With ongoing turmoil in world financial and political affairs, it remains ever popular to Christians to imagine the prospect of being caught away, or ‘raptured’, from the world. Of course, not all Christians have the same escapist perspective on the Bible’s texts concerning last things. The word ‘rapture’ is not even mentioned in the Bible and the term ‘antichrist’ is not mentioned in the apocalyptic ‘Book of Revelation’, after all. This is despite the popular imagery in the ‘Left Behind’ series and in other well-known publications which have made a not-so-small fortune for their authors.
In short, the perspective that a person chooses to adopt derives from their interpretation of key Bible passages on this overall area of ‘eschatology’. The seventy weeks prophecy of Daniel 9 comes into consideration here (see past post on this passage). One interpretation allows the ‘Beast of Revelation’ (certainly ‘antichristian’, after all) to be an end-time ruler who severs a peace treaty with Israel. For some, the very same beast is the papacy (not sure how this week’s new pontiff feels about this view, but it was an understandable position for those under papal oppression in previous centuries). These perspectives stem from a chosen interpretation.
Yet another allows for the focus to be the coming of Christ and to include a reference to the known destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Although most interpretations see the passage in question as a historical predictor of Jesus’ first coming, and although most views have at least some futuristic elements, the precise interpretations of key figures and symbols is often wildly different.
There is another possibility, though, and one which can hardly be developed properly in such limited space. I’d just like to mischievously speculate that all interpretations have some merit, given that the Bible is a multifaceted book which speaks afresh to generations. Now, of course, not all facts can be flexibly handled. For example, the ‘millennium’ of Revelation 20:1-6 is either past or future and it is either a literal thousand years (unlikely given the use of this number elsewhere in the Bible) or it isn’t. Naturally, there either is or there is not a rapture, too. But imagine if the ideas of a pre-tribulation and a post-millenial coming of Christ (or any number of other such views) could roughly be harmonised to provide far less factional division and far more widespread engagement from those who could not otherwise care less (I think there might be a thesis in this…).
Not quite so pre-post-erous, methinks.