Will Catholics be "Left Behind"? This week we are going to talk about the rapture and what the Bible says about it.
Let’s start by discussing what the Rapture is and what, we, as Catholics, are to make of it.
The word Rapture means to ‘be caught up’ and the doctrine is taken from 1Thessalonians:
1 Thessalonians 4:17 then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.
What rapturists believe is that at some secret time, all the true believers in Christ will be caught up with Jesus in the air and then taken to Heaven, while non-believers will be left behind on earth to suffer through the tribulation of the antichrist.
Christ will later destroy the antichrist with His second coming a set up His Kingdom here on earth and finally reign as King from Jerusalem for 1000 years, or as they teach the millennium.
There are many problems with this belief.
The first problem is that this teaching is only 200 years old and not 2000 years old. It traces itself back to John Nelson Darby who was a preacher, and not back to Christ or the Apostles.
The second problem is that they have Christ coming back more than once, which Scripture doesn't teach. The rapturists read in scripture about differing aspects of the second coming of Christ and read them not as differing aspects of one event, but differing events. So in their theology, Jesus returns more than a second time.
The third problem is that Christ is already reigning, and already has set up a kingdom called the Church.
There are several verses that are used to support the ideas on rapture.
The most popular one is 1 Thessalonians 4:17 then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.
But this verse is happening on the last day, not in some period before Jesus comes again in His second coming.
Another verse is Matthew 24:36-42 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.
As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man.
For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark,
and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man.
Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left.
Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left.
Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
So rapturists say, “see, one is taken at our Lord’s coming and one is left. The one that is taken is faithful and the one that is left behind is the unfaithful one.”
The problem is the context of these verses. The context that we just read actually gave us the answer of who is taken and who was left behind. Here is what Jesus says again:
Matthew 24:38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark,
and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away.
Was Noah taken or was he left behind? It would appear that the context gives us the answer that Noah was left behind and that to be taken is not what you want to happen.
Now this Saturday, May 21, 2011. There is a group claiming that the rapture will occur. What are we to make of this?
My heart goes out to them. I have tried with little success to find a name for this group and I can’t seem to find one. They are touring the country in vans and handing out fliers concerning this Saturday and I fear several things when it doesn’t happen as they may plan.
#1 They will fall into despair and no longer follow the Lord, or even try to say that the Scriptures are false.
#2 They will say that they actually miscalculated the date and it is next year or something equally as ridiculous. Having a rolling end of days timeline like the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
#3 They will, in humility, say that they are in error and look no longer for the traditions of men but for the Tradition that comes from God that resides in the Catholic Church.
But I will not hold my breath for #3. These people need our prayers for conversion.