Rapture or Not? Splitting vs. Joining Slide Video

Posted By on August 31, 2011

Finally got around to making a short (35 min) video of my slides that I used in Week 2 of my prophecy series at church. The topic is noted in the title to the post.  Since the audio of that session did not record, the video for it was not uploaded.  This is a “summary substitute” that I hope makes clear what I was trying to do in that session. Here it is (80 MB, so may take a minute to load for you).

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52 Responses to “Rapture or Not? Splitting vs. Joining Slide Video”

  1. haibane13 says:

    Could you do one for the Genesis and Creation Class 2 . It was never posted for similar reasons .

  2. Dean says:

    Hey Mike,

    Looking forward to the slides…

    Ever think about the passage in Rev. where the warning is given that if anyone add to the word’s of this prophecy then all the plagues of this book will be added to them – It seems that would only have made sense if it was a soon-to-happen event when John wrote it. Otherwise it would have to imply that these are stored up as some sort of after-death list of punishments to keep it from being a hollow promise/warning.

    Any thoughts? I have no definitive stance on end-times so this is not baiting :) Just a question I thought you would find interesting.

    Thanks for all you do – your work is a great ministry of insight.

    • MSH says:

      never thought about whether that note had any impact on the “chronology” of eschatology. I can imagine responses to your take on it, though. It doesn’t seem to be a powerful deterrent to either the near or far perspective. Maybe you can unpack your thinking a bit on it.

      • Dean says:

        I’ll admit it has a preterist slant by the chronological viewpoint but I digress…

        Based on the assumption that the plagues referred to are indeed the judgments listed in the prophecy, my thinking is that it makes sense that the contextual implication is that if you do this (add to the words of the prophecy) then you will experience/go through without protection, the things listed in this book that are soon to come. To the original reading audience.

        Outside of that framework it seems like a hollow warning. If it’s future – then it only applies to whomever that generation is? Or as I mentioned above these things are stored up for those guilty and will be applied post earth-life?

        To me it’s hard to fit that into an open ended future context when at face value it seems intended to the original reading audience. Did that unpack enough to see where I am coming from or just a rehash?

        • MSH says:

          How do you define “adding”?

          • Dean says:

            Hmmm… I suppose my initial thought is what it seems to imply (to me anyway) is to add content by the reader to forge it as authentic prophecy. To include it in the work as part of the original. Again which would seem most logical when the letter was first making it’s rounds.

            But then again – what does logic have to do with prophecy? :)

            • MSH says:

              No one is importing content; they are importing ideas (perhaps) if that is what you want to call the exercise of interpretation. I wouldn’t cast it that way, since that implies rather strongly that one’s own views on prophecy are somehow devoid of that — that they are self evident. Nothing could be further from the reality when it comes to prophecy.

              • Dean says:

                If I follow your reply – I do not believe that interpretation is “adding” as the passage warns. I am strictly coming from a chronological angle and if the passages seems to have any bearing on that. Not so much as – what is adding. But that may be the question to ask…

  3. Benjamin Smith says:

    Just a thought – are you talking about the changable nature of prophecy in terms of Jesus promise to return with the disciples’ lifetimes being unfulfilled, as John Hobbin describes? That would be incredibly helpful in these debates if it were made more widely known.

    • MSH says:

      That wasn’t specifically something I was thinking about.

      • Are you going to mention it at all, though? Seems like something pretty important, if just because it seems like a pretty thorny problem until understood.

        • MSH says:

          mention what? I’ve lost track of just what it is you are wondering about.

          • The issue of Jesus being ‘wrong’ about returning within the apostles’ lifetimes, like he claimed in Matthew 10. If prophecy is seen as something that could change in details, it’s no problem. If unaware of this, it can seem to someone that Jesus made a real blunder that the apostles inherited.

            • MSH says:

              Well, to “return” he’d have to do somewhere, and when he uttered these statements, he was already there. Matt 10:23 is further defined by Matt 16:28 – “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not ?taste death ?until they see the Son of Man ?coming in his kingdom.” Since the NT views the crucifixion as exaltation to kingship and power (the right hand of God thing), the reference point of these verses is most readily seen as the crucifixion. But what about an eschatological kingdom? One might be tempted to take “son of man” as an allusion to Daniel 7′s son of man. That is possible but not necessary. “Son of man” may simply be one of those instances of the term to mean simply “human one” (Jesus’ most frequent self-designation). If so, there is no eschatological flavor to it at all. It’s Jesus saying that (a) you guys won’t even get through all the towns in the neighborhood before I go to the cross and to the Father’s right hand, and (b) most of you will be alive by that time (Judas being the exception). However, if one presumes that Daniel 7 is the backdrop, it’s probably fair to say that amillennialism has the easiest time with that since the Church (earthly holy ones — see the latter half of Daniel 7) = the kingdom. But an eschatological presumption doesn’t undo a later earthly rule, though, since an “already not yet” view of the kingdom (held by most premillers now, with the exception of old Scofield and Ryrie groupies) would say the kingdom DID begin at the crucifixion/exaltation but will be later consummated at the return.

              Hope you could follow that since I cranked it out pretty quickly.

              • I could follow it fine: it’s a perspective I haven’t heard before, so thanks for that. I think I find John’s view of this in his ‘unfulfilled prophecy’ post more likely, though (as did you, at one time, according to the comment you left on it?).

  4. Patrick says:

    How about the context of Rev chapter 1 for timing?

    vs 1-3 have definitive “imminence” to them and vs 7 is a paraphrase of Zechariah’s prediction that “they will look at Me, the one they have pierced”.

    Only 1 generation of Jews can be said to be involved in that.

    • MSH says:

      If v. 7 refers to the second coming, then that rules out imminence for vv. 1-3 since the second coming is preceded by signs in other passages (my response assumes you are speaking of imminence as “nothing needs to happen prior to X event.” One can of course see v. 7 as a rapture and not the second coming, then the problem is what to do with the clouds reference. Elsewhere all the elements of 1 Thess 4 (the “go to” rapture passage) appear in Matthew 24 AFTER the abomination, which would be mid-tribulation (presuming the trib = the 70th week, as nearly all rapture positions embrace). My point is that a rapture in Rev 1:7 cannot be imminent if the same imagery is retained for Matt 24, since that imagery in Matt 24 is clearly place after sign events described in Matt 24. You either have to take all the cloud / angel / trumpet gathering talk in Matt 24:29ff. as NOT referring to a rapture (in which case one wonders why all those things in 1 Thess 4 are somehow a rapture), OR you say clouds are part of both events (rapture and second coming), in which case you are vulnerable to the question of why you don’t see the two events as one in the first place.

      Just looking at what I wrote reminds me of why an obsession with prophecy is a waste of time. It’s just “layered guessing” in the wake of a series of assumptions.

  5. Nobunaga says:

    “It’s just “layered guessing” in the wake of a series of assumptions.”

    From this quote it seems you are somewhat of a end times postmodernist ? Not meaning this in a pejorative sense at all. I can definitely see your point in saying this. Pray and watch you dont enter into temptation because He is coming back, thats my end times synopsis. It’s practical and short just like me,… if i was practical.

  6. Patrick says:

    Michael,

    I don’t think Revelation is about the 2cd coming of Christ bodily. I am convinced it and Matthew 24 are about Him “coming in judgment” warning of 70 AD.

    I think they work together.

    Jesus kept referring to “this generation” in His “woe is you” motif, go back to Matthew 22-24, the dialectic debate is over with.

    “This generation” will have the righteous blood of Abel to Zechariah on it’s head”.

    He told Caiaphas, “You will see me coming in the clouds of glory” and I think He meant it literally, Caiaphas saw Christ return in vengeance in the Jewish War( Caiaphas died by the sword of a fellow Jewish zealot).

    In Matthew, Jesus stated “you will not even have visited all the villages of Israel before I return” and “some hearing Me now will be here when I return”.

    IMO, He simply has to be referring to “coming in judgment” as opposed to the one off final event of the bodily return to earth.

    Even on the via dolorosa, Jesus told the wailing women, “Don’t cry for Me, cry for you and your children”.

    30- 70 AD ?

    Add in what the sanhedrin types screamed when Pilate tried to release Jesus.

    “Let His blood be on our heads and on our children’s heads”!

    It was, IMO. Except for those wise enough to have believed and fled Jerusalem as Jesus warned them to.

    I don’t think any of this is referring to the rapture myself. IMO, the rapture and the 2cd coming are synonyms. I see it opposite of the dispensationalists.

  7. rode says:

    quick request,
    next time, when someone asks you a question or makes a comment, can you reinstate what they say? since we cant hear it on the video.
    other than that…great video!
    thanks!

  8. Steve says:

    Hey Mike does not the greek word for “coming” the parousia actually mean one event (the second coming) but with many things happening within that one event (gathering in the clouds), the day of the lord, (touchdown on Mount of Olives) and the final judgment. All end time events are associated with Christ’s initial “parousia” but again it is one event. As you have probably guessed I am pre-wrath in my view, but your presentations are very insightful and yes everybody cheats.

    • MSH says:

      I would say the terminology cannot be divided (but a pre-tribber could argue the view on some other grounds) — Here is a nice summary of this that relates to your question from Erickson’s Christian Theology:

      >>
      How are we to resolve this issue? Will the second coming be a single or a dual-stage occurrence? While numerous considerations that bear upon this issue will be examined in the following chapter, there is one crucial consideration we will examine now. It relates to the vocabulary used to designate the second advent. The three major terms for the second coming are parousia, apokalupsis, and epiphaneia. The pretribulationist argues that parousia refers to the rapture, the first stage of the return, the believer’s blessed hope of being delivered from this world before the tribulation begins. The other two terms refer to Christ’s coming with the saints at the end of the tribulation.

      When examined closely, however, the terms that designate the second coming do not support the distinction made by pretribulationists. In 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17, for example, the term parousia is used to denote an event that it is hard to conceive of as the rapture: “According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming [parousia] of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” As George Ladd says, “It is very difficult to find a secret coming of Christ in these verses.” In addition, the term parousia is used in 2 Thessalonians 2:8, where we read that following the tribulation Christ by his coming will destroy the man of lawlessness, the Antichrist, in a public fashion. Further Jesus said of the parousia: “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt. 24:27).

      Nor do the other two terms fit the pretribulationists’ conception. Whereas supposedly the parousia, not the apokalupsis or epiphaneia, is the blessed hope awaited by the church, Paul is thankful that his readers have been enriched in knowledge as they “eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed [apokalupsis]” (1 Cor. 1:7). He assures the Thessalonians that God will “pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed [apokalupsis] from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels” (2 Thess. 1:6–7). And Peter speaks of the believers’ joy and reward in connection with the apokalupsis: “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13). He had earlier [Page 1199] written that his readers might have to suffer various trials, “so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1:7). Both of these references (and 1:13 as well) suggest that the believers to whom Peter is writing (who are part of the church) will receive their glory and honor at the apokalupsis of Christ. According to pretribulationism, however, the church should already have received its reward at the parousia.

      Finally, Paul also speaks of the epiphaneia as the object of the believer’s hope. He writes to Titus that believers are to live godly lives, “while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing [epiphaneia] of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). A similar use of epiphaneia can be found in 1 Timothy 6:14 and 2 Timothy 4:8. We conclude that the use of a variety of terms is not an indication that there will be two stages in the second coming. Rather, the interchangeableness of the terms clearly points to a single event.

      Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (2nd ed.; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1998), 1198.

  9. john says:

    Thanks for this. You wouldn’t believe how many people are on “Rapture Alert” right now. Lots of folks believe the Rapture of the church is the fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets/Rosh Hashanah because this feast is the one which “no man knows the day or the hour” when it will begin.

    I have unwittingly been a “joiner” all my life, which is why I could never get onto the pre-trib Rapture bandwagon–or ANY Rapture bandwagon. I’ve only JUST been able to accept Pre-Wrath as a possibility

    Another thing my pre-trib friends do is say that the tribulation is God’s wrath poured out on the nations for the purpose of finally bringing Israel to Himself. If the Tribulation, therefore, is all about Israel, and if Christians are not destined for wrath, what are we doing on earth during the Great Tribulation? The Jewish wedding imagery used in many of these passages have these friends of mine suggesting we will be on a 7 year “honeymoon” due to various cultural trappings that aren’t actually mentioned in the Scriptures. It’s very difficult to make headway with them because of these things.

  10. Bran says:

    Just to toss this out there, how about a post tribulation rapture? There exists an idea that christ gathers his elect and tosses them into war against the beast invading israel.

    It is based on the bride of christ and the armies of heaven wearing the same clothing in revelation.

    I bring it up just for the Post trib idea though.

  11. Patrick says:

    Up until ~ 1890 AD, no one in Christendom ever heard of the dispensationalist type debates. Pre trib, post trib, etc.

    The Church uniformly assumed the 70 AD judgment was the 7 year tribulation and that it vindicated Jesus Christ as being right and His Jewish antagonists being wrong.

    They saw the “rapture and 2cd coming” as the same idea, not separate ideas.

    Not until Mr Darby ~1890 started preaching the dispensational view did it become accepted and mainly here.

    Lewis Sperry Chafer ( Dallas Theological) wrote up an influential piece that made the case the Greek word for “generation” was really “race”.

    That allowed the Matthew 24 discourse to be read as Jesus NOT warning His generation, instead it can become a warning to whomever in history.

    Contextually, even if Chafer was right exegetically,( I don’t believe he was ) it is obvious Jesus from Matthew 22-25 is warning His opponents and disciples what is going to happen before they’re all dead.

    “All the righteous blood from Abel to Zechariah will be on your heads”. Sure sounds like Jesus is judging the sanhedrin type Jews of His day to me and those who followed them.

    BTW, parousia, isagogically, doesn’t it mean for the folks in a city to go out, greet our king and escort Him back to our city?

    That precludes the rapture idea Chafer taught if it does.

    • MSH says:

      Not sure what you mean by “isagogically”.

    • Josh says:

      While I agree that the dispensational concept of the rapture is a recent development. It is not true to say that the entire Church prior to the 1890′s assumed a historic fullfillment view revolving around 70 AD. Irenaeus and Justin Martyr both make clear that this was not the case. Irenaeus clearly regards the coming of the anti-christ as a future event and he also indicates as does Eusebius (based at least in part on Irenaeus) that John was sent to Patmos during the persecution of Domition, well after 70 AD. Justin Martyr makes clear in his Dialogue with Trypho that he and many others in the Church were of a futurist literal millenial view, though he also acknowledges that he knows of many good Christians who take something like an a-millenial view.

      • MSH says:

        I never said that (“entire”). But you are mistaken in thinking that the belief in an antichrist requires a rapture. It does not. Neither does a belief in a literal kingdom. A historic premillennialist would believe in both and reject a rapture. There were early church figures that one could put in the historic premill camp, but none of the rapture positions. The rapture is a new idea (which doesn’t make it wrong — it’s about exegesis, not chronology).

  12. Patrick says:

    Probably not even a proper word, no wonder.

    In the ancient context, didn’t parousia mean to greet your king outside the city gates and escort him back?

    If so, the ideas of Darby and Chafer about us fleeing earth in a rapture seems awkward at best.

    • Josh says:

      Patrick,

      You’ve got the wrong word. The word you are referring to is not Parousia, but rather Apantesis, which is greek for “meet”. It more specifically denotes a meeting face to face of parties headed in opposite directions. In ancient times it was frequently used, as you point out to refer to the citizens of a city coming out of the city to ‘meet’ a visiting dignitary and escort him back into the city as a welcoming part. A perfect image of this is Jesus’ Triumphal entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of Holy Week.

      The biblical uses of the word also tend to line up with this meaning in most cases, though in some cases (OT in the septuagint) it is used to refer to messengers running messages by a kind of relay system where each one goes out to meet the one coming to him and then carries the message one etc.

      This word Apantesis is used both in the parable of the wedding feast, and also in the key Rapture description in 1st Thess. 4 “we who are left shall be cought up to MEET (apantesis) him in the air”.

      I would suggest that you are effectively right in your assertion that this puts a big strain on the idea of the rapture being the church whisked off to heaven. It seems to suggest that rather the Rapture is essentially a repeat of the Triumphal Entry where all of the saints are cought up and brought to Jersualem (perhaps like Philip with the Ethiopian Enuch) to form the returning Lord’s welcoming party.

      I would suggest that this also matches up pretty exactly with what is described by Jesus in Matthew 24 when the angels are sent out to gather all the saints together etc.

      @MSH
      I understand what you mean when you talk about splitters and joiners regarding the events and the scriptures involved. However, I would suggest that it is pretty difficult to effectively split the rapture from the second coming as per the pre-tribulation view. Passages such as Matthew 24 make it very difficult to do this without stretching credulity in my opinion. Matthew 24 clearly takes place after the tribulation, thus in the pre-trib splitter view it must be a seperate event from the 1st Thess 4 rapture. However, as you have pointed out before, there is very similar language about Jesus coming on the clouds, the trumpet call etc. Even beyond those similarites however, there is the fact that the “gathering” of the saints in Matthew 24 is essentially a “rapture”. Thus if you do split Matthew 24 from 1st Thess 4, you don’t just end up with a 2nd coming and a rapture as seperate events. You actually end up with two comings (both refering to the clouds and glory) and two raptures.

      I would argue that, no matter how you slice it.. or split it… the rapture and the 2nd coming occur together. The only question is are there two comings (one to the air and one to the earth) and also two raptures (one a rapture and the other a ‘gathering’), or just one?

  13. Marshall says:

    Great presentation Mike, and I agree that you cannot just open your Bible and extract a perfect timeline of End Time events. I have to admit that I find myself joining and splitting at times simply because of logic. I also agree that the Gospels accounts join together, but we may find ourselves splitting the stories/accounts that are contained within the gospels. An example of this is when Jesus drove out the money changers from the temple. The Gospels do not appear to agree on when that occurs. It may suggest that Jesus drove them out on two separate occasions.

    That’s just an observation that my not have any merit, but my question for you is this. Why, in 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2 does Paul reassure the church in Thessalonica that the day of the Lord has not yet begun/come. Why would they be worried or need reassuring when the Day of the Lord culminates with Christ’s return. They should be happy that their redemption is drawing near. Were they assuming that they had missed the “Catching up of the saints in the air” that Paul had spoken to them about previously? In other words were they assuming a “Rapture” scenario that would take them away before the Day of the Lord, and was Paul telling them “No, you haven’t missed it!”?

    • MSH says:

      They would need reassuring because these believers (a) were human, and humans get scared; and (b) they weren’t real popular. No one likes persecution, and that sort of suffering is part of the eschatological picture. It still hurts to get beaten even if you know you’re going to heaven. It’s still horribly frightening to think that you might watch your kids die before your eyes, or your wife being raped by hostile soldiers. Anyone who would consider those realities stoically is heartless (or a sociopath). Dying bravely with confidence in one’s eternal destiny is not incompatible with wanting to escape savagery. I do a lot of WW II reading. Decorated heroes are often quite frank about being scared to death. They did what needed to be done when it needed to be done, but didn’t go looking for it with enthusiasm.

      • Marshall says:

        I understand what you’re saying about humans being scared and not wanting to face persecution, but I would argue that they were already experiencing that. So much so, that they thought the severity of their persecution was close to the description given to them (and us) about “Day of the Lord, or The Great Tribulation”.

        Paul writes to them to set them straight about a false teaching. It seems as though they were given the impression by the false letter and false teaching that the Hope Paul had told them to comfort each other with was false. Combat veterans who fight through their fear, even those who are decorated, are uncertain about the outcome of the war. They may have a great confidence in their cause country and brother fighting next to them, but they can’t have certainty about future events or the outcome of the war. A true believer in Christ will, by default, believe in the Hope of eternity and the ultimate victory of Christ. I’m not suggesting that this fact eliminates all fear and trepidation of a Christian during severe persecution. I am suggesting however, that if you are under the impression that God has now reengaged the gears of prophecy and that the end is near, you wouldn’t need a church leader (Paul) to ease your mind about it. You would need him to, if you didn’t think you were supposed to be there.

  14. james says:

    Hi Mike,

    i have a question. have you analyzed today’s national/international events and correlate with your end time prophecy ideas? i agree there are many end times ideas (premill, realized mill, pre trib, etc) however, i believe the study or analysis of historical and current events should shed some lights on which idea is more accurate. If your answer is yes, may i ask which idea, premillenialism, or realized millenialism is more accurate?

    • MSH says:

      in order:

      1. no (I think it’s a waste of time).
      2. I don’t think that, largely because prophecy is deliberately cryptic (and for other reasons).
      3. see the above.

  15. pawz says:

    My head hurts! I discovered MSH recently, on You-tube and am all starry-eyed about him (relax, I am 70 and happily married). Finally a guy that cuts through the waffle, gives us reasoned arguments and explanations about why this is so and that is not so – a breath of fresh air on you-tube against Sitchin and Icke etc, but one who is prepared and comfortable to talk of ‘strange things’ . Me, I just want to try and make sense of it all, and in this Michael has helped, simply by calling attention to the reality of a Divine Council, of the hierarchy of good and evil beings with which we have to contend, to mention one topic, and I am grateful and encouraged. I came to the conclusion fairly recently that the idea of a pre-trib rapture is a no-no, simply on the grounds that it cannot take place before the dead in Christ are raised, and they are not raised until the last day. Seems plain enough to me – but I am not sure to what ‘last day’ refers; some would say it refers to the last day of the feast, others would say last day of this age – and I am inclined to agree with that, but ‘last day’ isn’t defined is it? Could it be the last day of this age before the Day of the Lord’s wrath, and does the Day of the Lord’s wrath start in the middle of Revelation or when Yeshua returns, or what? So I have been watching MHS vids and come on here to see if that topic might be included in this blog. If it has been mentioned, I missed it. I am not a great academic, just ‘bookish’; know a bit of Hebrew, reasonable at Greek, study the Septuagint, try to get to the backside of what the scriptures say, that sort of stuff. All I want is to be able to piece together the bits of the puzzle to make a coherent picture, if that is possible, to fit all this end-time stuff and the Lord’s plan for humanity into some sort of map I can recognise and find the ‘you are here’ arrow – am I being too simple- hearted here? Do I have to be a big-brain to sort this out – is there a place for ‘six-year old girls’ to stand?
    I don’t really expect all this to be posted Dr Mike, just to give some feedback and appreciation is enough. Smiles, Pat from UK

    • MSH says:

      I loved the “cut through the waffle” expression! I just try to call things as I see them. Some things in biblical theology can be understood by six year olds; others are more complex (but even then we can be clearer when not trying to defend turf).

  16. Greg says:

    Mike,
    I really appreciate your ministry to the body of Christ. Thanks for all your hard work. Thinking things through is real work.
    I have a question about imminence…it is wrong to interpret words like: “little children it is the last hour” (I Jn 2:18) to mean the end is near? I think a lot about the Lord’s exhortation to the disciples to watch, pray and be ready. What is wrong with the teaching imminence in regards to His Coming?
    I do teach imminence because of passages like Mt. 25:45-51. I do not want to be guilty of this.

    Thanks again for your contributions.

    • MSH says:

      Since Jesus didn’t *return* in the apostle John’s time, I don’t think the meaning is that end was near. While the apostles certainly expected the second coming in their lifetimes, that isn’t the way things panned out. Imminence is just a variable term (i.e., subject to definition).

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