There are not that many topics in the Bible that cause so much controversy as the Rapture does. Some people believe in it, some don’t. From those who believe that the Rapture is a real event that will be fulfilled literally–and I belong to that group–many positions exist. The Rapture might happen before the Tribulation, during or after. I personally believe that the Rapture will occur before the Great Tribulation, leaving behind all those who have not placed their trust in the atoning death of Yeshua the Messiah for their sins. So, on the spectrum of end-times events, we find many markers representing doctrinal positions. At each end of that spectrum, we find groups that I will identify as the survivalists and the escapists.
The survivalists, that we can also call preppers, are a group of people convinced that mankind will go through the Great Tribulation and suffer greatly. They are right that the Tribulation will be a horrible, bloody carnage. They believe that it will include unbelievers and believers together for seven years of unprecedented turmoil and persecution resulting in the greatest death toll of all human history. Preppers prepare. They buy food, supplies, weapons, ammo and some even build remote bunkers hoping to put all the odds in their favor for surviving the Tribulation. Preppers also have a tendency to succumb to the latest conspiracy theory. On the mind of most preppers is the inevitable end of the world that must be avoided at all costs
Am I saying that believers should trust the Lord in all things and not prepare for difficult times? Absolutely not! In fact, the Bible advises us to prepare and be ready in many ways:
• Be ready for Messiah – Matthew 24:44
• Be watchful and strong – 1 Corinthians 16:13
• Prepare supplies of food – Proverbs 28:19-20, 20:4
• Prepare with faith – Hebrews 11:7
Now, what I am saying is that our preparedness should not consume us to the point that we are ignoring other aspects of life. Preparing is good and necessary. We need to prepare for the future and, to an extent, we also need to prepare for the unknown and the unexpected, but I find many preppers being so obsessed with stocking up supplies in anticipation of doomsday, that they completely miss their many opportunities to be witnesses of the love and compassion of Messiah to the lost. God provides and protects His children. He does it directly through circumstances and indirectly through people. So, we need to be wise about preparing for the future, using common sense mixed with wisdom and discernment. We must not succumb to the temptation of overstocking and over-preparing. Satan loves to keep people busy with whatever people deem necessary, and in the meantime, nobody is sharing the Good News. Some even think that they are smack in the center of God’s will by over-prepping for the end. A balance must be achieved.
Now, on the other side of the same spectrum, we find the escapists. Who are these people? Escapists are people who believe in a pre-tribulational Rapture as I do, but they are fixated on their imminent departure more than anything else. They believe that the Rapture will occur prior to the Great Tribulation and that they hold their ticket and reservation for the ultimate ride upward. Escapists look forward to the Rapture and are often heard pleading for Yeshua to come now and snatch away the believers immediately. Escapists are not only “Rapture-ready”, but they also are “Rapture anxious”. They are chomping at the bit for the Rapture to take place.
This reminds me of a pet peeve of mine. It really rubs me the wrong way when I hear people use the word Maranatha all the time. I have nothing against this beautiful Aramaic word meaning “The Lord is coming” or “Come, O Lord”! We shouldn’t dismiss or ignore the beautiful hope that we have in Yeshua and His return. He will return as the Lion of Judah to rule the world from Jerusalem. What a glorious day this will be! What troubles me, is the many believers who constantly say Maranatha as they express their strong desire for Yeshua to return NOW! The question that usually comes to my mind is: “Are all the people you care about saved for you to be so anxious about Yeshua’s return?” When could such a question be answered in the affirmative without any doubt by anyone? Never!
I find the escapist approach to be selfish. It is as if people are thinking, “I’m saved, I’m in and who cares about others”? Again, and as always, I do not wish to paint with broad strokes, but I am greatly concerned with the escapist mentality found across the Body of Messiah. So where is the healthy balance between the escapists and the survivalists? I believe it is found in the person who trusts the Lord day-by-day, moment-by-moment, as they also prepare with common sense for possible financial, physical, political and spiritual difficulties. Planning is necessary, prepping is over-reacting. Trusting the Lord is critical to our spiritual health and growth, but blindly trusting God for all things without any planning is irresponsible.
We need to expect His return at any moment because it can happen at any moment, but we also need to wisely prepare as if He will not return and/or rapture us immediately. Nowhere in the Bible does it mention that believers will not suffer prior to the Rapture. So, prepare, trust, obey and anticipate His return. If we combine all that wisely, we will find plenty of time and opportunities to witness the good news to those who have no hope, so that when He indeed calls the believers to be raptured, more people will join in this glorious departure. Until then, let us all gather in the center of that spectrum and get busy sharing with the lost.