There is a lot of fear and uncertainty in the world today, especially among Christians. It can be hard to know what to believe with numerous conflicting narratives. The one I have been struggling with the most recently is about the end times, the rapture, Jesus’s return, the tribulation and the book of Revelation.
Last spring, God shook the world with the pandemic. The world had already been breaking, so much so that it did not take much to snap the tension and reveal how far humanity has fallen from Him. I know I am no exception. I have been hearing prophecy upon prophecy about how Jesus’s second coming is imminent, how the tribulation is going to start any day now. While I do not know if this is true, it is hard for me to deny that something has been changing in the world since COVID-19 struck.
To be honest, this terrifies me. I always thought I would have more time to live my life, do something great for God’s Kingdom and revive my relationship with God. Now I’ve entered a time of panic and despair that I think many people have been experiencing since COVID-19 started.
With the fear that the pre-tribulation rapture might happen in the next year or two, I started to dig into the Bible for myself. What I found was both shocking and relieving. In short, I found little. The Bible does not give any sort of timeframe for the end times or the rapture.
In fact, one of the only mentions of the rapture I found was in 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17 (ESV) where Paul says, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”
This is an incredibly vague statement by Paul. I do not even know if it refers to the rapture at all, as the rapture is nowhere in Revelation. Overall, it is unclear. But one thing the Bible does make clear is that no one knows when Jesus will come again.
Jesus Himself says, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36, ESV).
Paul also says, “For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:2–3, ESV).
The Bible does not say when the end will come, and only gives vague descriptions of war and immorality that people have been interpreting as signs of the end times for hundreds of years.
No, what the Bible focuses much more on is how Christians should live in light of eternity. While no one knows when Jesus is coming, He instructs Christians to stay awake and alert, being on guard against evil.
Christians should pursue their relationship with God and with each other, encouraging and loving one another in His name. So, whether the rapture is pre-tribulation or post-tribulation or whether Jesus is coming in the next year or the next fifty years, I trust that His timing will be perfect. I do not need to worry about the details that are His to know. I just need to live in faith, hope and love. And in that, I find a great amount of comfort.