A perspective on the movie Left Behind
by Robert Randle
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I recently watched the movie “Left Behind” which is the latest installment of Christian evangelism and eschatological genre about the end of the world. The main point of this cinematic drama is when Christians around the world suddenly disappear after a loud noise is heard, leaving behind their clothes and other personal belongings. Of course, all babies are gone, too. There are reports of pilotless planes, automobiles, and other vehicles crashing all around as well as looting, wide scale panic, and so on. This a basic snapshot that the film centers on as far as what is expected to happen according to the traditional interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-17, which most evangelical and charismatic believing Christians subscribe to. Since this passage is the foundation of such a viewpoint it should be reviewed in some detail. Several things are worth noting: 1) The LORD comes down from heaven and issues a loud command/voice of an archangel/trump of God (v. 16); dead believers in Christ will arise from their graves first (v. 16); those who are alive/still living will be caught up together [“raptured”] with them [the formerly dead saints who believed in Christ and are resurrected and transformed] in the clouds to meet the LORD [Jesus Christ] in the sky (v. 17).
Now, with all that information it is time to incorporate other biblical texts into this scenario. In 1 Thessalonians 4: 14 it states that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him, which seems to be different from what is mentioned in verse 16. Also, in Philippians 1: 23 the Apostle Paul wrote about departing (dying) and being with the LORD, or putting it another way, being absent from the body is to be at home with Christ. Jesus, Luke 23: 42-42, tells the believing thief who hung next to Him on a cross that the person would be with Him in paradise today. Another rendering which seems the more plausible is that the thief was told today that he would be with Jesus in paradise (in the future). Either the person who dies believing in Jesus as the Savior/Messiah goes to be with the LORD in death or are still in the grave [ashes to ashes and dust to dust], or they are not; it cannot be both. Perhaps I am digressing a bit but one could ask about the Jewish patriarchs who died before they even heard about Jesus, or believed or understood about the coming Messiah who would redeem them from sin, not from the yoke of a foreign (pagan) nation’s occupation army.
Getting back to the subject at hand, let’s look at 2 Thessalonians 2: 1-12 where the Apostle Paul picks up this point again, but I want to look at a few critical verses here, too: the day [the LORD’s return/ “Rapture”] WILL NOT COME until the rebellion comes, and the Man of lawlessness/rebellion/sin be revealed (v. 3); the Man will oppose and exalt himself over everything that is called God, or is worshipped [as God] (v. 4); he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God (v. 4).
NOTE: Is the temple in existence today? I guess it will be restored again by the time of the end, though. Also, in that same Thessalonian epistle it says that the mystery of iniquity was already at work then, so it has taken over two thousand years before it finally reaches completion? Additionally, for such a person to be a God impersonator requires some kind of seemingly miracle working power, which fits nicely with the rest of the chapter as well as in the book of Revelation chapter 13 or 19.
Another point, just as important, is that there might not be that many Christians raptured to meet Jesus in the air simply because only a small percentage are actually all that faithful anyway, although they may be very religious and zealous in church attendance, tithing, singing in the choir, and doing acts of benevolence or Christian service or ministry. A lot of us may simply be convinced that Jesus is the Savior but we have not been converted nor had a “real” and personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Luke 13: 22-24 mentions about “few” that will be saved. I am not sure how many Christians will be absent from unmanned transportation vehicles or critical systems that will result in some kind of apocalyptic nightmare scenario of death and destruction. There might not be a whole lot of us viewing the earth in flames from of pristine vantage point in the clouds, with our newly clothed immortal body and presumably invisible to the naked eye of those left behind. Revelation 7: 9, 11, 13-14 says that a number so large it cannot be counted will be those who come out of the “Great Tribulation” and not the expected large number of believers in Jesus who are redeemed from the planet before all hell breaks loose. Oh, as a passing thought, why would God snatch infants from the loving arms of their mothers, leaving to inconsolable grief over the loss? Anyway, to sum it all up it seems that the expectations of the future eagerly Rapture is more imaginative and dramatic Sci-fi based on a literal interpretation of certain Bible verses, which seems to stretch the boundary of rational coherent thought and philosophical as well as intellectual inquiry.
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March 21, 2015
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