Is the Rapture coming soon? And, does it even matter?
Tim Moore: In Paul’s letter to Titus, he says that Christians should “wait for the blessed hope — the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
This year we saw a dear friend of ours go home to be with the Lord — Dr. Ed Hindson. He was eagerly looking forward to Christ’s return within his lifetime, but that didn’t happen. Does that mean his hope was misplaced?
Dave Bowen: Oh, not at all. In fact, Dr. Hindson is more alive now than ever before. In life, he was so faithful and so wonderful in the way that he taught people about Jesus. When he gets to Heaven, the rewards that are going to be waiting for him due to all of the people that are now in Heaven because of the time that he put into them, and because of the message of the Gospel that he proclaimed, and how faithful he was to God’s Word, well there’s going to be great rewards the Lord will bestow upon Ed that he’s going to enjoy.
Nathan Jones: I’m going to miss Dr. Hindson very much, not only because was he associated with our ministry as he’d come and be a guest on our television program Christ in Prophecy, but he was also an amazing speaker at our Bible prophecy conferences. At one of our conferences, he presented the Christophanies found in every book of the Bible by memorization without ever checking his notes. The guy possessed a massive intellect, having earned three Ph.Ds, so he was very well-studied. He’d written over 50-some books, and he served as one of the leaders of the Pre-trib Research Center, so we’d see him every year at his conference.
Sadly, like Dr. Hindson, we’ve seen quite a number of Bible prophecy teachers from the Jesus Movement era passing away. This causes some Christians to point to the three promises Jesus made in Revelation 22 — I’m coming back soon, I’m coming back soon, I’m coming back soon — to doubt Jesus will ever return. We’re seeing many people abandon the Pre-trib Rapture view because they’re questioning: “Soon? You’ve been telling me Jesus will come back since the seventies. He’s coming back soon? And yet, these guys are dying!” They instead become mockers concerning the Lord’s return, and some even get ugly about it. How do we respond to their objections?
Dave Bowen: Well, yes, Jesus is coming back, for He promised He would do so. But, there are three things that have to happen first before Christ’s Second Coming at the end of the seven-year Tribulation. First of all, Israel has to become a nation once more. Second, Jerusalem has to be the capital of Israel. And, third, all of the Jews have been gathered back into the Holy Land. So, before those three things happen, all the signs of earthquakes and famines and everything else prophesied in Matthew 24, don’t quite count yet. Israel did become a nation again in 1948, Jerusalem became Israel’s capital in 1967, though not internationally recognized really until President Trump’s administration. The Jewish people are just now coming back to the Holy Land so much so that there are now more Jews living in Israel than living outside of Israel. So, now we can look at these other signs of the end times prophecies as being ready to be fulfilled.
Tim Moore: For the last 2,000 years, beginning with the Apostles including Paul, there have been faithful Christians who have been looking forward to the Lord’s return to rapture His Church up to Heaven before the Tribulation commences. Paul said, “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).
We know Ed Hindson was looking forward to the Lord’s return, hoping that it would be within his lifetime. But, guess what? The Lord did come for Ed Hindson. He came for him alone, instead of for all of us together. Still, one day soon, Christ is indeed going to come for all of us who have put our faith in Him. If that moment turns out to not be a timing that we would have chosen, then thank goodness, for if it was a timing chosen by me Jesus would have already been here.
Rather, the timing of the Rapture is chosen by God the Father. Should in waiting for the Rapture some of us be called home early to Heaven, then that’s okay. We will still be given a promise of a blessing — the crown of righteousness — and a life lived with the enthusiasm of looking forward to the Lord’s return. Such enthusiasm by having an imminent expectation that Jesus is coming soon creates an urgency to our evangelism.
Dave Bowen: For the first 25 years of my life, I was not following Christ for I didn’t know Jesus. I wasn’t even religious. Well, I just thank God for being gracious in that He held off the Rapture long enough for me to understand what salvation is and so become saved.
Soon or Sudden?
Nathan Jones: To summarize, the Rapture will happen when everybody who is to be saved from Pentecost up until the Rapture, meaning the Church Age, gets saved. That’s when Jesus calls His Bride and takes us up to Heaven before the seven-year Tribulation period commences. Dave, those three fulfilled events that you mentioned prove that the Tribulation is right on the horizon followed by the Second Coming at the end of those seven years for when Jesus returns with the Church to judge the world.
Concerning Jesus’s promise that He is coming “soon,” isn’t our translation of “soon” somewhat faulty? Sure, the First Century Christians not long after His ascension waited expectedly that Jesus would arrive at any minute. Rather, the word “soon” has more of a connotation that once Jesus does at last return, the event will be very sudden?
Dave Bowen: Yes, that is correct. The word “soon” can have different meanings. For example, if you are using a microwave, then soon means one thing.
Tim Moore: Guys like me have a natural tendency towards impatience. We have to learn to wait upon the Lord. I love the Cookie Monster video where he can’t wait for the cookies to get finished, and I feel that way about the Lord’s soon return.
The Apostle Peter stated in 2 Peter 3:9 that, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” That means that God is patiently waiting for the salvation of all of those who will live in His eternal kingdom.
I’m reminded of Abraham, who had promises made to him, such as promises for descendants as numerous as the stars in the heavens, and yet he never saw those promises being fulfilled in his lifetime. And yet, Abraham never wavered in his faith that God would deliver. With the Rapture, it may happen after I am gone, but I trust that the Lord will fulfill that promise, and that’s what Ed Hindson put his faith in.
Nathan Jones: First Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15, which are the main Rapture passages, point out that even if we feel we will miss out on the Rapture because we’ll be no longer alive, the dead in Christ will rise first. That means that every one of us who has been saved during the Church Age will still partake in the Rapture. Ed Hindson will still have his body and his spirit resurrected from the dead to receive his glorified body, though just a fraction of a microsecond before we who are alive will receive our glorified bodies. Then we will both be taken up to Heaven together in the Rapture. So, when you hear people lament that someone has died and so assume they will not get to experience the Rapture, the truth is, all Christians will experience the Rapture, both dead and alive.
Dave Bowen: Good point! I think if Ed had one word left to say he would say, “Keep believing, finish strong, don’t quit, and don’t give up, for following Christ is worth it.”
Tim Moore: Amen! We obviously honor the memory of Dr. Ed Hindson. We appreciate the ministry he so diligently served in all throughout his years and the testimony he left behind. He continues to testify through his life’s living testimony that Jesus is indeed coming back soon to Rapture the Church up to Heaven before the Tribulation. It’s that blessed hope that we all look forward to (Titus 2:13).