Readings for the Week of August 17

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Wisdom Raptured?

Readings for the Week of August 17

Psalm 80:1-19Isaiah 5:1-7Hebrews 11:29-12:2Luke 12:49-56

Edgar C. Whisenant, was a NASA engineer and an ardent student of the Bible. He famously created a book called 88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Occur in 1988. As the title suggests, God’s faithful were to be raptured during Rosh-Hashanah of 1988. His predictions were updated for 1989, 1993, and 1994. If God’s faithful were raptured on one of those dates, they were evidently a smaller group than we realized. We’ve not missed them. Whisenant died in 2003.

Maybe the Bible is to blame for this? After all, in this week’s Gospel reading it says,

Luke 12:54 - 56 He also said to the crowds, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, 'It is going to rain'; and so it happens.And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, 'There will be scorching heat'; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

There are many other places in Scripture where God’s people are encouraged to interpret the times in order to be faithful to God and to be prepared for the “sure and certain” return of Christ. In the last fifty years there have been many predictions of the rapture, Christ’s return, or the end of the world. Yet, they have all failed. But, we have to acknowledge that the Bible has contributed to this bad habit of Bible predictions.

But what could Jesus have meant when he said, “why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” Could it be that instead of interpreting the signs of Christ’s return or the end, we are to interpret how to live in “such a time as this?”

The “sons of Issachar” are described in I Chronicles 12:32 as people who “understood the times” who, “knew what Israel ought to do.” This mention of these men is in passing. There is little, if any, context that would help one understand exactly what this meant. But, we can draw at least one conclusion. These “sons of Issachar” displayed a clarity of mind in a difficult time. They were wise and led others in wisdom to follow David instead of Saul. They weren’t encouraging one another to sit on a hill and wait for the rapture. (They were not aware of such a thing.) They weren’t planning for the end of the world but for the beginning of God’s Kingdom. (They were aware of David’s anointing as king even before he was enthroned as king.) Like us, they were waiting for. a Kingdom which was already present but not yet fulfilled. It was already but not yet.

Wisdom is the art of living. It is not the art of prediction. May we be able to interpret the times, whether those times are 1988 or 2019.

Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of this redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Paul Hill