"Matthew 24 - The Rapture Dilemma" (Part One)
Correctly Interpreting the Prophecy of Jesus
The description of the endtimes in Matthew 24 has become a focus of attention in past months. It has been used to show the differences between the Rapture and the Second Coming, and has effectively blown away much of the classic pre-seven-year-trib teaching by demonstrating the sequence of events as prophesied by Jesus.
That much cannot be denied, but a frequent recourse of pre-trib defenders is to simply deny Jesus was talking to Christians at all. (That indeed is what I was raised on as a young evangelical. However, after I became more familiar with the bible as a whole, I realised it was not correct.)
It has had the effect of bringing out the best and worst in Christian polemics; the best being a serious and scholarly attempt to set Matthew 24 and other similar scriptures in their proper context, and the worst being ad hominem attacks and denunciations couched in aggressive language that is little more than self-defensive ranting.
Over the past two to three years I have found an encouraging number of different people willing to re-think the old dogmas, and to look intensively into scripture itself to see what the Holy Spirit inspired people to say about these matters.
And in Matthew 24 it goes further than that, because Jesus himself answered three questions asked by the disciples:
- When will the Temple be destroyed, no stone being left upon another
- What are the signs that you are coming back for us?
- What are the signs of the End and Final Judgement, and the setting-up of the earthly kingdom?
Jesus answers these in turn. He prefaces everything with a warning "do not be deceived". Then he replies to the three questions with a prophecy that not only relates to their own time but also in the far distant future.
- The Temple will be destroyed in AD70 but there will be another greater time of destruction. At both times there will be an "abomination" to defile the Temple, and on both occasions those who love God will escape. (24:15 and following)
- There will be troubles and cosmic signs and deceptions, but the coming in the air will be as bright as lightning. (24:31)
- When the Throne is set up on earth, all men and women will appear before God for Judgement. Jesus will rule. (25:31 and following)
Inevitably, those who follow the classic evangelical teachings have been quick to defend their opinions on Matthew 24.
For instance, recently a group dedicated to the Pre-trib Rapture, Dispensationalism and Once-Saved-Always-Saved posted a blog purporting to show how Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24 must only refer to Israel and has nothing to do with the Church as “Matthew 24 is not about the Church which didn’t even exist on the day that they asked Jesus these questions”.
I don't wish to single anyone out, nor do I want to point fingers in anyone's direction, but it seems useful to look at the points raised in their blog as a foundation for discussion. In general I have no problem with the way Now The End Begins reports snippets of news and other topics, but I must take issue with this particular teaching.
So I'm going to look at each point raised in the next few pages. They will be:
- Introduction (this page)
- Did the Church Exist in the Day of Jesus?
- Can Prophecies Refer to More than One Event?
- The Rapture or the Second Coming - or both?
- When and What is the Day of Jacob's Trouble?
- Are the Elect Exclusively Israel?
- Is the Tribulation a seven-year Wrath of God?
- Do we Need to Endure, as Christians?
- Are there Distinct and Absolute Dispensations of History?
- Replacement Theology
© 2016 Tricia Tillin-Booth. All rights reserved. Birthpangs Website: http://www.birthpangs.org/ This document is the property of its author and is not to be displayed on other websites, redistributed, sold, reprinted, or reproduced in printed in any other format without permission. Websites may link to this article, if they provide proper title and author information. One copy may be downloaded, stored and/or printed for personal research. All spelling and phraseology is UK English.