Although we have great promises given to us throughout scripture (Daniel 2:3; Matthew 24:14; Matthew 25:2; John 16:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:4; Revelation 12:11) regarding the awareness we will have as Christians in the end-times, the spiritual vehicle of a journey of faith repeated throughout the narrative stories of faith reveal God’s methodology for unveiling truth in-the-moment, or in hindsight looking backwards, within carefully crafted life events. Even though Abraham, Joseph, David, Peter, Paul, and many others in the Bible had foreknowledge regarding upcoming events in their lives through very specific promises of God, the overriding and controlling experience is summed up in the scripture “for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). This vital element of picking up our cross and following God should at least be a factor we include in our calculus of end-times prophecy interpretation, and in our careful evaluation of the propriety of prematurely crafting an end-times scenario of events from beginning to end that imports fictional embellishment into the biblical record.
For me, the pretribulation rapture scenario has the look and feel of a humanistically optimistic interpretation overlaid on top of end-time biblical prophecy. It scrubs away the very means and methods of God’s creative imagination in prepping His followers for eternity, by removing the adventure of faith experience out of the current environment of this broken world at the most critical time…the end-times tribulation period.
My starting paradigm for interpreting end-times biblical prophecy is the cross as portrayed in the narrative stories of faith in the Bible. The cross bias for interpretation is a big picture, macro-view of the Bible. The cross bias sees a diverse mix of narrative stories, psalms, prophecy, and principles/precepts imaginatively designed to provide wisdom, knowledge, and encouragement to multitudes of differing personalities, time periods, cultures, and personal challenges.
In God’s program, the personal cost to each of the biblical contributors has benefits to other people down through the ages on a colossal scale. The brilliantly guided sacrifices of others in the past are expertly woven together in a biblical document having comprehensive and universal outreach, validating the divine authorship of the Bible in a way that stretches its message beyond the reach of human imagination and literary creativity.
One overriding theme of the Bible is that God’s ways are higher, and His plans are bigger than we can imagine. The pursuit of a life “in Christ” through the cross, is intentionally counter to and outside of the reach of worldly conventional thinking in the strongest and most profound way. Picking up our cross and following Jesus in whatever endeavor and direction He leads us, is by intentional design at the edge of human appreciation and imagination.
This is one reason why I believe the cross has been missed in the end-times biblical prophecy discussion, and why it needs to be factored in as a key element in our understanding of upcoming events in the lives of individual Christians and the Christian church.