How Waiting for Power to be Restored from Hurricane Irma is Similar and Dissimilar to Waiting for the ‘Rapture’

When I was a fundamentalist, an important element of my life was waiting for the ‘rapture’. We expected Jesus’ any moment return and it would be a joyous moment for us! We sang songs about it, preachers preached about it, and we warned others to get ‘saved’ so they would not miss the ‘rapture’ and have to endure, or die in, the terrible 7-year tribulation.

I am sure some of you are familiar with the ‘rapture’ and perhaps even shared the same or similar experience about it. But even if you are not familiar with waiting for the ‘rapture’ with great expectation, surely you ARE familiar with Hurricane Irma that traveled through Florida earlier this month. My family saw Irma up close and, among other results, we lost our electrical power and were plunged into darkness and the oppressive heat of having no air conditioning.

I found myself waiting for the ‘any moment’ restoration of power and lights to our home, and it reminded me of waiting for the ‘rapture’. Thinking through the comparison, I concluded that there are similarities and dissimilarities between waiting for restored power and waiting for the ‘rapture’.

Hurricane Irma

3 Similarities between Waiting for Restored Electrical Power and Waiting for the ‘Rapture’

Both events involve intense anticipation.

Both events occupy an inordinate amount of our thought.

Both events are life-changing.

6 Dissimilarities between Waiting for Restored Power and Waiting for the ‘Rapture’

While there are a few important similarities, there are also many important dissimilarities. For starters, waiting for power to be restored is an absolute reality, while waiting for the ‘rapture’ is (in my opinion) an exercise in fantasy based on misreadings and misinterpretation of the Bible.

Here are some dissimilarities.

Waiting for restored power does not involve great fear. Part of the rapture storyline is that if a person misses the rapture they then face the most terrible experiences imaginable—the rise of the Antichrist, the Mark of the Beast and all that entails, and a 7-year tribulation filled with pain, terror, and destruction.

I admit that I had some anxiety about when the power would be restored to my house and Yes! I suffered from the heat, the darkness, and other issues. But I did not experience abject fear.

Waiting for restored power does not create a need to warn people. Another part of waiting for the rapture meant warning everyone I knew and met about the terrors of missing the rapture and being ‘left behind’.

Waiting for restored power causes us to consider better Earth-care. Irma was a huge storm and unlike any other storm on record. Plus it was part of a group of destructive storms, including Harvey, Jose, and Maria. Did we cause this high level of danger and tragedy by ignoring our responsibility to correct global warming?

Rapture theology, on the other hand, has an opposite effect on Earth-keeping. If the Earth will be destroyed during the end-times anyway, while we escape the terrible developments by being carried away to safety in the rapture, then why bother caring for the Earth? It is already a lost cause.

Restored power carries an almost 100% certainty that it WILL happen. My Dad was a fundamentalist pastor. Sometimes he would get up late at night, go outside, and look to the east to see if he could see the moment of Jesus’ coming. He passed away a few years ago and the rapture never happened.

I sat on my back porch watching a light fixture outside the garage to see it come on suddenly in an instant (but what instant?). As I waited I sometimes wondered: ‘Where is the promise of the coming of restored power and lights?’ The wait seemed endless — dragging on from hour to hour and day to day. Yet restoration of power DID happen! And it did so in only 7 days.

Restored power represents an enemy that is already past. Irma was destructive in Florida and elsewhere; property was damaged, people died, and there was a (still continuing) massive cleanup afterward. But the tragedy was limited and was over.

Rapture theology predicts a future enemy (the Antichrist), world-wide destruction, the moon turning to blood, huge meteors hitting the Earth, and death of a great portion of the human population—that is, if it every happens. Which leads to the final dissimilarity.

Restored power is a reality, while the rapture scenario is a fantasy. Rapture theology is relatively new in Church history; it was first concocted about 1830—less than 200 years ago. But those who subscribe to rapture theology have been waiting for the rapture since that time. And it has not happened. And I think it WON’T happen.

On the other hand, after much waiting I have lights; I have air conditioning; I have refrigerated food. And I am writing this article right now on a computer with power restored after only 7 days with no power. Waiting for restored power involved for me intense anticipation, it occupied an inordinate amount of my thinking, and getting power was for me a life-changing event. But it happened.

Despite some similarities, waiting for restored power and waiting for the ‘rapture’ are not the same.

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22 Responses to How Waiting for Power to be Restored from Hurricane Irma is Similar and Dissimilar to Waiting for the ‘Rapture’

  1. Eric Sheffield says:

    Glad to hear you and your family are OK and your power is back on. Also, thanks for another thoughtful column in the midst of the upheaval you all must be experiencing

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Thank you Eric. Yes, we are doing fine now; we are just waiting for FEMA to pick up our huge pile of collected debris. But it will take awhile as there is a huge pile of debris in front of almost every home. Sadly, some of them include sliced up tree trunks which ours does not.

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  2. fiddlrts says:

    Glad to hear everyone is safe. (And praying for Puerto Rico now…)

    Nice to know I’m not the only person who goes out late at night to look up. Although I do it because I love to gaze at the stars in wonder.

    Thoughts and prayers to all of you in Florida as you dig out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Fiddlrts, thank you for your concern for us in Florida and I join you in your concern for Puerto Rico. It is a terrible thing in the islands–battered by one huge storm after another. I can’t even imagine their hurricane ‘exhaustion’.

      I used to love gazing at the stars when I lived in a more rural area, but now I am in the city and do not have proper equipment to break through the light. An interesting thing happened during our power outage; we spent a lot of time on the back porch and, without the lights of the city and neighborhood, I was able to watch fireflies in our yard! I didn’t even know we had fireflies.

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  3. Tim, I love this post. But, haven’t you thrown out the baby with the bath water? By the way glad you and yours are safe.

    The Scriptures state that we will have Tribulations — Jesus’ words. The Scriptures tell us of earthquakes, seas raging, a coming globalism in government, a coming unity of religion. As to the pre-Trib Rapture you were wrong when you believed that, just as you probably are wrong now.

    “Jesus words” speak of the gathering accompanied by His return in Matt. 24. It is not new as you suggest it is as old as Jesus teaching and supported by the Didache, and other early Christian writers, including Paul. True it was not called the Rapture, but the baby was there in the bath water.

    Had your father understood it right you would have kept the baby. We are not looking for Jesus’ return for us, we are looking for the signs of that return, one of which is according to Jesus is Great Tribulation.

    I appreciate your ability to discern that the pre-Trib Rapture is bogus, but just like your electric came on the signs of His coming will occur. You have outlined here some of the reason for my book.
    Jerry Parks

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Jerry, I do believe in Jesus’ return but not in the dispensational framework that has been built around it. In Matthew 24, I think Jesus was referring to the upcoming destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. He was very observant and could see it coming if the Jews kept up their resistance to Rome.

      I am glad you brought up the quote from John 16: ‘In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (KJV); ‘trouble’ in NIV’ I often refer to this passage when talking about the book of Revelation because I think it describes perfectly the theme of the book. In all eras and all places believers can expect to find tribulations to a lesser or greater degree because of who they are and what they represent; but Jesus has overcome the world.

      The book of Revelation was written to encourage a particular group of believers undergoing a particular persecution by Rome in the first century, and Revelation was to remind them the Jesus has overcome the world.

      One of the issues I have with dispensationalism is that is built by sewing together disparate, unrelated passages of the Bible in order to create a tapestry that was never intended by the authors.

      Thanks for your kind words about our safety.

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    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Jerry, you said: “You have outlined here some of the reason for my book.” What book is that?

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  4. newtonfinn says:

    In this interchange between my friends Tim and Jerry lies an example of why I felt compelled (and, yes, inspired) to write an alternative synoptic gospel, entitled “Life of Truth” and available on the Amazon Kindle. After years of immersion in it, the best of NT scholarship–that which does not throw out the baby with the bathwater–had convinced me, after an initial period of resistance, that Jesus did not speak at all about eschatological signs to be observed, other than his own life and teaching. I am fairly certain that the eschatological prophecies in the canonical gospels come not from Jesus but from the early church.

    Tim accurately points out that some of this material seems to concern the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., but once again I believe that this is the early church talking through the mouth of Jesus, trying to make sense of a recent catastrophe that shook the foundations of the Jewish and early Christian faiths. Did Jesus predict that the temple would one day be destoyed, that not one stone would be left upon another? I think that the evidence is strong that he did. Did Jesus indicate that God would someday bring history to a close and establish His Kingdom, in which the first would be last, the last would be first, the poor raised up, the rich brought low, and the humble loving servant would be the greatest of all? Again, I think the evidence is strong that he did. Although I’m not as convinced about this as Schweitzer and other NT scholars have been, I also think it’s entirely possible that Jesus thought that all of these earth-shaking events would happen sooner rather than later, and that while he was accurate about the fall of Jerusalem, he was humanly in error about the timing of the endtimes.

    The upshot of my take on this is captured in a couple of scenes in “Life of Truth.” In the first, Jesus has performed a healing and is then accused by a group of lawyers of casting out evil by the evil one. “How can the evil one cast out evil?” Jesus said to them. “A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. If the evil one is coming to an end, it is not by his own doing but by the finger of God. You see a cloud rising in the west, and you say, ‘A shower is coming.’ You see the south wind blowing, and you say, ‘There will be scorching heat.’ You know how to interpret the signs of the weather but not the signs of this hour.” “What is the interpretation?” they taunted him. And Jesus said, “No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods unless he is able to overcome the strong man.”

    In the second scene, Jesus is at the temple, and the chief priests and scribes seek to embarrass him by demanding a sign. “No sign shall be given you,” Jesus answered, “but the sign of the prophet Jonah. The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with you and condemn you, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and something greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will arise at the judgment with you and condemn you, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and something greater than Solomon is here. No longer is the kingdom of heaven coming with signs to be observed. No longer will you say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘Look over there.’ For the kingdom of heaven is in the midst of you.”

    All of this language in “Life of Truth” is taken directly from the canonical gospels, albeit re-edited and reshaped to some extent by NT scholarship. Please note that in both the instances I’ve quoted, when Jesus refers to signs, he points to his own prophetic and healing ministry. Note also the high Christology, which many non-believing NT scholars are so desperate to deny or downplay. In claiming that his call to repentence is more powerful than Jonah’s and his wisdom greater than Solomon’s, and especially in claiming that he is able to overpower the evil one, Jesus puts himself, to use NT scholar Dale Allison’s words, “at the center of the eschatological drama.” Small wonder that perhaps the oldest piece of text found in the NT, what appears to be an early church hymn recited in Philippians 2:6-11, comes within a hair of equating Jesus with God.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Newton, you are obviously brighter and more learned than I, so in all sincerity I must ask if there is not a difference between the kingdom of heaven, and a future earthly kingdom that Jesus seems to have taught in the prayer that we refer to as the Lord’s Prayer? Jesus also seems to confirm that He will one day be an earthly king in His conversation with Pilate. Old Testament Scriptures seem to Prophecy such an earthly kingdom, and yet unfulfilled earthly events which Messiah would perform. Peter refers to this event in his second sermon when quoting about Him in Acts 3
      Acts 3:18-21 But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.

      Here it seems that heaven has received Jesus until the Jews repent, Peter was speaking to the men of Israel; and until all things are fulfilled spoken by the prophets.

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      • newtonfinn says:

        Jerry, I may have had more formal education in religion than you have had, but that does not make me brighter or more learned or, especially, more wise in the ways of God than you are. If we have differences in beliefs, that’s all they are, and our respective positions merely reflect whatever truths God has let us imperfectly perceive. My understanding of the gospels, and the synoptics in particular (once what I consider to be early church editorial gloss is stripped away) makes no distinction between the Kingdom of God/Heaven, which Jesus preached was both here in his ministry and yet to come on earth in its fulfillment, and some other imagined state of ultimate things, whether present or future. And whether the Kingdom of God/Heaven is finally and completely fulfilled on this particular planet at some particualr time, or instead in some transcendent and eternal dimension beyond time and space, makes little difference to me. I suspect that the latter is the more likely scenario, but that the NT language used to describe it talked in terms of the former, given the limited understanding of the workings of the universe when Jesus preached and the NT was written. One benefit of a simple approach such as mine is that you are then able to avoid the frustration and uncertainty of trying to define and decipher various eschatological epochs and related metaphysical “mysteries.” You simply do your best to follow Jesus and let him take you where he will, when he wants to.

        Liked by 2 people

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Newton, you did an excellent job explaining the kingdom of God (and the kingdom of Heaven). Mark and Luke consistently use the term ‘kingdom of God’, but Matthew uses ‘kingdom of Heaven’ (often in the very same parallel passages) probably because he wrote to Jews and many Jews had a sensitivity to saying the word ‘God’ Instead they substituted ‘Heaven’ for ‘God’ just as Matthew does.

          I also agree that the kingdom of God exists on Earth right now and will be fully established on the Earth some time in the future.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. Paz says:

    Thanks Tim for such a great post! I am really enjoying reading and learning from everyone’s comments!!!
    I have at times thought about the role of fear, while we wait for that time when God’s kingdom will be finally established. I wonder if fear was ever really intended to be a motivator in giving us a purpose to look forward to that time or if we are to in the meantime instead, to focus on Jesus teachings which are more encouraging to us with valuable and helpful lessons to apply for the “betterment” of ourselves, others and our world at the present.
    If we consider that we are encouraged to become transformed into the character of Christ through discipline (not fear) and this includes self awareness, practicing kindness and love towards others,etc I would rather think that instead of focusing on the uncertainty of what is coming on the earth which only adds to people becoming even more fearful, I wonder if God ever really intended to be this way or is it possible that we are meant to be focusing more instead in the present, in Knowing God, designed for our own and others continuing development and manifestation of the attributes of God (instead of fearing God and what lies ahead)?
    And so my point is, shouldn’t one of the positive outcomes and a purpose of spiritual development be, to turn our attention to Faith, Hope, Love, Peace (= Healing,Freedom) in God’s great promises and in the meantime, with trust (instead of the fear), to look forward to that time when God will become “all in all.” ( I Cor. 15:28 ).

    Liked by 3 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Paz, I agree that we should focus on the present instead of the fear and violence of some ‘prophetic’ future. And I think you summed it up very nicely:

      “I would rather think that instead of focusing on the uncertainty of what is coming on the earth which only adds to people becoming even more fearful…is it possible that we are meant to be focusing more instead in the present, in Knowing God…instead of fearing God and what lies ahead?”

      Liked by 1 person

    • newtonfinn says:

      If only all those who strive to follow Jesus could see things with this beautiful, elemental clarity. Thank you, Paz, for cutting through the confusion and anxiety that so often accompanies end-times speculation. I, too, believe that spiritual development comes from properly focusing our attention on Jesus’ life and teaching and “God’s great promises.” This includes the refusal to be distracted by trying to figure out–and then worrying about–how those promises are to be fulfilled.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Paz says:

    Newton, I think you have summed it all up beautifully! … ” This includes the refusal to be distracted by trying to figure out- and then worrying about- how those promises are to be fulfilled.” I really like how you have used the word “distracted” which really describes to me what often happens when distractions prevent us from noticing (being) in the present moment.
    One of my favourite quotes by William Barclay (Christian Theologian) is:
    ” There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why “.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. tonycutty says:

    I’ve only just read this. Clearly you had too much thinking time on your hands ;). It’s brilliant; great perception mate 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tony, I did have too much thinking time during the 8-day power outage, but I mostly thought of one thing: is that light bulb about to come on indicating power has been restored? Okay it didn’t come on, but what about now? No, it still didn’t come on…

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