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The Rapture is Not the End of the World

I had the flu recently and watched more movies in the days I camped out on the couch, than I have in the last few years combined. Among them was the end of the world movie, 2012. Ripping off the Biblical account of the flood in ancient times, the remnant of humanity is saved on floating “arks.” As fiction, it was predictable, but entertaining, playing off of mankind’s fear of the end of the world.

I am always a bit irked at the lack of research people do when it comes to portraying what Christians believe about the end times. I realize we have a variety of viewpoints, but at least they could get the basic vocabulary correct. The fact that there is often a critical mockery of Christians in such movies makes their failure more annoying.

The most common error I have seen is when the viewer is told that Christians call the end of the world, “the Rapture.” No we don’t. The “rapture” is a separate event Paul describes in 1 Thessalonians 4. Christians differ on when they believe this event will occur, but this event is foretold in the New Testament. The term “rapture” has been used in place of the Greek word, harpazo, when discussing the “catching away” of believers described by Paul in Thessalonians. It’s not the end of the world.

The Bible does describe a time of wrath when God will enter into judgment with the nations. That time period begins the minute Israel signs a peace treaty with a man who will deceive the world, the antichrist. It has been said that Israel is God’s timepiece. Her acceptance of this peace treaty will start the time the Bible calls the Great Tribulation.

It will be a time of great destruction and sorrow for everyone who is alive. Scripture is clear that the world has never known such an intense time of suffering (Matthew 24). But it will also be a time when multitudes of people turn to faith in Jesus Christ. God will send out His own missionaries from the twelve tribes of Israel. The result of these men taking the testimony of Jesus Christ to the entire world is the multitude from every tribe, tongue and language, which “no one could number.” John describes them in Revelation 7.

Is this “Tribulation” the end of the world? No. Scripture is clear that Jesus Christ will return to this earth, just as He left it. Though cynics mock, though skeptics revile, every prophetic word of God will be fulfilled. Who believed and looked for His first coming? Did the religious leaders? The political authorities? The rich or wise? Yet every prophecy regarding His advent was literally fulfilled. The believer in Jesus Christ can safely embrace the truth of the Scriptures and the hope we have of His return and future reign here on earth, with no fear of being put to shame.

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