I’m sorry about your tablet! I find myself very anxious when my computer is feeling sickly. I hope you can get yours feeling better soon.
I hear you about the prodigal son. Only there was in fact some point to his being away from the family estate. He was learning; he was not merely non-extant. I can reconcile myself to some needing more learning time, but the idea that their non-existence for a period of time should be some sort of punishment for them (and not for those of us missing them) doesn’t seem logical to me. They’re returned (according to this theory) and perfected when Father is good and ready. They learn nothing during their time away because they CAN’T learn from their time away because they don’t exist. Maybe we learn just how good God is, that we don’t even miss them, but that seems sad, too. And as I said before, surely HE misses them at any rate – and there is simply no point in it that I can see. If He’s going to bring them back and instantly perfect them, why not do it immediately.
The prodigal son had to decide to come home on his own; therefore it was necessary that he be waited for. No one could go and drag him home and achieve the desired result (his willing return under his own power). There is a point to that. The lost coin had to be found; it wasn’t lost because it wanted to be lost; it just rolled away through no fault of its own. So there was a point to its being missing, as it was being sought and hadn’t yet been found. The lost sheep was missing because it wandered off after some shiny thing and got turned around. It was ditzy but not really rebellious, and it had to be found – so again, an effort was being put forth to bring it back. In all three stories the point could be argued that the missing would benefit from its experience, as it was presumably extant during the missing period, and possibly learning things and developing character. In this set of parables, there is always a point to the missing not being instantly returned. It had to be found, or it had to come on its own. But to say the missing ones have to be missing just, well, just because that’s the way it is . . . it doesn’t work for me.
Personally I think they’re missing because that’s probably just the way things had to be; that they need this experience for some reason, and possibly that we who do have the ministry of conciliation also have the need to have the experience of ministering to them and laying down our lives to bring them back home. “What would Father say if we returned without the others?” (G MacD)
On another level, though, I do agree with you. I was leaning toward the more popular view that the rapture is an over-literal view of a passage that Paul would have rolled his eyes over; “You thought I was saying WHAT?” more for the sake of avoiding the cynical eye rolling of my fellow believers than because I had any real scriptural reasons. It doesn’t have anything to do with avoiding persecution or trouble or suffering. More than half the church is already suffering horribly. Many Christians have lived and died in suffering, while others have had no more than the common share of suffering experienced by most people. Saying that the rapture can’t be biblical on the grounds that we shouldn’t expect to avoid suffering is entirely beside the point.
I do see it in scripture, and in the imminent return of Christ. I do NOT see the church succeeding in bringing about the Kingdom of God on earth. Yes, we must follow Him and continue to follow Him and work for the good of our fellow humans . . . BUT there have been many generations of sincere loving self-sacrificing Christ followers giving their lives for their fellow people and yet the Kingdom is not stronger today but rather is fading. YES, Jesus does return in His followers. Of course He does. But I cannot ignore the possibility that He also returns as a King we can physically look upon and at whose feet we can fall down and worship. I believe that He WILL return physically just as I believe the dead will be physically raised. I believe also that we will physically rule and reign with Him. But over whom will we reign? Cocker Spaniels? I suspect that those over whom we will reign will also be those we are called on to minister to, reconcile, rescue, and otherwise serve with our lives – that is, the life of Christ in us.
As for the idea that the suffering of 70 AD is beyond all suffering ever experienced or ever to be experienced by anyone anywhere ever, well, I agree that 70 AD is a legitimate fulfillment of the prophecy, but certainly not the ultimate fulfillment. I would contend (as many have) that the suffering of the holocaust was probably greater, certainly in terms of numbers of Jewish people suffering, than that of 70 AD. And the prophecy wasn’t, strictly speaking, limited to the Jews. So whether Revelation was written pre or post 70 AD doesn’t seem to me all that significant. I can’t see 70 AD as fulfilling it completely in either case.
I believe that the prophecies have many fulfillments and many layers of fulfillments. To focus only on the spiritual fulfillment may be more accurate than to focus only on the physical fulfillment – but IMO it is a mistake to say that the spiritual fulfillment is the ONLY fulfillment. I believe they are both important and both must come to pass in order for the prophecy to be true.
But we all have our different shades of belief, and it would be foolish for any of us, certainly including me, to insist that we’re absolutely 100% certain we are right about anything. The important thing is that we are all brothers and sisters and love one another, our Lord, and our Father. If we do that, we will do well.