You’ve probably heard the term, you might know about the books, you may have heard about it from a friend, or perhaps this is the first time you’ve ever heard of it. Maybe you’ve seen the "Left Behind” trailers in the movies and have a passing interest. Before I continue, let me state my firm belief that it is most certainly not just a movie based upon some books, as I’ll explain.
Starting back in 1995, a series of books were in fact written and published by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. The books were based upon the authors’ very astute understanding of "End Time Prophecy” and an as yet unfulfilled prophecy known as "The Rapture.” At the same time they built an engrossing, can’t put it down, page turning storyline including a host of characters around this expected future event, they did not in any way, shape, or form delineate from Biblical accuracy or mainstream prophetic understanding.
While there are some different thoughts as to the timing of this event; I.E., whether it will take place before, during, or after the period of time known as "The Tribulation,” most followers of Christ agree with the interpretation of passages describing it and that it will most certainly take place. Those differing points of view make it critical at this point in the story to offer the obvious caveat that ultimately only God knows exactly how and when "End Times” will play out. All any students of prophecy can do is arrive at guesstimates based upon clear signs and prophecies given in Scripture.
In case you have gotten this far and have absolutely no clue at all what I’m discussing, I’ll offer the following very brief, thumbnail synopsis of what the event known as "The Rapture" is about.
In scripture, specifically the New Testament, there is the Book of Revelation, which, while confusing to many, discusses the events leading up to the Final Days, or "End Times.” There are a number of passages which suggest, (strongly I might add) that Jesus will take His believers up to the Heavens to be with Him just before the final seven year period known as the "Tribulation” begins. The Rapture will happen 'unexpectedly’ in the blink of an eye and all of the faithful in Christ, (perhaps well over a billion people) will suddenly and literally vanish from the face of earth. During the ensuing chaos and fear in the aftermath of this event, speculation as to what happened will be rampant. Some will understand that what many have warned about for years has indeed taken place, and this truly is a sign from God. Others will make outrageous claims of all types including I’m sure alien abduction, some sort of celestial event, sun spots, global warming, and will otherwise be just as imaginative as can be. I wouldn’t be surprised if some blame George W. Bush.
The Tribulation itself, which again, is to begin immediately after The Rapture, is to be the absolute worst time in human history when literally all hell will break loose and every sort of unimaginable evil will be rampant. There are two main reasons for this; first of all there will be very few decent people left to speak out against it, and also because all of the dark forces of hell led by the one known as anti-Christ will be unleashed to work on the unrepentant. I.E., what we see happening now will resemble a walk in the park by comparison.
Okay, I understand that what I just described sounds outrageous and laughable to some, and to be honest, I used to be among those Christians that didn’t believe or understand why it would happen, and then the following occurred to me.
Throughout history God has done many dramatic things to send wake-up calls our way and remind us of Who He is. Lots of people have heeded those things and lots of others have ignored them. This will be very different though and here’s why.
With the exception of the world-wide flood of Noah’s day, anytime He has wanted to get our attention in the past, the events were mostly confined to smaller specific regions. Given that there was no electronic mass media to record and distribute the information, His prophets spread the word, and the information was spread and shared throughout the ages.
Like any parent, God doesn’t want any of His children to perish, and like any parent, He disciplines us when needed. Therefore, this event will serve a lot of purposes. First and foremost, it will remove the faithful from the unimaginable evil which will come immediately after. Additionally, as the books and movies depict, it will be immediately visible and apparent to all that are ‘left behind’ that something monumental has occurred, and it will certainly get everyone’s attention in a very big way. No matter the reasons given by the deceivers that will come, no one will be able to deny that hundreds of millions of people suddenly vanished without a trace.
I recognize that a lot of people will scoff at the very suggestion of such a thing, just as many of those same people scoff at Christianity and Scripture already. Whether you’re a scoffer or not, my simple supposition and questions are as follows.
If it is true and does happen, what would you do after the fact? What if God really is about to implement His final work? What if the history of mankind really is set on a final collision course between good and evil? What if all the warning signs and final prophecies are actually as real as those that have already happened? What if?
Are you prepared for what would happen next? Would your children be prepared? Briefly, here’s what will happen immediately and during the aftermath and clean up. Among other things, there will be worldwide chaos, calamity, martial law, looting, killing, rape, and lots of other very Biblical sounding horrors. It will be a time when everyone will be ready for someone, anyone, to fix things; and that is when the one known as 'anti-Christ’ will rise to power almost over-night. Even after he rises to power, unimaginable wars including nuclear warfare, famines, pestilence, and unprecedented natural disasters will become the norm.
This person will possess charm, energy, charisma, persuasion, and all of the things that make a great leader; except that he will not be a great leader at all. Instead, this person will be a great deceiver empowered by satan himself to lure all who are left behind, away from coming to faith. Everyone will ultimately be forced to either take his mark; which will be required to buy or sell anything, and worship him as god, or else face death.
There is a lot of available information on this subject however know this; up until the very moment The Rapture occurs, it is not too late to escape The Tribulation. After the event, those left behind will still have the opportunity to come to faith; however they will then be forced to do their best just to survive through the horrible events that will unfold. Of the millions that do come to faith during that time, many will become martyrs; millions more will side with the new leader against them.
The choice is personal. Will you decide to ignore all of the warnings we see daily of Christ’s imminent return and refuse to repent, or will you recognize that something is very wrong in the world and accept His free gift of Salvation?
If nothing else, do some research, check out the movie and read the books with a Bible next to you, talk to someone that understands End Time prophecy, and ask yourself, “what if?”