Let me begin first by saying that I have long respected the ministry of the Christian Broadcasting Network, led by Pat Robertson. It has done a great deal of good in the cause for Christ. I am especially grateful that it has taken the stuffy and “churchy” element out of Christianity and made it so much more relevant and approachable to the masses. It has proven itself to be a formidable challenge to the status quo of church/state relations. Pat is personally responsible for launching many good charitable organizations with very good ratings from charity watchdog organizations for evangelical groups. He gave birth to the highly respected Operation Blessing, which gives extremely efficient aid and services to disaster zones in the world. He is also responsible for the creation of the ACLJ, the law firm protecting Christians from discrimination. His appointment of Jay Sekulow as chief counsel, (and currently on Trump’s legal team) was a godsend.
All that being said, we have to take the good and the bad with anyone,no matter how powerful and influential. No one is perfect and everyone, it seems, has an Achilles heel.
The Wild and the Wacky
Here in the Tidewater region of Virginia, Pat has been comedy fodder for the local news outlets for years. First, he was praying hurricanes away. Personally, I never had any problem with that one. After all, if Elijah could do it, maybe Pat could too. On many other occasions, there has always been an expectation put out there that whenever Pat says something, it will be wacky and draconian in some way. The latest two examples are his recent suggestion that kids with autism may be somehow faking their condition, or that it wasn’t a legitimate psychological condition. Then there was the controversy over his remark that suggested a spouse may have grounds to leave their partner if he or she had Alzheimer’s disease. There was also his insistence that only a Christian should ever be eligible to be president. Another instance was the call for the assassination of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. If David refused to kill Saul, and Jesus told Peter to “put up your sword” when he was arrested, why is Pat so trigger happy with dictators? Besides, as we have seen, God took care of Chavez in his own way, and may well take care of the current dictator in a similar manner. Then there is Pat’s general megalomania of investing in diamond mines in Africa. And who could possibly forget his incredible hubris in imagining that he could be elected president of the US in 1988. On the 700 Club he has appeared as abrupt and harshly dismissive of some viewers’ problems. And there have been many others examples, some benign, some more serious. As believers we have all had blind spots in our spiritual growth. It we didn’t we would not grow as Christians, and growth is what Veritas Triumphant is all about.
But this one is serious…
So it is my solemn obligation as pastor to point out Pat’s most egregious theological error. This is one blind spot that will clearly lead many people to spiritual death, or unnecessary martyrdom. It is his insistence that the Rapture is bad and erroneous theology if it teaches a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. He says the only possible answer is a Post-Tribulation Rapture. Whenever the topic comes up on the question and answer portion of the 700 Club, he becomes visibly annoyed and scoffs at the whole “left behind” idea.
So what exactly has led Pat to be so adamant in his conviction of this position? Basically, like so many other Post-Tribulationists, he has hung his hat on two verses from the famous Olivet discourse from the 24th chapter of Matthew. These are verses 29 and 31. Jesus says here that ” after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened” True, this does mean that this takes place at the end of the tribulation. But the 31st verse clearly teaches that the believers He calls come from the ” the four winds and one end of heaven to the other”- and not from the earth. Therefore, they are not on the earth ready to ascend to Jesus at His return and at the last trumpet. There is another error here. The “last trumpet” here does not refer to the last trumpet of God’s wrath. Rather, it refers to the last trumpet of God’s feasts, the Feast of Tabernacles. This is the final and as yet unfulfilled feast of the Jewish calendar, and the one that ushers in the Millenium. No, they were not “caught up” to heaven from the ashes of the tribulation. This is one of the most misinterpreted of all passages of scripture. If not taken in its full and proper context, the misreading of it leads to amazingly false conclusions.
Pat said on a recent broadcast that the whole concept of people suddenly disappearing was just pure nonsense. He mentioned the series called Left Behind by Tim Lahaye, and denounced it as bunk. It was all fantasy to him, the notion of cars without drivers and planes crashing without pilots. However, if he would have read just a few more verses in the chapter, he would see Jesus teaching exactly that. He speaks of two being in a field, one taken, the other left. Two were grinding at the mill, one taken, the other left. He then warns His true followers to be ready like the watchman of the house who didn’t know when his master would return.If you were to follow Pat’s belief, you wouldn’t have to be looking up for the return of Christ. All you would have to do is get through to the end of the tribulation and wait for Jesus to call you from the four corners of the earth to come up to heaven. There you would “meet Him in the air” and then come right back down. Critics call it the “YoYo theory” or making a “u-turn”. Now I ask you- would anyone who was raptured at the end of the tribulation think that they were being called from any part of heaven? No, rather it would be like being called out of the pit of hell.
So much of the blindness of the Post-Tribulation Rapture crowd lies in their utter nonchalance and naivety about what the tribulation really involves. The world is terrifying enough in its own way right now. But this would be paradise by comparison, and the tribulation will be a thousand times worse. No one is prepared for it. It is, as Jesus said, a time of “darkness, when no man can work”. No one living or dead could possibly comprehend the horror of this time.
The number of parables, prophecies and allegories that speak of a pre-tribulation rapture are numerous. Some of the famous ones are the master who went on a long journey, as I mentioned earlier. Then there is the parable of the wise and foolish virgins- where 5 were ready for the master’s return, and 5 had to scramble for oil in their lamps. Last but certainly not least, there is the marriage supper of the Lamb. It must be noted that this takes place in heaven, and not on the smouldering ashes of Armageddon, where Pat would have it. Other references include Jesus’s warning to the disciples to “stay awake” while He prayed in Gethsemane. The most compelling for me is the promise to the faithful of a mansion in heaven. It was to be prepared by Jesus so they could literally “hang out” with Him in heaven. This point was so important to Jesus, that he added the addendum, “if it were not so I would have told you” Case closed, no confusion.
Return to Noah’s Day
Jesus reminds us that our day is just like Noah’s day. He repeats the warning of Noah and the destruction of everyone who was so complacent with going along, “eating and drinking and giving in marriage”- until the door was shut. They were a violent, treacherous and self-satisfied people who never sought God. They were a mirror image of what our society is now. They also believed religiously in the perpetuity of their everyday lives. Nothing was going to touch them. They were so self-sufficient that they thought they could handle anything, even something that had never happened before. For us, the tribulation will be even more horrific and terrifying than Noah’s flood. People in his day had no faith and no vision, so therefore, just as scripture says, they perished. Noah was unpolluted by the world. We don’t know much about how he got that way. We just know that, like Abraham, he was upright and feared the Lord. And for both of them, this was accounted for righteousness.
We Can’t even Begin to Imagine
To be comfortable with going through the tribulation, is to be comfortable with death, with blindness, with the chains of Satan’s bondage. The tribulation occurs in chronological order, and as literally and as gruesomely as the words describe. There is no struggle with interpretation. A huge war takes place killing one third of the world’s population. We’ll also see total economic collapse, which will reveal to all the seriousness of the USA’s crushing and impossible debt. This is one calamity that, you can be sure, even Donald Trump won’t see coming. But when the toys are threatened, I can guarantee you that the yuppies and tech giants of Silicon Valley will start to get worried. Then you will see utter panic among all the progressives that make up the elite on both coasts. And of course the lives of everyone will be seriously jeopardized. As things progress, eventually, nuclear annihilation will loom and men will seek death, but not find it. This state comes with a warning from the prophet Isaiah. “Your covenant with death shall be annulled” (Isaiah 28:18) We do not know exactly when the rapture will take place, and contrary to what one might believe, this church is very grateful to see it delayed. The tribulation is so ghastly and horrible, that the Lord is pleased to extend more grace that “none should perish”. We appreciate the time remaining and work to see more fervent, spirit- led warriors move to save as many people as we can from this hideous last seven years of human history. We know that when it begins, there are only two options basically- death as a martyr, with later salvation and rewards in heaven, or, far worse, taking the mark of the beast and being guaranteed eternal damnation. This world is not our home, let us never forget this. Our job is to instill the sense of passion and desire for Christ’s return that fills our oil lamps full to lead us in the night, and lead so many more souls to look for His return.