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’.
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.