
Understanding the Purpose of Terror in the End Times
Your End Times Faith Crisis: Staying Aligned with a Scary God
The End Time Prophet: Driving Us Closer to God
The Resurrection Myth: Why the Dead in Christ Won’t Really Rise

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