Gary responds to two recent postings about current events and the “rapture of the church.”

In our day, prophetic speculators are misleading millions of people with their supposed certainties about the next series of events they believe are signs that Jesus is about to return to “rapture” His church. For example, in 1988 John F. Walvoord wrote that “in these present closing years of the twentieth century, evidence is pointing to the fulfillment of end-time events leading up to the second coming of Christ.”[1] In his book on the continual crisis in the Middle East, Walvoord writes, “[T]he events of history clearly indicate that the world is poised and ready for the Rapture of the church and the beginning of the countdown to Armageddon.”[2] He tells us that “the world is like a stage being set for a great drama. The major actors are already in the wings waiting for their moment in history. The main stage props are already in place. The prophetic play is about to begin…. All the necessary historical developments have already taken place.”[3]

But we have heard all of this before. In fact, also in 1988, we were assured that the rapture would occur sometime in a three-day period in September of that year. “But by sunset Tuesday [September 13, 1988], the end of the 48–hour period pinpointed by former NASA rocket engineer and author Edgar G. Whisenant as the time of the Rapture, it was apparent that The End was not quite at hand.”[4] Whisenant remained confident. He later “revised his prediction, saying the Rapture could possibly occur by 10:55 A.M. Wednesday [September 14].”[5] A final modification was made, predicting that 1989 would be the year.[6]

As one might suspect, such predictions can have a negative effect on Christians and non-Christians. “Too much wild-eyed speculation could eventually discredit the essential message we are called to proclaim. Remember, [Jack] Van Impe himself was certain the Soviet flag would fly over Independence Hall in Philadelphia by 1976.”[7] Van Impe, after uttering one failed prediction after another, goes on undaunted, revising his prophetic pronouncements as current events change: “I just can’t believe that I’ve preached this all my life and that I’ve lived to see these things happening.”[8] Self-proclaimed Bible prophecy “experts” like Van Impe are as eager to predict the future as they are eager to forget their failed past predictions. They count on the people forgetting as well. These failed prophecy “experts” are the “Christian” equivalent of the “Psychic Network.” We’ll never know how much damage they’ve done to the credibility of the Bible and the Christian faith.

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Last Days Madness

In this authoritative book, Gary DeMar clears the haze of ‘end-times’ fever, shedding light on the most difficult and studied prophetic passages in the Bible, including Daniel 7:13-14; 9:24-27; Matt. 16:27-28; 24-25; Thess. 2; 2 Peter 3:3-13, and clearly explaining a host of other controversial topics.

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Gary responds to two recent postings about current events and the “rapture of the church.” Two important questions that should precede any discussion of the rapture is 1) what is meant by the rapture and 2) what does the Bible teach (or not teach) about it? Too often, prophecy writers and speakers assume the legitimacy of the doctrine of the rapture and look for newspaper clippings and Bible verses that seem to confirm what they already believe.

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  1. John F. Walvoord, The Nations in Prophecy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan/ Academie, 1988), xiv.

  2. John F. Walvoord, Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East: What the Bible Says About the Future of the Middle East and the End of Western Civilization, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, [1974, 1976] 1990), 219.

  3. Walvoord, Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East, 227.

  4. Joe Drape, “Ready or Not, The Rapture Didn’t Come,” Atlanta Journal/

    Constitution (September 14, 1988), 1A.

  5. Drape, “Ready or Not, The Rapture Didn’t Come,” 14A.

  6. Edgar Whisenant and Greg Brewer, The Final Shout: Rapture Report 1989

    (Nashville, TN: World Bible Society, 1989).

  7. Ed Hindson, “The End Is Near … Or Is It?,” World (24 November 1990), 12.

  8. Quoted in Kenneth L. Woodward, “The Final Days Are Here Again,” Newsweek (March 18, 1991), 55.