Everything You Know about the End of the World is Wrong

I am old enough to remember that there was once a thing called Communism. And I mean it it the Cold War sense-secret police, checkpoints, gulags and the arms race, not the way Christians today use it-to describe a Democrat raising your taxes. For forty years, the world lived under the threat of militant looters. It was a very real and very serious situation, and for forty years, the churches told us that the presence of Communism meant that we were in the End of Days. Bible prophecy was being fulfilled, and it wouldn’t be long until we were plunged into nuclear Armageddon and Judgment Day. This was believed by virtually every Christian on the planet, and by many people outside of the church as well.

And then something wonderful happened: Communism failed. Almost overnight, it collapsed without a shot being fired. This was good news for the world, but terrible news for the gloom-and-doomers. They didn’t say a word about the fact that they had been dead wrong. There was a brief flap where they tried to suggest that Saddam Hussein’s attack on Kuwait was going to get the old ball rolling, but that fizzled out.

The doomers found themselves in the same predicament as the military in the early 1990’s-how can we be relevant if the world is not about to end? How can we keep the money rolling in? And then, thanks to 9/11, they had their new enemy: Islamic fundamentalism. The Red Menace was now Al Qaeda. The hammer and sickle had been replaced by the crescent moon. Quickly, and without embarrassment, Christian writers and speakers began churning out sermons, DVD’s, books and articles about how Biblical prophecy was being fulfilled, and jihad-loving Muslims were going to bring about the end of the world.

It’s as if they decided:

“Okay, we were completely wrong about Communism, but we’re right about ‘Islamicists,’ even though we’re misusing the same passages of Scripture that we falsely interpreted before. This time, in addition to ignoring the actual meaning of what we’re quoting, we’re going to completely ignore the geopolitical realities that would make our interpretation absurd.”

“End Times” theology is based on a patchwork of ideas culled from the prophets Ezekiel, Daniel, and John the Revelator, as well as some of the Apostle Paul’s writings. They have been cobbled together to form a laundry list of events that every Protestant believes must happen:

1.) A “Rapture,” in which millions of Christians will vanish and be taken to Heaven.
2.) A revived Roman Empire, which will be the political power base for a world leader.
3.) The rise of a charismatic political figure, whom many will think of as the Messiah.
4.) An invasion of Israel by armies, an invasion which will be defeated by God.
5.) A worldwide system of economic control, centered around mandatory ID’s.
6.) A persecution of all those who do not accept the leader as the Messiah.
7.) A series of judgments on the Earth (called the Tribulation,) culminating in a battle between good and evil at Armageddon.

This doctrine is as sacred to Christianity as the Trinity. It is repeated by every theological teacher, minister and writer, and with the exception of substituting Moslems for the Communists in #4, has remained unchanged for a hundred years. The creation of the European Economic Union, the rise of Islamic nuclear powers and the invention of the RFID chip have only served to convince Christians that the end is upon us.
The reason that I even bring all of this up is because it is, for all intents and purposes, our national belief system, and it colors the perceptions of every Christian voter, forms the basis for our foreign policy in the Middle and Far East, and is gleefully exploited by warmongers to whitewash their imperialistic activities. You could not ask for a better endorsement for genocide and resource theft than one from God Himself.

Perhaps Christians should consider the following:

There is no “rapture” that will beam Christians up to Heaven and help them to escape the Tribulation. Firstly, the word “rapture” does not appear in the Bible. The concept comes from 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 4, verse 17:

“Then 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.”

The Greek word for “caught up” is harpazo, and it literally means “snatch.” (I can see why Christians invented the word “rapture.” If we went around saying we were “waiting for the Snatch,” we would be mocked endlessly.)

I do believe that we will meet Christ in the air, but I do not believe it will happen until the end of the Tribulation, when Christ returns. I think the Bible bears this out.

Another important word in that passage is “meet.” The Greek word is “apantesis.” It means to go out and meet and come back with.

Every time this is used in the Bible, it talks about a group of people who travel out a short distance to greet someone and then all of them immediately go back to the place where the group came from. They do not go out to greet someone and then travel with them somewhere else for seven years and then come back, which is what the church believes will happen. According to them, God gives us some kind of divine airlift, we party for seven years in Heaven while sinners are deceived by the Anti-Christ and then tortured by God, and then we all go down to Israel, team up with the Jews, destroy the armies of the world, and live happily for another 1000 years until the next war against Satan. (Sounds like a comic book, doesn’t it?)

Instead, it becomes clear that Christians will be on Earth for all or part of the Tribulation, and we need to act accordingly.

Here’s another important passage:

1 Corinthians 15: 50-52:

“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

The Greek word for “last” is eschatos. Last in time sequence, and last in a series.
Those who claim that the Church will be raptured before the Tribulation say it will occur at the last trumpet, which they say is before the Anti-Christ’s 7-year reign, but then, they completely forget that and go on to say that there will be seven more trumpets after that. (Seven of the 21 judgments in Revelations are accompanied by the angelic blowing of a trumpet.) Those seven trumpets are in a series. So the last one is when the Snatch happens. Problem is, the seven trumpet judgments happen in the middle of the Book of Revelation. Revelation is always treated as a completely sequential series of events, and here is the Rapture happening in the middle or perhaps the end of the Tribulation.

Another important word in that last passage is “mystery.” The Greek word is “mysterion,” meaning hidden or secret thing. Guess where else it is used? In Revelations 10:7, when the 7th trumpet is blown. The last trumpet.

“But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets”.

Get it? The mystery of God is finished. And the rapture is called a mystery. So the rapture finishes at the time of the 7th trumpet. Not years before.

This post is getting a bit long, so I’ll continue these points at another time. I hope I haven’t lost or bored my audience. It’s easy to do. We Christians have our own language and concepts that we take for granted.
What you need to take away from this is: the “Rapture” is a doctrine that fits comfortably with the easy, cushy Christianity of which we should want no part.

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