This does not appear to be a theatrical release, so it’s not being reviewed as a Bad Movie of the Week or even as a Bad Movie Wednesday. It’s something I caught on Amazon Prime Video, and in that respect I’m watching for free. Hence the title. A quick Internet search failed to turn up an analysis of this particular viewing, though there are a number of others with the same title. One is free on YouTube.
It’s The Rapture, no link available. Amazon has this to say about it:
We’ve all heard of the Rapture, and the rumored “second coming.” But what about a third coming? And has it been predicted, before our eyes, in the Book of Revelation? Unveil the shocking theories of scholars in this doc.
Credits list David Priest and Laura Pacini as editors. Technical consultants are
- Dr. Noah Hutchings
- Dr. Roy Knuteson
- Patrick Lumbroso
- Dr. Randall Price
- Marsha Rano
- Les Stevenson
- Diane Cowan
- Gerald Magnuson
- Barbara Petty
The release date is stated as 2006. Dr. Charles Thurston, M.D. explains the concept. He is director of the Evidences Biblical Institute. This Dr. Charles Thurston, M.D. is not to be confused with Dr. Charles Thurston, M.D. from San Antonio, where I live.
Imagine, if you will, you are flying in an airplane, and suddenly the person sitting in the seat next to you disappears. Vanishes. No warning. No goodbye. I would even think in mid-sentence if a conversation were going on. What if one of the disappeared people were the pilot, with disastrous consequences. Even people driving automobiles, on the freeway. Driver-less cars careen into others, into immovable objects. People all around just vanish without warning.
Something strange, to be sure. But consider those who don’t disappear. What about them? What about those left behind? And there’s the clue. This is going to be another of those Left Behind movies. A clip somewhere deeper into this video’s 50-minute run shows the late Dr. Tim LaHaye, co-author of the Left Behind publications. Now you really know you have come here to have your intelligence insulted.
Wikipedia relates the inspiration for Left Behind:
LaHaye indicates that the idea for the series came to him one day circa 1994, while he was sitting on an airplane and observed a married pilot flirting with a flight attendant. He wondered what would befall the pilot if the Rapture happened at that moment. The first book in the series opens with a similar scene. He sold the movie rights for the Left Behind series and later stated he regretted that decision, because the films turned out to be “church-basement videos”, rather than “a big-budget blockbuster” that he had hoped for.
And that introduces the concept of the rapture and the title of this production. The late Ernest Martin explains the rapture, a fairly modern idea. Martin was the author of The Essentials of New Testament, among other works.
Wikipedia has some background on Ernest Martin:
Martin proposed a recalculation of the birth of Jesus in his books The Birth of Christ Recalculated (1978) and The Star that Astonished the World(1996). He argued that the “Star of Bethlehem” was the planet (or “wandering star” in antiquity) Jupiter, or Zedeq (“Righteousness”) in Hebrew, leading the wise men to Jesus in Bethlehem on December 25, 2 BCE, coinciding with the Jewish Festival of Lamps or Hanukkah that year. Dr. Martin argued that the birth of Jesus happened on the evening of September 11, 3 BCE, which corresponds to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year on the first of Tishri on the Jewish calendar.
In his 1999 book The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot, Martin argued that the Haram al-Sharif is not the location of the last Temple. This was significant given his relationship with Herbert W. Armstrong whose editorial in The Plain Truth magazine was cited by Denis Michael Rohan as a reason for setting fire to the Al Aqsa mosque during the 1960s.
The basis of this work began with Martin’s first visit to Jerusalem in 1961 when he first met Benjamin Mazar and later his son Ory Mazar, who informed him of his belief that the Temples of Solomon and Zerubbabel were located on the Ophel mound to the north of the original Mount Zion on the southeast ridge. In a 1996 draft report to support this theory Martin wrote: “I was then under the impression that Simon the Hasmonean (along with Herod a century later) moved the Temple from the Ophel mound to the Dome of the Rock area.” However, after studying the words of Josephus concerning the Temple of Herod the Great, which was reported to be in the same general area of the former Temples, he then read the account of Eleazar who led the final contingent of Jewish resistance to the Romans at Masada which stated that the Roman fortress was the only structure left by 73 C.E. “With this key in mind, I came to the conclusion in 1997 that all the Temples were indeed located on the Ophel mound over the area of the Gihon Spring“. From these conclusions Martin produced his book in which he asserted that the Temples of Jerusalem were located over the Gihon Spring and not over the Dome of the Rock. He wrote: “What has been amazing to me is the vast amount of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian records that remain available from the first to the sixteenth centuries that clearly vindicate the conclusions that I have reached in this book of research.”
Other works included Restoring the Original Bible (1984), Secrets of Golgotha (1987), 101 Bible Secrets (1991), The Biblical Manual (1985) and The Essentials of New Testament Doctrine (1999).
Martin explains the origin of the rapture, as viewed in current times. A 15-year-old Irish-Scottish girl named Margaret McDonald was ill in bed and had a vision of the End Times. This was in 1830, so the concept is modern relative compared to all biblical history. Wikipedia gives a history at variation with the video:
The rise in belief in the pre-tribulation rapture is often wrongly attributed to a 15-year-old Scottish-Irish girl named Margaret McDonald who was of the first to receive a spiritual baptism under a Pentecostal awakening in Scotland. In 1830, she had a vision of the end times which describes a post-tribulation view of the rapture that was first published in 1840. It was published again in 1861, but two important passages demonstrating a post-tribulation view were removed to encourage confusion concerning the timing of the rapture. The two removed segments were, “This is the fiery trial which is to try us. – It will be for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus” and “The trial of the Church is from Antichrist. It is by being filled with the Spirit that we shall be kept”.
Cutting to the chase, the end of days notion is supported in the Bible almost solely by a few lines of text in 1 Corinthians:
From Bible Gate here is the full text:
50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
The video presents a number of others weighing in on this fanciful fabrication, and the late Dr. J.R. Church is one of them.
Dr. Church was author of Hidden Prophecies in the Psalms, which is available in paperback from Amazon. A variant seems also to be available for one penny from Amazon.
If by now you have noticed that a number of the contributors to this production have already left for another world, then you are not alone. For one, I feel fortunate to be among the left behind.
No biblical prophecy story would be complete without some choice religious art, and this has its share.
Where this seriously gets silly is where it stands fast for the veracity of ancient prophecies. Some quotes:
Narrator: When it comes to accuracy no one can hold a candle to the biblical prophets. Their record of prophecy is so far unblemished by any failure. Over 400 prophecies regarding the birth and the life of the savior were fulfilled in every respect. And many of us are witness to the fulfillment of prophecy in our own time, the prophecies of Ezekiel being just one example.
Whoa boy! Will the whoppers ever cease? Regarding fulfilled prophecies, Ezekiel should never be mentioned. Examples abound:
- Ezekiel prophesies that Tyrus will be completely destroyed by Nebuchadrezzar and will never be built again. But it wasn’t destroyed, as evidenced by the visits to Tyre by Jesus and Paul (Mt 15:21, Mk 7:24, 31, Acts 21:3). 26:14,21, 27:36, 28:19
- Ezekiel prophesies that Israel will reside in its homeland safely and securely, never again to fight neighboring nations. 28:24-26
- Ezekiel makes another false prophecy: that Egypt would be uninhabited by humans or animals for forty years after being destroyed by Nebuchadrezzar. But there was never a time when Egypt was uninhabited. Humans and animals have lived there continuously since Ezekiel’s prophecy. 29:10-11
- The rivers of Egypt (identified as the Nile in NIV, NASB, and RSV) shall dry up. This has never occurred. 30:12
This production further stretches weird when it begins to invoke Nostradamus:
Skeptics cast doubt upon the interpretation of Nostradamus’s quatrains (Randi 1993). Here is how James Randi and Cheetham read one of the more famous quatrains, allegedly predicting the rise of Adolph Hitler to power in Germany:
Bêtes farouches de faim fleuves tranner;
Plus part du champ encore Hister sera,
En caige de fer le grand sera treisner,
Quand rien enfant de Germain observa. (II.24)
Beasts wild with hunger will cross the rivers,
The greater part of the battle will be against Hitler.
He will cause great men to be dragged in a cage of iron,
When the son of Germany obeys no law.
Beasts mad with hunger will swim across rivers,
Most of the army will be against the Lower Danube.
The great one shall be dragged in an iron cage
When the child brother will observe nothing.
Neither translation seems to make much sense, but at least Randi’s recognizes that “Hister” refers to a geographical region, not a person. So does “Germania,” by the way; it refers to an ancient region of Europe, north of the Danube and east of the Rhine. It may also refer to a part of the Roman Empire, corresponding to present-day northeastern France and part of Belgium and the Netherlands. (Because Hister is an ancient name for the Danube region near Hitler’s childhood home, some think the reference is clearly to him.)
This is typical of interpretations of ancient prophecies. You wait for an event to happen. Then you interpret the prophecy in this light and suddenly realize, “Oh, dear Jesus, it was staring us in the face all this time.”
This production has little in the way of dramatic content. Although actors have been employed to portray some sequences (Margaret McDonald, Nostradamus, etc.), much of this is stock footage and interviews with biblical apologists. A quantity of the stock footage depicts modern day disasters, floods, fires, riots.
Strangely, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein prominently portrays modern despotism in action, but there is no mention of his downfall and subsequent execution by hanging. This despite his death being in December the year this was released.