Chapter 4: The Last Trumpet

part 3 of 3

THE GREAT RAPTURE WATCH OF 1988

In 1987, several books were published, which all predicted that the Rapture would happen between late 1987 and late 1989. These books were written by different authors, who did not confer with each other about what they were going to write. These books sold by the millions, and one in particular actually gave a specific date for the Rapture to happen. That fateful date was September 12, 1988. MILLIONS of people counted down the days, the hours, and even the minutes until 12:01 AM, Jerusalem time. I took that day off from work, and sat in my living room and listened to the countdown being announced over a secular radio station. By noon, I began to be dismayed. And then, it was the end of the day. The sun was setting. I realized that the nature of the prediction allowed for the Rapture to happen at anytime within the 24 hours of September 12, 1988, Jerusalem time. It didn't matter. I knew it wasn't going to happen. I was crushed.

You see, I had done my "own set of calculations" in 1972, 15 years before any of this happened, and I came to exactly the same conclusions that these other authors did. BUT....since I DID want Jesus to COME BACK THEN....or at least SOON, I wasn't very happy about my discoveries! Fifteen years looked to me like a long, long time: I became afraid that I may not even live long enough to be one of those who are alive and remain at The End! This provoked me to desperate prayers, in which I begged God to reassure me that I would live long enough to make The Rapture! Even when I finally felt like I had received such assurance, the length of THE WAIT so depressed me, that I lost almost all interest in eschatology until THE GREAT RAPTURE WATCH OF 1988.

One of the MOST RESPECTED MEN in international Bible distribution PUT HIS PERSONAL REPUTATION on the line by publishing the most "notorious" of these "Rapture books". I was so convinced that we had good reasons to expect the Rapture, that I bought 30 of these books and gave them away. I remember having many excited conversations with MANY different people, in which we rehashed and rechecked the EVIDENCE for a predictable Rapture. I heard a WELL RESPECTED and INTERNATIONALLY KNOWN teacher on prophecy close his television show with the words, "I might not be on the air next week, and if not, you know why". From July of that year until "that day", everywhere I met any Christians, they were willing to talk about the Rapture. We were excited, we were joyful, WE WERE JUBILANT: there was a pronounced feeling of hopeful expectation among those of us who were waiting for His Son from heaven (1 Thess. 1:10).

Within a few days after September 12, 1988, I began to hear a new kind of laughter: the laughter of those who were GLAD that the Rapture DIDN'T happen. The Rapture Prophets faded away, and the rest of us hung our heads in shame. THE GREAT RAPTURE WATCH OF 1988 struck me with a blow from which, THANK GOD, I have not been able to recover. Until 'that day', I was both willing and able to avoid many unanswered questions and unresolved problems in my faith. For the first time since I became a Christian, the prospect of growing old, weak, and sick LIKE EVERYONE ELSE DOES became a frightening reality. I suddenly realized that I might outlive my wife, and I had no idea how I would cope with that. I suddenly became aware that though I was already middle-aged; I had no "retirement plans" and no savings laid up for that purpose. I considered the specter of being old, weak, sick, lonely, and so poor that I would have to join those who wait behind the supermarket for the spoiled food they throw away. I suddenly became afraid that my religion would do nothing to sustain or protect me against "the realities of life". I reopened my Bible to the teachings of Jesus, and took hold with all my might.

You have the right to ask: "Why did so many people, and even sober minded respectable church leaders believe this?" Well. . .

THERE WAS GOOD REASON TO EXPECT THE RAPTURE

The reasoning that arrived at a predictable Rapture was not the fruit of any novel or unorthodox ideas. To summarize:

1. Almost 6000 years of measurable history since Adam had passed, and this was historically considered to be the prophetic duration of man's dominion over the earth.

2. 1988 was 40 years from the founding of the Nation of Israel, and this was taken to be the length of a generation (Matt.24:24)

3. The year 1988 was the point of convergence for an ABSOLUTELY ENORMOUS set of chronological cycles, all taken from significant mentions of these same "time periods" in the Bible. This convergence will NEVER happen again, and cannot be recalculated to any other date.

4. There was a general expectation of the Rapture anyway as a result of all the "signs of the times" preaching that had gone on since WW2.

5. The large number of respectable scholars who either 'signed on' or admitted to the possibility of a predictable Rapture lent even more credibility to this particular year, and day.

WE WERE WRONG: about "that year and day", and I don't think anyone of us should dare to step forward with another date. We can't anyway. The calculations that were used to arrive at the year 1988 are the product of pure mathematics, and there is no "adjustment" possible. I know this, and so do all the Rapture prophets. There is this one little unresolved detail. . . . .the calculations hinge on a presumed date for the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The question about exactly WHEN Our Lord was born has ALWAYS been disputed. Our present calendar places His birth at the "1", and that means 1988 is 1987. Ussher places the conception of Our Lord in 5 B.C., and cites a medieval calendar change to support it. If Ussher was right, 1988 was really 1993, leaving only 7 years until the close of 6000 years of human history. I'm sure you can see why 1988 was chosen: but this view presumes that The Great Tribulation occurs during the last 3 1/2 or 7 years of THIS age, and is not the first 3 1/2 or 7 years of the next age. The Roman Catholics, however, have the conception of Our Lord in 7 B.C. If the Catholic calendar is correct, then 1994 was really the year 2000. We don't really know what year we are in, so the verdict on the "approximately predictable" Rapture is not in yet. It is possible, that when Our Lord said, Of that day and hour knoweth no man, He foresaw the fact that we would be unable to conclude upon a correct calendar. In any case, even if no man can know the day and hour, that in no way precludes us from knowing that The Rapture is near; and if you take Jesus' words literally; they do not prevent us from knowing the year, or even the month.

The Bible says, But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that THAT DAY should overtake you as a thief (1 Thess.5:4).

WHAT HAPPENED WHEN IT DIDN'T HAPPEN

The WHAT HAPPENED WHEN IT DIDN'T HAPPEN, is what makes The Great Rapture Watch of 1988 the most significant event in Church History since the Reformation. 50 years of constant "signs of the times" preaching came to a head, and NOTHING HAPPENED. Millions of people who once eagerly argued for a "soon Rapture" are now silent. Even those who believed in a SOON Rapture, but refused to go along with the idea of a predictable date are now silent. The Rapture is now a fading subject. YES, it still gets mentioned; but not very often, and not very loudly. Many who once proclaimed a Pre- Tribulation Rapture are now asserting that the first resurrection occurs near or at the end of The Great Tribulation; and without any apologies or explanations for this change. They have simply changed their "rap", and they safely presume on the ignorance and gullibility of their audience. At the same time there has emerged a new "rumble", not yet clearly laid out by those who are espousing it: in which some sort of "cleansing" of the earth from "bad characters" and "troublemakers" is supposed to happen BEFORE Jesus comes. What they are saying, is that there will be a "Rapture" of the "bad people" first; in which God removes and destroys certain "spiritual renegades" who will not cooperate with what they call "the move of the Spirit". This ridiculous notion leaves all "the righteous" on the earth to endure The Great Tribulation as a reward for their "righteousness": and so, in the end, they will have to deny that there will be a Great Tribulation in order to make this idea to look attractive to anybody. They are setting you up to believe that if a "rapture" happens; and YOU are left behind; that you should be RELIEVED. They will say, that all those who disappeared were "bad people", and that their fate was not good. The next big public debate about the Rapture will occur AFTER it happens, and EVEN THEN, there won't be a big deal made of it. You see, NOT VERY MANY PEOPLE are going in the Rapture, for unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation (Heb. 9:28). Not many people are LOOKING anymore.

The Great Rapture Watch of 1988 changed public eschatology forever. The Rapture is a fading subject in Christendom. There is now emerging a NEW VIEW on the return of Jesus Christ, in which there is NO RAPTURE, and NO GREAT TRIBULATION, and NO PERSONAL ANTICHRIST; and OF COURSE!. . . . . . .there is NO GREAT FALLING AWAY first. This is not the medieval view in which the return of Christ signaled the end of the world (2 Peter 3:10). No, this is a brand new idea: one which has NO historical precedent in the public writings of Church History. This NEW IDEA may seem to be simply obvious to you after you read it, and it may have been thought of by someone in the last 2000 years: BUT, as far as I know, this NEW IDEA about the return of Jesus Christ has never been published before now. I am sure it will be "new" to you, and to almost everybody on this planet.

A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE NEW ESCHATOLOGY, WHICH IS ALREADY EMERGING IN THE PUBLIC DOGMA OF CHRISTENDOM. THIS "NEW EXPLANATION" FOR HOW THE AGE OF THE CHURCH ENDS IS EMERGING SPONTANEOUSLY, AND WITHOUT FORMAL PRONOUNCEMENT, IN EVERY DENOMINATION AND OUTPOST OF INSTITUTIONAL CHRISTENDOM. IT IS THE PRODUCT OF NECESSITY; IN WHICH THE RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST MAY BE ANTICIPATED WITHOUT SIGNALING THE DESTRUCTION OF CIVILIZATION BY APOCALYPTIC WARS, NATURAL DISASTERS, AND COSMIC CATACLYSMS.

1. THEY WILL SAY: NO APOSTASY.

It will be argued that The Church has always been "more or less" apostate, and that a total failure by Organized Religion is prevented by Matthew 16:19. The prophecy in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 will be interpreted as a "rebellion" AGAINST the Institutions of Christendom; and NOT as describing a final failure and apostasy BY Christendom. This view presumes that God sees NO clear distinction between the multitudes of professing Christendom, and the minority of True Believers that dwell among them.

2. THEY WILL SAY: NO RAPTURE

It will be pointed out that the doctrine of The Rapture is a "recent innovation", and that it was first taught by "disreputable persons". 2 Peter 3:15-16 will be presented as evidence that the "false doctrine" of The Rapture was anticipated in prophecy. We will be reminded of all the unfulfilled predictions by "fools and fanatics" about the year and day of The Rapture. Rapture Believers will be challenged to provide a clear and specific proof-text for The Rapture that will answer to all the apparent difficulties involved with reconciling a "Rapture" to other End Times Prophecies. Rapture Believers will be UNABLE to provide any answer that will satisfy their critics or win public support.

3. THEY WILL SAY: NO GREAT TRIBULATION

It will be demonstrated by elaborate argument and exhaustive historical evidence that the prophecies describing The Great Tribulation apply only to the Jews, and were fulfilled by the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Evidence will also be produced to prove that the events described in Revelation, chapters 5-18 are PAST history; and that Revelation chapter 19 is the final triumph of Christendom over the world under the leadership of The Christ, who has already returned, and who leads them to a military victory over their adversaries. The use of the word TRIBULATION will be confined to describing the historic persecution of the Jews; the trials faced by individual believers; and the challenges and dangers that have confronted the Bureaucratic Institutions of Christendom throughout history.

4. THEY WILL SAY: NO ANTICHRIST

We will be reminded that references to "an antichrist" are NOT consistent: sometimes a "he", sometimes an "it", sometimes a "beast", and sometimes a "THEY". Elaborate arguments and exhaustive historical evidence will be presented to prove that all prophetic references to SPECIFIC "antichrist-type-persons" were fulfilled in the past by people like Antiochus Epiphanes and Nero. We will be given a NEW DEFINITION for the "final, end-times antichrist" of prophecy derived from 1 John 2:18- 19. People who depart from or DENOUNCE Organized Religion will be labeled INDIVIDUALLY and COLLECTIVELY as the "End-Times Antichrist" of Bible Prophecy.

5. THEY WILL SAY: CHRIST RETURNS SOON

But without ANY previous signs, such as The Apostasy, The Rapture, or The Great Tribulation. He will be proclaimed as the rightful King of Israel, and WARMLY WELCOMED by most of the leaders of Organized Religion. Any person or group that protests against The New Eschatology or intends to defy their "Christ", will be labeled as "Antichrist", and will be overcome quickly.

6. THEY WILL SAY: A NEW MILLENNIUM

A New World Order of "peace, prosperity, and progress" under the "coming Christ" will be proclaimed, and begun with a POLITICAL AGENDA; which when finally headed up by the "coming Christ" will have speedy and remarkable success in resolving the world's major social, racial, economic, and military problems.....for a while.

This NEW ESCHATOLOGY will gain public acceptance and prevail over all other theories, regardless of source or past popularity for these 3 reasons.

1. NO EFFECTIVE ARGUMENT CAN BE MADE AGAINST IT.

An enormous mass of apparently confirmatory evidence for THE NEW ESCHATOLOGY can be produced from the historic writings of the Church; including the Church Fathers; who usually referred to the return of Christ as a simple event. The fact that the Church Fathers rarely if ever went any further than simply asserting that Christ would return and establish His Kingdom, will be offered as evidence that they knew nothing of "Raptures", "Apostasies", or "Tribulations". During the 1800's, many well respected Protestant authors offered commentaries on the Book of Revelation which attempted to demonstrate that chapters 5-18 were fulfilled in the history of the Church. I have read several of these "Historicist" commentaries, and they are quite convincing. Every attempt to hinder public acceptance of The New Eschatology will be ineffective. Past popular teachers of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture like Scofield and Dake will either be discredited, or "forgiven" for being carried away with the "errors of the times".

2. ALL SECULAR POLITICAL AND SOCIAL AGENCIES WILL FAVOR IT.

A theological premise called "Reconstructionism" (also called Dominion Theology), underlies and supports The New Eschatology. In this view, The Great Commission (Matt.28:19-20) is understood as a mandate for The Church to gain social and political dominion over the whole earth. They understand Romans 13:1-7 as establishing the divine authority of The State in all matters, including religion. The laws of The State are regarded as equal to Divine Commands, as long as they do not intrude on the prerogatives or property rights of Christendom. When The State is seen to act contrary to the expansion and influence of Christendom; this is regarded as a Divine Judgement against the Church for failing to "take over" in the first place. Reconstructionists understand "evangelism" to include SOCIAL ACTIVISM and POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT. Their goal is to harness the power of The State, for the enforcement of "decent morality", and for the suppression of "false religions". This premise sees the Church and The State as "cooperative agencies", that ideally, WORK TOGETHER to achieve an orderly, productive, and morally upright society. Any professing Christian that will not help them GAIN CONTROL is accused of being lazy, selfish, and ungodly. Those who openly denounce their political and social ambitions will be labeled as "renegades". Their goal, is in fact, to return to the social and political circumstances of The Holy Roman Empire: in which the Church and The State are seen as "two legs on the same man"; and those who resist either the Church or The State will be equally accounted as criminals.

There is coming a NEW INQUISITION, and those who resist or denounce the pretensions of Apostate Christendom will find themselves fulfilling John 16:2.

3. IT LEAVES ALL THE EXISTING RELIGIOUS BUREAUCRACIES IN PLACE.

Because The New Eschatology has NO "Great Tribulation", their "Christ" will arrive to a relatively stable world, in which ALL the present religious and political bureaucracies are still in power. As long as the leaders of The World's Religions cooperate with The New World Order, and SUBMIT to their "Christ" when he arrives, they will be permitted to continue.

I refer you again to what I said before: that this New Eschatology is the product of NECESSITY; in which the return of Jesus Christ may be anticipated WITHOUT SIGNALING THE DESTRUCTION OF CIVILIZATION by apocalyptic wars, natural disasters, and cosmic cataclysms.

When their "Christ" arrives, Every eye shall see him (Rev.1:7), because this "Christ" will undoubtedly make his public debut on TELEVISION. "The Christ on TV" will become the image of the beast (Rev. 13:14-15), to which everyone is required to do homage. This "Christ" will perform miracles over the TV just like our modern Televangelists. The abomination of desolation (Matt.24:15) may well be nothing more surprising than a television set on the pulpit in the Jewish temple or a Christian church.

When The Rapture happens, it will be "explained" as a cleansing of the world from a certain kind of "spiritual vermin", among whom I expect to be classified by those who hate this book. They will have their "proof text" of course, but I have told you ahead of time; that they are going to quote Matthew 13:41-43, saying, that now that these "bad influences" are gone, "the righteous" shall finally be able to shine forth in the kingdom of their Father. No account will be taken of the fact that this is said to take place at the "end" (Grk. SUNTELEIA) of this world: NOT in "The Last Days" of this age. Neither will they care that the word SUNTELEIA does not refer to any point in time at all: but means, "the consummation", "the entire completion", or as we say in modern parlance: THE WRAP-UP. But....I am aware that there is a hole for every rat, and that every rat can find a hole. So even if I were to answer astutely to every single objection that anyone can raise against a Pre-Tribulation Rapture; it wouldn't make any difference to them anyway. Very few people, and NONE of the world's big-shots are going in the Rapture, so it won't turn the world upside down when it happens. The "Christ on TV" is going to be the PAROUSIA (presence) of The New Eschatology.

I CAN "debunk" the NEW ESCHATOLOGY, but it wouldn't make any difference if I did. No one who "buys in" on The New Eschatology will do so because they were convinced by the academic evidence. Religion is no longer important "for its own sake" in modern society; it has been denigrated into an APPLIED SOCIAL SCIENCE, and any doctrine that does not contribute to the establishment of cooperation and conformity among the peoples is labeled as HERETICAL.

The NEW ESCHATOLOGY is just the final, formal product of an APOSTATE THEOLOGY; a theology which presumes that the establishment of AN ORDERLY and PRODUCTIVE SOCIETY is the primary goal of the Christian Religion. The interests of THE STATE and the interests of Organized Religion are protected and advanced by the NEW ESCHATOLOGY.

The theology that produced doctrines like THE GREAT FALLING AWAY and THE RAPTURE is exclusivist, divisive, and economically nonproductive; and therefore. . . . .those who proclaim or practice IT will be regarded as "renegades"; accused of TREASON against The Church; and accused of hindering the welfare of mankind.

Those who follow THE JESUS WHO SAID, Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, NAY; but rather division (Luke 12:51); will soon find out why He also said, Yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service (John 16:2).

The greatest internal conflict in the history of Christendom is about to begin; there will be scandals, purges, trials, WITCH HUNTS, and even ASSASSINATIONS: this may well begin before The Rapture, but will certainly be well underway immediately after The Rapture. The NEW ESCHATOLOGY will win the day, and SET THE STAGE for the emergence of The New World Order and the reign of The Antichrist.

As I said, the decisions you make in these matters will no longer be regarded as insignificant distinctions between eschatological theories; but will have everything to do with your SOCIAL and ECONOMIC survival. One good thing comes out of all this; Theological Debate will no longer be a "game with no stakes".

The shadow of the darkest moment of human history is already falling across the world. For a brief moment that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the Great God and Our Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13), will seem to have come to nothing. BUT, Rapture Believers may be assured of their ultimate victory, BECAUSE, Bible Prophecy ALSO anticipates The New Eschatology; describes it, condemns it, and PROVES; that The New Eschatology is just another false doctrine of that GREAT and FINAL APOSTASY that history calls THE GREAT FALLING AWAY (2 Thess. 2:3).

The doctrines of the Rapture, The Great Tribulation, and the coming of The Antichrist have been PUBLICLY and LOUDLY proclaimed in our world since the early 1900s. There are other views on THE END OF THE AGE in print; but until recently, they had all but been forgotten, and were not well known.

The Medieval Church taught "The Big Bang At The End" theory, in which the coming of Christ and the END OF THE MATERIAL WORLD happen all at once and at the same time. In their scenario, things just roll along like they are, or steadily decline, until suddenly, and without warning, the heavens pass away with a great noise, ...and the earth gets burned up. The great antiquity of this view is revealed by the fact that it is universally held by everyone who has not been formally instructed to believe anything else.

During The Reformation, a theory called "Postmillennialism" emerged: in which Jesus will only return AFTER The Church has been "perfected" and achieved practical dominion over the whole earth. In this view, the return of Christ is a sort of "reward" for "taking care of business".

The New Eschatology is none of these. They will assert that Jesus returns to establish The Kingdom of God on Earth, but without any intervening events like The Tribulation or the Rapture. On the surface, this idea recommends itself as "one of the most reasonable possibilities" for HOW and WHEN Christ returns!

What makes the New Eschatology "NEW", is that somehow; during all these intervening centuries; no one has EVER publicized, and neither has any notable denomination ever subscribed to such a scenario (as of 1991). Historically, there have been only 3 well known and popular eschatologies.

1. AMILLENNIALISM: "The Big Surprise At The End": There is no future "Millennium", and the return of Christ accompanies the complete and final end of the world.

2. POSTMILLENNIALISM: Christ only returns at the end of a "Millennium" of some indeterminate length, during which Christendom has taken over the world.

3. PREMILLENNIALISM: Christ returns BEFORE the Millennium; but up until NOW, this idea has been popularly identified with a particular scenario: Rapture-Antichrist-Tribulation- Armageddon-Christ returns- the Millennial Kingdom begins.

The NEW ESCHATOLOGY is a "premillennialism" in which Jesus returns to a world which is more or less just going on about it's business, AND TAKES OVER. This "Christ" finds a few enemies when He gets here, but they are handled in short order. The majority of the world's leaders will acknowledge him and be "convinced by his genius and power" and go along. The "returning Christ" of the NEW ESCHATOLOGY will also find a giant religious empire that will receive him (Christendom), and any professing Christian who denounces this "returned Christ" will be labeled as an "antichrist" under the definition for "antichrists" given in 1 John 2:18-19.

SIMPLE, OBVIOUS, and REASONABLE, ISN'T IT? The Leaders of Apostate Christendom will never be so bold as to flatly deny the return of Jesus Christ. Neither do I suggest that THEY WANT TO DENY that Jesus will "ever" return. What they will do, is give us a NEW explanation of the particular circumstances in which Jesus returns. The "Jesus" of the NEW ESCHATOLOGY will return and accept the "job" as 'king by popular acclaim' that the original Jesus turned down in John 6:15. I have no knowledge at this moment of just HOW this "Christ" will make his PUBLIC debut: but if this "Christ" is put on television, it can be said that every eye shall see Him (Rev. 1:7). And since this "Christ" will most assuredly make his world wide public debut in Israel, it can also be said, For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming (PAROUSIA) of the Son of man be (Matt. 24:27): WHY? HOW? Because television transmissions will "travel like lightning" to the west, where most of the professing Christians are! Can't you see how easy it is to defend this scenario? Yet such a thing could not have been possible until only fifty years ago. If then, this "Christ" speaks to the world on TELEVISION, then television becomes THE IMAGE OF THE BEAST, and anyone who will not acknowledge or worship "the Christ on T.V." will be labeled as an "antichrist", and be executed (Rev. 13:15). SIMPLE, REASONABLE, and LIKELY, isn't it? All that has to be done to make this scenario plausible is get rid of THE GREAT FALLING AWAY, THE RAPTURE, THE TRIBULATION, and a ONE-MAN POLITICAL ANTICHRIST from Christian eschatology. The New Eschatology will do all of this; and as I said, the arguments that will be brought to support the New Eschatology are FORMIDABLE, EXHAUSTIVE, and will find apparent support from many of the most renowned scholars in the popular history of Christendom.

The word PAROUSIA, which is translated to coming in Matt. 24:27, means [detectable presence]. This word has been taken to refer to the Rapture in most places that it is used. NOW, a "Christ" on television can be everywhere at once, without being everywhere personally and physically. Thus, what we have called The Rapture for the last 100 years will instead become, "Christ on television", for by TELEVISION, he will be PRESENT in every livingroom. This is all so reasonable that it is probable, and so probable that I find it disturbing to even think about it.

I also foresee the destruction of the city of Rome by some sort of sudden and disastrous event, because I also believe that the Catholic Church will initially resist the New World Order. Besides, we must have a "Mystery Babylon" to destroy. A nuclear missile originating from Iran or Iraq would fill the bill. This will then be interpreted by the opponents of Rome to fulfill the prophetic destruction of MYSTERY BABYLON (Rev.17:15-18); the Catholics will flee for protection to the Protestants, and all the professing Christians in the world will formally agree to unite against their common foe. The nations of Islam will be overwhelmed and subdued in the war, and a new ONE-WORLD religion dominated by Christendom will emerge. This new ONE-WORLD RELIGION will be the amalgamation of all religions, except that a syncretistic form of "Christianity" that makes room for them all will be dominant.

THE NEW ESCHATOLOGY WAS FORESEEN IN PROPHECY

2Peter.3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
4 And saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.
EXPOSITION

KNOWING THIS FIRST: In the previous chapter, the Apostle Peter has described all kinds of false prophets and false teachers who will be, as he says, among you (2:1), meaning that these characters will ALWAYS BE AROUND. In chapter 3, he reminds us to be mindful (3:2) of everything that he, the other Apostles, and Our Lord, have taught us. THEN he says, Knowing this first, by which he means to seize our attention, and warns us to "keep in mind" what he is GOING TO SAY NEXT because of how IMPORTANT what he is going to say next will be; that is, it is VERY IMPORTANT.

THAT THERE SHALL COME: which obviously means that they HAD NOT COME YET, but shall (most assuredly) come LATER, at some point in the future.

IN THE LAST DAYS: this is when whoever or whatever is coming shall come. Not the beginning of the days, not the middle of the days, but in the last days. The last days of what? The last days of the AGE in which Peter wrote this; the Church Age. What ever it is that is coming, won't be here until the END of the Church Age; the Age in which we presently live. The Apostle Paul uses the same expression in 2 Timothy 3:1. The last days is a common Hebrew expression which ALWAYS means [a distinct and limited period of time, having its own peculiar characteristics, and which signals the end of a major dispensational period of history]. I have to supply all this definition for this phrase, whose meaning is obvious, because there are some lying teachers who say the entire dispensation of the Church is The Last Days. Do you want a date? The last days began in 1948.

SCOFFERS: those who contemptuously ridicule, and lightly dismiss, anyone they disagree with and anything they disagree with.

WALKING AFTER THEIR OWN LUSTS: The word for lusts is EPITHUMIA, which means, "any overpowering and unrestrained desire". Jesus had EPITHUMIA to celebrate The Last Supper (Luke 22:15), where the word is translated to desire. These scoffers are walking after, that is, ACTIVELY PURSUING their own unrestrained desires. In this context, as we shall see shortly, the word EPITHUMIA represents AMBITIONS.

AND SAYING: these scoffers have a theme, they have something that they want everyone to hear; they have an AGENDA to present.

WHERE IS THE PROMISE: NOT where is the coming. These scoffers are not challenging THE FACT of an inevitable return of Jesus Christ. The question is directed to the word promise, both in English, and in the Greek from which it is translated. They are denying that a certain promise can be substantiated (in the Bible).

OF HIS COMING: the word translated to coming is PAROUSIA, the word which means, "visible presence". This is not the standard Greek word that is used to designate someone's actual physical arrival. This word PAROUSIA is characteristic to almost every passage in the N.T. which relates to the Rapture. There is another Greek word, EISODOS, which means, "actual physical entrance to any place". If their question, "where is", was directed to challenge the actual physical return of Jesus to stand upon the earth, they would have said, "Where is the EISODOS/coming He promised?" The challenge is to the promise, not to the coming. The Apostle Paul says that we shall meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:17), which answers to the idea of His presence; He will be PRESENT to us for we will be caught up to where He is. Christ's actual ARRIVAL on earth would have to precede His presence on earth. No formal physical arrival is required for US to realize the Lord's presence, because we will be caught up. . .to meet the Lord in the air, and will therefore be in His presence without Him having arrived physically either to where we each are particularly, or to the earth at any one location.

FOR SINCE THE FATHERS FELL ASLEEP: this is a distinctly religious phrase, and would not have been used in any context where there wasn't a previous understanding of WHO the fathers were, or what fell asleep means. This establishes that these scoffers are religious persons addressing a religious audience.

ALL THINGS CONTINUE AS THEY WERE FROM THE BEGINNING OF CREATION: by this, these scoffers are denying the possibility of any distinctly supernatural intervention by God, whether in a Rapture, or in a cosmic event of any kind. Furthermore, the term all things carries implications that nothing in our relationship to God has changed since THE BEGINNING of creation. Thus, they deny that the Advent of Christ changed the "rules" by which the people of God relate to each other, and to the world.

WHAT WE HAVE HERE, is the complete doctrine of the Rapture deniers and the Reconstructionists. I will summarize my exposition by presenting you with an expanded paraphrase of 2 Peter 3:3-4:

But pay careful attention to this! At the end of this present age, and just before the next age begins; there will emerge from among your own ranks, persons of note in the Church; ambitious men who despise and ridicule their adversaries. These men have big plans for the Church and the world as well; giving no consideration to any idea that does not further their own relentless ambitions. They will say, Show me where there is a Rapture promised to us in the Bible; but anyone who shows them, they will treat with contempt. They will remind us of how many such predictions have come to nothing. They will also insist on having dominion over other men; considering it their obligation to enforce right religion and proper morals on the people as it was done in the days of the Hebrew Patriarchs; accomplishing this end through influencing legislation in the secular State, to which they will grant the religious authority that was held by the government of ancient Israel. They will insist that nothing has ever changed in the way God governs His people since the foundation of the world, and that the State is a divine institution, whose main purpose is to advance and defend the rights, prerogatives, and policies of the Bureaucratic Institutions of Christendom, which they consider to be "The Church".

And so here we have it; the Rapture deniers, the Reconstructionists, and THE NEW ESCHATOLOGY; all anticipated and condemned by Bible prophecy. You might wonder why they should care about whether or not you believe in such things as THE GREAT FALLING AWAY, THE RAPTURE, THE GREAT TRIBULATION, and A COMING ANTICHRIST.

1. If you believe there is to be a GREAT APOSTASY at the end of the Church Age, then you are saying that Modern Christendom is apostate, for almost everyone acknowledges that we are at or near the end of the age. You certainly can't expect the "licensed and certified hireling hucksters" of Organized Religion to favor this idea.

2. If you believe in THE RAPTURE, then you are not worried about the world's big problems, like pollution or dwindling oil supplies. If you believe in a SOON Rapture you probably won't be concerned about saving up for your retirement, and you are unlikely to commit to any long term projects that would be pointless if there wasn't enough time left to reach the goal. Belief in a SOON Rapture definitely fosters laxity in respect to almost everything that the world is worried about.

3. If you believe that THE GREAT TRIBULATION is right around the corner, then you are fundamentally pessimistic about the future of society. Things are only going to get worse, no matter what anybody does, so why try at all? A coming GREAT TRIBULATION makes all this uproar about a New World Order ridiculous; it will come to disaster, no matter what the politicians do.

4. If you believe that there shall arise a POLITICAL ANTICHRIST to whom the leaders of the world will give assent, then you OBVIOUSLY don't have any faith in the STATE, and are not likely to be very patriotic.

People who believe in a Rapture Theology are A LOT LESS COOPERATIVE with secular society: they are unlikely to contribute much to that ever changing parade of crusades, wherein we are always being told that we can solve the problems in our world by secular means. There is a great sense of urgency underlying all the "business as usual" on this planet. We know too much. While we are trying to go about our private lives, the television and the newspaper are constantly warning us about THE TERRIBLE PROBLEMS that are bearing down on us, and how we better HURRY UP AND START DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT, OR ELSE! Our Lord Jesus Christ prophesied about this "frightened urgency".

Luke.21:26 Mens hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.

People who do not have a STRONG ASSURANCE about "a happy ending just because of God" are very concerned about whether or not YOU are doing your share to BAIL OUT THE WORLD. When you ignore their concerns, then you yourself become part of the problem. The people around you may appear to be just going on with their lives, but they are AFRAID, and for good reasons. If there is no INTERVENING and MIRACULOUS GOD to save us, then I agree, we are in very serious trouble, and the future is gloomy and frightening.

What the Reconstructionists HATE about Rapture Believers is that we dare to say, "WE ARE NOT WORRIED". The increasing crime rate doesn't bother us because we feel personally protected (Luke 10:19). Pollution doesn't scare us because we think we are POISON PROOF (Mark 16:18). A faltering economy doesn't threaten us because we trust in God to meet our needs (Phil. 4:19). The threat of war doesn't worry us because we shall never see death (John 8:51). If there is no MIRACULOUS GOD, and if the Bible is not RELIABLE TRUTH, then we Rapture believers certainly are FOOLS; whiling away our time with things like prayer and Bible study while the world is perishing. What the Apostate Leaders of Doomed Christendom want from us, is that we "get down to work" to improve society and the world. NOTICE: how much you hear the word VOLUNTEER being used. NOTICE: how we are daily urged to "rat on our neighbors" if they are using drugs, or failing to be "socially responsible".

NOTICE: how "the public interest" is requiring that we daily give up more and more of our rights; gun control laws, seat belt laws, zoning laws, insurance laws, AD NAUSEAM. Humanity is scared, and there is a smoldering desperation beneath every smiling face. If you are not DOING YOUR PART to prevent all these things they are afraid of from coming to pass, then YOU ARE EVIL in their sight. You are the problem.

Rapture believers, if they are TRUE RAPTURE BELIEVERS, do have their concerns. They are concerned with being RIGHT WITH GOD.

1John.3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as He (Christ) is pure. . . . .

They don't want to get LEFT BEHIND to face all these WORSENING PROBLEMS that are evidently coming on the earth. They are more private, and less likely to "join in" on any secular "save the world" campaign, for they do not believe that ANY of these PROGRAMS are going to make any difference. You will find that people who have a firm, personal belief in the Rapture are usually very religious; they are concerned with HOLINESS, which is SEPARATION from the concerns and the business of THE REST OF THE WORLD. Rapture Believers are EVANGELISTIC, they think everyone should get saved, and are willing to ruin just about any friendly conversation with a little preaching. Rapture Believers think RELIGION is what's IMPORTANT. They think it's more important to learn about the Bible than to learn about geometry, or medicine, or engineering. This is why they hate us.

THE RAPTURE ACCORDING TO JESUS

Luke.21:28 And when these things BEGIN to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

Without the writings of the Apostle Paul, there may never have emerged such a thing as a 'Rapture Doctrine', which supposes a distinct gap of time between the first resurrection (Rev. 20:5) and the 2nd Coming. But, belief in the INSPIRATION of the Bible REQUIRES that we presume that Our Lord knew that 'more detail' would be added to what He Himself said about The End of This Age: OR ELSE we have to denounce and reject ALL the writings of Paul. Jesus Himself said: Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come (John 16:13). The Doctrine of The Rapture, then, as laid out by the Apostle Paul, is one of those things to come. The same is true about The Great And Final Apostasy; in that Jesus never DIRECTLY addressed it, except by saying, When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8). Everything else Jesus had to say about the Falling Away (2 Thess. 2:3) was by allusion to it as 'future fact', or in parables.

Now, Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, are synoptic records of the Olivet Discourse: they are different 'versions' of the same event: they each have 'things in common', and they each supply particular details which are not included in the other 'versions'. NOW either you are going to make these "differences" between Matthew, Mark, and Luke into CONTRADICTIONS in FACT; (and thus deny the reliability and inspiration of the Bible); OR, you must acknowledge that the Holy Ghost INTENDED for these differences to be there for good reasons.

AND THE REASON IS. . . . . . .

. . .that ESCHATOLOGY cannot be divorced from THEOLOGY. A 'simply obvious' eschatological scenario would have certified and finalized a PARTICULAR theology beyond all doubt; and that little flock (Luke 12:32) of True and Faithful Saints that has remained hidden among the tares (Matt. 13:25) for all these centuries would become conspicuous. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now (Gal. 4:29). Thus, the Wisdom of God has presented us with a Bible that allows the tares be 'confused' wherever they wish to be; therefore the world (and all the tares) knoweth us not, because it knew (truly understood) him (Jesus) not (1 John 3:1).

Jesus said, When these things BEGIN to come to pass: He didn't say "After they have ALREADY come to pass". When these things BEGIN to come to pass, THEN LOOK UP, for, We which are alive and remain shall be caught UP together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thess. 4:17- 18). THIS is DEFINITELY a PRE-Tribulation Rapture.

Luke.21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be ACCOUNTED WORTHY to ESCAPE ALL these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

AND HERE, Jesus certifies a PRE-Tribulation Rapture beyond all doubt; FOR, He does not say, "Worthy to 'survive' THROUGH ANY of these things"; but rather, Worthy to escape ALL these things. So, TAKE HEART! and look up! FOR YOUR REDEMPTION DRAWETH NIGH!

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See Chapter 5: 2 SIGNS OF THE APOSTASY

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