In the beginning, four posts were intended. For our pure entertainment, we went to six thinking there was more to be said and yet we could easily do 100 on eschatology issues. We intended to evaluate good arguments supporting the pretribulation rapture while at the same time challenging others to avoid bad arguments. Our goal is to seek accurate, exegetical conclusions coming under the authority of God’s Word. The pretribulation (as with any timing issue related to the rapture) is built on inference from Scripture. Great care is needed when evaluating the text and eschatological events.
Why is eschatology important?
A few questions used to haunt me over and over as I studied eschatology, “Why does this matter?” “Am I interested in eschatology because of curiosity?” “Do we study eschatology to win arguments among Christians and cult members?” I think you could summarize those questions as intellectual pursuit questions. Does eschatology actually provide any help for those suffering or in trials? Is there something in eschatology for pastoral shepherding?
I loved studying eschatology, but then found myself asking, what does this matter? Why do we need to know it and be well versed. Obviously, it’s a part of God’s Word and beckons our attention. Being a part of God’s Word means eschatology is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness so that (result) the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17) Eschatology is therefore good for my soul!
In part IV I evaluated 1 Thessalonians and what it teaches about the rapture from 4:13-5:10. However, in the middle and end of this paragraph Paul gives two commands. 1) “Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 2) Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thess 4:18; 1 Thess 5:11). Paul exhorts those in Thessolonica to be comforted by eschatology (and yes, contextually that includes the rapture).
So, we study and teach eschatology to encourage you. The more I thought about why it’s encouraging, the more I came to realize that it is indeed comforting to know the end of the story. It provides safety, hope, and encouragement.
When I watch a “scary” or “intense” movie where the main character’s life is in jeopardy I always think, “Hollywood never kills the main character.” Knowing the character is going to get through it provides comfort because I know he will win! I may not make it through the trial, but I know, in the end, I live with the reality that God fulfills His promises. I look around at the world, all the social injustice (abortion, inflation of money, light being called dark and dark being called light) and this world is depressing because it is in a tail-spin I cannot control. Understanding God wins in the end and the future Millennial Kingdom is coming followed by the New Heavens and Earth encourages me. Christ will reign and this world will see righteousness! It provides the big picture of my life!
Hope is in Christ, the creator and sustainer of the world! He is actively a part of this world, moving the eras from past to present to future (Heb 1:3). He is coming again and I will be with Him! I have a future resurrected body, waiting for me at death or his return. I have hope that is a present reality with future actuality. What exists in the future is my inheritance, waiting for my death or His return! Yet, I don’t know tomorrow while at the same time knowing tomorrow.
Knowing the rapture happens before the wrath provides comfort. I know I will not experience God’s judgment because I have been saved from it. I know I will be with my Savior. I can now look at my trials in life (whether they be at the office, at home, with myself, others, whatever the trial) and rest assured this is a momentary light affliction compared to the eternal weight of glory!