Once more we need to deal with a controversial issue. It’s a great separator of those who believe in the pre-Tribulation Rapture and those who are post-Tribulational in their understanding. But it doesn’t stop there, even among pre-Tribbers this idea is troubling. I don’t say that the controversy causes division necessarily, but it does create a rift in the outlook many of us have in regards to these end times.
What could this issue be that is so arguable among believers? It has to do with imminence and attachment to the world. Nothing to see here, let’s move on – right? Not so fast.
I actually wrote about this subject a couple years ago. The essay was posted to Rapture Ready as I recall, and it disturbed some folks, so I know it touches a nerve.
Here’s the thesis posed as a couple of questions: If we are looking for the (soon) return of Christ to snatch us away from this world, why are we fighting so hard for this world? What is the implication of this as to future generations?
Most believers can agree that Jesus is returning some day, i.e. His 2nd Coming. The question is one of timing for many. There is a large swath of those, whom I have no doubt are truly saved, but insist that believers will go through the Tribulation, and that how we deal with this impacts our children for years afterward. On the other hand, many of those who believe Jesus will return prior to the Tribulation, who trust in the doctrine of imminency, also look at the world as a seemingly permanent place of residence and want to continue fighting to make it better.
On the surface, you might ask what’s wrong with this? Aren’t we to occupy until Jesus comes? Absolutely. The issue becomes how tightly we hold on while occupying.
For me, it comes down to what Scripture says as to how we’re to live. This connects deeply with Bible prophecy. When we examine the literal Word of God regarding the end times, in my mind there is a straight progression downhill. I read all that the Bible outlines as to the heart of man and where that leads, and I don’t know how others come up with the interpretation that they do.
God has clearly shown us in His Word what happened to His Chosen People as they turned away from Him. He was exceedingly merciful, but He reached a point of no return. Once the Israelites crossed this line, their destruction was sure. God declared it would happen, and it did. First the Northern Kingdom of Israel lost its sovereignty to Assyria, then the Southern Kingdom of Judah became a byword following its defeat to Babylon. Similarly, in Jesus’ time, He prophesied the end of Israel and it came to pass, initially with the destruction of the temple and later completely after a final rebellion against Rome. God compared Israel and His people as worse than Sodom and Gomorrah in their abominations and could no longer tolerate their disobedience. They loved their sin too much and the corruption in their midst from top to bottom of society was so thorough that the people were irredeemable. Their hearts were toward other gods and the innocent blood they’d shed cried out. What was left among them to save other than a remnant?
William Shakespeare from his play The Tempest declared that the past is prologue to the present. Similarly Karl Marx said that “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” I don’t agree with Marx in any of his ideology, but this statement certainly rings true. The fate of Israel was a tragedy. What is occurring in America and the world today is indeed a farce because we should have known better given the prologue from the past.
Why do we think that after aborting 70 million babies – the literal killing of innocents – that our nation deserves any kind of reprieve? Why in the world when half the country celebrates abortion and much of the other half abides with it that such a nation can be redeemed? At the same time, corruption has taken hold in every level of government and in the vast majority of corporations and different realms of society. Satan has his hand on the throttle, and he’s accelerating like a madman. All signs, from both the human realm and the physical, are flashing red. What is happening all around us in every sphere is the classic definition of convergence of end times events. Make no mistake in this: God is in control. He is allowing Satan a free hand. Nothing Satan does is outside of what God allows.
If we’re not at a point where God finally throws up His hands and says that He’s had enough with mankind’s deceitful and rebellious ways, I don’t know what that would look like pre-Rapture.
That being the case, why are believers fighting to improve this world and more specifically our nation? What is the attachment? Isn’t there a time for every believer when he should say along with God, “Enough is enough”? When will we stop holding onto this world and all the things in it? What does God intend for us as believers? Are we to grasp this life and hang onto it, or are we to hold it loosely? When do we realize the truth that we should be in the world but not of it? Is there a point where we determine the world is clinging to us and that we have to break free of its grasp?
Even more importantly, what does our attitude toward this world, and how we continue to keep trying to push back against the darkness, impact our children? Think about this. Let’s say that believers rise up and somehow defy Bible prophecy. Suppose we’re able to insert a massive revival into the prophetic timeline prior to the Tribulation? What is the implication of that?
Obviously, believers who have succeeded in this effort get a reprieve. The darkness stops closing in, light returns for a time, and we don’t have to deal with the mess of chaos or lawlessness that is closing in so rapidly. We delay it. We win. Hoorah! Our lives get better and all is good – right?
King Hezekiah had a similar moment in his life. The prophet Isaiah informed him that he should get his affairs in order, as he was going to die. This distressed him, and he prayed for a reprieve. God heard his prayer, and Isaiah immediately returned to let Hezekiah know that He had graciously given him another fifteen years of life. But consider this exchange in 2 Kings 20:16-19:
Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord: Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord. And some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?”
The remainder of Hezekiah’s life would be one of tranquility. However, destruction would come upon his house following his death. Did that concern him? Nope. He apparently had no concern for his children. Since Hezekiah would have peace and security, all was well.
Is there a parallel for today? I think so. Bible prophecy will come to pass. If it doesn’t, then God isn’t God and His Word is no longer trustworthy and true. If the satanic darkness of today is delayed, it will still come sometime upon America and the world. Our generation thus gets a pass if we’re successful in pushing back, but at some future time, perhaps even the very next generation, all this mess will return. It must. As a result, we’ve kicked the can down the road and given it to our children. The cup that was meant for us passes to our kids.
Isn’t there something wrong with this thinking? Perhaps the church simply doesn’t think in these terms. It seems to me to be exceptionally selfish. The apostle in 1 John 5:3-5 states:
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Where is our faith when we encounter Bible prophecy? Do we believe it or reject it? Isn’t saying yes to what God has ordained part of our victory in overcoming the world? Shouldn’t our attitude in these last days be one in which we strengthen our faith through the Word of God and then stand strong in it? Is standing the same as fighting? Are our brothers and sisters in Christ in the 10/40 Window able to fight against the powerful forces of Islam, Hinduism, or Communism? Or do they simply seek God more diligently so that they can stand in the day of their trial? What about us?
This is a thorny issue, and it certainly runs counter to the prevailing narrative. The question becomes: How will we overcome the world? What does the way we respond now mean to those who might potentially come after us?
Perhaps we should bolster our faith, face the darkness as children of the light, and shine with the grace and love of Christ. Maybe we are the generation which is to go through these times. If so, how does that change our response to this gathering gloom? What does that mean for us as believers in such a time as this?