On Saturday the Rapture, and its associated earthquakes, may or may not sweep around the earth. Well, probably not. But already Rapture fever is sweeping around the world, and claiming among its victims bloggers in New Zealand (Tim Bulkeley), Canada (Martin Trench) and England (Archdruid Eileen, and, I suppose, myself) as well in Harold Camping’s native USA. Here in England even the secular press is falling victim, as seen in today’s edition of Metro. And in the USA the infection seems to be spreading into the academic sector (thanks to James McGrath for that link).
Meanwhile, in a post which seems to suggests that Roman Catholics will miss out on the Rapture, Joel raises an interesting issue, in passing in an image caption:
If you see me naked on the streets, it may or may not be because of the rapture
The image (reproduced here) suggests that Joel expects to be raptured naked, leaving behind all his clothes and even his socks, not to mention his phone and coffee mug. But the text written over the image, Revelation 16:15, seems to suggest the opposite, that it will matter how we are dressed when the Rapture comes.
So, which is it? Will we be taken up to heaven naked or fully clothed? Should we all put on our Sunday best this Saturday to make sure we give the right impression when we land at the Pearly Gates? After all, just in case we have committed a few sins that the death of Jesus Christ was unable to atone for, maybe if we look the part we can persuade St Peter to overlook them. I jest, of course.
There do seem to be Bible passages which suggest that we will be naked when we arrive in heaven, just as Adam and Eve were in Eden:
For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
1 Timothy 6:7 (NIV 2011)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud …, let us throw off everything that hinders …
Hebrews 12:1 (NIV 2011)
Other passages suggest that in heaven we will be given all the clothing we need, at least to keep us going for the few months until the final end of the world:
Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer …
Revelation 6:11 (NIV 2011)
So what do we make of the verse that Joel used?
Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.
Revelation 16:15 (NIV 2011)
It seems clear that we shouldn’t be wandering around naked as we wait for the Rapture. Anyway that wouldn’t be very sensible, at least here, in our cool May weather. But it probably doesn’t matter what we are wearing, as long as it is decent. It will all be left behind, perhaps in a mess as in Joel’s picture, or perhaps nicely tidied up by angels like Jesus’ graveclothes. Then before we can enter God’s kingdom and the marriage feast of the Lamb we will be clothed in our proper wedding garments (contrast Matthew 22:11-12).
Oh dear, this post has become far too serious! It is almost beginning to sound like I believe in the Rapture on Saturday!