WHAT IS THE MID-TRIBULATION RAPTURE VIEW?
While most Christians, who believe in a future rapture, embrace either a Post-Tribulation or Pre-Tribulation view with respect to its timing of the rapture, there is a minority which accepts neither. Instead, they believe that the best understanding of this coming event is to place it at the midpoint of the final seven years before Jesus Christ returns. This is usually known as the Mid-Tribulation rapture view.
It should be noted that most of those who hold this view usually do not use the term “Mid-Tribulation rapturists” to describe themselves. Rather they prefer to classify themselves as holding to Pretribulationism.
The reason for this is that they believe Jesus Christ is coming before the “great tribulation” which they believe occurs during the last half of the seventieth week of Daniel. Thus, while Pre-Tribulationists believe the tribulation lasts seven years the Mid-Tribulationists think that it lasts only three and a half years.
We can explain this view as follows.
1. The Seventieth Week Of Daniel Is Still Future
They believe that the seventieth week of Daniel is future. Thus, Mid-Tribulationism, like Pre-Tribulationism, and many Post-Tribulationists believes this seventieth week is still future.
2. There Is A Three And One Half Year Interval Between The Rapture And The Second Coming
Like the Pre-Tribulation position, those which hold to the Mid-Tribulation theory believe there is an interval of time between the rapture of the church and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This is opposed to the Post-Tribulation view which sees no interval. The difference between the Pre-Tribulation and the Mid-Tribulation view is the length of the interval. Mid-Tribulationism has a three and one half year interval while the Pre-Trib view has seven years.
3. The Church Is Found In The Old Testament
Contrary to the Pre-Tribulation view, many of those who hold to the Mid-Tribulation position believe the church is found in the Old Testament. They see the first half of the seventieth week of Daniel as referring to the church.
Furthermore, they believe God’s program with respect to Israel and the church are not kept entirely separate. Instead they overlap. The church will participate in the first half of Daniel’s seventieth week but will not be around when the most severe judgment occurs. They believe that this last half of the seven years is known as the time of “Jacob’s trouble” and deals with the nation Israel.
Contrary to the Mid-Tribulation position, the church is not found in the Old Testament. It is a mystery, or sacred secret, which was not revealed until the New Testament period. Paul made this clear.
“I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness-the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:25-27)
Therefore, we should not look for the church in the Old Testament.
4. The Church Is Found In Jesus’ Olivet Discourse
The Olivet Discourse records the teaching of Jesus regarding coming events. It is recorded in detail in Matthew 24 and 25. These chapters are regarded by Mid-Tribulationists as directed to the New Testament church and not merely to a future time for Israel.
Some argue that the apostles are seen as representative of the church and therefore, the rapture of the church is included in these words of Jesus.
As already stated, while God does have distinct programs for Israel and the church, there is some overlap in these programs. We find this overlap in the Olivet Discourse.
The Pre-Tribulation position is that the Olivet Discourse is primarily aimed at the nation Israel. The questions by the disciples, and the answers given by Jesus, are mainly in a Jewish context.
Indeed, the questions were predominantly asked concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple and the coming of the Lord. It is, therefore, a mistake to assume that Jesus’ answers are directed at the New Testament church.
5. The Great Tribulation Lasts Three And A Half Years
This brings us to one of the greatest differences between the Pre-Tribulation view and Mid-Tribulation view. Mid-Tribulationism emphasizes that the New Testament church has been promised that they will experience persecution and tribulation. Once again, context should be considered. Jesus did say that in this world, we will have trials and tribulation, but these should not be confused with the greatest time of tribulation this world has ever seen. The tribulation spoken of in Matthew 24 represents God’s wrath and not sanctification.
Mid-tribulationists point to the frequent mention of 3½ years (42 months or 1,260 days) in Daniel and Revelation as support for their view. They argue that the emphasis on the final 3½ years indicates that only this portion of the 7 year tribulation refers to the time of God’s wrath.
According to them, since all who live godly in Christ Jesus will experience such things, the sufferings of the church in the first half of the seventieth week of Daniel fits with the calling of the church.
Consequently, the first three and a half years of the final seven-year period will find the church on the earth suffering persecution and in many cases, martyrdom. They argue that is the wrath of humans, not the wrath God. The divine wrath, the great tribulation, does not begin until the midpoint of the last seven-year period.
Thus, the Mid-Tribulation view does not see the opening of the seals, as recorded in Revelation chapter six, and the various trumpet judgments which follow, as signs of God’s divine wrath. Indeed, they do not believe the wrath occurs until the last of the seven trumpets sounds. It is however, important to note that only Jesus is worth of opening the seals of wrath.
Daniel was told that the entire period of the “seventy sevens” was explicitly decreed for “his people,” the Jews.
“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place” (Daniel 9:24).
The programs for the nation Israel and the church do not overlap as the Mid-Tribulation rapture position states. God does not begin the last seven year period of His dealings with Israel until the New Testament church, made up of Jews and Gentiles, is removed from the world by means of the rapture.
Indeed, we never find in Scripture where God is using both Israel and the New Testament church at the same time as His divine agents.
6 The Seventh Trumpet Or Last Trumpet Signals The Rapture
Mid-tribulationists don’t even agree among themselves about where the Rapture should be placed in the book of Revelation. Some place it at Revelation 7:9-17, some at Revelation 6:12-17, others at Revelation 11:15-17, and still others at Revelation 14:1-4. This inconsistency is a major weakness for this view.
According to some, the great tribulation begins with the seventh trumpet in the Book of Revelation. Scripture says.
“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever”” (Revelation 11:15).
The seventh trumpet is blown in the middle of the seventieth week of Daniel. This begins the last half of the final seven-year period in which unprecedented judgments take place. The outpouring of the wrath of God is described in detail in Revelation 16-18.
To them, the seventh trumpet is equated with the last trumpet which Paul speaks of in First Corinthians 15:52 and First Thessalonians 4:16. We read the following in First Corinthians.
“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” (1 Corinthians 15:52).
This trumpet sounds the call to believers to meet Jesus Christ in the air; the rapture.
Therefore, they argue that the rapture of the church occurs during the midpoint of the final seven years. This is three and a half years before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and before the wrath of God is poured out upon the inhabitants of the earth.
These trumpets in the Book of Revelation are trumpets of judgment while the trumpet associated with the rapture of the church is a trumpet of deliverance from the curse of this earth. The trumpets in Revelation announce God’s wrath is coming while the trumpet that sounds at the rapture calls the believers to come away and be with their Lord.
In his book, “The End – A Complete Overview Of Bible Prophecy and The End Of Days,” Mark Hitchcock summarizes the four differences between the trumpet in 1 Corinthians 15 and the trumpet in Revelation 11:
- Subject: The one deals with the church, the other with the wicked world;
- Result: The one results in the catching up of the church to be with the Lord, while the other results in the judgement of the wicked world.
- Character: The one trumpet reflects God’s grace, the other reflects His judgement;
- Timing: The one signals the close of the life of the church on earth. It’s the last trumpet of the church age. The other marks a climax in the progression of the Tribulation judgements.
Furthermore, the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11 is not the last trumpet in the Tribulation. At the second coming of Christ a trumpet is blown to gather God’s elect, including the remnant of Israel as well as the tribulation saints (Matthew 24:31). So, the last trumpet argument actually undermines their view. The last trumpet of the Rapture is the final trumpet of this church age, and it will summon God’s people to the great reunion in the sky.
7. The Snatching Up Of The Two Witnesses
Many who hold the Mid-Tribulation position also believe that the two witnesses described in the Book of Revelation represent the church. They are caught away, or raptured at this time. We read.
“But after the three and a half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on” (Revelation 11:11,12)
The three and a half days are thought to symbolize the first three and one half years of the seventieth week of Daniel. The two witnesses are said to symbolize the believers in Jesus Christ. At that time they are taken up to meet the Lord; the rapture of the church.
The two witnesses in the Book of Revelation should be viewed as two human beings living at the time of the end. Indeed, they are called prophets, their unique clothing is described for us, and we are told of the specific plagues they send to those upon the earth.
Furthermore, it is stated that they are killed and that their dead bodies lie for three days in the streets of Jerusalem, a literal city. Then, after three days, these prophets are raised back to life. This is clearly describing two literal people who will be alive at that time. It is not symbolic of the New Testament church and the rapture.
8. The multitude in Revelation 7
Some claim that this great multitude from every tongue, tribe and nation who obviously are up in Heaven—John sees them there—are the Church which has just been raptured out of the world to Heaven as one body in between the breaking of the sixth seal and the breaking of the seventh seal.
So is this “the great multitude” the Church? It really can’t be. The Apostle John clearly stated that all these people who make up this great multitude came out of the great tribulation. In other words, every one of these persons lived here on the earth during at least part of the future Great Tribulation and then come out of that to Heaven.
If this is the Church, then you’re forced to conclude this would be a partial Rapture of the Church or a part of the Church being raptured out of the world. Only that part of the Church which would be alive on the earth during the tribulation of the 70th week of Daniel 9. Where would all the rest of the Church be that has lived and died in the centuries preceding the tribulation? As an example, what about those who already died in Paul’s time and will rise from the death according to 1 Thessalonians 4:16.
When you look at the rapture passages, it clearly indicates that all the Church is raptured together at the same time as one group, not those from one period of time at one point and those from another point of time at another point.
In addition, when one of the 24 elders said to John, “These are they which came out of the great Tribulation,” the verb translated “came” is in the Greek present tense. The normal significance of the Greek present tense is continuous action.
So, in essence, the elder is saying to John, “These are they who are coming out continuously, one after another, from the Great Tribulation to Heaven.” How? Through death, through martyrdom, or through natural death. Interestingly, Dr. A. T. Robertson who has been regarded as the foremost Greek scholar of America in the twentieth century, talking about the significance of the present tense of this exact verb here in Revelation 7:14 says it’s indicating continuous action. And again, what it’s stating is, these saints are coming out of the Great Tribulation one by one by one by one as they’re experiencing death, either through martyrdom or natural death throughout the course of the second half of the Great Tribulation.
By contrast, the rapture passages indicate that the Church is not raptured one person and then another person and then another person, but the Church is raptured in one lump sum, one group, at the same time caught up from the earth to meet the Lord Jesus in the air and taken to the Father’s house in Heaven to live in the mansions there that Jesus is preparing for His Church right now.
9. There Is No Imminent Coming Of Christ
Since the rapture does not occur until three and a half years into the seventieth week of Daniel, or the Great Tribulation period, there is no such thing as an imminent coming of Christ.
In other words, a number of events must necessarily happen before the rapture of the church occurs. Consequently, believers cannot look for this event to take place at “any moment.” Indeed, there are several biblical predictions which must be fulfilled before Christ can come back for His bride, the church.
The Mid-Tribulation position denies that the coming of Christ could be at any moment. This agrees with the Post-Tribulation viewpoint but is opposed to the Pre-Tribulation view. Pre-tribulationism embraces the idea that the rapture of the church is imminent; it can come at any moment.
While certain events may take place before the rapture of the church, there is nothing predicted in Scripture which must happen before the Lord comes for His bride.
Assuming the Tribulation has not even begun, then Christ can’t come for at least another 3½ years.
10. Mid-Tribulationism Leads To Date Setting
This brings us to the point that the Mid-Tribulation view of the rapture actually allows for date-setting. Indeed, if the rapture comes exactly three and a half years after the beginning of the seventieth week of Daniel then there would be no anticipation of it coming at “any time.” The passages in Scripture about watching and waiting would be meaningless because there would be no need to either watch or wait. Everyone would know precisely when it would occur. Once the covenant with many, mentioned in Daniel 9, is confirmed by the Antichrist, we will know that the rapture is going to take place after three and a half years. Yet the Bible tells us that we do not know when this event will take place. In fact, Jesus said.
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36)
Because nobody can know the Lord told us to “watch.” We read. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour” (Matthew 25:13).
It is clear from Scripture that the date of the rapture cannot be known. However, according to the Mid-Trib scenario the date can be known.
These are some of the usual objections to the Mid-Tribulation view and they are powerful. We thus conclude that none of the evidence for the Mid-Tribulation rapture view answers the question as to the timing of the rapture. We should therefore look elsewhere.
- The Rapture by Don Stewart
- The End – A Complete Overview Of Bible Prophecy and The End Of Days by Mark Hitchcock
- The Great Multitude article by The John Ankerberg Show)