From the many e-mails I have received concerning the timing of the rapture, and the expectation that it would occur in 2010, it will follow that many are now experiencing some level of disappointment that we as a body of believers are still here on earth. While I certainly can understand that, and share the desire to be with my Father in Heaven, my level of disappointment might not be as great as some. Why is that? Simply because I think my interpretation of “watching” for the Lord's return may differ from that of others.
Many have asked me for my thoughts and opinions on those who attempt to predict a date for the rapture based on their particular brand of scholarship, and their interpretation of certain scriptures. Understand that I have no objection to anyone doing what they feel they are being led by the Lord to do, yet most of those whose work I am familiar with share one thing in common and that is quoting God's commandment to “watch” as one of their reasons for attempting to set a date for His return.
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. "Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. "It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. "Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— "lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. "And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!"
Mark 13:32-37 NKJV
In this passage we find two distinct words for watch. The first is agrypneō, a verb meaning, 1) to be sleepless, keep awake, watch, 2) to be circumspect, attentive, ready. The second is grēgoreō, also a verb meaning, 1) to watch, 2) metaph. give strict attention to, be cautious, active; a) to take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one.
It may seem to be an obvious conclusion that here we simply find we are being told to not “sleep” but be awake and watching so we are not taken by surprise when our Lord returns for us. This is, of course, a totally different thing than trying to predict when we think He might appear. Although many might feel trying to figure out when the rapture might occur is a “way” of watching, I would respectfully suggest it is not.
The question then arises, what are we supposed to do while we wait? Again I believe the answer to that is obvious. A passage in scripture often used in relation to the timing of the rapture is this;
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
Romans 11:25 NKJV
Now if in fact God has a certain number of believers He is waiting for to become members of the Body before He calls for the rapture of the Church, would it then follow that our time would be better spent in trying to share the Gospel with an unbelieving world rather than trying to figure out dates? Again, I have no quarrel with those who choose to pursue that path, but I would caution those same brothers and sisters to not make it their priority, but to make evangelism the main focus of their efforts.
It is no wonder we find it difficult to wait upon the Lord considering the vast amount of signs we see occurring around us on a daily basis. Yet that it what is expected of us as believers, so I think it important that we should be looking for some of the reasons God asks this of us. I would like to share just three ideas I have about why we as believers find ourselves in this situation right now.
One: We are being prepared to fully appreciate eternity with our Lord.
For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 2 Corinthians 4:17 NASB
The more we must endure down here increases the joy we will find when we finally experience the glory of life with God in the place He has prepared for us. The longer the wait, the stronger the anticipation and the greater the appreciation.
Two: We are being strengthened with power from above which allows us to complete the tasks He has set for us here.
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 KJV
We know what is expected of us here on this earth, and it should come as no surprise that the opportunities to share our faith will increase dramatically as the end draws near. In a way, you could say this is our time to shine, and God has promised to give us the strength necessary to succeed.
Three: We are to be living examples of His faithfulness.
For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations. Psalms 100:5 KJV
I have three daughters who are grown and living on their own now, and one of the lessons about life that I often have an opportunity to share with them is God's faithfulness. Of course I have to explain to them it's easier for me because I am a little older than they are (okay, a lot older) but having experienced more examples of God's faithfulness makes it easier to accept whatever situation I find myself in. I simply remind them of the situations in their past when they were in agony about waiting for something, yet God always came through. In these situations God demonstrates His faithfulness to us, and also through us so others can see.
At times, waiting can be agony. I won't deny that and neither will you. I am so ready for Jesus to return, but He isn't here yet and we are being asked to wait a little longer. How long? I have no idea, but it certainly doesn't look like it will be much longer until the labor pains will be over and we will be delivered to glory with Him, and the world to tribulation. There are reasons to making us wait. Look to God for strength, and be busy making the most of the opportunities we have in the short time we have left.