Christ is Risen!
The first context of this message's title is that, while it has been a long time since we've updated this blog, we're still here and intending on posting messages as we are moved by things we read or which happen around us.
And that provides the second context for the message. "Rapture" didn't come!
And to those who tenaciously cling to such heretical perspectives, we need to tell you, it will never come.
This heretical teaching has a short history. Sorry to destroy your perspectives if you cling to such things, but the concept of a rapture did not originate with the Apostles. And no, you can't tie even the teaching of Saint Paul from 1Thes 4:17 to it. Why? Here's what Saint Paul wrote that "rapturists" will hold up to you as "proof" of their position:
"Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord."
They'll say to you, "See - We'll be caught up! It's right there in Holy Scripture!!! How can you deny it as truth?"
Well, let's begin by saying that if you seek the truth, you must seek the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Part of the truth is just not enough.
Let me encourage those of you who resonate with the above argument to go back even just one verse in the same book. Because Saint Paul also teaches in 1Thes 4:16 the following:
"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first."
Now, if you hold to the faulty idea of a rapture (a word that appears nowhere in Scripture), then you must ask yourself a couple of weighty questions.
1) If I'm going to be "caught up", and the Lord is going to be "descending", how will we be together? It seems as though that implies that we're in different places.... Hmmmm.....
2) What is this "voice of an archangel" and this "shout" of which Saint Paul speaks?
3) What is the meaning of "the trumpet of God"?
Good questions! I'm so pleased that you asked them!!!
First, if the Lord is coming down, He's coming down for one reason, and that's NOT to "wave to you in passing." He's coming to judge all of mankind. This is why "the dead in Christ will rise first." They will be judged first, and the rest "who are alive and remain" will be judged after them. Can you see that the idea of a "rapture" precludes one passing through the Judgment? And how can anyone pass without submitting to the Judgment? Again, check Scripture: "I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom." (2Tim 4:1) And again: "And He commanded us to preach to the people, and that it was He Who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead." (Acts 10:42) Need more? "They will give an account to Him Who is ready to judge the living and the dead." (1Pet 4:5) ALL of mankind, regardless of status, regardless of living or dead, will pass through the Judgment of our Lord.
To understand 2) above, we need to go to Revelation 14:6-7. "Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth - to every nation, tribe, tongue and people - saying with a loud voice, 'Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come..." Can you see the phrase from Saint Paul is in agreement with Saint John?
Saint John Chrysostom teaches that the trumpet is the proclamation, the announcing of the time of Judgment for all of humanity.
The original work on what has become "rapture theology" was done by a Jesuit priest named Francisco Ribera at the end of the 16th century. The idea had never appeared before that. When Pope Leo X, who had commissioned Ribera and two others to write on the 70 weeks of Daniel, read the paper presented by Ribera, he deemed it flawed and faulty, and commanded that it be buried in the archives of the Roman church, never again to be found by anyone. It wasn't until about 230 years later that a librarian of the Archbishop of Canterbury found the paper, and in his "wisdom" circulated it for others in England to read. Over a circuitous path involving another several Protestant clerics, it came to Cyrus Scofield, who imprinted it as "Protestant theology" in his "Reference Bible."
But the concept is accepted nowhere in the Orthodox Church, nor was it ever accepted by any Orthodox theologian, nor by any of the Fathers of the Church. It was never an issue discussed at any council. There was never a decree making the idea "dogma", which is what it has become in many Protestant circles.
The Lord Himself says, "As the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be." (Mat 24:27) Jesus teaches this AFTER telling His Apostles that they should not believe people who would claim that He had returned (verses 23-26). We can all tell when a storm is coming. But we cannot, not one of us, predict when the lightning will strike! The storm, many of us believe, is at hand. But the lightning? Only the Father knows, as Jesus Himself said. (Mat 24:36)
And any who attempt to tell you otherwise are trying to sell you something......
"For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." (Mat 24:24) That's you, my brother or sister in Christ. Jesus is counting on you, His elect, His beloved follower to discern the false from the true.
Will we be "caught up"? Yes - there is truth in Holy Scripture. But the 'catching up' of the faithful is AFTER the Judgment. There is no promise that the faithful will in some way "miss" the tribulations that Revelation says will come. The Lord's saints have never shrunk from difficult times - they are the times when His saints have shone forth in brilliance, through the Holy Spirit, leading others to Him! Why would it change for some reason at the end?
Today, this same Harold Camping, who predicted an end on 6Sept94 and was wrong, who predicted the end on 21May11 and was wrong, has come out and said that he found "an error" in his calculations. Really? He has set another date - 5 months later. Surely this one will be right! Third time's the charm, eh?
Those who purport such things bring dishonor and disgrace upon the Church of Christ! Who cannot see that those who put trust in such ludicrous predictions may come away with the thought, "It didn't happen! There is no point in this faith!"? And if that occurs, those who cause such to lose faith and fall away need to remember another piece of Holy Scripture: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea." (Mat 18:6) I say this not seeking any retribution against those who pushed this heretical view, no to those who blindly but hopefully accepted it, but rather to encourage such to turn from such irrational desires as attempting to know the mind of God. Seek first His will in the ways He gave us to do so - feed the hungry, care for the sick and needy, provide as He gives us the ability for "the least of His brethren."
Welcome to Saint Herman's, Hudson, Ohio
This blog is a partial compilation of the messages, texts, readings, and prayers from our small mission community. We pray that it will be used by our own people, to their edification. And if you happen by and are inclined to read, give the glory to God!
The blog title, "Will He Find Faith on the Earth?" is from Luke 18:8, the "Parable of the Persistent Widow." It overlays the icon of the Last Judgment, an historical event detailed in Matthew Chapter 25, for which we wait as we pray in the Nicean Creed.
We serve the Holy Orthodox cycle of services in contemporary English. Under the omophorion of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph of the Bulgarian Patriarchal Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia, we worship at 5107 Darrow Road in Hudson, Ohio (44236). If you are in the area, please join us for worship!
Regular services include:
Sunday Divine Liturgy 10AM (Sept 1 - May 31)
930AM (June 1 - Aug 31)
Vespers each Saturday 6PM
We pray that you might join us for as many of these services as possible!