Day 39 – Of Sapphires and the Rapture

When I first started this project, it seemed like I had a lot of “wows” and “ahas” as I studied the passages. Now, not so much. Some days I find myself teaching on a passage just to say something. There are days when I think “This is way too much work. Why am I doing this?” But I will persevere. This is like life: ups and downs.

I sort of feel like Jacob wrestling with the angel. I am going to keep at this, maintain my commitment, because I want a blessing, the blessing of repentance, towards greater self-forgetfulness and a deeper walk with Jesus.

Today I had four passages about:

  • The clothes for Aaron and his priestly sons (I do kinda like that sapphire on the breastplate)
  • A Psalm of protection and success for the King
  • A reminder in Proverbs to treasure obedience, teaching, wisdom, and insight (with yet another editorial fumble – an inept and inaccurate section title: “The Woman of Adultery.” Huh?)
  • Jesus’ continued discourse on the end times.

Nothing popped out today and I’m not going to try and force it.  Plus, I just can’t handle the end times discussion either. Too much to think about.

Although I always liked that catchy 70s song based on Matthew 24: 40-41 (by Larry Norman):

Two men walking up a hill,
One disappears, one’s left standing still.
I wish we’d all been ready.

And there’s no time
To change your mind
The Son has come
And you’ve been left behind

I remember thinking that version of the rapture was sort of cool – where people just disappear when Jesus returns.  Though I’m not sure if I studied it these days, I’d buy that view (some commentators say the man that disappears is the one who’s taken away for judgment, not up to be with Jesus.)

Speaking of end times theology, my pastor’s wife once told me she was a panmillenialist: it will all pan out in the end.

On that note, I disappear to bed.

Readings:  Exodus 27:1-28:43, Psalm 20:1-5, Proverbs 7:1-5, Matthew 24:36-51. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts.

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5 thoughts on “Day 39 – Of Sapphires and the Rapture

  1. Thanks for your encouragement AGAIN, CH! Even though I am doing this for me and my relationship with God, I am glad it blesses.

    Re the NT prophecies, we are on the same page.

    The pastor’s wife who made the pan joke (Kathy Keller) also pointed out to me that many OT prophecies had multiple fulfillments in time: some verses were fulfilled within a generation and some thousands years later, maybe some yet to be fulfilled… as if the prophet was looking out over many mountaintops in the future.

    I think that could be true of the Matthew passage where it talks about the “abomination of desolation.” I pulled this out of Wikipedia: “Jeffrey White delivered a sermon at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City called “Living in the Last Days”, in which he argues the “abomination” refers to the conquering Roman invaders in 70AD marching their flag standards into the Temple and into the Holy of Holies and proceeding to worship their God Caesar’s image that was emblazoned on their standard. It was Caesar and his invading army responsible for the desolation of Jerusalem.” (I don’t recall the sermon, but am sure that was the general pastoral view on the subject – the Peterist interpretation). Perhaps there are several fulfillments of that prophecy from Daniel, including one during the inter-testament period: Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Maybe there will be another desolations in the future, too.

    Also, it was quite apparent that when Jesus showed up, very few understood until after the fact that He was the promised Messiah. He just didn’t fit their understanding of the prophecies. So how is it that we of the New Testament era think we can do any better? When people try to nail the prophecies to current events, it feels a bit arrogant to me.

  2. Though I haven’t been commenting lately, I’ve still been following daily, and just wanted to thank you again for persevering on days like this. I think these daily posts are having more impact than you realize!

    Regarding the Rapture, I was raised (like many Christians) to view it pretty much like the Larry Norman song you mentioned (love LN by the way!), basically Premillenial Dispensationalism.

    I no longer hold that view, mostly because I don’t believe it’s scripturally supported. The Rapture is an extremely new concept in terms of Church history and teaching.

    I know you didn’t want any sort of long and drawn out discussion about end times and such, but I hope you’ll indulge me this one little bit about how and why my view began to change as I studied it…

    If you read the Old Testament prophecies which have already come to pass (esp. judgements against Israel for straying from God), you’ll notice that they are often written in apocalyptic language. This is a particular genre of biblical writing, just like poetry, history, letters (epistles) etc.

    They often depict the Lord as extremely angry, and the images are very extreme and over-the-top. It’s stuff like “The mountains quake before Him, the hills melt, and the earth heaves at His presence”. There are strange symbols and mystical, hidden meanings all through this writing. It was not that unusual to the Jewish scholars who understood this genre. Yet when you read how the events they depicted actually came to pass historically, we see nothing outwardly supernatural occurring. No giant balls of fire melting mountains, no strange beasts flying from the sky and attacking people, nothing bizarre and other-worldly. It was mostly other nations attacking and taking control of Israel, often enslaving them or ruling over them. Make no mistake, this WAS the judgement of God against the nation of Israel, and it was Him who took their hedge of protection down. Those within Israel who knew and understood the apocalyptic prophesies would have seen and recognized these events for what they were.

    I think the same thing is true of many of Jesus’ end-times discourses, other New Testament writings, and the Book of Revelation. They depict events which will (and in some cases already have) come to pass, but it won’t literally be people riding on horses in the sky, and giant supernatural beasts attacking people, and so forth. These are just apocalyptic imagery for large and historically significant events — but which will probably not look “supernatural” to those viewing them.

    I think there will ultimately be an actual New Heaven and New Earth, a completely new universe where God is King and the Redeemed live forever free from the power of sin and death, but I don’t think we’ll end up there by a series of literal events as shown in the Left Behind series. Regardless of how bad things get, or how evil the world becomes, the commands to love the Lord and love your neighbor remain simple and straightforward, and will always trump the fear and consternation that often accompany an obsession with deciphering all the mysterious apocalyptic language about the end times.

    Doh! Sorry, this comment ended up a lot longer than I initially intended.

  3. “Oh s—, it’s the end of the world!” exclaimed Murphy, thereby demonstrating his inability to distinguish between scatology and eschatology.

    Or something like that. It was a winning entry in the Bullwer-Lytton Fiction Contest one year.

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