Alright, this blogg might shake you a little bit but put your seat belts on and enjoy the ride. If you do not agree, no problem as long as you dig further into what might be right and ask yourself, could Andreas be right here?
During the years, I have seen a form of escapism growing strong in the body of Christ that I believe is a fruit of the Fly away (Rapture) theology, dispensationalism and the common attitude that the world does not really matter and its going to be really bad, but we are going to fly away anyway.
I believe this to be in contrast with the Restoration plan of Gods creation God has given us through Jesus Christ – Let thy Kingdom come, on earth as in heaven, through us.
This Rapture teaching can in some ways be defined as a form of Gnosticism, being one of the big heresies during the first century Church.
If you study the epistles, you will find the writers fighting against this heresy, over and over again, putting strong emphasizes in writing like; “Jesus coming in the flesh”.
“For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.” – 2 John 7
It is interesting to note that Antichrist described here, is not a potential future evil political leader, instead someone in their time that promoted gnosticism. More about that in a coming post.
Unfortunately this is very common among Christians that wants to be loyal to the bible and read it literal, as they have heard from the pulpit, is a good thing to do.
Another thing that is important when you study your bible is to put higher trust/value in what is the common theme or summary in several books in the bible together, instead of a theology based on a few verses. Psalm 119:160 – “The sum of your word is truth…”
E.g. from the theme in NT we see that In Christ, circumcision, or any other physical actions, counts for nothing anymore. So when you hear theology built on your salvation lost if you get a mark on your hand or forehead, it should raise some red flags.
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” Gal 5:6
What is the Rapture theology?
Basically a teaching being very popular in the Western World, saying Jesus is going to come on the clouds, not touching earth, to suck up all Christian meanwhile God will judge Israel and the world under 7 terrible years. This teaching has it roots from 1850 and the Plymouth Brothers and then a man called Darby. The teaching differs as per when the rapture are going to take place, but they all agree on that all Christians are going to be saved from this terrible season of 7 years.
A fruit of Rapture Theology is that we are going to fly away from this mess, so we do not really have to care. That is what I mean with escapism.
As I understands it, it narrows down to what exegesis you are using:
“Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…” 1 Tess 4:17
In Acts 17:1-9 – Luke is describing the situation in Thessaloniki with the Ceasar Cult that Paul and Silas was facing together with the first believers. One exegetic model to understand the background to why Paul is using this wordings, coming in the air, or in the clouds (parousia) to describe Jesus return, see (Christ and Caesar: The Gospel and the Roman Empire in the Writings of Paul and Luke, Seyoon Kim) is that when Ceasar had built his temple, he was to come and inspect it.
When the emperor arrived, they blew a trumpet and the entire city came out to welcome him and show him what they had managed to built and also rebuild due to common earthquakes.
Paul is using this as a picture of Jesus return, everyone will come out and welcome him and the many followers of Christ will then show him what they have built. This to comfort the new believers under persecution in a city built on the Caesar Cult.
Secondly, if we look at what Paul is writing about Jesus return some years later, in 1 Corinth 15, “51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”
You do not find any rapture in these verses, when Paul is describing the return of Jesus. Did he forget it or had he changed his mind? No, the most natural answer is what I just described about Caesar coming in the clouds.
We know one thing for sure and that is that Jesus will come back, but not to rapture some first away on the clouds, instead Jesus is coming back as promised in Acts 1:11 “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Then the other scripture used to promote the rapture is: “After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” Revelation 4:1
This is believed to be a metaphor of the church being sucked up, as the Church is not mentioned anymore after chapter 4, it is interpreted to mean, church has been taken away.
This can as I understands it simply not be the case, as this is describing something that happened to John in his vision. I think it is very vague to interpret anything else out from this verse.
There are a few more verses that is being used to confirm the Rapture, but I leave them for now as these two are the major ones.
Restoration – back to Eden
If you see through the history you will find out that Christians in all times has worked to improve the world, based on the understanding from the bible to restore the creation, to be salt and light to this world.
In Genesis 1:27-28 – We saw that God was giving mankind the mission to take care of the earth, rule over it, multiply to be a great family of God on earth.
Then the fall came and with that followed the curse.
When man-kind fell, he lost his Kingdom, not his religion.
Immediately God is announcing his plan of restoration.
Gen 2:15 “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Paul put it like this in Rom 8:20 “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
When Jesus is coming into the scene, he is not focusing on his death and resurrection as could be expected. I do not say it is not of importance, but instead the first years, he is constantly talking about the Kingdom.
His focus was to restore man-kind back to its original mission, as in Eden, to walk in royalty again, being Kings and Priests again, on this earth, (see my previous posts).
As we then understands the miracle of the death and resurrection, it is not primarily to pay the price for our sins, but to regain the authority back from Satan, (Christus Victor) and give it to us to again restore the earth back to Eden, the original plan. See Matthew 16:19.
NT Wright puts it like this: “Jesus died for our sins, not so that we could sort out abstract ideas, but so that we, having been put right, could become part of God´s plan to put this whole world right.” –The day Revolution began, NT Wright
When Israel was to return back from the exil, Isaiah was using a picture to describe what they should come back to.
Isaiah 55:1-2 – “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food”.
The word Isaiah used for “delight” was the Hebrew word Eden. Its a reference to restoration. So when Isaiah in verse 12-13 is outlining the future vision, not only for the Jews but also for us he puts it like:
12 “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
Do you see the references to Eden and the fall?
In Genesis 3 :17-18 – “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you…”
I am also thinking of Pauls word in Romans 14:17 – “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Later in Isaiah, chapter 65:17-23 – “17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. 19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. 20 No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. 21 They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoyHebrew shall wear out” id=”fb3-3″ href=”https://www.esv.org/Isaiah+65/#f3-“>3 the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord, and their descendants with them.
This is not only a word to the exils, but also a future vision to us, what God is thinking with universe, in the new heavens and new earth, people will live and work, but no longer in vain.
This is back to Eden, this is what the bible is talking about from the first book to the last book of the bible
Revelation 1:5b-6 – “…To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen”
Revelation 5:10 “…and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
From the beginning, creation was not evil, it was God given, and the original plan putting man-kind in Eden giving us mandate to guard it, rule and multiply was to be co-partners or co-creators together with God.
For many of us the Church is just about “sin-management”, when it should be about full “Restoration management” – Reestablish the Kingdom of God on earth and in all people to prepare for the King to come back – not to fly away in glory.
In Christ we are to restore the whole creation, with everything in it and on it, until one day Jesus is coming back and every knee shall bend.
We are not to be raptured and leave the earth to its own future, we are the “guardians of the planet” why should we then leave it – it does not make sense.