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2 Chronicles  7 : 14
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Already, Not Yet
In Defense of the Faith
Monday, October 03, 2011
Pete Garcia

As I was leaving work today, I stopped by the small base Post Exchange (PX) on the way home in hopes of finding some flowers to take to my wife.

I was pulling into the parking lot of the PX and a thought occurred to me for a new title.  Generally, ‘Already, Not Yet‘ is generally associated with Kingdom Now theology which I outright reject for a whole host of reasons.  But the title intrigued me and decided to see where it led.  As I got out of my car and began walking across the parking lot, I heard the trumpet blast.

And for the briefest of moments, I thought, this is it, the Rapture, but reality quickly set in and I recognized the sound of that particular tune.  It was not the Trump of God, but only the loud lonely sound of the Retreat.

According to the Army Field Manual (FM) 22-5, if you're outside and your hear this, you must stop, turn toward to the flag pole and render a salute during the second portion of Retreat.  (Subsequently, according to Private Murphy’s Law, if your in a hurry to get somewhere, you’ll always catch either Retreat or Revelry). 

I did, and I was, but as I stood there in the hot desert sun, I thought to myself I had somehow misjudged my timing.  After it was over, I looked at my watch and realized mine was several minutes behind as it had still not reached 5pm.  According to my watch, I had several minutes to make it from my car into the store.  But unfortunately, Retreat isn’t set to my clock, it’s set to the one at the Division headquarters. 

Seeing that this year’s Rosh Hashanah would have been an optimal Rapture window, with the significance of it being 2011, pushing seven years out for the Tribulation would make it exactly 70 years since Israel had been reborn as a nation.  Needless to say, I was disappointed, but I think God uses these little moments to remind us, that we are on His clock, not the other way around.

I’m sure there were many people, throughout the last 2,000 years who had wished for the Lord to return during their lifetimes, and yet, we are still here today.  Had Jesus returned back then (pick a date) many of us probably wouldn’t be here today to talk about it.  But we do know two immutable facts:

1) That the world as we know it now, isn’t just going to keep going on forever

2) Jesus Christ will return for His Church

Relevance

I think we can empathize with the dilemma the Apostle Paul found himself in Philippians 1:21-26...

"For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.  For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.  Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.  And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again."

As Paul had gotten a sneak peek at the other side (2 Corinthians 12:1-4) and KNEW what he was missing out on, I don’t think he asked the question lightly.

For many of us, the desire to be with Christ exceeds any promise of wealth or popularity this world could ever afford us.  Yet, I’m sure there is much work left to be done here for the Kingdom.

So far as we know, we only have this one life to serve after we called, to earn that exceedingly great reward for our faithful service to Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:24).  We don’t work FOR our salvation, but because OF our salvation.  We strive to be the salt and light to a lost and dying world that is around us.

Increasingly, that job seems to get harder and harder.  But as my wife is fond of saying, we might be the only Gospel some people ever read.

As to the timing of our eventual departure, there are two verses that need to be reconciled in order for us to come to any sensibility about the Rapture of the Church.  In the Gospel according to Matthew, we are told by Jesus that of that, ‘no man knows the day or hour’ (24:36).  Many years later, we are told by the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:4 that...

"But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief."

On the one hand, Jesus chastised the Pharisee’s and Sadducees of His day for not recognizing the time of their visitation (Matthew 16:1-3).  Not only had they disregarded a literal interpretation of the Old Testament’s prophecies, but they refused to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah even after all the miracles they had been witness too and His legitimate offer of the Kingdom.

The 400 “Silent Years” had been fulfilled perfectly in all that had been given to Daniel for the rise and fall of Gentile kingdoms, as well as the Seventy Week’s prophecies (Daniel 9:24-27).  Had they (the Pharisees) been as attentive as those Magi who came bringing gifts to the King at Jesus’s childhood, they would have realized who He was (Matthew 2:1-3).

On the other hand, we are currently inhabiting a Dispensation with no specific end point in sight, nor any signs or events that we could recognize to signal our imminent departure.  What we do see are the signs that the coming Tribulation is headed our way, and those signs are aplenty.  As the Rapture precedes the Tribulation, our departure is all that much sooner.

Conclusion

Throughout the scriptures, we are given enough prophetic evidence to know where we are on the timeline, but not enough to nail down anything concrete for the removal of the Church.  The Second Coming can be pinpointed almost to the day once it begins, but the Rapture could happen at any time.  But could it really?  I mean could the Rapture really have happened 628 years ago? 1000?  10?

If you hold to Revelation 2-3 being the timeline of the entire Church age, then the answer would probably be no.  There needs to be time for the Church age to run it’s course.  That couldn’t have happened before the Laodicean age of the church, which didn’t start in earnest until the middle of the 19th century with the introduction of German Higher Criticism and philosophical Existentialism which emphasized a subjective interpretation, rather than taking the text as it is.

Those lines of thought sufficiently watered the gospel down enough through the seminaries to effectively weaken a whole generation’s worth of pastors that would infiltrate almost every denomination in the US and Europe.

What Satan didn’t count on, was the resurgence of a literal interpretation of the Bible sparking Premillennial Dispensationalism.  Those handful of men (Darby, Larkin, Scofield, Ironside, Chafer) would shake up the theological world in whom the ramifications thereof, we are just now seeing a decline in.  As the Lord tarries, so that men and women could/would be saved, more and more Christians are looking for alternate explanations for why the Lord has not returned yet.

Don’t lose heart, the Lord our God keeps His promises, and we currently have the nation of Israel as a testimony to that.  Although we can’t see the big picture yet, He can.  He will return at a moment in time that will surprise the world, but not those of us who are watching and waiting.

In the Army, when a unit is called to attention, they are given a preparatory command as in: “Company, Attention!”  At the word ‘Company’, the unit will come to expect a follow-on order of either “Attention, Parade Rest, or Rest” as one of the commands that could be given. 

I think collectively we can sense the nearness of our Lords’ return because of all the signs we do see and we are anticipating the command (Army speak here: means jumping the gun) where you act on the preparatory command rather than the command itself.  So I think there is the balance between Jesus saying we can know the season, but not the particular day or hour of the season.

I think we are ALREADY in that season of our Lord’s imminent return, but we have NOT YET received our deliverance from this fallen world and the wrath that is to come.  Take solace in John’s advice given below.

"Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.  And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." 1 John 3:2-3

About Pete Garcia

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