Rapture Fever Has Exploded- Again!
Rapture fever has been around for around 180 years, originating in Plymouth, England around 1830. The virus was carried in a container that has been labeled “Dispensationalism”. It remained at a relatively low-level fever until 1970. Then it surged to “raging” levels with the publication of Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth, which sold 35 million copies. The main theme of Lindsey’s book could be summed up in his own words, “We (Christians) need to live like a people who don’t plan to be around for long!”
Since the 1970’s millions of evangelical Christians have lived with this highly contagious fever, which tends to spike when something happens in the Mideast.
The tragic Hamas terrorist attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, and the resultant Israeli response, has caused “rapture fever” to rise to delirious levels once again. One blogger asked the internet about “Israel Hamas Bible prophecy” and got over 5 million hits. These included YouTube videos wondering if the war between Israel and Hamas is a sign of the end times.
One very popular pastor and author said, “You and I are privileged to stand on the cresting waves of prophecy. We see the signs of the times. We know the world is reaching a climactic point of unparalleled crisis. Nuclear weapons are now sophisticated enough and small enough to be carried by hand; such weapons even have a nickname: “tactical nukes.” The global economy is hanging by a spider’s thread. Political fragmentation seems to be occurring simultaneously on every continent. And the -isms—secularism, radical Islamism, communism, totalitarianism, and terrorism—are spreading over the nations like a runaway case of poison ivy.
“These realities frighten us and are heartrending, but to me they’re also exhilarating, for they portend the return of Christ. I’ve been exhilarated by the thought of seeing Christ for many years, and, like you, I’ve been privileged to live at a time when we can trace the prophecies of God’s Word being fulfilled before our very eyes.”
The late Gary North wrote a book titled, Rapture Fever. Up front he asks, “What exactly is this illness?” Then he answers by saying, “Rapture fever is a deliberately induced psychological condition. The number of its victims has escalated rapidly since 1970. Millions of readers repeatedly inject themselves with what can best be described as a psychologically addicting drug: the expectation of the imminent return of Jesus Christ, which will remove them from their troubles by removing them from history. The results of this addiction are predictable: an initial "high," followed by a debilitating letdown, followed by painful withdrawal symptoms (mentally re-entering the hum-drum world), followed by another injection. Again and again, millions of emotionally vulnerable Christians return to their "pushers" for another "fix."
In my opinion, one of the primary reasons America is in the state it’s in is due to Christians who are stricken with rapture fever because one of the most common treatments of the condition is to quarantine the carrier’s in a church building or a small group.
Quoting from North’s book, “Rapture fever destroys the will to extend God's principles of justice and restoration beyond the narrow confines of a religious ghetto. Its public manifestation is a series of increasingly frantic appeals for everyone to believe that "history belongs to the savages, and there is not much history remaining." Its philosophy of history is simple to summarize: "All efforts of Christians to build a world that will increasingly reflect Christ's glory and righteousness are doomed in our dispensation."
Gary then asks, “If your physician told you that you probably have only a year to live, would you apply to graduate school? Silly question, isn't it? Of course you wouldn't. With a year to live, it would be foolish to begin a long-term educational program that will cost you a lot of money and use up the precious time you have remaining.
“If you have read in a prophecy book that Jesus will probably return before the year 2000 (how about 2023?), would you apply to graduate school? Not if you believed the book. Time is too short. The gains would be too far away in time. Question: Should you believe the book?
“For over 180 years, pastors and authors have been telling Bible-believing Christians that Jesus is coming soon to "rapture" His Church to heaven. This means that nothing a person can do to build a legacy on earth will survive the 3.5-year Great Tribulation period that will begin 3.5 years after the "secret" Rapture. This means that an investment in graduate school or any other long-term capital project is a very high-risk investment.
“Here is a major reason why modem fundamentalism has not built universities, medical schools, law schools, and all the other institutions that produce wealth and leadership in the modem world. This is why fundamentalist Christians have been sitting in the back of humanism's bus for over a hundred years. They believe that the Church's time on earth has just about run out. They are willing to make sacrifices only for projects that will pay off in the short term. They have been paralyzed by Rapture Fever.
“If the Rapture is just around the corner, then the Beast and the Antichrist are in our midst already, preparing to take advantage of every opportunity to deceive, persecute, and tyrannize the world generally and Christians in particular. This would mean that all attempts by Christians to improve this world through the preaching of the gospel and obedience to God's Word are doomed. There would be insufficient time to reclaim anything from the jaws of inevitable eschatological defeat. This is precisely what dispensationalists believe.
“Furthermore, dispensationalists insist, the Beast is coming, and so is the Antichrist. That horror is just around the corner. The Great Tribulation is imminent. Nothing can stop it. Nothing will resist its onslaught. Nothing we leave behind as Christians will be able to change things for the next generation. It is all hopeless. All we can legitimately hope for, we are told, is our escape into the heavens at the Rapture.”
Are the current events happening in the Mideast prophesied about in the Scriptures? Do they point to the likelihood that the Rapture is likely to happen shortly? NO!
What is the cure for “rapture fever”? It’s to focus on the greatness of the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations through the preaching of the gospel and not focus on the late “Great Tribulation” that occurred in AD70.
My dear friend Dudley Hall summed up in a succinct paragraph the cure for rapture fever: “The apostle Peter states that our “living hope” is all about resurrection, not rapture. We have hope for living, not for escaping. The resurrection of Jesus made possible our receiving resurrection life, and that brings hope. We have hope that we can not only face, but also conquer any obstacle this world can present. We have “other-world” power. We offer hope to the sinner for forgiveness. We offer to the addict the hope of deliverance and freedom. To the sexually confused, we offer the hope of wholeness. To the lonely we offer the hope of a family who cares. To the oppressed we offer the hope of justice and to the guilty we offer the hope of mercy. In fact there is no human dilemma too great for the power that raised Jesus from the dead, and that power is in us who believe Jesus is the resurrection and the life.” YES!