by Jack Kinsella
''Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.'' (2nd Peter 3:3-4)
Peter makes a couple of points up front. The first is that this is a prophecy directed to those living in the last days. The second is they are 'walking after their own lusts.'
What does 'walking after their own lusts' mean in this context? Have you ever thought to yourself, (either seriously or not) "I hope that the Rapture will hold off until . . . ".
The reasons can be legion: "Until I get married. Until my baby's born. Until I get that new promotion. Until I see my first grandchild. Until I retire.
Then, as the reality of your own mortality really sinks in, it becomes "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." And suddenly, you're not walking after your own lusts anymore. And you're pretty proud of yourself.
(I've noticed that as the years pile up, I don't walk after nearly as many lusts as I used to. The sin nature is willing, but the flesh is weak. It's not exactly virtue, but more a case that the closer I get to Heaven, the more practice the Lord thinks I need before I get there.)
From time to time, along comes some event or happening around which Bible prophecy watchers close ranks announcing, "This is it! He's coming soon!"
When the end doesn't come on schedule, they are discouraged. And worse, those with whom they shared their insights are now confirmed scoffers. Not to mention the disappointment of the believer himself, especially a new believer.
All that can be damaging beyond our capacity to comprehend.
Who are the scoffers that Peter is talking about? Most of us assume they are unbelievers and that this verse is talking about how hardened people will become to the Gospel in the last days.
If one reads it carefully, however, one realizes that Peter is talking to believers damaged by somebody misdirecting their faith away from Jesus and into believing in some personal interpretation of prophecy.
We've discussed in back in 2009 the teaching that we've already entered the Tribulation Period and that Javier Solana is the antichrist. Except that Solana's due to retire in October, coincidentally, JUST in time for the Rapture.
Every year at Rosh Hashana, (usually late September or early October) somebody announced they have cracked the mystery of the exact date of the Rapture than that it will either be the last day of the Feast of Trumpets or, alternatively, on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
These are usually accompanied by complicated calculations of days and weeks divided by months starting from some significant starting point - most recently, the 1967 capture of Jerusalem.
Nobody else can decipher the calculations, but the argument is so compelling that nobody bothers. Here is the logic.
"Every one of the major miracles in the life of Jesus corresponded to a major Jewish feast day. The only two feast days for which there is not a corresponding major miracle are Rosh Hashana - the Feast of the Trumpets - and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement."
This makes PERFECT sense to me. The Rapture begins with the blowing of the "last trumpet."
"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." (1st Corinthians 15:52)
And Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. Jesus died to atone for my sins and on the Day of the Rapture, I will be caught up with Him, completing my atonement process! It is an entirely logical assumption. It is extremely compelling. Heck, it might even be right.
Except it isn't. Every year, both days go by and we're still here. We didn't go last time around. Probably won't go this time around. And it is just as likely that when we DO go, it will be Good Friday, Easter -- or maybe Labor Day.
Religion is bound up in calendars. If we're going to put our faith in a calendar date, it would be helpful to know which calendar God uses.
Does God follow the Jewish calendar? Then today is 22 Iyar, 5773. Does He follow the Gregorian calendar like we do? Then today is May 2, 2013. If God follows the Julian calendar, then today is April 19, 2013.
Other choices include the Islamic calendar, the Coptic calendar, the Chinese calendar, the Ethiopic, the Persian, Mayan, French . . . what about the digital ISO calendar? God invented DNA. Maybe He works off computer time.
But that's not the way people are wired to think. It is ENTIRELY natural for Americans to think of God as an American. From there, it isn't that far a stretch to assume He thinks like they do.
Then when He fails to conform to the image in which people have reconstructed Him, they become scoffers. Who are the scoffers? They aren't skeptics, or atheists.
Read Peter's assessment again. He tells you not only who they are, but WHY they became scoffers.
"And saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." (2 Peter 3:4)
They are believers who got burned by bad doctrine.
As students of Bible prophecy, we have an awesome responsibility before God because we KNOW what the scoffers don't.
Bible prophecy is both the proof of God's existence and the assurance we have of our salvation.
"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:" (2 Peter 1:19)
The same Voice that proclaimed,
"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)
He also proclaimed,
"And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." (John 10:28)
Bible prophecy is not gloom and doom, but is instead hope and a blessed assurance. It is proof positive that God remains on His Throne and that He WILL do all that He has promised.
Believers are instructed to await the return of the Lord for His Church, but our emphasis is supposed to be on Who is coming, not when. If the predicted date of the Rapture takes place on schedule, the timing is irrelevant, since the Church Age is over.
If it doesn't take place on schedule, the predicted date is only relevant in that it provides the skeptics with more ammunition to discredit both the Message and the messenger.
In many cases, when the date comes and goes without incident, it just means readjusting the Rapture from pre-Trib to pre-Wrath to make it relevant again.
1 Thessalonians 1:10 admonishes us; . .
"to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."
We are to be waiting for the Deliverer from wrath, not the wrath itself.
To the lost the Lord will come unexpectedly like a thief. But to believers who are expecting Him and do not sleep, Christ will not come "as a thief."
This does NOT mean that we are prepared because we KNOW the date of His return, rather, we are not surprised because we are EXPECTING an IMMINENT Rapture.
It is the job of the Church to prepare the world for the coming of Christ, not to warn the world of His exact itinerary.
"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (2nd Peter 1:20-21)
We're to be witnesses. Not storytellers.