Rapture like "Left Behind" Series?|
Q. Do you think the rapture will be like the Left Behind movies where cars and airplanes suddenly don't have drivers or pilots?
It could be. But, I doubt it will happen just that way.
For our readers who need a little background on this subject, let's take a look at some passages that describe what Christians call the "rapture:"
Beam me Up
…"We who are still alive at the Lord's coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel's voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…" (1 Thess. 4:15-17, HCSB).
In just a split Second
…"We will not all fall asleep, but we will 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 will be changed" (1 Cor. 15:51-52).
To a Place for Us
"In My Father's house are many dwelling places…I am going away to prepare a place for you…I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also" (John 14:2-3).
The Great Escape
The event called the "rapture" is a time when Yeshua will return and resurrect His church and transform living believers to meet Him in the air prior to the times of the terrible tribulation period.
The horrors of the tribulation period are described in the book of Revelation, portions of Matthew, Mark and Luke, and in portions of the Old Testament. It includes massive disasters and catastrophic earth changes. They are so bad that God says believers will be evacuated before these things occur. That is what we call the "rapture" - a mass evacuation.
Fit for Outer Space&Heaven
For Christians this is an exciting event. Dead believers throughout history will receive new bodies. And those alive during this event will receive transformed, powerful bodies. They will join each other in space - like a "beaming up" event. We will become fit to travel in outer space and we will no longer be confined to earth. "Cool!"
Catastrophic Earth Changes
Those "left behind" will find their lives becoming extraordinarily difficult. There will be horrid earthquakes, possible tsunamis which will destroy or move islands, asteroids, worldwide nuclear wars, destroyed or poisoned crops, polluted water and air supply, famine, outbreaks of diseases, and terrorism.
Other than films of Hiroshima, 9/11, the 2004 tsunami, the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, and pictures of devastating earthquakes - I don't think we have the capacity to imagine the horrors that will unfold during the tribulation period.
Earth moved from its Axis
Isaiah 24 partly describes the judgment of the earth. It is worth reading the entire chapter to get a flavor of what may occur. For example, Isaiah 24:19-20 says:
"The earth is completely devastated - the earth is split open - the earth is violently shaken. The earth staggers like a drunkard and sways like a hut."
This suggests the earth may be moved from its axis. Perhaps we are looking at a Polar Shift similar to what some fear may occur in 2012.
Raptured in Chaos
Finally, several theologians have suggested that when disaster news begins to lead up to the Great Tribulation period, Christians will be raptured among such chaos on earth that no one will really know who has disappeared.
For instance, think back when the 2004 tsunami occurred. We were not sure who had died or who was missing. It took months to ferret out a reliable list of those who had died in the catastrophe.
In the same way should a nuclear exchange occur at the same time as the rapture, too many people will be trying to protect themselves in shelters from the danger of intense radiation. They won't be running around with news cameras filming who has died and who hasn't.
Real Left-Behind Circumstances Deadly
We suspect that while the Left Behind series has Christians disappearing during peaceful times, the "real" Left-Behind circumstances may be devastating. Earth's residents probably won't care who has disappeared because they will be too busy trying to survive.
Yeshua warned us that some pretty devastating events will just be the "beginning of birth pains" (Matt. 24:8). He told us that "these things must take place, but the end is not yet" (Matt. 24:6). "These things" included wars, famines, and earthquakes. Those are not peaceful, calm circumstances.
Devastation, Destruction&Earth Changes
"For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earth quakes in various places" (Matt. 24:7).
"There will be violent earthquakes, and famines and plagues in various places, and there will be terrifying sights and great signs from heaven" (Luke 21:11).
"Then there will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And there will be anguish on the earth among nations bewildered by the roaring sea and waves. People will faint from fear and expectation of the things that are coming on the world, because the celestial powers will be shaken" (Luke 21:25-26).
…"the sky separated like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved from its place" (Revelation 6:14).
"The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not shed its light. The stars will fall from the sky, and the celestial powers will be shaken" (Matt. 24:29).
"For at that time there will be great tribulation, the kind that hasn't taken place from the beginning of the world until now and never will again! Unless those days were limited, no one would survive" (Matt. 24:21-22, HCSB).
Hitchcock, Mark. 2005. Could the rapture happen today? Sisters, OR: Multnomah.
Hitchcock, Mark and Thomas Ice. 2004. The truth behind left behind. Sisters, OR: Multnomah.
Lutzer, Erwin W. 2004. The vanishing power of death. Chicago: Moody.
—- Where was God? Answers to tough questions about God and natural disasters. Carol Stream, ILL: Tyndale.
Walvoord, John F. and Mark Hitchcock, ed. 2007. Armageddon, oil and terror. Carol Stream, ILL: Tyndale.
Author Valorie Mays Emilio holds an M.A. in History from UCLA focusing upon early church history, and a V.O.M. Certificate in Persecuted Church Ministries from Oklahoma Wesleyan University.