The “Left Behind” series has popularized the futurist interpretation of Revelation. During the future rapture, righteous Christians are suddenly taken to heaven to rule with Jesus Christ while the unrighteous are left behind. Curious proposal: that so many are caught up immediately to be with Jesus. I would have thought that very few human beings are so eminently righteous, while in this life, that they qualify for immediate acceptance into heaven to rule with Jesus.
How many people do you know that are absolutely perfect, everything God wants them to be, without the slightest imperfection? I think when the proposed rapture comes; few people will notice it because almost everybody will be left behind to face the tribulation. Consider what it must be like to be presented one-on-one before Almighty God. No physical body anymore, with all the bodies limitations. Your bodies got left behind. Does your soul harbor resentment, anger, jealousy, gossip, rash judgment, prejudice, and all those peccadilloes everybody tends to ignore?
Will God be pleased with our imperfections? Will we be ready, immediately, as we are, to be alongside Christ and rule with the saints? I really doubt it. All of us have heard every conceivable contradiction of what Jesus taught. Did you ever teach anybody something Jesus knows is not true? What possible excuse can you have before the one who knows? The one who will say “I gave you MY Word. Why did you not believe?
What about non-Christians? They will one day be one-on-one before God just like we will. Was it something you said that caused them not to believe? Have you ever hurt someone with an unkind word, something that seemed small to you but had a really negative effect on that person? Which one of us is so perfect that we can immediately rule with God, as we are, without the slightest rehabilitation?
When we die, we will all be presented before God outside of time because we have left our physical bodies behind. In a situation where time is no longer relevant, since, among other things, God is not bound by the dimension of time, God will cause us to purge our own defects, if we are willing, in a self-awareness process that would take many years if we were still in our bodies; but, in eternity, this happens outside of time. I think the main reason that we, ourselves, experience purification is because we do not loose our identity as persons. It was each one of us that had imperfections. It will be each one of us, the very same persons, who will become absolutely perfect without losing our identity. It will be then, and only then, that we will be fit to RULE with Christ as one of God’s saints.
Should any one of us balk, resist, refuse to become what God created us to be, our resentment against the person who created us and wants out total and willing, our free obedience, will turn to hatred. If unchecked by us, our hatred will become an overpowering hatred, unchecked by time, eternal, an eternal hatred for God who wants our free obedience. This will be our individual private judgment. There will be another judgment at the end of the world when our bodies will be raised and reunited with our souls. That will be a public judgment, the final judgment.
I think the notion of less-than-perfect persons, joined immediately with Christ, coming back to Earth to kill and send to eternal damnation, persons less perfect than they, just doesn’t ring well in my ears. God wants salvation not vengeance. Sure, there are some whose hatred and defiance will merit punishment, but I think, in the final days, God wants a harvest of repentant souls from all races, all nations, from sources you never dreamed of. The only persons who are really left behind are those persons who will always, under every circumstance, refuse obedience to God.
Maurice A Williams is the author of “Prophet and Historian: John and Josephus” available as a free download on www.lulu.com/maurice-williams
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