As Maxwell Smart used to say in the old TV show Get Smart, “Missed it by that much.”
You may not be aware of this, but we missed the rapture. That’s right! Did you know that the rapture was supposed to have come by May 18?
Where did that idea come from anyway? In May of 1948, Israel became a nation. This created quite a stir in the church at the time. Many prophecies concerning the return of Christ are wrapped around the nation of Israel. Matthew 24:15-22, 32-34 is one such passage. In this passage Jesus was describing things that would happen to the Jewish people. He said, “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” It was assumed and taught that the generation that sees the beginning of the state of Israel will be the one that must be raptured since the church is going to be raptured before “these things” or before the “Great Tribulation.” It was taught that a biblical generation was 40 years, so it was assumed the rapture had to happen before 1988.
After that date passed, people said that a generation must be 70 years according to the Bible.
Well, May 18, 2018, has come and gone; 70 years has passed, and the rapture has not happened yet. A whole lot of Late Great Planet Earth-type books have been wrong. Millions of Christians of the day believed this as gospel truth and were certain that Christ had to come in their lifetime. In retrospect, it is now clear that Jesus was not talking about the generation that sees the beginning of the nation of Israel. (What it actually means is the stuff of another article.) What are the ramifications of decades of this misinterpretation?
Is it possible that this kind preaching based on a flawed interpretation has contributed to the decline of America’s churches and culture? It was preached from the pulpits that Jesus was coming soon. We sang songs like, Jesus is Coming Again. We sang, “Maybe morning, maybe noon, maybe evening but surely soon.” We didn’t know when He was coming, but we were absolutely sure that it had to be soon in our lifetime. So what were the ramifications of this? Those who were weaned on this message are now the parents of millennials. As you know, the millennial generation has made a mass exodus from the church. Why did this happen? Most parents at that time were not encouraged to teach their children apologetics. That is, their children were not taught how to defend their faith against the vicious attacks from the world – the kind of attacks that have convinced a generation or two that the Bible can’t be trusted. Could it be that parents of this time didn’t see the need to prepare their children to survive or stand up to this culture because, in theory, “we all won’t be here that much longer?”
As I travel across the country speaking in churches, I see sparsely filled pews with mostly the older folks, but the 40-year olds and younger are conspicuously missing. This should be a wake-up call to parents and grandparents.
While we all should be living in anticipation of the coming of Christ, this “surely soon” message had its consequences. Case in point: I was teaching about prophecy in one of my Bible classes when a young lady burst into tears. She said that her pastor preached that nothing bad would happen to America before the Rapture, assuming that if America falls it would have to be the Great Tribulation. This argument can’t be backed up with scripture. The second coming of Christ ought to motivate us to holy living and to witness, but this student seemed to have been lulled into a sense of false security and complacency.
So there we have it, a whole generation or two are missing from the church. They have rejectedChristianity for two basic reasons. (1) They were not given answers to the questions that convinced them that they could not believe the Bible. (2) Many children only see hypocrisy in the home. I believe that the “surely soon” teaching did not have the desired effect. For some people, instead of motivating them to holy living and to witness, it instead fostered complacency. After all, “We don’t have to worry like past generations who went through two world wars; everything will be OK for us and our family until the rapture happens and saves us from anything bad.” Is it possible that as a result of this kind of thinking, we have lost at least two generations and counting? As they say, it only takes one generation to lose a Nation.
I think we need to have the view of parenting that the people of Israel had. Of course, they were looking for their redemption, but they taught their children with a sense of purpose and urgency, as if there were many generations yet to come. All the future generations would rise or fall based on the success of that immediate next generation.
There is no room for complacency here, this is called intentional parenting. Children growing up in our culture today need to know that there is such a thing as Truth, and it is only found in the Word of God. They also need to see this truth lived out consistently in the home.
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