Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Will There Be Two Raptures?

Biblegems #226
Question: I have heard that some think there will be two raptures, a pre-tribulation & a post-tribulation. What is your understanding of that?

There will be only one Rapture of the Church. Here’s why.

What the Rapture Is
The Rapture refers to an event the Bible speaks of where the followers of Jesus, dead and alive, will be “caught up” to “meet the Lord in the air,” and from then on “be with the Lord forever” (1Thess. 4:17). That is the moment when, “in the twinkling of an eye,” we will be transformed and receive our glorified, resurrection bodies (1Cor. 15:52).

When The Rapture Takes Place
The two passages referred to above, 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, contain the key information about the timing of the Rapture that the rest of Scripture agrees with.

• The Rapture Takes Place At Jesus’ Return (i.e., the Second Coming):
         1Thess. 4:14 God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  

In other words, when Jesus Returns He will be accompanied by His followers who have already died and gone to heaven. At the same time, Jesus’ followers who are still alive on the earth at His Return will be “caught up together with them in the clouds (i.e., ‘raptured’) to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess 4:17).

• The Rapture and Second Coming take place at “the last trumpet:”
         1Thess. 4:16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

The Rapture and the Second Coming of Jesus are inseparable. They are each part of the same event, and that event occurs only once, at “the last trumpet:”  
1Cor. 15:51b-52 …we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 

This “last trumpet” is mentioned in both passages as a key to the timing of the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus. It refers to the Old Testament prophecies in which a warning is given to the peoples of the earth that the Lord is about to pour out His wrath. The “last trumpet” announces “the Day of the Lord” the prophets foretold:
         Joel 2:1 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming.

Both 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians place the Rapture and Second Coming “at the last trumpet” (1Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16). Since there is only one “last trumpet,” there is also only one Second Coming and only one Rapture.

And here is the really good news in all of this: those who are “caught up” to meet the Lord in the at His Second Coming will not experience the judgment of God’s wrath on the Day of the Lord.

         1Thes. 5:9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Bible And Ice Ages

Biblegems #225
Question: How does the biblical scenario of a young earth / universe deal with scientific data showing the earth has experienced 5 major Ice Ages, including our current time Quaternary Ice Age beginning 2 1/2 million years ago?

According to the Bible, glaciers would have followed the worldwide Flood of Noah’s day, around 4,500 years ago. Because the Flood was due in large part to the eruption of super-heated water from beneath the earth’s crust, in addition to torrential rainfall, the floodwaters would have been very warm.
         Gen. 7:11-12  In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.  And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

Current scientific models depicting multiple Ice Ages (extending back in time millions of years) are based upon assumptions, not observable, measurable scientific fact. The most critical assumption is that the relation between temperature and precipitation has remained relatively constant throughout earth’s history. Consequently, the past is measured by what can only be observed in the present.

Not only is such an assumption un-provable, there is much evidence to contradict it.[i] Consider the glacier evidence at the Yosemite National park, for example. The evidence shows that glaciers once covered the Yosemite valley to a depth of 3,00 feet. Recent computer simulations demonstrate that “Glaciers thousands of feet thick could have readily developed in hundreds of years following the Genesis Flood.”[ii]

The book of Job, likely the most ancient book of the Bible, contains recorded memories of the Ice Age following the Flood:
         Job 38:29 From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen?

Likewise, a man named Peleg (translated: “division”), one of Noah’s great-great grandsons, is noted in biblical history as from the generation that witnessed the conclusion of the post-Flood Ice Age:
         Gen. 10:25 Two sons were born to Eber: One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided

This “division” of the earth recalls a significant geological event, probably the recession of the vast ice sheets, and the rising sea levels caused by the melting ice, that “divided” the global landscape into the continents, as we now know them.

Scientifically, millions of years—even hundreds of thousands of years—are not required to create the multiple ice layers scientists point to as evidence of Ice Ages in the pre-human past. On the contrary, the rocks cry out in harmony with written testimony from eyewitnesses that a great Ice Age covered much of the earth following Noah’s Flood. This created land routes over which Noah’s descendants could populate the earth. As the Ice Age ended, people groups were left stranded on the seven continents.

The evidence is there for all to see, but people who trust scientists more than God’s Word “deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed” (2Pet. 3:5b-6).

[i] Larry Vardiman, Ph.D. 1992. Ice Cores and the Age of the Earth. Acts & Facts. 21 (4).
[ii] Vardiman, L. 2010. An Ice Age in Yosemite National Park. Acts & Facts. 39 (3): 12-13.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Bible And Genocide

Biblegems #224
Question: How are we to make sense out of the apparent “genocide” passages in the OT where God commands the killing of men, women, children and even infants?

The term “genocide” refers to “the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group.”[1] Extermination is the goal of genocide. This is not, however, the goal given to the Hebrews by God in the Bible. Here is God’s instruction to Moses for claiming the Promised Land:
         Deut. 7:1-2         When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you—and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.

The land of Canaan was home to the seven people groups listed above. God had promised this piece of real estate to Abraham and his descendants over 400 years earlier. At that time Canaan was populated by nomads, sheikdoms and fortified towns, such as Sodom and Gomorrah had been. The word translated “nations” (Dt. 7:1) describes clusters of people who belonged to a common tribal family line, and who settled in a loosely defined area. The Jebusites, for example, settled in the mountain region in the vicinity of what would later be known as Jerusalem.

All of these tribal groups developed into their settlements and fortified cities after the land had been promised to Abraham, and during the 400 years of Hebrew captivity in Egypt. Even the Hittite Empire, the largest of the seven “nations”, came into existence around the time of Abraham’s death (1821 B.C.), having spread south from modern day Turkey into Canaan.

The Lord, however, had set aside this land for the Hebrew people, the descendants of Abraham.
         Ps. 24:1    The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it

From the beginning, God’s plan for the human race was to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28); but the Promised Land He reserved for His own people as their inheritance (Dt. 4:37-38). Moses was instructed to “drive out” the people groups who had settled there (Dt. 7:1). Those who resisted were to be utterly destroyed. On this one small plot of land God would establish for Himself the kingdom over which He would rule, establishing His throne through His appointed human line. God’s purpose is not the elimination of the nations but the unity of nations one day under His lordship as earth’s rightful King.
Ps. 86:9  All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name.

It was for this purpose—the establishment of the Kingdom of God on this earth—that the Promised Land was set apart. One day…
         Rev. 11:15  “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.”

Resistance is futile…God’s love is forever!

[1] Mirriam-Webster Online Dictionary