The wildly successful Left Behind book series has created fear and expectation in thousands of people. I read just the other day that 59% of Americans (supposedly) believe that the Left Behind interpretation of Revelation is at least "partially correct." According to Newsweek (May 24, 2004), 55% of Americans believe in the Left Behind Rapture concept. The problem is, and I say this kindly, the Rapture doctrine is fictional, and is not Biblical.
My dispensational friends believe that the Rapture brings the Christian Age to an end and ushers in the seven year "tribulation." The church is supposedly not on earth at all during this seven year period. At the end of the tribulation period, Christ appears the second time to initiate the Messianic kingdom.
The first problem is that while the Rapture theory says the Rapture terminates the Christian Age, the Bible says that the Church Age has no end. This is problematic to say the least! If the Christian Age has no end, how can the Rapture put an end to it? In Ephesians 3:21, Paul said: "Unto Him be glory in the church, by Jesus Christ, throughout all ages, age without end. Amen!" The Greek expression Paul uses here is the strongest expression that the Greeks had to express endlessness. So, Paul said that the Church Age is "without end." Hebrews 12:25-28 says that the kingdom they were then receiving, the church of the Lord, is "immoveable." It cannot be removed, shaken or replaced.
Since the Bible says the Church Age has no end, we can safely conclude that there will not be a Rapture to put an end to the endless Church Age.
Another problem for the Rapture theory is the issue of the church and the tribulation. The Rapture doctrine says that the church is not on earth at all during the seven year Tribulation, and is certainly not on earth at the Second Coming. Well, this is wrong, on both counts.
In 2 Thessalonians 1:1-10, Paul was writing: "To the church of the Thessalonians" (v.2). That church was under going tribulation (from the word thlipsis, which means pressure). In verses 4-7, Paul uses the present tense of thlipsis four times to speak of what they were experiencing: "to you who are being troubled" (v.7).The passage is not speaking of the church 2000 years removed from the first century. Paul was addressing a then-current situation occurring in the city of Thessalonica. He promised those living, breathing humans "rest, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven." (V. 7). The word translated "rest" means relief, and is never used of "reward." This word is always, without exception, relief from whatever "pressure" (thlipsis), is under consideration. In this passage, the pressure was the persecution being experienced by the Thessalonian Christians. So, Paul promised those living, breathing humans relief from that first century persecution at the coming of the Lord. (Christ would come, in their lifetime, to give them relief.)
The dispensational Rapture doctrine says that 2 Thessalonians 1 is the Second Coming that supposedly occurs at the end of the tribulation. I have not found a single dispensational writer that applies 2 Thessalonians 1 to the Rapture. But do you see the problems?
The church is not supposed to be on earth during the tribulation period.Yet, the inspired text was written to the church, about the church, and said the church would be on earth, in tribulation, but relieved from tribulation, at the Second Coming!
As a corollary to #1, the Church is not supposed to be involved in the Tribulation at the time of the Second Coming. However, if 2 Thessalonians 1 is about the Second Coming, and if it is the Great Tribulation that occurs during the second half of the 7 years following the Rapture, then this of necessity demands that the church undergoes the Great Tribulation, and is given relief from the Tribulation at the parousia.
According to the Rapture doctrine, the persecutors of the church are not judged at the Rapture, or for that matter, at the Second Coming. It was the first century saints in Thessalonica that were being promised vindication at the parousia of Christ, when their persecutors, not some future persecutors, would be judged. For those first century persecutors to be judged at the Second Coming, seven years after the Rapture, they would have to be raised from the dead. However, this will not work, because in the millennial view of things, the wicked, that is, the first century persecutors of the Thessalonians, will not be raised at the Second Coming. They are not raised for another 1000 years, at the end of the millennium. And, there is no "coming of the Lord" at the end of the millennium, so, that does not fit 2 Thessalonians 1. Do you see the problem?
Paul is emphatic that at the coming of the Lord in 2 Thessalonians 1, the persecutors of the church are judged. There is no way to escape the force of the text. To say the very least, this is problematic for the Rapture doctrine.
I have written a booklet, entitled Leaving the Rapture Behind. This book exposes the rapture doctrine as false. If you want some scriptural, logical information that will help you cut through all the hype and understand what the Bible really says, this book is for you. Some folks are ordering multiple copies of this book to distribute to their friends that are caught up (pun intended!) in the Left Behind craze.
Cost of the book is $2.95 plus $1.25 postage. You can use PayPal. Just use my email address firstname.lastname@example.org. We will get a copy of this important book right out to you. Don’t be “left behind,” get your copy now!