Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Prophecy & Nationalism? Proceed With Caution

"In my opinion, the next event on the prophetic calendar will be the rapture of the church. I think that could happen at any moment and as we see all of these other things happening that only reminds us that the rapture is even closer."

OK, that wasn't my quote, that's from Greg Laurie, Pastor of Harvest Christian Church in Southern California.  The quote is from Laurie's recent sermon, "Israel, Iran, and America in Bible Prophecy"

Now Greg Laurie is a respected Bible teacher and pastor and I honor that (especially since he came out of the Jesus Movement which I have a soft spot for) but I find it interesting that it is American ministers in general that seem to focus the most on end time prophesy, timelines, and trying , awkwardly I feel , to insert America into that equation.  I mean why not, "Israel, Iran, and Canada?"  Russia?...Mexico?  See what I mean? I think we err when we, often unintentionally, begin viewing the Bible, and particularly prophecy, through the lens of culture and nationalism.

I know what you're saying, "but Steve, America is the superpower in the world not to mention the main ally of Israel.  Surely it has a role to play in the "end times"?


...but I also know that since that day when Christ promised to return there has been a number of superpowers that have come...and gone.  The Imperial torch passes again and again...and in the end it will be the Lamb (Jesus Christ) who is shown to triumph over them all.  Until Christ does come again there will always be a new power on the block that feels it has the right to rule nations and shape history.  If the Lord tarries 50 years, Laurie's teaching may be titled "Israel, Iran, and China"  Should the Lord not return for 150 years the sermon may become, "Israel, Iran, and Australia"

Yes, could happen! ;)  

It's funny how my view of the "rapture" has changed as well.  When I first became a Christian as a young boy I totally understood the "prophetic calendar" Laurie is referring to.  A long map with the cross on one end, Christ's return on the other and a whole lot of action in between.  I even had a T-shirt that had two empty tennis shoes with a "whoosh" graphic like someone had been snatched from them and the words "In Case of Rapture this T-Shirt Will be Empty" emblazoned on the front.

A snatching away of Christians... Mmmmm makes me wonder who would actually "make the cut" if Jesus did return for His Bride.  I think we'd all be shocked but I'll save that for a whole other blog post.

Until that all reveals itself though I tend to resonate in my heart with something Pastor Brian Zahnd says.  "The Blessed Hope is not that 'we're going' but that 'He's coming.'

I think the thought that Jesus is coming is a joy all Christians can agree with.



Andrew said...

Sheeesh... that stuff always sounded a little off to me... but I have to say since leaving the faith, it has become total tinfoil hat. All these folks always so sure we are only a few years til the end... truth is that they are going to like live a full life, grow old, and die. I think all of the end time talk is just their survival instincts co-opting their faith for classic death denial.

Steve H. said...

Jesus will come again Andrew. We may goof around trying to guess the details but He cam once...and will so again!

But I am a little suspect these days of a "rapture"

Bob said...

Hey Steve . . . I'm about a decade older than you but do you remember the guy from the 70s/80s who wrote all the stuff about end times? Something like "Late Great Planet Earth"? I think he had us all leaving long before now.

Steve H. said...

Hal Lindsey was the guy Bob...I think he's still around...

Bob said...

Yep that's the guy. I think he made a lot of cash helping folks get ready for the rapture.

BTW, I just read Love Wins on your recommendation (I could never tell anyone at my church). Really enjoyed it and really appreciate Bell's perspective, so much of which makes sense. Thanks for the tip.

Steve H. said...

Ha Ha, I know what you mean about not telling anyone you've read Rob Bell!

Maybe the day will come when we can "come out of the closet" and freely say we read Rob Bell's books... but the church ain't ready for that yet! :)