Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Mid-Tribulation Viewpoint

The Mid-Tribulation, Pre-Millennialism Viewpoint for the rapture of the Church is held by someone very near and dear to me, and so I thought I would take a look at the reasons why it is held. The beginning point for today's Christian view of Jesus' return is by looking at Daniel 9:27, the prophetic "70th Week", which most understand as a period of 7 years of tribulation. Those holding the Mid-Trib view understand the 7years Tribulation as taking place in two parts: Satan's Wrath followed by God's Wrath. Mid-Tribbers understand that the first three and one-half (3 ½) years is that of Satan's wrath against the world, after which the Church's elect are raptured by the first phase of Christ's return, which is then directly followed by three and one-half (3 ½) years of God's Wrath against the world. The starting point for understanding the Mid-Trib view is Revelation 13:5, which says:


13:1, :5 - And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads… And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to
exercise authority for forty-two months.


As with most references in the Book of Revelation, there is an Old Testament background for this 42 month (or 3 ½ year) period. In this case it is in the Old Testament Book of Daniel. First, let's take a look at Daniel 7:23, :25, which are speaking of the Fourth Beast in Daniel's vision. You may remember the Four Beasts in Daniel 7 being a Lion with Eagle's wings (Babylon), the 2nd is like a bear (Persia), the 3rd is like a leopard (Greece), and the 4th Beast has iron teeth and 10 horns (symbolized by ancient Rome). Here is what Daniel 7:23, :25 say about the 4th Beast:


'The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, Which shall be different from all other kingdoms, And shall devour the whole earth, Trample it and break it in pieces. … 25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time. (Dan. 7:23, :25, NKJV).


The use of the phrase "a time, times and half a time" is considered by most Christians as speaking again of a 3 and ½ year period (see, Rev. 12:14; see also, Dan. 12:7, :11-:12, Rev. 11:2, :3, 12:5). And so, this verse in Daniel arguably speaks of a Beast to come who devours the whole Earth, speaks blasphemies against God, and persecutes Christians. This lines up nicely with what is contained in the description in Revelation 13:5 of the Beast from the Sea who is given authority over the Earth for 3 and ½ years. There is one 'Beast of the Sea' who is given all of Satan's power, throne, and authority (Rev. 13:2). And so this 'Anti-Christ' Beast of the Sea will persecute Christians during these 42 months, and make life an intense Tribulation during this time.


But the 3 and ½ years of the Beast's reign of terror takes place during the first half of the 7 year Tribulation (Dan. 9:27). Mid-Tribbers then understand the Rapture of the elect will take place, followed by the second half of the 7 year Tribulation – where God's Wrath is unleashed upon the world. The Mid-Trib view meshes nicely with Bible verses like Rev. 3:10 (to the Church in Philadelphia) "I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world", showing that God will protect the elect from His own Wrath. Finally, Mid-Tribbers explain Jesus' Words in the Olivet Discourse in Matt. 24:31 that He will come for the saints after the Tribulation, as meaning that He will rapture the Church after Satan's Tribulation.


OK, if I have left anything out, please help me to clean up this explanation. Otherwise, let me leave any Mid-Tribbers of you that are out there with this thought: Revelation uses many symbols throughout the Book, including at least sometimes the symbolic use of numbers (see as an example, Rev. 1:4 describing the "seven spirits" before the throne of God, is a clear description of the one Holy Spirit.) So is it possible that the use of "42" months (equal to 1,260 days or 3 and ½ years) is a symbolic use by the Apostle John? To help you explore whether or not this is possible, take a look at Rev. 12:5, which says:

12:5 - She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.


The woman fleeing from the horrible red dragon is Israel, and her Son is, of course, Jesus Christ. And so, Rev. 12:5 speaks of Israel fleeing into the wilderness to a place prepared by God for this same period 1,260 days/42 months/3 and ½ years. Is it clear that Israel did not hide out for only 1,260 days, and that the use of this number may simply be a period of time of intense distress and persecution? If you have time, please also take a look at Rev. 11:2, where John is told that the Gentiles will trample the holy city/Jerusalem for 42 months. Why do you think this period was also chosen?


May God's blessings be upon you and your family's health, your ministries, and your relationships, in Christ. Amen.

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