Summary: The fear of being left behind may be replaced by the hope of being prepared.
Title: Left Behind... or Not?
Text: I Thessalonians 5:1-11
Thesis: Fear of being left behind may be replaced by the hope of being prepared.
One film critic wrote a review of the latest Left Behind film starring Nicolas Cage. The Left Behind series began in the 1990’s as a series of fiction novels which basically became the handbook of American folk-Christian eschatology (study of the end times).
The Left Behind series became popular before the apocalypse was cool, so to speak. The last Left Behind was filmed in 2005 and since then Hollywood has realized Christian films make a lot of money. Hence Noah, Heaven is For Real, God’s Not Dead and the forthcoming Exodus: God and Kings have and will continue to be played out again and again in theaters near you and DVDs in our living rooms.
There really is little of authentic biblical truth or Christian character or positive examples of Christian living in the latest Left Behind film. The one authentic biblical theme is the term, “Left Behind.” (Jackson Cuidon, Left Behind – Not a Christian movie, Christianity Today, October 2, 2014)
The Left Behind series is based on what Jesus said in Matthew 24 where he spoke of the end times. He said, “When the Son of Man returns, it will be as it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. This is the way it will be when the Son of Man returns.
“Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.” Matthew 24:37-41
Seizing upon the imagery of two people being together when one is taken and the other left behind, a billion dollar industry was born in the printing and reprinting of end time fiction for the publishing industry, apocalyptic films for the movie industry, sound tracks for the music industry and video games for the gaming industry.
The “Left Behind” series did effectively raise awareness that there will be a day when Christ will return and those who are in Christ will be taken and those who are not will be left behind. Unfortunately for many, if not most, the end result has been a fascination for and fear of apocalyptic themes rather than the hope we have as followers of Jesus Christ. The person who is in Christ knows that the return of Christ is the fulfillment of hope rather than the fulfillment of fear.
So let’s take a look at what the bible says about the return of Jesus.
I. No one knows when Jesus will return
“However no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” Matthew 24:36
“The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know.”Acts 1:7
Immediately following Jesus’ ascension the disciples remained standing there gazing up into the clouds where Jesus had disappeared from their sight, two white-robed men stood among them. When they spoke they asked, “Why do you stand here staring into heaven? Jesus has just been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!” In other words, The Jesus you just saw ascend into heaven will one day come again, descending from heaven.”
We sometimes refer to the Second Coming of Jesus as our “blessed hope.” Some day Jesus will come again and as they used to say, “receive unto himself his own.”
The Second Coming of Christ will be marked by two things:
A. The second coming of Jesus is marked by IMPATIENCE
In the last days scoffers will come mocking the truth… they will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus would come again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was created.” II Peter 3:3-4
If the early Christians, who fully expected that Jesus could and would return at any moment, were getting a little nervous about the promised return of Christ… what would they be saying today? Generations have come and gone. Nations have risen and fallen. Good and evil are constantly at war… the only differences from year to year, decade to decade, century to century are the players. So skepticism increases among the skeptics and impatience increases among the impatient.
So if impatience be one side of the coin, uncertainty is the other. WHY (impatience) hasn’t Jesus returned and WHEN (uncertainty) will he return are the questions.