Left Behind. Left Empowered

 How many wise men visited Jesus around the time of His birth? Three? Possibly. However, scripture does not reveal even an approximation. But because of children’s plays and Christmas displays, our desire to present SOMETHING that illustrates such a scene… Understandable

Unfortunately, the number 3 has invisibly morphed from theory to supposed truth. And yet it is not significantly so. Merely a minor example of how time, combined with creative license, has caused us to lose sight of what is actually written

Let us now consider how the religious sect, even Jesus’ own disciples preconceived the Messiah’s coming. An immediate overthrow of Rome? A fast track to their own prominence? And yet they too had the scriptures which foretold of the suffering servant, but could not fathom it. At least not for some time

They had heard the same thing for so long, they assumed their own conceptions to be true. They were amiss. Today, are we any different? 

With all the excitement of the new “Left Behind” movie coming out, I feel it vital for the Church to selah and review what we know, or think we know concerning a Biblical Rapture

I’ll be upfront and confess that I neither believe in a “pre” nor “mid-trib” view. I used to. However, as we search scripture for what it actually states concerning such events, the evidence arrows overwhelmingly to the side of the Saints actually enduring tribulation, just as Jesus said we would (John 16:33) 

Now, I understand heated objection will immediately arise, as both pre and mid-trib alike will attest that “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ”. And I agree. There is none. That said, one wonders then, with the Bowl Judgments being the wrath of God, how another would assume the Church could still be present in order to receive something He promised we would not. After all, that would make God a liar

Case in point, I think our sold out belief per escaping such tribulation has caused us to under study, say, overlook a very import verse that fills the void over such a notion; Revelations 7:3, where God commands His angels to place a mark (not the one relating to the Beast) upon the Saints, in order to protect them

This fits all too neatly in line with God’s character as He has also forewarned Noah to build an ark that would provide safety from the near coming wrath that would destroy all the earth. Furthermore, His grace was also given to the Israelites as they were allotted insight per the destruction that would come upon Egypt – overshadowing only those who placed the lamb’s blood over their threshold. Naivete, as is presented by a “pan-millennial” theory would never have provided either of these parties an ability to endure, as it requires both insight as well as action

If we suggest that “meeting Him in the air” equivocates a mass of believers suddenly vanishing earth and instantly appearing in Heaven, then we have gone too far. For all that scripture states pointedly is that “we will meet Him in the air” and “be with Him forever”. Jesus’ game plan is for the “thy Kingdom to come to earth as it is in heaven” as He stressed so sincerely to His disciples to pray. His Second Coming will be a permanent one. There is no third advent. This is why we will be with Him forever from that point on

An absence of a healthy Christian Worldview has caused many Western believers, with good intentions, to aim at proclaiming such a theory to even Eastern believers; warning them that experiencing tribulation was not of God. As you would expect, this did not settle well in underground China, where torturous prison terms, even sentences of death were pronounced to the sold out believers of that region. Neither has the Church of the Middle East, where followers are sometimes beheaded for their beliefs, taken this theory lying down

I do apologize for those who eliminate a rapture theory altogether. Clearly, there does appear to be a very specific point in time where such an ascension does transpire. I believe Luke chapter 17 offers the clearest resolution toward what takes place

34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.”[a]37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse[b] is, there the vultures[c] will gather.”

Notice how verse 37 depicts the place of those being taken – a location where dead bodies are being eaten by birds. Doesn’t sound so heavenly as is suggested by a pre/mid-trib rapture theory. And although this scene does in fact describe the Church’s literal transport/destination with resurrected/glorified bodies, it strikes significantly closer to a scene in Rev 19:17-19 where the angel calls the birds of the air to feast on the flesh of rebellious kings, during the time of great judgment

I’ll brief here for a moment to mention the “mark” (of the beast). This is an additional case where we have traveled too far in creative license, extending facts beyond what is written, producing only unhealthy and unnecessary fear. Our lack of understanding has caused many to shudder that should they somehow be left, how would they protect themselves from receiving the mark unwillingly; say, a trip to the hospital while found unconscious, etc.

The answer to this question is that it is quite impossible to ever take the mark accidentally. A blur over the bigger picture pertaining to end time events has invented a way for us to make more of the mark itself, than what it actually takes to receive it – which is worship. The angels who turned to follow Satan had to be convinced that he was the one worthy. And even then, he was only able to turn a third

Unless we intentionally bow to the Antichrist, denying our Lord, then there is no need to fear. The “mark” is a mere symbol, a certification for an act that we willingly partook of. Nothing more. Scripture does not even state that it will be a “chip” as is highly theorized. It might. Nonetheless, without your express consent, you will never receive it

All that said, there is need to heed the words of preparation for a very real end times scenario – not as though we will escape, but in order to thrive through it with endurance, abiding in Christ so that He will abide in us (John 15). It requires both understanding and action as the hearts of many will grow cold and even the elect will be deceived. And let us not forget that even those bold enough to endure may still be martyred. There is no easy road. However, great grace is expected to be given

Finally, with so many NT passages that point to it, it ought strike us as far fetched that these words were not for the generation of believers alive and in Christ to obey, but instead to be chocked up to a mass of left behind newbies who suddenly get their act together, supposedly without the help of the Holy Spirit. THAT, just doesn’t fly