IS THE DOCTRINE OF IMMINENCE TAUGHT IN THE BIBLE
by Sheila Sternberg
The generally accepted definition of imminence is that Jesus could come "at any moment" meaning there are NO signs to occur, NO prophecies to be fulfilled before Jesus returns for the rapture of the church. However...
Christ predicted the destruction of the Temple (Luke 21:6, Matt. 24:2, Mark 13:2.) He also predicted the coming of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8.) Could He return before these things were fulfilled?
Jesus told Peter that he would get old and die (John 21:18-19.)
His coming be imminent as long as Peter was still alive? (Peter
was part of the church, wasn't he? Matt. 16:18 & Acts.) Peter even
instructed us to wait for and hasten the coming day of God (2 Peter 3:12.)
How can we rush a day which may begin at any moment? Is it possible that
the Lord's "slowness" (vs. 9) is directly linked to His command for us
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to
observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with
you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.
Some people believe that Jesus teaches that His return is imminent in
Some pretribulationists believe that the seven churches written to in Revelation 2 and 3 represent not only seven churches in existence when the letters from Christ were written, but also represent seven periods of Church history. (But since we all want to be included in the Philadelphia church, it must overlap the Laodicean church in order to have the Philadelphian church alive at the rapture.) Little do these sincere pretribulationists realize that by espousing this historical period view of the churches, they inadvertently deny the doctrine of imminence in that the return of Jesus could not have been imminent during the Thyatira period, the Smyrna period, etc. Not until the Philadelphia/Laodicean period could His coming be said to be imminent.
The prophecy of the seventieth week of Daniel (Daniel 9:24) deals with Jerusalem and the Jews. Could Jesus' return to rapture His church be imminent prior to 1948 when the Jews returned to Israel, or, for that matter, 1967 when they recaptured Jerusalem? This argument should receive even more weight considering pretribulationists claim that the seventieth week (called by them, "the tribulation") deals not with the church, but exclusively with the Jews (Dan 9:24.)
In answer to His disciples question in Matt. 24:3, "What shall be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?" He did not tell them that His coming would be signless or imminent. He told of wars and rumors of wars, etc. Then He said,
As soon as [the fig tree's] branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also when you see all these things, you know that He is near, at the very gates.
In other words, we will not know the exact day or hour, but when these things begin happening, His coming is so near that the generation to see the signs will not die before His return. Could His coming be imminent BEFORE these things have happened? (Matt. 24:32-34,36; Luke 21:28)
Many pretribbers quote verses about the "thief in the night"
to support their "at any moment" doctrine. In Revelation 3:3 written to
the church at Sardis (not Philadelphia, not Laodecia), Jesus says,
But when we keep reading, we find, "But you are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief." (vs.4)
It is in this context that we are commanded not to sleep, but to watch.(vs. 6-7; Mark 13:36)
Now if references to the rapture coming "as a thief in the night" mean that the rapture comes at the beginning of the Day of the Lord (which I believe is the accurate chronology) then what do we do with Acts 2:20 and Joel 2:31 placing the sun turning dark and the moon to blood BEFORE the Day of the Lord? That wouldn't make the rapture signless and imminent would it?
Could it be merely a coincidence that this is the very sign Jesus described
would precede His coming?
This coinciding of the Day of the Lord and the rapture is spoken of in 2 Thess. 2:1-4.
Could the rapture be imminent before Peter died?
Could the rapture be imminent before the temple was destroyed?
Lu 21:6, Mt 24:2, Mk 13:2
Could the rapture be imminent before Israel became a nation in 1948?
Can rapture be imminent if "the Antichrist" must be revealed first?
2 Th 2:1-4
Can the rapture be imminent before the sun and moon grow dark and the signs described by our Lord come to pass?
According to Luke 21,
it is only "when these things begin to take place" that we can
"look up and raise your heads,
because your redemption is drawing near."