It might have been inserted strategically, or just came out accidentally, but you let slip your growing enthusiasm over the soon return of Jesus Christ at the Rapture of the Church to a fellow believer. You didn’t think much about it at first, given present company and a shared faith in Christ Jesus, but then the unexpected response happens.
This friend or coworker immediately raises an eyebrow and gives you the “slow your roll” look. They go on to warn you that “no man knows the day or hour” verse (although they can’t quite remember where to find it in the Bible), and proceed to caution you that people have been saying Christ would return for ages and yet, we are still here.
Besides they say, we should never say “soon” in association with the return of Christ because “soon” is highly subjective and we were likely to promote other believers into either doing irrational things or losing hope when the Rapture doesn’t happen immediately.
You say….come again?
“Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.” – Matthew 16:1-4
This insistence on ignoring or dismissing the Rapture of the Church is not unique to your individual friends/family/peer, but to a growing majority of learned clergy who are working overtime (it seems) in an attempt to curb their flocks’ enthusiasm with regard to the Lord’s return. It reminds me of that worn-out old saying we’ve all heard from all the prophecy-naysayers and it goes like this;
“My great-grand____ (fill in the relative) has been saying that the Lord was going to return since the 19_ _ (fill in the decade) and we are still here! See! Jesus isn’t coming back anytime soon. He definitely will not come in our lifetime.”
What they mean by saying that is because it hasn’t happened yet, it will never happen, at least not in their lifetime. This is called normalcy bias. The premise behind normalcy bias is that because something hasn’t happened yet, it is likely to never happen. The Apostle Peter deals with this line of reasoning in his second epistle:
“Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” – 2 Peter 3:3-7 (my emphasis)
So it seems that the fate of the world is tied up in a tiny nation at the center of the world. When she wasn’t in her land, the world languished. When she was in her land, the world raced forward. Save the above verse (and other verses confirming it), the fact is when Israel wasn’t in her land, mankind was limited to impossibly slow technological growth. But when she is back in her land, the speed and pace are such that we cannot even keep up. Furthermore, there is even a marked difference in the speed of technological advancements between 1897-1947 and from 1948 til today.
Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” – Luke 21:29-33
As watching believers, we already know the answer to that question. It was the Restraining influence of the Holy Spirit. He is not just restraining wickedness in the world at present, but restraining the potential for greater wickedness through man’s insatiable desire to become like gods themselves. Had the Restrainer not put boundaries in place for humans writ large, and the nations, in particular, mankind could have achieved twentieth-century level technology presumably back in the Dark Ages.
From Sarajevo, World War I began, which ultimately saw the deaths of roughly forty million people, the restructuring of Europe, the collapse of two major empires (Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman), and became the casus belli for World War II. By the end of World War II, Israel had become a nation again after 1,878 years in diaspora at the same time the world formed the United Nations, and we collectively entered into the atomic age where weapons of mass destruction (WMD) became not just the single greatest threat to humanity, but also the greatest status quo mechanism ensuring its survival (Mutually Assured Destruction).
It was also during this momentous age of change that at the exact same time when mankind shifted from looking at the signs of the times to actually living through the time of signs, the mainline churches were sleeping soundly at the helm of western Christendom. Like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, they used the silence of the previous centuries as proof positive that since God hadn’t done anything in their recent past (their opinion), God would continue doing nothing in their immediate future. This is a dangerous and foolish attitude to take with God, and worthy (as we’ve read previously) of His stern condemnation.
He has given us Bible prophecy as a light to shine in the increasingly dark times (1 Peter 1:19). We need not fear what lies ahead, because we have God’s word to us that is not only more sure than the air we breathe, but cannot fail nor ever diminish. He said heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away (Matt. 24:35).