Saturday, January 16, 2010

Differing Views of the Rapture: Part 4 Mid-Tribulation

Mid-Tribulation

Midtribulationism is referred to by Erickson as one of several mediating positions between pretribulationism and posttribulationism.[1] Midtribulationism sees serious difficulties with the other views that include the secrecy of the Pretribulation Rapture as well as the revival that will be experienced during this time despite the removal of the Holy Spirit. It is difficult to understand how a secret Rapture could occur with our Lord descending from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God all being sounded. This fits a very public display rather than a secret occurrence. In fact, it is this public display that will get the attention of the unsaved people forcing them to realize that their Christian neighbors have disappeared.[2] It is this realization that will draw large numbers to Christ and cause the large revival anticipated during the Tribulation period.

As for the removal of the Holy Spirit, this does not actually occur.[3] Rather, the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit will be removed but it does not necessarily follow that the Holy Spirit departs. In fact, if there is to be a great revival during the Tribulation period, then the Holy Spirit will necessarily be present.

Agreeing with the pretribulationist idea of a seven year Tribulation, this view is influenced by the repeated mention of the three and a half years in Daniel 7, 9 and 12 as well as Revelation 11 and 12.[4] This influence leads midtribulationism to believe that the Rapture will occur in the middle of the Tribulation period allowing the saints to be delivered from God’s wrath.

The Rapture occurring at the midpoint of the Tribulation allows for the events that Christ himself said would precede the Rapture. Peter was to grow old and become a martyr before the Rapture (John 21:18-19) which is thought to have taken place circa A.D. 67.[5] Paul was told by Christ in a vision that he would testify for our Savior in Rome after his arrest in the Temple in Jerusalem. There could not have been Rapture before Paul arrived in Rome around 63 A.D. The destruction of the Temple foretold in the Olivet Discourse did not occur until 70 A.D. (Acts 21:24).[6] The second half of this verse makes it clear that Jerusalem would be subjugated by the Gentiles until “the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Acts 21:24, KJV). Not until 1967 did the nation of Israel gain full control of the city of Jerusalem![7]

A key strength of midtribulationism, while seemingly very similar to the position of pretribulationism, is that it seems to allow the opportunity for a better harmonizing of Scripture. Clearly, with the Rapture taking place mid-Tribulation, the church will be in heaven for the wedding of Christ to His bride (Rev. 19:7-9) and will avoid the wrath of God (Dan. 11:36). Weaknesses include the view by midtribulationism that the Rapture occurs between the breaking of the fifth and sixth seals in Revelation though a comparison of that text with Matthew 24:29 would seem to indicate that the breaking of the sixth seal occurs after the Rapture. There are other issues that could be pointed out but here, as with the pretribulational and posttribulational views, midtribulationism has difficulties to overcome and does not seem to adequately support its case.



[1] Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology 2nd Edition. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1998), 1230.

[2] Clouse, R. G., (Elwell, Walter A., ed.). Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd Edition. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 984.

[3] Archer Jr., Gleason L., Paul D. Feinberg, Douglas J. Moo, and Richard R. Reiter. Three Views on the Rapture. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984, 1996), 126-28.

[4] Clouse, R. G., (Elwell, Walter A., ed.). Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd Edition. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 984.

[5] Archer Jr., Gleason L., Paul D. Feinberg, Douglas J. Moo, and Richard R. Reiter. Three Views on the Rapture. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984, 1996), 130-31.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

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