Spirit & Truth # 299
By Greg Smith
When I was a kid back in the seventies and eighties, “rapture” and “tribulation” and “millennium” were common household words. My parents circulated in a crowd of people for whom end-time prophecy was a favorite pastime. There was always speculation as to who the antichrist might be—whether it was the Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, or the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, whose mark on his forehead looked like the Beast’s mortal wound that had been healed in Revelation 13:3.
My dad told me about a time when he saw a strange and glorious cloud formation in the east while he was driving. He pulled the car over and got out, because he didn’t want to be raptured and have his car run off driverless, causing an accident and possibly someone’s death.
I remember another time when I was young—I came downstairs from my bedroom, and the whole house was quiet. Unbeknownst to my parents, I had just been misbehaving, but at the sight of the empty house I became convinced that the rapture had come, and because of my sin I had been left behind. How glad I was to find that my family had just gone outside to visit the garden.
My parents kept a walk-in closet that my brother and I jokingly called the “Tribulation Closet.” From wall to wall it was stocked with dried foods that the family could use as emergency provisions, in case of the apocalypse. In addition, my parents bought water beds, not for comfort, but for the reserves of drinking water which they could contain. (By the way, I do NOT recommend drinking from a waterbed.)
By now, you’ll understand why I have an aversion to the extremes that can come from a fascination with end-time prophecy. When Harold Camping predicted the rapture on May 21, 2011, I rolled my eyes. When he forecasted the total destruction of the world on October 21 of the same year, I groaned again. Those dates came and went, without incident. You can imagine my opinion on the Mayan calendar’s doomsday date of December 21, 2012. We don’t have anything to worry about, because Jesus said in Matthew 24:26 (NIV), “…about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
Don’t get me wrong—I believe that Jesus will return in glory, and that He will rule on the earth, that He will judge the righteous and the wicked, that Satan will be defeated, and that God will make His dwelling among us. But you don’t have to be worried. Instead, you should be ready. Jesus said, “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him (Matthew 24:44).” If you haven’t received Jesus as your Savior, I pray you will do so, so that when He does return He will find you ready.
This holiday season as you prepare for the advent of the Christ child, be ready for the future, for His second advent, and for the ushering in of eternity. Avoid extremes, but live a life of expectation. Who knows? His return just might be today.