Rallying 'round 'The Rapture'
By Bill Berkowitz / WorkingForChange
July 31, 2004

Why worry about the future of the planet if you think you've got a back-stage pass to Heaven? CREDIT: Edge photocomposition.
Take a war and a lengthy occupation of a Middle East country. Mix in talk of pre-emptive nuclear strikes; add the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict and a dollop of war and talk of more wars. Combine these ingredients with your everyday earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, drought and hurricanes, and blend it all together with an administration packed with true believers. Lord knows, this concoction is ample enough to get you thinking about the end of times.

It will strike without warning. It will be unexpected except to those who have been waiting desperately for the day -- and then, even they may be surprised. It's been featured on the cover of Time magazine; the Rev. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins have written a series of wildly popular novels about it called "Left Behind," which have sold nearly 60 million copies and been regular entries on the New York Times best-seller lists; and several movies have been made about it and more are in development. It's what many believe drives evangelical Christians to show such overwhelming support for Israel.

Welcome to the Rapture.

The fact that the Left Behind series of apocalyptic novels has sold millions of books is serious business, not only for the publishing industry. It clearly indicates that there’s a broad and receptive audience for the words and ideas of the Rev. LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.

According to Guy Manchester, author of Acts of the Apostles, a novel about theocracy in America, the phrase "left behind" derives from "the Christian fundamentalist belief in the Rapture, that is, at the sound of a trumpet, Jesus will soon appear in the clouds to take believers up to meet him, thus escaping the horrible calamities foretold in the Book of Revelation." Those that aren't taken will be left behind to suffer the consequences of "The Tribulation," a seven-year period, the last three and a half years of which will contain great suffering and devastation.

Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Wiccans and atheists will be left behind to suffer during "the Great Tribulation" as the period following the Rapture is called. But before it's over, however, "144,000 [Jews]...will accept Jesus as their savior. The rest will perish." The message is clear the Rev. LaHaye told CNN's Larry King – you must accept Jesus or be left behind.

The Rapture Index
How close are we to the End Times? For daily updates, you can check in with The Rapture Index (www.raptureready.com/index.html). It is the creation of webmaster Todd Strandberg who calls it a "Dow Jones Industrial Average of End Time activity." Strandberg's Web site tracks of a number of indicators, gauging just how bad things are on earth.

Among the Rapture Index's mixed bag of categories or "indicators" are: Bible-related categories which include False Christs, Satanism, the Mark of the Beast and The Anti-Christ; financial indicators, including stats on unemployment, inflation, interest rates, and oil prices; cultural issues including drug use, liberalism, and civil rights; and then, there are your natural disasters – earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, plagues and drought.

Taken together, these combine to make up the Rapture Index.

Two weeks after 9/11, "the index hit an all-time high of 182... as the bandwidth nearly melted under the weight of 8 million visitors," Time magazine reported. As of the end of May, the index stood at 147, the highest number to date this year.

"The Rapture Index has two functions," writes webmaster Strandberg: "One is to factor together a number of related end time components into a cohesive indicator, and the other is to standardize those components to eliminate the wide variance that currently exists with prophecy reporting.

"The Rapture Index is by no means meant to predict the rapture, however, the index is designed to measure the type of activity that could act as a precursor to the rapture.

"You could say the Rapture index is a Dow Jones Industrial Average of end time activity, but I think it would be better if you viewed it as prophetic speedometer. The higher the number, the faster we're moving towards the occurrence of pre-tribulation rapture."

And, according to Strandberg, anytime the Rapture Index hits above 145: "Fasten your seat belt."

E-mail, they send e-mail...
An innovative outfit called Rapture Letters (www.raptureletters.com) has added a new wrinkle to The Rapture industry. It wants to deliver your final message to your loved ones after you have been raptured.

If your loved one is among the millions that just ups and disappears one day, do not immediately rush to your phone and dial 911. You might find out more by heading for your computer and checking your email. If your loved one has been carried off in The Rapture there could be an email message – sent the first Friday after the Rapture – waiting for you.

Rapture Letters is a service aimed at those who are convinced that when the Rapture comes they will be included. Rapture Letters will send the following message to your loved ones, free of charge (donation accepted):

Dear Friend;

This message has been sent to you by a friend or a relative who has recently disappeared along with millions and millions of people around the world.

The reason they chose to send you this letter is because they cared about you and would like you to know the truth about where they went. This may come as a shock to you, but the one who sent you this has been taken up to heaven.

If you read a Bible, you will see that after chapter three in the book of Revelation, the church is no longer mentioned as being on earth. (The church are the believers in Jesus Christ, not the buildings in which people meet.)

In the Bible, 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4 verses 16 and 17 tell how Jesus came to take away His church. But, you have to believe the Bible is the Word of God in order to believe this.
I am sure that there will be a lot of speculation as to what happened to all these people. The theories of some scientists and world leaders will have so much credibility that most of the world will believe them.

It will sound like the truth!

But, there is only one truth. And, that truth is that Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, came back to earth and took with Him to Heaven all who believed in Him and made Him their Lord.

If you would like to give your life to Jesus Christ and be born again, it is not too late. First you must pray to God saying 'Father I admit I am a sinner, and I will turn from my sin and do good. I believe that Jesus was your son and that He came here to die for me so that my sins would be forgiven. I ask you to forgive me and I will repent of my sins. In Jesus name I pray.'

If you just prayed that prayer and meant it with all your heart, then God will know you as one of His own. You should now seek out others who have also given their lives to Christ, read a Bible daily, and do your best to bring others to Christ.

God bless you.

Several thorny questions arise from this surrogate-letter-sending-business: After the Rapture, who will be sending these Rapture Letters? Who has the Rapture roster?

And, if it's someone related to the company itself, are we to assume that person isn't saved enough to have been raptured? Will people who expect to be raptured want to trust their fate to the unraptured?

One web blogger responding to the idea writes that the company is probably using "a program like Dead Man's Switch, which does something irreversible unless you're around to hit a button every week. As always, this opens up the possibility that one week the person in charge is just going to forget to hit the button, making it look like... the Rapture happened but nobody got taken."

Or what if they somehow hit the "send" button by mistake? The last thing we want or need in these times is a phony Rapture scare.

And what happens to the folks who are so sure of their raptured status that they order the service and then find themselves left behind? Will their loved ones receive a false rapture-positive e-mail?

The good news: Is this an employment opportunity for those left behind?

Social commentator Bill Berkowitz writes Conservative Watch, a regular WorkingForChange column that documents the strategies, players, institutions, victories and defeats of the American Right. His columns may be found at the Working Assets website at: www.workingassets.org

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