Summary: Is the Rapture what everyone thinks it is, or are there a few things we’ve overlooked.
TEXT: Matthew 24:30-51
OPEN: How many of you watched or heard about the recent movie "Noah’s Ark" starring Jon Voight? The network that developed it spent a great deal of time promoting the credentials of the actors and writers. They built it up as one of the greatest TV film events of the year.
But after it aired, just about everyone else thought it was a disaster. I read about it in Major news magazines like Time & Newsweek. I heard about it from members of my Sunday School Class. A friend of mine that didn’t even attend church regular called to complain. Nobody seemed to like it.
What was it that upset so many about film?
Well, it was badly written, badly researched, and poorly acted.
But - more seriously for believers - there was the concern that the movie would influence people (who had no church background) misleading and confusing them.
We believers were UNEASY, because we were offended by the liberties taken and the potential damage that the movie could have had.
I. When I approach the topic of “the rapture” I feel that same kind of uneasiness.
I’m pleased that the focus on 2nd coming of Christ has intensified over past 40 years. All this talk about “the rapture” reminds us that Jesus is coming.
Christians have proudly displayed bumper stickers
· In case of rapture, this car will be unoccupied
· In case of rapture, someone please take the wheel
· In case of rapture, give my car to my brother-in-law
I’m gratified with the sense of urgency this has created. The need to set life right with God that has been created.
BUT there is much that bothers me in the discussion of the Rapture. There is too much bad theology that surrounds what many people presently understand about it.
To understand what’s lies behind the popular concept of the Rapture, it’s necessary to go back to book of Daniel, and the interpretation of its prophecies. These interpretations form the basis for much of what is taught today.
The prophecies of Daniel were written about 550 years before Christ. One of the most significant is found in Daniel 9:20-27
20 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the LORD my God for his holy hill--
21 while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice.
22 He instructed me and said to me, "Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding.
23 As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision:
24 "Seventy ’sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.
25 "Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ’sevens,’ and sixty-two ’sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.
26 After the sixty-two ’sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.
27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ’seven.’ In the middle of the ’seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him."
What the angel told Daniel was that this prophecy was to cover (vss 24) 70 weeks of years (which conservative scholars recognize as covering a period of 490 yrs).
In day of Daniel, Jerusalem was in ruins and the Jewish people were in exile in Babylon. Daniel’s prophecy was declaring that someone was going to decree that Jerusalem be rebuilt. The book of Ezra tells us that that someone was Artaxerxes in 457 BC. Furthermore, the prophecy decreed that after the 1st sixty nine (69) of those weeks - or 483 yrs. - the anointed one would arrive.
NOW if you start at 457 BC and add 483 yrs... you end up with the date of 27 A.D.. Who do you think began His ministry about 27 A.D.?
What do you think “Messiah” means?