The Mid-Tribulational view is a comparatively new interpretation of Scripture. Its chief exporter was Norman B. Harrison who developed it after WWII. Harrison set dates for the Tribulation and Rapture which stated that WWI was the beginning of the Tribulation. Today the view has been modified and expanded and is espoused most clearly by Marvin Rosenthal, former director of Friends of Israel and is referred to as the Pre-Wrath Rapture View.
This view places the Rapture at the middle of the Tribulation. As Post Tribulation position was disfavored after WWI (Rapture at the end of the Tribulation) many shifted to the Mid-Tribulation position. Whatever you call it, it is a false view of timing of the Rapture that puts the Body of Christ going through part of Daniel's 70th Week. Its main error is failing to recognize that the seven year Tribulation is the period when God completes His plan for Israel and He tests, purges and purifies them, returns at His second coming and establishes their promised kingdom. The Bride of Christ is not a part of this period when God purges Israel and the Gentile nations. This glaring interpretive error sets the stage for this false view which places the Bride of Christ in the Tribulation.
Many who hold the Mid-Tribulation or Pre-Wrath Rapture position prefer to call themselves, Pre-Tribulationalist instead of Mid-Tribulationist. They teach that Christ comes for Christians in the middle of the Daniel's Seventh Week, before the "Great Tribulation" and wrath of God which occurs in the last 3 1/2 years of the seven year period. The first half of the seven years are not considered to be the Tribulation when God pours out His wrath upon the earth. They conclude that the Seal judgments are the wrath of man (the Antichrist) and do not come from God thus they cannot be identified as the "wrath of God."
This view is unbiblical and has many problems. In determining the validity of the Mid-Tribulational Rapture or Pre-Wrath Rapture view five of the most important questions must be answered:
(1) Does the seventh trumpet of Revelation mark the beginning of the Great Tribulation?
(2) Is the seventh trumpet the last trumpet of Revelation 11?
(3) Is the rapture of the Body of Christ in Revelations?
(4) Do the programs for Israel and the churches overlap?
(5) Is the hope of the imminent return of Christ unscriptural?
Each of these five points will be dealt with as follows:
I. DOES THE SEVENTH TRUMPET OF REVELATION MARK THE BEGINNING OF THE GREAT TRIBULATION?
A. The Mid-Tribulation position depends on the interpretation that the Great Tribulation begins at the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11.
1. The view holds that the first half of of Daniel's 70th week not is the Great Tribulation and not part of God's wrath. It states the churches will go the first half of the seven years, through the "beginning of sorrows," Matthew 24:8, but not the Great Tribulation of Matt. 24:21. Its position states:
a.The first seven Seal judgments as well as the first six Trumpet judgments take place in the first 3 1/2 years (Rev. 6-10) and are not a part of the Great Tribulation.
b. Word "wrath" is reserved only for Great Tribulation. (see Matt. 14:10, 19; 15:7; 16:1)
c. There is no wrath in the first half of the Daniel's Seventh Week.
2. Problem with this view:
The devastating events of Revelation 6:16-17 and Revelation 7:14 occur before the middle of the Tribulation. The Tribulation (Daniel's Seventh Week) begins with the outpouring of the Seal judgments, followed by the Trumpets and ending with the Bowl or Vial judgments. There is no break in the progressive judgments only a worsening of the wrath of God as they are cast upon the earth.
3. Rev elation 6:1-15. The events of Revelation 6-10, reveal a very terrible time for the Earth. Note the terrible events of the seven seal judgments and the six trumpet judgments:
Verse 2 White horse: This rider goes forth conquering and to conquer. It is probably the Antichrist who appears to be white in that he offers peace to the world. He deceives the nations and all the while he is talking peace he is conquering the nations of earth and setting up himself as the world dictator.
It is imperative to acknowledge who it is that is opening the Seals and directing the Seal Judgments. It is plainly the Lamb who is the Lord Jesus Christ. It is ridiculous to conclude that these terrible judgments are the "wrath of man" and not part of God's wrath. Without question Revelation 6:1 is telling us that the Seal Judgments are the beginning of God's pouring His wrath on the earth. They are initiated by the Jesus Christ and under His direction and control and part of His plan. On this point alone the Pre-Wrath view is shown to be in error.
Verse 4 Red horse: Rider is given power to take peace from the earth, the people kill one another in war. It is Jesus Christ, the Lamb who gives the power for the rider of the red horse to take peace from the earth and bring war.
Verse 5-6 The Lord Jesus Christ opens the third seal and the Black horse rider is allowed to cause famine on earth.
Verse 8 The Lamb opens the fourth seal and the Pale horse comes forward. The Pale horse rider is named "death" and Hell follows him. One fourth of the earth is killed with the sword, hunger death, and beasts of earth. It seems inconceivable that anyone would conclude that these seals are not directed and brought on earth by the Lord Jesus. It is He that is opening the seals and the riders are going forth in power to perform the Lord's plan. Once again the Pre-Wrath view fails to take this important truth into consideration.
Verse 9-11 The saints cry out to God, "How long before you judge the earth and avenge our blood. These are said to be saints slain for the Word of God because they would not recant their testimony of salvation in Jesus Christ. Verse 11, further identifies them with their "brethren" still on the earth and states those too would be killed. Clearly these are people who are saved during the first half of the Tribulation and there is nothing to identify them as believers of the Church Age. The are crying out to God to avenge their deaths plainly recognizing that the Lord is in control and He is bringing about these devastating events.
Verse 12 Sixth Seal: Great earthquake, sun becomes as black as sackcloth, moon as blood. (volcanic eruptions) Stars fall from heavens. (Meteors) Every mountain and island is moved by the earthquake. Everyone on earth flees to caves and rocks in mountains, begging them to fall on them and hide them from the face of Christ and His wrath. Without question only God can do these catastrophic things in nature. These terrible catastrophes in nature are being brought about by God, not man and it is self evident they are part of God's purging of the earth and of His wrath.
Verse 17 "For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" This statement contextually comes after these cataclysmic events and is intended to sum up what has been revealed. The next statement is Revelation 7:1 and begins with the statement "And after these things I saw four angels." Grammatically, the thought is changed and a new event is to be revealed. This restricts the statement of Revelation 6:17 to referring to the five seals that have been just described. There can be no question that the Lord is saying the seal judgments are part of God's wrath and this negates the Pre-wrath view as being accurate.
First Angel: It rains hail, fire mingled with blood and a third part of the tree and grass is burned up. (Rev. 8:7) Who is it that directs angels?
Angel: A great mountain burning with fire cast into the sea and third
part of the waters turned to blood.(Rev. 8:8-9) Who is it that directs nature?
Third Angel: Third of creature in the sea killed and third of all ships. Great Star from heaven falls and third part of all fresh water is made bitter. (Rev. 8:10-11)Who is it that controls the universe and the stars of heaven?
Angel: Third of the sun, moon and stars smitten. Third part of the
day is darkened. (Rev. 8:12) Who only has the power to smite the sun, moon and stars?
The angel flying through heaven saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe. Clearly all that is happening is a continuation of the Seal Judgments and is part of God's wrath.
Fifth Angel: (First Woe)Bottomless pit opened and scorpions that have power to kill men by tormenting them five months till they die.
Sixth Angel: Four demons loosed from Euphrates river. They kill a third part of all men on earth.
Revelation 9:20, "And the
rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not
of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols
of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can
see, nor hear, nor walk: (Revelation 9:20).
B. Even a casual reading of Revelation 6-10 reveals these terrible events are a part of the wrath of God poured down on the earth. The time of God's wrath begins with the first Seal and continues through the sixth Trumpet judgments. This surely is not a time of "peace on earth" as the Mid-Tribulation and Pre-Wrathers would try to have us believe. It is completely erroneous to say that the first three and half years of the Tribulation are not part of the wrath of God and are only the "wrath of man."
II. IS THE RAPTURE OF THE BODY OF CHRIST IN REVELATION 11?
A. God says, "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
1. The Mid-Tribulation view holds that Christians will not go through the wrath of God. Buswell and Harrison, chief Mid-Tribulationalists teach that God ONLY begins to pour out His wrath in the last of the 3 1/2 years, there will be a short flight and then the Rapture. That is certainly not what the Bible teaches.
2. "And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them." (Revelation 11:12) They falsely conclude that those that are called to "come us hither" are Christians and this is the Rapture. The question is "Are those who ascend into heaven the churches?" the answer is clearly, No. The ones who are called and ascend up to heaven are the two witnesses not the Bride of Christ!
3. Note Revelation 11:14-15. Please carefully understand that the seventh trumpet sounds after the Second Woe and the events of Revelvation 11:3-14. If verse 12 is the Rapture it does not occur at the last trumpet, but at the sixth trumpet! Revelation 11:14, says the Second Woe is past. The Second Woe is part of the sixth trumpet not the seventh.
4. The trumpet of Revelation 11:15 sounds at the end of the time of wrath, just prior to the Second Advent of Christ.
5. However, the trumpet of Revelation 1:15 does not sound until after the resurrection is mentioned.
6. In 1 Thessalonians 4: , the trumpet sounds "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," whereas the one in Revelation 11:15 sounds over a continued period of time. In fact the seventh trumpet is the seven bowl judgments. John says the trumpet will "begin to sound."
7. God is dealing with Israel from Revelation 6, and the churches are not in view, nor is it mentioned that Christians are seen on earth from Revelation 4, until Revelation 19.
III. IS THE SEVENTH TRUMPET THE "LAST TRUMP" FOR THE churches.
A. "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." (1 Corinthians 15:52)
1. All the events of Revelation 11 are as stated above are related to the sixth trumpet not the seventh.
2. The trumpet that sounds in Revelation 11, is sounded by angels, however in 1 Cor. 15:52 it is God who sounds the trumpet.
3. The trumpet in Revelation 11 is associated with judgment upon sin and unbelief. The trumpet in 1 Cor. 15:52 is an act of the Grace of God calling believers to be with Him.
B. Further, the Seventh Trumpet of Revelation 11, is not the last trumpet of Scripture!
1. According to Matt. 24:31, "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (Matthew 24:31)
2. This is the gathering of the elect (the believers who survive the Tribulation) to establish Christ's earthly Kingdom. Verse 29, clearly puts this event, in time, after the Tribulation. This is the Second Coming, not the Rapture.
3. This is the last trumpet associated with the Great Tribulation, not the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11.
4. The term "last trump" can be explained easily. In Roman times when a Roman camp was broken up, they sounded three trumpets. First one meant "strike tents and prepare to depart." The second meant "fall into line." The last trump meant "march away."
Schuyler English points out that it can apply to Israel as well. It can very well refer to that of a rallying call or an alarm. Numbers 10 refers to the sounding of trumpets to call an assembly for their journeying. The last trump could mean that the whole congregation was finally on the move the last thing needed to be done before they all moved. Thus, it does not have to by context or any other reason except the adjective "last" refer to the seventh trumpet judgment.
"Last" can mean last in point of time or last in point of sequence. Last can signify that which concludes a program, not necessarily the last that will ever exist. God's program for the churches differs from God's program for Israel. Each may terminate with the blowing of a trumpet, and the two trumpets be different events in time.
Paul identifies the trumpet, by context, as being associated with the Rapture and nothing else. The only similarity is that there is a trumpet that sounds. Note the other arguments that show this trumpet in fact can not be the one of the Rapture.
The last trump for Christians, or the "marching" away is a metaphor simply meaning at the end. The context tells us what "last" means.
IV. DOES GOD'S PROGRAM FOR ISRAEL OVERLAP THAT OF THE CHURCH AGE IN THE TRIBULATION.
In simple terms, the sixty ninth week of Daniel has been completed and there only remains one week to go to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. According to 2 Corinthians 3:11, Galatians 3:25, and Colossians 2:14 the dispensation of the Law ended at the Cross.
"For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious." (2 Cor. 3:11)
"But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." (Galatians 3:25)
"Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross" (Colossians 2:14).
God's program for Israel has made no progress since Pentecost. God's prophetic clock has been temporarily stopped during this age when Christ is gathering a Bride for Himself. God's prophetic clock and continuing dealing with Israel will once again begin at the Rapture. Then the Seventieth Week of Daniel will begin and God will deal with Israel in judgment, purify the Nation and then begin the saints who believe into his Millennial reign. This is the vital key to understanding these future events. The Tribulation is Daniel's 70th Week when God will purge Israel and afterwards set up His kingdom promised to the Jews. The institution of the church is not in the Tribulation as the body of Christ which makes up the churches of this dispensation will be Raptured and taken to Heaven to be with the Lord.
V. IS THE HOPE OF THE IMMINENT RETURN OF CHRIST UNSCRIPTURAL?
A. If Christ's return is imminent then the whole Mid-Tribulation issue is mute.
1. If the Rapture occurs in the middle of the Tribulation, the date of the Rapture can be set and if it can be set believers today need not to in constant preparation for or concerned about Christ's imminent return.
2. According to Daniel the first three and a half years begin with the specific event of the signing of the of the covenant between Israel and the Gentile Anti-christ. This surely will be an international event that all will know of and therefore anyone could then easily calulate when the Rapture would take place.
3. If the Rapture is at the middle of the Tribulation, then it is not imminent, but at least three and one half years away at any point in time prior to the beginning of the Tribulation. Christians would know that when the treaty with the Antichrist is signed it is three and a half years before Christ comes for them. Clearly this destroys the teaching of the imminent of the return of Christ.
B. However, the New Testament enjoins Christians to look for the imminent return of Christ, not the Anti-christ.
1. Many signs were given to Israel which would precede the Second Coming. They would live in expectancy of the time of the Messiah's coming. They did not know the day or hour, but they are told the events leading to His coming so they might be prepared. Christians today are not given such signs to look for.
a. The churches are told to live in the light of the imminent coming of the Lord, the Rapture.
b. Following are passages which teach that believers are to always be ready, living godly lives and be looking for Christ to come. The teaching is that Christ could return at any time therefore we are to be ready. The tone of these verses is that there is an urgent need in being ready now because Christ could come at any time.
"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
Note the context of the chapter is dealing with the resurrection. It comes at the end of this letter admonishing the carnal Corinthians to put away sin and to live righteous lives. In the ending of his argument gives the reason which is because of the coming resurrection and judgment. V33-34. Note the last verse, because of the resurrection and judgment they are told to, "be ye stedfast unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain." The verse is teaching the need for consistent righteous living. This ties in with the overall picture of expectant living, though it does not directly address the imminency of Christ's return.
"For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself" (Phil. 3:20-21).
It is a reference to the Rapture. "We look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." We are not told to look for signs but only for Christ's return.
"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory" (Col. 3:4).
"And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (1 Thess. 1:10).
The verse specifically says "We are not appointed unto wrath" as even most Mid-Tribulationalist will agree.
"That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Timothy 6:14).
He is saying always live righteous until Christ returns. If we are not to be looking for Christ's return the verse loses it appeal. The reason the verse says we are to live godly lives is that Christ could soon return.
"Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh." (James 5:8)
James is speaking to the first Christians, in earliest church. They were told almost two thousand years ago that the time drawing near to the coming of Christ. The fact is Christ still has not returned, so what is the point of this verse? The point is we are always live expecting Christ to return any moment. If it is not true that He could come at any moment the verse does make sense and is based trying to mislead believers in the living like Christ's return is imminent when in fact at any point in time it is still three and half year away. The verb "draweth nigh" is perfect tense, active voice and in the indicative mood which means this was to be a present action.
"Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand" (Phil. 4:5).
Some use this verse to teach the imminent return of Christ, but it is pressing the point as the passage is basically saying Christ is near always to us.
The context or subject of these verses is found in verses 14-18, Peter us using the Flood, and final judgment of God, [New heavens and earth] as a admonishment to be watchful, (alert) and to live godly lives. If Christ comes in the middle of the Tribulation, the time of His coming is specific and limited to three and one half years to the day, from the signing of the peace treaty between the Anti-christ and Israel. Therefore when the peace treaty with Israel is signed everyone would know the Rapture was at least three and a half years away. . . so why the urgency in Peter's words. If we accept that Pre-wrath or Mid-Tribulational Rapture then this verse has no meaning.
"Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober" (1 Thessalonians 5:6).
Again Paul is saying be watching always. This verse follows Paul's revealing of the Rapture. The context clearly is saying Christians are to live godly lives, being alert because of Christ's imminent return. Note what verses 8-9 say:
"But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 5:8-9).
"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).
"Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." (Revelation 3:3)
Note also these passages of Scripture:
1. "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." (Phil. 3:20-21)
2. "That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand." (2 Thess. 2:2) Clearly, the tone of the verse is that Christ could come at any moment. The Thessalonians had been told that the Second Coming of the Lord had already taken place and Paul is writing them to correct this erroneous teaching. Paul is telling them in 2 Thess. 2:2 that the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ (v1) would come after the (1) apostasy and (2) the anti-christ (man of pedition) had been revealed (v3). He says in verse 2, "the day of Christ" is at hand or present now. In other words they are in the period before the Second Coming. The Rapture of the Body of Christ is a part of the Second Coming and Paul is saying the Second Coming, which includes the Rapture, had not occurred because the events of v3 had not come. In view here is the Second Coming at the end of Daniel's 70th week (Seven year Tribulation).
3. "But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. (1 Peter 4:7) Again the same urgency is always being watchful.
4. "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand" (Rev.1:3). The word "at hand" means something that is near. The Key to the Book of Revelation is Revelation 1:9 as John was told to write the things that were past, the things that were present and the things to come. I would make no sense to say that the things of the past or present were "at hand" or near, but it makes perfect sense to say the future events the Book of Revelation reveals would be "near." Clearly the Lord is telling us to be expecting the Rapture at any moment and believers from the early church period until now have been looking for Christ to come for them.
VI. THE MID-TRIBULATIONAL OR PRE-WRATH POSITION FAILS ON AT LEAST FOUR MAIN POINTS.
A. Its teaching that the Great Tribulation does not begin until the seventh trumpet judgment.
B. Its identification of the seventh trumpet with the middle of the seventieth week of Daniel.
C. Its identification of the "last trump" of 1 Cor. 15:52, with the seventh trumpet judgment of Revelation 11.
D. Its denial of the imminent return of Christ.
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