Very few films from the 1980s captured the imaginations of the American public and international audiences around the world quite like the groundbreaking Robert Zemeckis Sci-Fi/Comedy of Hollywood legend, the iconic Back To The Future.
Early on in the film, the eccentric Doc Brown, a scientist played in an unforgettable performance by the quirky and one-of-a-kind Christopher Lloyd, invites his young friend Marty McFly to join him in the early hours of the morning in the parking lot of the local Twin Pines Mall. He claims he needs his help with an experiment in which he’s had a breakthrough and has directed the young McFly to bring his video camera in order to document all of the events that are about to unfold.
An unsuspecting Marty, wearing Walkman headphones and riding his trusty skateboard, pulls up to the Twin Pines Mall sign with the clock reading 1:15 am. He gazes down at a single white step van that sits alone in the middle of a wet and reflective empty mall parking lot with Einstein, the Doc’s beloved sheepdog, sitting on the asphalt just behind it.
As he approaches Einstein and the step van, Marty suddenly hears the sound of an engine coming to life, and the back door of the van unfolds into a car ramp where a 1980s Stainless Steel DeLorean begins to back out onto the parking lot tarmac.
The car, looking like an experiment in condensation, opens its signature gull-wing door to the hissing sound of a gas-pressurized pneumatic strut. As the gull wing opens, a considerable amount of fog comes pouring out before revealing its occupant; a crazed, wild-eyed, wild-haired Dr. Emmett Brown, who steps out of the vehicle and nearly hits his head on the car door now above him. He emerges wearing a white hazmat suit for nuclear radiation and holding a clipboard in one hand with a pen in his mouth, looking about in bewilderment before Marty reveals his presence from just behind him and calls out “Doc!” in his near puberty sounding, squeaky high pitched voice Michael J. Fox was famous for.
The two unlikely friends greet one another, and the Doc begins to frantically bark orders telling the inquisitive Marty to “stay with him, all his questions will be answered” and to “roll tape” while explaining to him that this is the “big one,” the experiment which the Doc has been waiting for all his life.
In his typical unhinged manner, the Doc dismisses Marty’s curiosity about the radiation suit with a “never mind that now, never mind that now” and, looking straight into the camera, begins his introduction to his experiment, saying, “Good evening, I’m Dr. Emmett Brown; I’m standing on the parking lot at Twin Pines Mall. It’s Saturday morning, October 26th, 1985, 1:18 a.m., and this is temporal experiment number one.” The Doc then begins to excitedly coax his dog Einstein into the DeLorean while he double-checks his and Einstein’s synchronized stopwatches, all the while pointing out his every step to the rolling camera Marty now has fixed on him.
Marty has no idea what he is about to witness as he continues to follow the Doc’s orders to film and watch as he secures the seatbelt over a calm and indifferent Einstein. The Doc then proceeds to affectionately pat his dog on the head, telling him to have a good trip and to watch his head while he lowers the gull wing door and seals him into the DeLorean.
Marty, caught up in the moment and still trying to process everything from behind the camcorder he is holding as the Doc hurriedly proceeds with the experiment, finds himself a bit taken aback as he realizes the Doc has retrofitted the DeLorean with a remote control.
In a dramatic sequence that alternates between the Doc’s hands on the wireless remote-control display and a tire-squealing DeLorean that is being remotely tossed around the Twin Pines Mall parking lot, the Doc briefly yells at Marty, who isn’t sure where he should be pointing the camera. “Not me, the car, the car!” he says. The Doc finally brings the peeling out of tires, and the grunting engine sounds to an end as the DeLorean stops and idles somewhere in the distance. Its headlights create beams of light that extend forward from the car, illuminating the mixture of exhaust and burnt rubber in the air that the car’s recent vehicular gymnastics has just created.
In the Doc’s continuously hyper-excited state, the wild-haired scientist scurries behind the now anxious young Marty as he grabs hold of his arm and pulls him into alignment with those headlight beams; Marty and the Doc now both face the DeLorean at their 12 o’clock position, both on a collision course with its projected trajectory.
And now, the moment of truth arrives. With the Doc holding his remote control and Marty holding up the camcorder, the two stand shoulder to shoulder, looking straight down the barrel at a silver bullet in the form of an ’85 DeLorean DMC-12. The Doc arms the front brakes with the flip of a red switch on his remote control and then proceeds to nudge forward the accelerator with his thumb. What ensues is perhaps the longest burnout of radial tires ever to grace the celluloid of a film reel; the shot once again alternating back and forth between a peeling out and stationary DeLorean and the Doc’s thumb slowly increasing the speed while a digital readout of the speedometer rapidly winds upwards.
The drama of the next few seconds of the film has audiences everywhere slowly beginning to lean forward in their seats in a mix of heightened curiosity and trepidation. We are all feeling the hesitancy of a bug-eyed Marty who slowly begins to distance himself from the crazed Doc, gently sidestepping away from him as he hears the squealing of the car’s tires increase in volume and intensity and listens as the small digital chimes from the Doc’s speedometer climb in pitch and frequency, creating an urgency in the audience, knowing the car will soon be catapulting in a straight line directly at them.
We are given a passing glance at the Doc’s digital speedometer. 20 MPH. . .30. . .40. The Doc gives Marty a look as if he’s being rude in his lack of trust and then motions with his head and eyes for Marty to scoot back over next to him into the line of fire where he can get the best camera angle. Marty reluctantly complies.
50MPH. . .60! Then suddenly. . .brake release! At around 65MPH, the Doc flips the red switch and lets her rip! The car now rapidly leaves behind the cloud of smoke it has just created; the sound of peeling tires giving way to what can only be described as the sound of a jet engine accelerating as an airliner speeds down a runway on takeoff; every movie goer’s heart rate accelerating alongside the DeLorean as Marty makes one last attempt to dodge the oncoming vehicle. The Doc grabs a panicked Marty by the arm and forcefully pulls him back towards himself while he reassures him with a loud whispered: “Watch this, watch this!” 80MPH. . . .81. . . .82.
The audience is given a brief moment peering into the cockpit of the DeLorean, where a digital display just behind Einstein’s head reaches its max, much like the top of a stereo’s equalizer. The digital chimes have now reached a fever pitch, and the car is just seconds from colliding with Marty and the Doc. 86MPH. . . .87. . . .88MPH! Suddenly what looks like small bolts of lightning extend forward towards the car’s bumper, lighting up the space just before the vehicle, and in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, the car simply vanishes right before the Doc’s and Marty’s eyes. The only remaining evidence that there even was a car barreling down a straightaway directly for both Marty and the Doc is a pair of flaming tire tracks and a California license plate spinning on one of its corners with the single word phrase OUTATIME imprinted on it.
The look on both the Doc’s and Marty’s faces in this moment are both priceless. Marty’s is a mix of utter and complete dumbfoundedness combined with confusion and total incredulity at what he has just seen, while the Doc is sporting an almost childlike grin of amazement and satisfaction at his rewarded faith that the car would make the time jump at the precisely determined moment. He lets out a small burst of laughter and then begins to jump up and down and pump his fists in the air in a euphoric display of celebration and yells out an epically triumphant “WHADID-IIII TELL YOUUUUU!! EIGHTY-EIGHT MIIIILES PER HOOOUUUUUR!!
Now before you think this article is about some cult classic from the 80s or that I could possibly be endorsing anything that comes out of Hollywood, I want us to stop for a moment and think, because this inconsequential small piece of film history actually serves to beautifully illustrate exactly what is happening in our world right now. In this hour, these rapidly fleeting moments just before the rapture of the church, we are being separated into two camps. We will either be in the startled, dismayed, and bewildered unbelieving camp of the Marty McFly’s who are caught completely off guard and totally unaware of what is happening, or in the abundantly rejoicing camp of the believing and victoriously celebrating Doc Brown’s who will have “loved His appearing” and will be epically and triumphantly rejoicing.
“Rapidly fleeting moments just before the rapture, you say?” I can hear the Marty’s of this world asking, “How can you be so sure?” Well, McFly— I’m glad you asked.
I have heard it said from a number of Christians that they do not believe that the rapture is scriptural. This is a very difficult position to defend as the Apostle Paul clearly delineates an event in 1 Thessalonians 4 where the dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. If we as believers choose to ignore this passage and several others pointing to this event we have called “the rapture,” then where does that stop? How much of scripture must be redacted in order that we should have a Bible that is to our personal liking? This is that accursed place where heresies are born and cults feel right at home. Take care, brothers and sisters, of the company you keep.
Still there are others that would say that the rapture is still a very long way off. Many, in fact, will concede in their observance of our world today that things are beginning to take shape for the Bible’s predicted Day of the Lord, the 7-year Tribulation, but that it is still some time in the distant future. To this, I would humbly offer that, firstly, this is a flawed approach when contemplating the rapture and that, secondly, this conclusion is one that is highly unlikely. Allow me, if you will, a moment of your time (pun intended) to explain.
Let’s start with why this is a flawed approach. We can see repeated throughout the New Testament that the early church clearly understood the monumental importance of the second coming of our Lord. All nine of the New Testament authors mentioned the second coming in their writings, and in fact, 1 out of every 30 verses in the New Testament pertains to the second coming. Furthermore, all of the writings of these inspired authors create a picture of a decisively convinced body of 1st Century believers who were anxiously awaiting the return of their Master.
James writes in one of the earliest penned epistles:
“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:7-8).
The writer of Hebrews exhorted: “For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry” (Hebrews 10:37). Peter echoes the same sentiment in his first letter: “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers” (I Peter 4:7). John announces his belief that the church is near the end of the age, simply stating: “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour” (I John 2:18). Paul, when summarizing the Christian walk, prominently underscores this idea of anticipating the Lord’s return in his writings to Titus:
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-13 NKJV).
Paul, using the personal pronoun “we,” even goes a step further to potentially include himself among those who will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.
“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep” (I Thessalonians 4:15).
He might have just as easily said “you” instead of “we.” It is clear that Paul, who was receiving direct revelation from the Lord, was also unsure of the timing of this event and therefore presented it as one that could happen at any moment. These passages, among many others, point to the imminency of this event we have come to call the rapture.
This is precisely why saying that the rapture is still many years into the future is flawed thinking. The return of our Lord in the sky for His Church has always been something that could take place at any time in our history, and it is why we are repeatedly commanded to be on the watch and at the ready for this event.
At the same time, we must understand that the rapture is a two-sided coin. Make no mistake about it, friends; the day that this blessed event will occur has long been determined by the Father. As we are instructed in Ecclesiastes: “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Rest assured, the rapture is no exception. The Father has put in His authority the times and seasons for all things, including the rapture for which the Church is waiting and anticipating. Furthermore, our God sits outside of time in which Psalm 90 and 2 Peter 3 both tell us that 1,000 years is as a day for Him; precisely why, from His perspective, the end of all things has been at hand for some 2,000 years now.
On one side of the coin sits an all-knowing God who has appointed the precise timing for this event, and on the other side of that coin is the Church. We dwell on that imminency side of the coin where we are not told the day or the hour but are instead given many clues wherein we might determine the season. These are clues that have come to light in recent generations, just as predicted by the prophet Daniel. Listen to these words from the final chapter of his book:
“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Daniel 12:4). Just a little further down, he writes: “Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand” (Daniel 12:10). It is this understanding, this increase in prophetic knowledge, which is now being unsealed to those diligent students of prophecy that gives me the confidence with which to say that it is highly unlikely that the rapture is in the distant future and why I don’t need a time machine to be sure of that.
“So then,” you may ask, “why get excited now, in this particular moment in history, if the rapture has always been an event that could have occurred or could now occur at any time?” To that, I would say, “Hello? Hellooooo? Anybody home? Think, McFly! Think!” You’ll forgive the silly Biff Tannen reference, but all kidding aside, there are a great many reasons for us to believe the rapture of the Church is so very, very close now. The primary reason? It is simply that we are quickly— running out of time.
You see, the reason for today’s excitement, why it is that the Lord has raised up so many watchmen in this hour, is not because the rapture could occur at any moment but rather that the window in which the rapture MUST occur is hastily dwindling down. The one caveat to imminency has always been that the rapture MUST precede the Tribulation.
Much like the Doc’s predetermined 88MPH, the Father too has set a predetermined moment in which He will tell His Son to go get His bride. There is an appointed time for that last trump. The Father knows that exact moment when “the fullness of the Gentiles” will have come in. Likewise, in the same way, the Doc’s digital display on his remote control rapidly climbed, the digital noises increased in pitch and frequency, the sound of the peeling tires grew louder in intensity, we are told that there will be birth pains increasing both in frequency and intensity. Like the final grains of sand slipping through an hourglass, the archetypal DeLorean that is humanity is racing at full tilt towards 88MPH. Friends, we are through burning out the tires, brakes have been released, and this baby is a COMIN’!
That all happened in the not-too-distant past on May 14th, 1948, when Israel once again became a nation. Now what we see before us is a convergence of signs occurring while Israel is back in the land of their fathers, the shadow of the Tribulation described in Revelation already being cast upon us; its nearness causing some of us to begin moving out of the way like a frightened Marty who can see it barreling down a straightaway right at us.
As if all of the signs we are given in scripture and the ever-increasing birth pains were not enough, there remains even more evidence; these windows of time that are closing all around us, all of them at the same time. I will mention each of these just briefly, as every one of them merits its own individual study. But for time’s sake, we shall observe them as merely examples.
Many of our early church fathers, along with a great many rabbis over the centuries, understood there to be a correlation between the creation account and what would ultimately be the duration of all of human history. Using the Lord’s 7-day week consisting of 6 days of work followed by a Sabbath day of rest as a template, these early scholars and theologians posited that humanity would labor and strive for 6,000 years followed by 1,000 years of rest. Again, Psalm 90 and 2 Peter 3 both describe 1,000 years being as a day to the Lord, giving this concept further validity. Again, without going into too much detail, I highly encourage you to do your own study of this Millennial Week Theory, or Creation Day Theory as it has been called.
These Talmudic rabbis, along with several early church fathers, pointed back as far as Elijah’s school of the prophets from where this concept originated. Even earlier than that, this concept was presented in the Book of Enoch, a nonbiblical source but one highly regarded by our church fathers and even quoted in our New Testament by Jude.
A study on this will uncover the writings of numerous respected theologians and early church fathers who taught this concept, including Irenaeus, Hyppolytus, Commodianus, Lactantius, and the highly esteemed Justin Martyr. It is also plainly taught in the Epistle of Barnabas, another non-canonical but notably respected writing.
Simply put, human history began with the fall of Adam in the Garden and will continue for six thousand years until the return of Christ, where He will establish His kingdom for a thousand years of peace and rest. It is a compelling idea when we consider that from Adam to Abraham was two thousand years (the first two days), from Abraham to Jesus was two thousand years (the middle two days), and from Jesus’ first coming to His second coming another two thousand years (the last days, which Peter tells us began at Pentecost).
Even more compelling is when this concept is considered alongside a prophecy that is given to us concerning the Jewish nation in the book of Hosea.
“I will return again to My place Till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me. Come, and let us return to the Lord; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, That we may live in His sight” (Hosea 5:15-6:2).
This is a prophecy about Israel’s restoration, a restoration and a prophecy that to this day remains unfulfilled. It points to those words Jesus directed at the nation when stating, “for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'” (Matthew 23:39). As it says in Hosea, “Till they acknowledge their offense.”
Zechariah fills in other blanks in the 12th Chapter of his prophetic writings:
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10). A picture of Israel earnestly seeking Him in their affliction (Hosea).
The prophecy states that after two days, the Lord would revive them. This, of course, never occurred, but we can see now in our day, some 2,000 years after Israel rejected their Messiah, that they are once again a nation and in a position to once again “acknowledge their offense” and to be made right before “the one whom they have pierced.”
In holding with the scriptural concept “to the Lord a day is as a thousand years,” it has been nearly two days (or two thousand years) since that rejection of their Messiah on the day of the crucifixion where His hands and feet were pierced.
You see, friends, while we cannot be certain about specific dates like when the fall of Adam took place or the exact year of the crucifixion; while it is impossible to know exactly where we sit within 6,000 years of human history or exactly how many out of 2,000 years have expired since the cross, we can, through the diligent work of a great many scholars, know that these two windows of time are rapidly closing! Most scholars and historians place the cross somewhere between A.D. 30 to A.D. 33. Add 2,000 years, and at the most, we are a mere ten years from the latest possible date. Looking at the works of Ussher and other respected chronologists, we can tell that we are living in the last few moments of a 6,000-year history. We are simply—running out of time.
Consider with me for a moment the technology that is described for us in Revelation. In it, we can see numerous passages that allude to the use of nuclear weapons. Many of those prophecies that speak of a planet on fire may have seemed far-fetched to past generations, but we are living in a world where we have created enough nuclear weapons to set the world on fire three times over!
How about the technology required to implement the Mark of the Beast? Is it that hard to imagine a system that includes a controllable currency and the surveillance capability by which compliance to this system may be monitored? All of that required technology is here, friends. What about the technology that would allow the entire world to view the death and the resurrection of the Two Witnesses? Not many decades back, that may have seemed impossible, but today, a ten-year-old can see what is happening on the other side of the planet with just a few taps on their iPhone. As one popular prophecy teacher has aptly suggested, “How much longer before our rapidly evolving technology exceeds that of which we see in the book of Revelation?”
These prophecies recorded for our benefit have a shelf life, an expiration date, if you will. The window for their fulfillment is speedily closing like a DeLorean that is about to hit 88MPH. The clock is tic-tic-ticking away.
Finally, we have the most compelling window of them all. Our Lord has clearly told us that when we see the fig tree blooming again that we are down to one generation. The fig tree bloomed over 75 years ago, the moment that Israel became a nation again. The question that begs to be asked then is how long is a generation? That’s one most scholars can’t seem to agree upon. What we all can agree upon is that a generation doesn’t last forever. That window is closing, and time is almost up.
So we can’t know the date of Adam’s fall, the date of the cross, or how long a generation is. We can’t see the exact expiration date on these prophecies. We are still on the imminency side of that coin. There is simply no guarantee of any more time. Imminency doesn’t guarantee more time; the convergence of all these signs and the looming shadow of the Tribulation being cast on us gives no guarantee of more time. All of these windows closing at the same time is, in fact, a guarantee of the opposite. What we know on this side of the coin is that we are oh so ever close. We are in the sunset of our age, and like any sunset, they only last for a very limited amount of time. As the Apostle Paul has exhorted us: “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand” (Romans 13:11-12).
That appointed moment the Father has set in His wisdom is barreling straight at us. As we are told by the prophet Habakkuk: “For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry” (Habakkuk 2:3).
And you can bet your entire future on it, friends, that much like the Doc’s heavily modified DeLorean, the moment humanity hits the appointed proverbial 88MPH, millions upon millions of people will in the twinkling of an eye instantaneously vanish off of the face of our planet. I don’t know about you, but I plan to be among them. Frankly, I’m gonna make like a tree and get outta here! I’ll be the guy not in the white hazmat suit but in a gleaming white robe jumping up and down and triumphantly yelling, “WHADID-IIII TELL YOUUUUU!! EIGHTY-EIGHT MIIIILES PER HOOOUUUUUR!! Sadly, for the Marty’s of our world, they will be tragically and simply. . .OUTATIME.