Eclectic Intellectic

An eclectic mix of intellectual writings

Archive for February, 2014

Raptureless is wrong

Posted by Kreikey on February 17, 2014

I read the first three chapters of Raptureless, by Jonathan Welton. It’s wrong on multiple fronts.

First, the rapture is not a new idea, going back to the Epistle of Barnabas (100 A.D.), Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Justin Martyr, and Ephraem the Syrian (4th Century).

Of course what people think doesn’t matter in comparison to what the Bible teaches, so secondly, the Bible does in fact teach the rapture as a distinct event. Welton lists four main passages used to defend the rapture, and omits a fifth.

The first is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and related verses in 2 Thessalonians and 2 Corinthians. He correctly states that it refers to the resurrection of the dead, but erroneously assumes that it refers to the final return of Christ. There is no reason why the resurrection shouldn’t happen at the rapture, and why those resurrected shouldn’t go to heaven for a time. Welton suggests that “meeting the Lord in the air” means meeting Him here on the ground, in the atmosphere, at the final return of Christ. But this ignores the rest of the verse, which states that we will be caught up with “them” in the clouds. In that context, it clearly means the sky, not the ground. Since Jesus ascended physically into the sky, this isn’t so far-fetched.

The second is Matthew 24:40-41, where “one will be taken, and one will be left.” Welton suggests this refers to random killings by the Romans in 70 A.D., but it clearly refers to the “coming of the Son of Man.” It’s a stretch to say that the Son of Man came in 70 A.D. More likely, it refers to the rapture, or to the unsaved being taken to judgment at the end of the tribulation. Both satisfy the requirement that it happens at the “coming of the Son of Man.”

The third is Revelation 4:1, where a voice tells John to come up to heaven and see the things “which must take place after this.” I’ve never heard it suggested that this refers to the rapture, so the argument is a straw-man. But if Welton took the book of Revelation seriously, he would recognize that the 1260 days, 42 months, and “time, times and half a time” spoken of in future chapters parallel those in the book of Daniel, amounting each to 3 1/2 Jewish years, and that two such periods equals 7 years, or “one week” as Daniel puts it, which is cut in half by the “abomination of desolation” which Jesus refers to in Matthew 24. Thus he would recognize that, the events of A.D. 70 notwithstanding, a 7-year period of tribulation is still to come. As Chuck Missler said, “He gives it to us in everything but nanoseconds.”

The fourth is Revelation 12:5, where the Child who is to rule all nations is caught up to God and His throne. It’s talking about Jesus, of course, but that doesn’t preclude the rapture. In fact, we can draw parallels between Jesus’ resurrection and ours. Welton says that the Greek word translated “caught up” is used only once in the Bible, in 1 Thess. 4:17. That is not true, as it is also used in Rev. 12:5. Welton suggests that “caught up” means being changed into our glorified bodies, and no doubt that is part of what will happen. But what happened to Jesus? He was “caught up” literally and physically to God and His throne. So it’s perfectly reasonable to believe that we, also, will physically be “caught up” to God and be in His presence, in Heaven.

The fifth passage, which Welton omits, is John 14:3, which reads: “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” This is in the same context where Jesus tells us that He is going to the Father, and that in His Father’s house, there are many rooms. Where did Jesus go? He literally, physically, went to the Father, to Heaven. Where will we go when He comes back? To the Father, to Heaven. I think this is the most important verse about the rapture.

The Bible teaches an imminent return of Christ. This is not just conveyed in Matthew 24:36, but also in 1 Thessalonians 5:2, which reads: “For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.” This is incompatible with the final return of Christ, since that event will be announced 7 years in advance, by the signing of a covenant between the Jews and the Antichrist, as per Daniel 9:27. Anyone reading those passages the day the covenant is signed can safely assume that Jesus will return 2,520 days later. So “no one knows the day or the hour” cannot be true at that time. Thus, Jesus must have already returned in an imminent fashion by that time. Jesus doesn’t say “I will give you a seven year warning before I return.” He said “I will come like a thief” (Rev. 3:3). Notice also that those words were written down by the apostle John around 90 A.D. according to most scholars. So even after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the return of Christ was and is still imminent. The fact that Christ will return imminently supports the idea of the rapture. The rapture is the imminent return of Christ sometime before the final 7-year tribulation.

A third error Welton makes in Raptureless is suggesting that the Tribulation happened in 70 A.D. The key to disproving this is Daniel 9. Verse 27 reads: “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” This is the Abomination of Desolation that Jesus referred to in Matthew 24:15-16, which reads: “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.” One could argue that the exact term is not used in the Daniel verse, but the exact term is used in Daniel 12:11, where an angel tells Daniel: “From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.” Notice that the sacrifice is abolished, and that half of 7 * 360 is 1260. The angel also refers to this final period as “time, times, and half a time,” or 3 1/2 years of 360 days. There may be some significance to the extra 30 days in the 1,290 day period, but that is not important here. What matters is that the Abomination of Desolation mentioned in Daniel 12 is also referred to in Daniel 9. This event has not happened yet. Nowhere in history was such a 7-year covenant made. Nowhere was such a covenant broken 3 1/2 years into it, putting a stop to sacrifice and grain offering. Nowhere in history did the Abomination of Desolation stand in the holy place (the Jewish temple) and proclaim himself to be God. How do we know that he will proclaim himself to be God? 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 states: “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.” So we can draw a direct line between Daniel 9, Matthew 24, and 2 Thessalonians 2. We see that a man breaks a 7-year covenant 3 1/2 years into it, puts a stop to sacrifice in a physical temple, goes inside the temple, proclaiming himself to be God, and demands to be worshiped. Titus didn’t do this, and neither did Antiochus Epiphanes (though he foreshadowed it in some respects). Jesus and Paul make it clear that this event, the fulfillment of Daniel 9, is yet future from their perspective.

A simpler way to prove a future tribulation is to note that Daniel 9:27 occurs after the second temple has been destroyed. See, the final week is part of 70 weeks, which are broken up into 7+62 weeks and a final week, which are not contiguous. the 7+62 weeks culminated in the Messiah. Since then, we have been in an “intermission” time, waiting for the final week to begin. This is proven by the fact that events are mentioned which happen after the 7+62 weeks but before the final week. Daniel 9:26 reads: “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.” Notice that the temple, the sanctuary, is destroyed, which was fulfilled in 70 A.D. under Titus. And yet, the Abomination of Desolation had not yet happened! This proves that the Tribulation has not yet happened, and that a new temple will stand in the future, and a literal Antichrist will make a 7-year covenant, only to break it. To make it really simple, Daniel 9:26 talks about the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., while the next verse talks about the abomination of desolation, which implies that a temple is standing. The abomination of desolation could not have happened in 70 A.D. because it must happen after the temple is destroyed and rebuilt.

A fourth error, one that is glaringly obvious, is that the events of 70 A.D. were not the greatest period of distress that the world has ever seen. Even for the Jews, it was not the worst time in their history. Yes, more than a million Jews died during the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., but about 6 million Jews died during the Nazi Holocaust, between 1933 and 1945. Titus’ war was a war to restore order, while Hitler’s campaign was a deliberate attempt to wipe out all the Jews of Europe. If Hitler’s plans had not been cut short, then all the Jews in the entire world may have been wiped out. And yet, Jesus’ warning was even more encompassing, in that no flesh would be saved if those days were not cut short. A plain reading of that means no humans at all, or even animals. Everything would be wiped out. World War II has been the most destructive war known to man, so if any period in history qualifies as the time of greatest distress, it is World War II, and yet it seems that even this time period does not fit all that is prophesied in Matthew 24 and its parallels.

Welton claims to have been inspired by the Holy Spirit. No doubt he is sincere, but that doesn’t mean he is correct. The Bible is the Word of God, and if any person’s revelation contradicts that, then it is the person who got it wrong, not the Bible. Since Welton’s views contradict what the Bible teaches, as I have demonstrated, I conclude that he heard wrong, or has misinterpreted what the Holy Spirit told him. His main error, I think, is in judging the soundness of a particular doctrine based on how people react to that doctrine. In my opinion, a person’s reaction says more about the person than the doctrine. It doesn’t say anything about the truthfulness of the doctrine. The only way to determine if a doctrine is true is to examine¬† the Biblical evidence and analyze it logically. Welton makes a big mistake in conflating the truth of a doctrine with how people react to it. All this goes to show that what people claim to hear from the Holy Spirit should be taken with a grain of salt, at least when it comes to matters of doctrine.

Posted in Biblical | Leave a Comment »