Category: APOLOGETICS

RAPTURE 29: LOT, ENOCH AND DANIEL

Is Lot’s escape from Sodom really evidence for a pre-tribulation rapture? Was Enoch taken to heaven so that he could escape the Flood? Does Daniel’s absence from the furnace scene support the same idea?

Subjects covered lately in this series have been a little on the fringe of the whole matter of the timing of the rapture, but considering that  some ardent preachers of a pre-tribulation rapture  borrow every corner of Scripture to try to prove their point, it’s necessary to counter some of those weak arguments, and bring some reality to light.

I want to reiterate that I am not a-millennial in my beliefs, and I know that the rapture is a real Scriptural event. However, having been misled on the subject for twenty-eight years, I wish now to help others see what the future really holds, and not allow them to stick their heads in the sand of faulty interpretation. This post is excerpt number 29 from my book*. There’s a lot of meat in earlier posts. Just search “rapture” or try search terms such as “rapture wrath”, or “rapture bride”.

LOT’S ESCAPE FROM SODOM

Jesus’ reference to Lot’s escape from the destruction of Sodom in Luke chapter 17 is used to support a pre-tribulation rapture. However, Lot left Sodom on his own two feet, not on angels’ wings, knowing it was going to be judged that very day, because he had been told so. The ungodly were living out their usual daily lives when destruction from the Lord took them by surprise (verses 28-29). This is the point Jesus is making: not that believers were taken away without knowing that they would be or when they would be, but that the wicked were taken by surprise and were not expecting judgment. The wicked were appointed to wrath instead of salvation (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Noah entered the ark on the same day the Flood came (Genesis 7:11-13) and not days or years before. Lot escaped from Sodom on the same day judgment came. They did not leave the earth. Do we really want to take these events as templates for the rapture? If so, at best we would have to take the “mid-Tribulation” position, because Jesus and Paul said that the “time of trouble”-equivalent to the Flood and the destruction of Sodom-will begin when Antichrist enters the temple, and not before (Matthew 24:17 and 21). This will be only three and a half years before Christ’s visible return, not seven or eight or ten years before it. Even in the words of pre-tribulation “experts” the first half of the “seven years” will be a time of apparent peace and prosperity for the world: not the day of judgment, wrath and trouble. Antichrist’s power lasts only for forty-two months (Revelation 13:5). If Noah’s escape and Lot’s escape prefigure the rapture itself then the rapture would have to be on the very day Antichrist is revealed on the temple mount-at the earliest.

Noah’s deliverance does not work as a model for a rapture years before the time of trouble: neither does Lot’s. It’s intended to demonstrate that the unbelieving world will not be ready for the Day of the Lord while true believers will. Paul put it this way:

…for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly…But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief…” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4).

ENOCH

Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Genesis 5:24).

Enoch’s disappearance could certainly be considered a type of rapture. It’s very reminiscent of Paul’s description of our being changed from mortal to immortal, in his letters to the Thessalonians and the Corinthians. However, some pre-tribulation teachers go beyond what this brief account actually says, by claiming that Enoch’s “rapture” is symbolic of a pre-tribulation rapture of the Church. They assert that Enoch was taken to heaven to escape the Flood, and in the same way, the Church will be taken to heaven to escape the tribulation. Is there a statement in the Bible plainly connecting these two events-Enoch’s “rapture” and the rapture of the Church?

This concept gives the impression that Enoch was raptured a day or so, or a year or so, before the Flood, so that he wouldn’t have to suffer it. After all, the Church, it is said, will be raptured days or perhaps a few years before the “seven-year” tribulation begins. In fact, when you do the math, you find that Enoch was taken by God to heaven nine hundred and sixty-nine years before the Flood (Genesis 5:21-29 and 7:6). We’re told in Genesis that Enoch “walked with God”. This is why the Lord took him. We’re not told in scripture that Enoch was taken to spare him from the Flood almost a thousand years later, but because he walked with God. Being so close to God, would he not have escaped the Flood, along with “righteous” Noah, were he around for that long? There was no need for him to be raptured from the Flood!.

DANIEL

One prominent denomination teaches that Daniel had his own “rapture” which is intended to model the pre-tribulation rapture. Into the fiery furnace went Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo, in Daniel chapter 3, for not worshiping Nebuchadnezzar’s idol. But where was Daniel? He was not there at all. The fearless three had to endure the trials and tribulations of Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace, while Daniel was nowhere to be seen. His absence is not only a “mystery”, but is considered a type of the pre-tribulation rapture.

Of course, there’s no statement to that effect anywhere in scripture, not even in Paul’s discussion of the rapture in the New Testament, when he shares his “mystery”. It’s an idea which is not provable, but which tickles the fancy of those who look for support for a pre-tribulation rapture in every corner of the Bible and beyond. There’s no consideration of the possibility that Daniel was, for example, away on business for the king. It was a very big kingdom. And why were the other three not raptured also, considering they were men of great faith, whose faith would put most of us to shame?

Not only is there no statement in scripture that Daniel’s absence models a pre-tribulation escape from the events of Revelation, but when we read on in the book of Daniel we find that he’s back in the flesh, on earth, and undergoing his own “fiery trial”. Chapter six sees Daniel falsely accused and set up by the king’s counselors. He’s then thrown into the lion’s den, where he is miraculously protected, but nonetheless very present on the earth for the ordeal.

*ALL LEFT BEHIND:THE CASE AGAINST A PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE, by Nick Fisher, on Amazon in paperback and e-book.

THE FINAL (AND ENDLESS) FRONTIER

Call me a romantic if you must (I would like that) or a dreamer (I am) or crazy (again, there may be some basis…) or un-scriptural (I would challenge that one…) but it seems to me that the universe isn’t there just to look pretty for people on this little speck called earth…

I was reading through Isaiah recently, and as Bible readers will know, even if you’ve read through a passage of scripture many times over many years, there’s always something fresh waiting to pop out at you-so deep is the Word of God. This time the following verse jumped out at me:

Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this (Isaiah 9:7 NKJV).

Testing my own senses against those of my far more level-headed son, I asked him what he thought could be the meaning of that phrase, “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end”. His immediate answer was “Space”.

There’s only one way the increase of Christ’s government can never end, to my mind, no matter how you attempt to interpret it, and that’s in an ever-expanding universe. If you have a better explanation, let’s hear it, please. Here, on this limited planet, there is limited space, and I don’t expect God to allow bureaucracy to strangle us all as it has attempted to do in the US, and has succeeded in doing in much of Europe.

I’ve long thought that while the universe is so vast because our God is infinite and all-powerful, and wishes to display his power and nature, the universe is not just there to be looked at for all eternity from the tiny part of it that we know now. I’ve been convinced that our eternal dwelling will extend to the stars. And even though scientists describe the limits of our universe according to their theories, they cannot see them, but continue to see further and further seemingly without end. Limited or not, it’s big…unimaginably big! It’s so big that it would take a very long time indeed to explore and populate. Not only so, but an infinite God can supply an infinitely expanding universe, even if it does have boundaries now. And that, according to my hopeful, imaginative mind, is just a part of what God has in store for those who love him.

THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST

In this world of struggles and disappointments and hardships and loss it’s refreshing to be reminded that there’s something worth celebrating every day of our lives, and that’s the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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The Greek word translated “gospel” in the New Testament means “good news”, and in the context of the Bible the gospel is the “good news” about Jesus Christ. But what exactly was and is that good news, and what does it mean for us?

In answer to the second question first, read what Jesus said:

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).

The Bible speaks of a love-gift from God. That gift is forgiveness of all our sin, and eternal life with our Creator. The only requirement is that we accept God’s son, and attempt, through him, to live God’s way instead of our own.

Contrary to the common view on the street, as promoted by Hollywood and by certain authors, the gospel, the scriptures and the essential Christian doctrines were not all invented hundreds of years after the time of Christ’s life on earth. Lee Stroebel, with an MA in Law from Yale University, and a former award-winning investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune, in his book “The Case for Christ” interviewed a number of believing scholars such as Cambridge educated Sir Norman Anderson. Anderson was a Professor at Harvard, and lectured at Princeton. He was also the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of London. Anderson said that Paul’s letter to the Corinthians can be confidently dated to around 55 AD (1).

Dr. Gary R Habermas, a New Testament historian, received his Ph D from Michigan State University and his DD from Emmanuel College, Oxford. In his book “The Historical Jesus”, Habermas discusses the creed quoted below as found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, and writes:

“That this confession is an early Christian, pre-Pauline creed is recognized by virtually all critical scholars across a wide theological spectrum” (2).

THE GOSPEL

Here, then, is Paul’s first century definition of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which he had given his life to, despite all opposition and threats, having once been a persecutor of Christians:

“Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  After that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time….Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also…” (1 Corinthians 15: 1 – 8).

So the gospel of Jesus Christ-the good news we can accept or reject-is this:

1 Christ died for our sins, as prophesied in Old Testament Scriptures (we can be forgiven for all our sin because of Christ’s death on the cross);

2 He was buried;

3 He was raised from the dead on the third day;

4 He appeared alive to his disciples after his resurrection.

5 He has promised peace in this world and eternal life to all who trust in him.

NOTES

1 Lee Strobel “The Case For Christ” (Pub. By Zondervan, © 1998) p. 230.

2 Gary R Habermas “The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ” (College Press Publishing Company, Joplin, Missouri, © 1996 Gary Habermas) p 153.

SOFTWARE AND RESURRECTION

I’m currently considering what the mind may consist of. Is it all neurons and synapses, as the materialists insist, or is it an immaterial spirit within us? Is it perhaps a combination of both?

I see the brain as a physical interface between our spirits and the material world we live in. It also operates and maintains our body, and communicates with people and things around us. We need both brain and spirit to be who and what we are in this material world, and the mind is involved in both.

Descartes was one of the first famous philosophers to consider such questions, and is frowned upon in our time for, well, believing in God, and for concluding that the mind and the physical body are two separate things. The mind cannot be measured he reasoned, therefore it is not physical.

Whatever the mind is exactly, we know from Scripture that God knows it, and knows it better than we do:

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
    You are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely (Psalm 139:1-4)

I know I’m not the first to make the computer-human analogy, but thinking about it, there really are a lot of uses for it in our reasoning. Our body is the hardware, and our mind and our spirit is the software. Just as we can copy and paste on our favorite devices, and just as we back up our information so that nothing is lost, so God must have a copy of our minds, and of exactly who we are. Of course, with limitless intelligence, He can keep that copy within His own mind: He doesn’t need any hardware. I’m speaking metaphorically here. And we know that “God is spirit” (John 4:24).

Our Creator surely also has a copy of our DNA. So when we die, He can take His back-up of our being-our own human nature and character, and upload it into a brand new fleshly version of our body, created from our own (but corrected) DNA code. Voila: resurrection! It’s a glorified version of taking a software design of, say, an aircraft, and turning it into the real thing.

Unwanted, corrupted codes, which God calls “sin” will be discarded; deleted (1 Corinthians 3:14-15). Then what remains will be that in us which has loved Him and His ways, and which has lived for Him, and also no doubt, the degree of our individuality which is uncorrupted.

In that case, how much of you, of me, will be left after deletion? If your “codes” are all corrupted, and your hard-drive intrinsically flawed, you are of no value in God’s universe, and you certainly cannot restore yourself. Scripture says that all humans are fatally flawed in their software and their DNA, which is why we die. We desperately need a re-boot in this life: we must be born again, spiritually speaking. And ultimately we need a complete re-build. The living Word of God is the antivirus that we all need. And in God we can have all our corrupted codes re-written. On top of that, the operating system upgrade will be positively out of this world! Glory to God!

 

ROCK ‘N SOUL

It’s amazing how many things evolutionists and creationists agree on, without realizing it. A well-known creationist* when debating evolutionists, loves to point out that they believe humans came from a rock. The Bible says something similar…

When the evolutionists protest that they believe no such thing, he explains. According to the evolutionary history of the universe, space, time and matter came from nothing, or virtually nothing, when it expanded into all the universe we see today. A part of that matter, a large lump of rock, became the earth. Rain appeared on it magically, and created a soup in which life with all its incredible intricacies popped into existence (none of this was ever observed). That life developed itself over enormous amounts of time, until, well, here we all are communicating, pro-creating, and writing blog-posts. Voila: life from a rock.

Not only does this very wry creationist have a point, but actually, so do the evolutionists, because Scripture says something similar. Early in the book of Genesis we read that God created man out of the dust of the ground:

“Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

Here is one example of agreement between evolutionists and creationists: humans originate from the earth itself. The most obvious difference is that we believers acknowledge that intelligence is required to make information: DNA and life, even in the simplest of cells, is mind-bogglingly rich in information.

Another difference between the two accounts of man’s origins is that according to Scripture, we (mankind) have a spirit within us, also created by God. Believers (and everyone else) get an incalculably valuable bonus which most evolutionists don’t seem to want: an immaterial, immortal soul. We are more than rock plus information.

However, we believers, along with our unbelieving brothers and sisters-in-flesh-if-not-in-spirit, sometimes get inflated ideas of ourselves and of our value. We think that our Creator owes us all kinds of goodies and service. We think we can act our way and not His way without consequences. We’re like a painting which attempts to assert rights and privilege over the artist and the owner. We think that we are the important ones and the artist is irrelevant.  With this principle in mind, John the Baptist drew the attention of those he was preaching to where they had come from-that is, the ground:

“And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham” (Matthew 3:9).

God made us from the dirt of the ground, adding information and life. So then let’s not insult our Creator by compromising with the evolutionists about our origins: a painting does not paint itself, and information does not come from nothing or from chaos. Let’s instead give God the honor and reverence He deserves, for creating us with a certain amount of dignity, with a spirit, with a little free-will and intelligence, and the promise of much more even than that:

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

Thanks for reading.

*Kent Hovind