Harold Camping, the Rapture and the Christian Hope

Well, it's Sunday, May 22.  The "Rapture" did not occur yesterday and Christians did not fly away to Heaven.  And so I'm still here - in my office - on planet Earth.

Thank God!

I'll spare you the details of exactly why Harold Camping is both a moron (in modern terminology) and a false prophet (in Biblical terminology).  A multitude of websites have already discussed his foolishness at length.

Rather, I think it's a good time to remember what the Judeo-Christian story ACTUALLY proposes for the future of the whole wide world.

The Old Testament prophets, writing after the great Davidic kingdom had waned into the depressing Exile, looked forward to Yahweh's return to Earth.  His power, they said, would again come to his planet in the person of a great ruler - the Messiah.

A young Jewish prophet rose to that Messianic vocation in the 1st century - fulfilling it in many expected ways, and in a few that were perplexing to his countrymen.  His execution on a Roman cross was especially difficult to reconcile, if only for a few days.

Because his subsequent resurrection became the turning point of history for those who pay attention to such things.  His resurrection provided the answer to that great prayer he taught his disciples to pray. 

That prayer is worth remembering today - the day after the failure of one more frail, foolish and feeble prediction made by one more nonsensical "Christian minister" and his poor followers.

The young prophet said,
"Pray, then, in this way:  

Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil."  - Matthew  6:9-13
Notice the direction of the movement in our Master's prayer?  "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth...".

It's not about us flying away to leave God's beautiful planet to rot and decay.

Yes, there is a verse in Paul's writings that have led scores of ham-fisted interpreters over the centuries to conclude that God was indeed abandoning his Creation.  But the sweep of the Judeo-Christian narrative from Genesis through Revelation proposes the exact opposite.

The focus of God's redemptive work, and the location of his affections, is right here on planet Earth. 

Notice the direction of the movement in Revelation 21:1-3...
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 
And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying,
'Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them..."
You see - Heaven comes to Earth, not the other way around!

So, for all the would-be Bible teachers of this world, PLEASE learn what the phrase "apocalyptic language" means, learn how the ancient Jewish writers used that literary style and learn how to properly interpret it.

PLEASE learn the sweep of the ENTIRE Judeo-Christian proposal, from Genesis through Revelation.

PLEASE learn before you spew foolishness from your pulpits.  There would be far fewer Harold Campings to deal with if the "teachers" just spent some time learning how to properly interpret the Great Story.   

For the rest of us, let's look forward to that great Day (there's no way to predict when it will come!) when Messiah will return to bring his Kingdom fully, when he will resurrect those who are his to live forever with him in the renovated New Heaven and New Earth.
"and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."  - Revelation 21:4


Mark said...

Right on target, Mike. This idea just helps make sense of it all.

Mike Aleckson said...

Thanks Mark!