Midtribulationists believe the Rapture occurs half-way through the Tribulation. This view directly attacks the imminent return of Christ. Their chronology of eschatological events requires date-setting, which Jesus forbade in Mark 13:21. Actually, most mid-tribulationist’s view themselves as pre-tribulationalists because they don’t feel there is a real Tribulation until mid-way through the seven-year Tribulation period (after the Rapture of the Church). Thus, this view is similar in many ways to the pretribulationists – except for the timing of the Rapture. In short, much of their theology is based on post-tribulationism.

They believe the Church will be raptured at the middle of the Tribulation period. “The Church must go through the first three and one half years (or 42 months or 1260 days) of the Tribulation before being raptured.” (Daniel 7:25). (Note: “Times, time and half-a-time” is 2 + 1 plus ½ = 3 ½. This is equal to 1260 days, for the Hebrew calendar is 1260 days). “The Great Tribulation” is Daniel’s 70th week and the last half of that week is “The Day of the Lord.”

They feel that the Rapture takes place at the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:5, for there “is no mention of the wrath of God in the seven seals or the first six trumpets”. “Anything included in the seven seals and the first six trumpets cannot be regarded as God’s wrath.” They hold that, although it is true that the severity of the tribulation seems to increase after the first 42 months, it does not follow that the church cannot be physically present. “The church can be present without experiencing God’s wrath.” Since the mid-tribulationist holds that the severe part of the Tribulation does not begin until mid-way through the seven-year period, they often agree that the Church does escape God’s wrath. They tend to point out that the plagues of Egypt were applied selectively and came upon the Egyptians but not the Israelites. Therefore, God can protect His people during the coming times of “tribulation” as well.

Much midtribulationism is based on the allegorical method of interpretation, with many scriptures being “bent” to fit their theories. It is interesting that they tend to “spiritualize” the first half but take literal the second half of the tribulation period. According to Daniel 9:27, the Antichrist will cause the sacrifices to cease. Midtribulationists feel that at this point, the Church is raptured. They agree with pretribulationists in that we will be delivered from wrath, but feel that the real wrath doesn’t begin until halfway through the Tribulation. However, the burden of proof still remains with the midtribulationists to prove the church is removed before God pours out His wrath. They do believe the Tribulation and the Millennium are literal seven-year and 1000-year periods.

Actually, most of their theology is based on the posttribulationist position. They deny any clear distinction between Israel and the Church. They say the first half of the tribulation period is what Jesus called “the beginning of sorrows.” They feel that the first half of the tribulation will be a “cleansing” for the church. They do not teach imminence, for they think they know when the Rapture will occur – halfway through the Tribulation: 3 ½ years after it begins. They ignore the fact that, in the Bible, the Tribulation is always treated as a unit. Just because the Tribulation does get worse during the second half, that is not grounds for splitting it into two parts. Midtribulationists often speak of a prewrath rapture, holding that only the last 3 ½ years of Antichrist’s reign is the period of true wrath.

Mid-tribulationists believe that, right after the Rapture, the Church will have the Marriage Supper. However, if the church did go through the first half of the Tribulation, the 144,000 would be saved into the Church, for the Church would still be on earth. They do believe that we will return with Jesus at the end of the Tribulation to do battle with Satan and establish the Millennial kingdom.


A Matter of Trumpets

Midtribulationists believe that the seals and trumpets of Revelation are not manifestations of God’s wrath. “The times will be bad,” they say, “but the seals and trumpets are not judgments.” However, John connects the trumpets with the wrath of God in Revelation 11:18 and are connected with the wrath that is already come. Midtribulationists hold that the two witnesses of Revelation are actually Moses and Elijah and represent the dead and the living at the time of the Rapture (although they did not represent thatwhen they appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration). They say the “great voice” of Revelation 11 is the shout of I Thessalonians 4:16 at the Rapture, but I Thessalonians 4:16 is a single blast: not one in a series of blasts. Paul only uses the term last here to indicate the close of the Church Age. This trumpet blast occurs before the wrath of God falls on the earth. They think the Rapture takes place in Revelation 11:15 when the trump sounds and the two witnesses are caught up. They say Paul (I Corinthians 15:52) and Jesus (Matthew 24:29-31) both say the Tribulation begins with a great trumpet blast, the same blast as in I Thessalonians 4:16.

They base their entire theory on the misconception that the trumpet blast of I Corinthians 15:52 is also the trumpet blast at the Rapture. The trumpet blast at the Rapture is a singular blast – so how could that blast, then, be one of a series of blasts, with the Rapture taking place at the last blast? There is no grounds for assuming the blast of Revelation 11:15 is the same as the one in I Corinthians 15:52. Also, in Revelation 11:12, the trumpet sounds after the resurrection that is mentioned, while at the time of the Rapture, the trumpet sounds before we are resurrected.
To add to this, we must realize that the trumpet in I Thessalonians begins a blessing, while the trumpet of Revelation 11 begins a judgment. It is clear that all of the seven trumpets in Revelation are part of the Tribulation and are completed prior to the Second Coming.

If the entire theory of midtribulationism is based on one trumpet blast, the foundation of this theory is made of sand. Paul instructs us to wear our salvation as a helmet of hope, “for God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thess. 5:8-9).

 


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