I have always loved the study of the end times. It has fascinated me for as long as I can remember. In my teen years, my constant fascination with eschatology came close to sinful obsession. I remember being 12 or 13 and asking my youth minister if he believed in a pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, or post-tribulation rapture. Looking back I’m not sure he knew what I was talking about, or he thought I was the weirdest kid he had ever met.
After 20 years in the ministry, I realize I am not the only one who is curious about end times. I remember vividly the day I came in view of a call at Oak Crest. We had a joint Sunday School session for Q/A. If it was not the very first question, it had to be the second or third, but my wonderful brother, Ken Rowland, asked me if I believed the rapture would be before or after the tribulation. I remember thinking to myself, “well this is it! This seems like a nice church, but my journey here is done! If I answer this question honestly, I probably won’t make it to the car before being stoned!” Well I did answer honestly and as thoroughly as time allowed. You called me anyway.
I am saying all of this to remind you that as important an issue the timing of the rapture is, it is not to be a point of division. It is one of those third level issues that we can disagree on and gladly remain in fellowship. I plan to preach the text Sunday morning as plainly and as clearly and as faithfully as I can. I am asking you to pray with me that God will protect all of us from error or misunderstanding as we look at a passage of Scripture that has been interpreted in different ways. Regardless of the timing of events around Jesus’ Second Coming, the simple, absolute truth is that he IS coming again. This is our great and blessed hope, the resurrection.