Why You May Wish to be Left Behind
My conversion to Christianity occurred about the time Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins released the first of their best-selling fictional book series, “Left Behind.” I was easily caught up together with multitudes of other Christians in the end times sensation caused by these books.
As the years went by, I picked up another book, the Bible. My frustration with Premillennial Dispensationalism could be equated with a sabateur mixing pieces from different jigsaw puzzles. The pieces I had to work with in my theological jigsaw puzzle did not match the picture of the Premillennial Dispensationalists. Passages like Mathew 24–25 and 1 Thessalonians 4–5 were commingled with Daniel 7, 9 and Revelation 20 in a way that increasingly became untenable to my desire to understand the return of Christ.
Postmillennialism constrains last things prophecies to A.D. 70. Since then, everything has been becoming more and more Christianized. Is that even true? Reading my Bible and looking at the world, today, I could not embrace Postmillennialism, either.
Premillennial Dispensationalism constrains last things prophecy to some future date. Both of these systems of prophecy interpretation left me looking for any relevance, in the voluminous biblical content, pertaining to end times. If all this bad stuff was happening to the Jews two thousand years ago, or happening to the Jews somewhere in the future, why would I even read these things, as a Christian. They did not apply to me.
The last things prophecies in the Bible do pertain to our Lord Jesus Christ’s future coming, to judge His fallen creation, and to save His elect people. The dual theme of judgment and salvation is a repeated tandem in the Bible. Let us consider a couple examples Jesus used in His teaching.
First, Jesus taught about His second advent by using the Old Testament scriptural account of Noah and his generation (Gen 6–9). It is important to note that Genesis was not a book of fables, myths, and legends to Jesus Messiah. He believed the Scriptures and used them as historical types for teaching His disciples. Just as Noah built the ark of salvation for his family, so Christ is, today, building His church (Mt 16:18), an ark of salvation, prepared for the coming deluge of fire (2 Pet 3:7, 10–12).
Those who were left behind in the Great Flood were the eight members of Noah’s family. In Noah’s case, the sign of God’s coming judgment was the man building the ark and preaching to the people (Gen 6). Salvation and judgment were coincidental.
The second scriptural reference to help His disciples was the Old Testament biblical reference to Lot and his family (Gen 19). Clearly, Jesus believed Lot was a real person, being the nephew of Abraham. He also believed in the actual destruction of Lot’s city of residence, Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:29).
Jesus’ second coming with great glory and power will come like a thief in the night. It will catch sinners unaware. They will be raptured into hell with unsuspecting terror. This is the way it was for reprobate Sodom, the city of sin. As in Noah’s day, all the inhabitants were caught up together in judgment, while the remnant escaped. On the day of God’s judgment, a deluge of fire and brimstone fell on the twin cities and carried off the inhabitants to eternal hell.
Those who were left behind at the inferno event in Lot’s day were Lot and his two daughters. Thus, we see again the typological nature of a second coming of judgment and salvation. This event came with no advance warning, unlike Noah’s event. Whether men have advance warning or no warning, the point is that unbelievers are not ready for the day of God’s wrath against them. They simply do not believe it is coming.
A third type we can consider is the preaching of both John the Baptist and Jesus Himself. Together, they warned their contemporaries of the pending wrath against Jerusalem in that generation. It came, and many Jews were slaughtered by Roman General Titus in A.D. 70. Still, there was a remnant who did flee from the coming wrath. They believed the report, prepared, and escaped Jerusalem and the land of Israel. The foolish were corralled within the city walls and died horrendous deaths under God’s judgment. Those who fled were left behind.
Jesus taught in Matthew 24, that the future will be like the past, only on a much larger scale. When He comes in judgment, the angels will be sent, first, to gather the wicked (Mt 13:41), where two men might be working in a field, the wicked one will be taken, but the righteous one left behind (Mt 24:40). There may be two women grinding at the mill, the wicked one will be taken, but the righteous will be left behind (Mt 24:41). In every historical type case, in the Bible, the judgment removes the unbelievers, while the believers are preserved through great tribulation.
Friend, you know that King Jesus, the avenging Son of God, is coming to judge the world (Gen 18:25; Acts 10:42; 2 Cor 5:10; 2 Tim 4:1; 1 Pet 4:5; Rev 19:11–21; 20:11). His coming is near. Noah prepared his family. Lot left quickly. The fleeing Jews of A.D. 70 were wise to heed the Word of warning and the sign of the times. What about you? Will you be raptured into the flood of God’s judgment? Will you be caught unaware on the day of Christ’s judgment epiphany? Come out of the world through repentance, and trust in Christ’s leading you to the ark of His salvation — His church. When His future deluge of fire steals away the unprepared unbelievers, on the river of fire, leading to the lake of fire, you may wish to be left behind.
Spokane Valley, Washington
December 7, 2021