The Bible is clear that nobody but our Father knows the day or the hour of Christ's return. However, Christ Himself has given us clues, signs to watch for, telling us that the time is near. There has been quite a bit of speculation over the years as to whether his return will be before the seven year tribulation starts, at the very end of it, or somehere in the middle. I personally believe it will be in the middle of the tribulation. I came by this while searching the scriptures, trying to prove the pre-trib theory. I would like to go through now and show you what I have learned.
The first myth about the mid-trib rapture is that it will occur exactly at three and half years. At the exact midpoint God's people will be caught up to meet Him in the air. That is not Biblical. Remember, Jesus said, nobody will know the day or the hour. In my first point, I will show the Biblical timing for the rapture (not an exact time, but where it fits in the course of events), and I will show how that does not contradict what Jesus said.
The second myth is that the two witnesses (from Rev 11:1-14) represent God's people. Since the two witnesses go up to Heaven in the middle of the tribulation, then so must the church. That is utter speculation on the part of man, and it also has no Biblical support. There have been three examples of the rapture in the Bible, Enoch, Elija, and the two witnesses. To say that any one of them represent the Church is speculation and not based on scripture.
So, if it is not exactly at the exact mid-point, when WILL the mid-trib rapture occur? Well let's take a look at what Jesus and His apostles say:
Jesus tells us, "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." (Matt 24:30-31)
Paul tells us, "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." (1 Thess 4:13-17)
So we know there is going to be a shout and a trumpet, but how does that help us? Let's look what Paul tells the Corinthians:
"I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- 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 Cor. 15:50-52)So we know now that the rapture will happen at the last trumpet. To learn more let's go to Revelation. In the book of Revelation, John tells us about 7 seal judgments. The Lamb (Jesus) breaks seven seals on a scroll (Rev 6). When the seventh seal is broken, seven angels are given seven trumpets (Rev 8:1-2). Let's take a look at what happens when the seventh angel sounds the seventh trumpet (Rev 11:15-18):
"The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:The last trumpet marks a transition. From this passage, we can see a few things:
"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ,
and he will reign for ever and ever." And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying:
"We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
the One who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power
and have begun to reign.
The nations were angry; and your wrath has come.
The time has come for judging the dead,
and for rewarding your servants the prophets
and your saints and those who reverence your name,
both small and great--
and for destroying those who destroy the earth."
Clearly Jesus and His angels are claiming His people and preparing the Earth for God's Wrath. This is important for two reasons: 1) It matches what was sung about at the Last Trumpet and 2) It shows God is redeeming His people before He pours His wrath upon the Earth.
"I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one "like a son of man" with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, "Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe." So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested."(v14-16)
"Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, "Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth's vine, because its grapes are ripe." The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God's wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses' bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia." (v 17-20)
Let's back up a little now, and take a look at another piece of the foundation. Look at what happens just before the seventh trumpet is blown:
Who is the mighty angel' and what is this 'mystery' He is talking about? I believe the angel is Jesus Christ Himself. For Biblical support, look here. As for the mystery, Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians:
"Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, "Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down."
Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, "There will be no more delay! But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets." (Rev 10:1-7)
"In him [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment--to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ."Remember what happened at the seventh trumpet? "...The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ..." All things are being brought under Christ. He is claiming His people, and it is too late for those who remain. God's wrath will be poured out upon those who are left on the Earth.
"At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
"At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'
"Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.'
" 'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.'
"But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
"Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!'
"But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.'
"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour."
Throughout the NT, the church is refered to as the Bride of Christ. In this parable, Christ himself is the bridegroom, the wise virgins are those who are prepared for Christ's return, the foolish virgins are those who are not prepared for Christ's return. Clearly, after Christ claims His bride, ie. His people, it is too late for those who are left. Christ will tell them, "I tell you the truth, I don't know you."We see evidence of this during John's discourse of the trumpet judgements:
"They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads." (Rev 9:4)God places a mark on His people, so they will not be harmed during the trumpet judgements. This shows that there are Christians on the earth during that time. It has been argued that those are people who will be saved after the rapture, but according to Jesus, once He comes it is too late. Besides look at the attitude of those who are not saved at the time:
"The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood--idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts." (Rev 9:20-21)Their hearts have been hardened to God. This becomes extra clear after God's people are gone and He pours His wrath upon the earth:
"Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done." (Rev 16:10-11)Rather then repent, they curse God. They know what God is doing and why, but they do not repent. They have no desire to be with God at this point...it will not be until they stand before the judgement throne until they say they are sorry, but by then it will be too late.
"23At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. 24For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible. 25See, I have told you ahead of time. 26So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. 27For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." -- Matthew 24:23-27The greek word used to describe that event is parousia, which means "the coming, arrival, advent". That same word is used by Paul when he tells the Thessalonians about the event:
" 15According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." -- 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17Both Matthew and Paul use the same word to describe the same event. The coming of Jesus to gather his people. That in and of itself is not significant. However, what is significant is the "at this time" in Jesus' discourse. Let's look at what he says just before that:
"15So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand-- 16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. 18Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 19How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equaled again. 22If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened." -- Matthew 24:15-22The "abomination that causes desolation" in the holy place, will be put there, by the anti-christ, midway through the tribulation. It is at this point in His discourse that Jesus says, "at that time..." Jesus will be coming to claim His people "at that time" when the abomination is set up in the temple, at the mid-point of the tribulation!!!