Recently Hollywood has been tapping into the religious world for new movie ideas. Last year we saw the movie Noah come and make a mockery of the bible story. Not that I have watched it, but from sources I trust the only thing similar between the stories was water, a boat and the man’s name. Later this year the movie Exodus is due to be released. It is already getting some flack from conservatives circles. It was rumored that an earthquake will cause the Red Sea to divide, and not the power of God. (Time will tell if these rumors hold up to be true). And finally, the Duck Dynasty family has recently announced that they are producers for the upcoming film Left Behind. From my understanding this will be a bigger budget film than the one released in the early 2000s starring Kirk Cameron. While I realize that the Duck Dynasty family is hardly the example for what all members of the Lord’s church should strive for, it bothers me that they would accept such heresy. It bothers me even more that now millions more will be “treated” to this false teaching.
What is Left Behind? It was a series of books published in the 90s. In fact, when I was in high school everyone was reading them, not Harry Potter, or Hungry Games, or whatever it is kids are reading these day. This series teaches the Dispensational Pre-Millennialism doctrine. They claim that the Lord will come two more times to this earth. Once to take the saints with him, then seven years later, to rule on earth. Those left behind will suffer through the Great Tribulation and are given one last chance to become faithful servants to the Lord.
Most of these errors are based on a misunderstanding of the apocalyptic literature in the Bible. This bulletin will help answer a few of these errors.
We first need to discuss what apocalyptic literature is. The name comes from the Greek word translated “revelation” in the book by the same name. However, Revelation is not the sole apocalyptic book in the Bible. Daniel and portions of Zechariah and Ezekiel are considered apocalyptic. Below is a list of a few of apocalyptic literature’s characteristics.
Written during a time of hardships. This is why they were written. When we get discouraged it is helpful to have something to encourage us. Ezekiel was written at the very beginning of the Babylonian captivity. Daniel was written in the middle of the Babylonian captivity. Zechariah was written after the Babylonians had fallen to the Persians, but before the Persians released the Israelites. Revelation was written during Roman persecution.
Remnant of Israel. Although this theme is not solely found in apocalyptic literature it is also found there. The idea is that the faithfully obedient Israel would be the ones to receive the blessing of being restored. The rest would remain punished.
The Kingdom of God. Although the idea of a kingdom restored was thought of being an earthly kingdom by most Jews during the days of Christ, the only thing God promised was the return to the area. The kingdom promised was the church. In Revelation, the kingdom was the promise of a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21) which is eternal life.
Good triumphs over evil. This characteristic is the defining characteristic of apocalyptic literature. During these times of hardships there is comfort in knowing those persecuting you will be punished and that good will triumph.
The Truth About Being Left Behind
Revelation was written to encourage the first century saints. Notice the language John uses. “Things which must soon take place (Rev. 1:1)” and “time is near (Rev. 1:3)” have to be read in their historical context. What comfort was there if they have yet to take place more than 1900 years later? Even when Daniel prophesied of the church which was 500 years into the future, he also wrote things concerning the return to Israel and the upcoming demise of those persecuting them. The encouragement was not the Kingdom alone! An answer to their prayers was on the horizon. Note Psa. 137.
Let’s now look at the kingdom and when it was established. Acts 2:33-36 points out that Jesus is now on the throne. You cannot be on a throne unless you have a kingdom. Col. 1:13 teaches us that all Christians have been translated into His Kingdom. This means the kingdom is already in existence. Also note that I Cor. 15:20-28 teaches that Christ’s reign ends upon the resurrection. It does not begin upon the resurrection. Finally, Christ’s own actions prove that he was to die on the cross and that the church was not created because the Jews rejected him. Christ could have gotten himself out of the crucifixion. But, he said that in his death God would be glorified. Instead of fighting against the soldiers with fireballs from the heavens he cried, “It is finished.”
Revelation was a vision in heaven! Christ was not stated to be on earth. Even their proof text, Rev. 19, states he was in heaven! “I saw heaven opened and behold a white horse, and he who sat on it was Faithful and True (Rev. 19:11).“ Christ was in heaven. The scriptures never state he will set foot on earth again! -WTK
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Will You Be Left Behind?
Volume 5 Issue 46