The “rapture” is a belief among some Christians about what happens to believers before Jesus’ return in glory. They use the phrase “the rapture of the church” to refer to their belief that Christians will be “caught up” to be with Christ sometime before his glorious return. The rapture event is said to protect the church from a period of great tribulation. Those who believe in a rapture rely mainly on one passage of Scripture, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17:
References to: prophecy
Do Daniel 2 and 7 predict events of our day, such as the rise of the European Community? Where might the United States and Russia fit into this scheme? Let’s begin with a brief summary of Daniel 2 and 7.
Do we see “the signs of the times”?
“Mark this,” Paul wrote. “There will be terrible times in the last days” (2 Timothy 3:1). What do we see now? America at war. Mass murders within our nation. Disasters in the weather. Is it all coming to a climax? Will World War III soon be upon us?
The church sees prophecy in the following contexts. First, there is a past aspect to the gospel, in which Christ was foretold to be the Messiah. That is prophecy fulfilled, and it points to the redemptive work of Jesus (Luke 24:25-27, 44-47 and John 5:39-47). Two examples of such prophecies are Deuteronomy 18:15 and Isaiah 53.
Many Christians need an overview of prophecy, to put prophecy into perspective. That is because many Christians overemphasize prophecy and make claims about prophecy that cannot be substantiated. For some, prophecy is the most important doctrine. That is what occupies most of their Bible study, and that is the subject they want to hear about the most. Armageddon fiction sells well. Many Christians would do well to notice the real purpose of prophecy.
The book of Revelation belongs to a class of chiefly Jewish (and later Christian) literature called “apocalyptic.” The word “apocalypse” has been borrowed from the book of Revelation and applied to these other writings.
Apocalyptic refers, in a broad sense, to a group of books written between 200 B.C. and A.D. 100. Two historical markers are usually given for the span during which the Jewish apocalyptic works were written and edited:
D.A. Carson, a New Testament scholar, begins his commentary on Matthew 24 with the following words: “Few chapters of the Bible have called forth more disagreement among interpreters than Matthew 24 and its parallels in Mark 13 and Luke 21. The history of the interpretation of this chapter is immensely complex” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 1984, volume 8, page 488).
Earlier in this tour of the Bible, we saw how people — even a people who were given much by a patient and generous God — failed to honor God in their worship and in the way they lived. If that were the whole story, the Bible would end on a dismal note. But there is much more.
We come now to the last major section of the Old Testament — the prophets. As Israel and Judah departed from their covenant relationship with God, God sent prophets to warn them of the consequences.