Scripture is clear that a severe period of Tribulation will impact the earth before the end. People disagree on the presence of Christians on the earth during that time.
Pretribulation – the Rapture precedes the Tribulation
- The Rapture will call the Church to meet Christ in the air before the Tribulation begins.
- The Antichrist is revealed at the beginning of this time, and Christ will return at the end of the seven years.
- Scripture teaches that God’s people will avoid wrath (1 Th. 1:10; 5:9).
- And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come (1 Thess. 1:10).
- For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:9).
- Jesus promised to keep the church of Philadelphia from the trial coming to the whole world (Rev. 3:10).
- Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth (Rev. 3:10).
- The word “church” appears 19 times in the first three chapters of Revelation but is then absent until chapter 22.
- Daniel 9:24 speaks of the seventy “sevens” to refine and restore Israel (the Church would be excluded).
- Problems: Formulated in the 1800s, it splits into two phases (differing from Scripture), and saints are mentioned during Tribulation (Rev. 13:7; 20:9).
Midtribulation – the Rapture occurs at the midpoint of the Tribulation
- The Church meets Christ in the air after the seventh trumpet sounds (Rev. 11:15).
- The Church would endure the first half of the Tribulation, the Rapture would take place, and then Christ would return at the 7-year mark.
- The view holds that the abomination (Matt. 24:15) will transpire before the Antichrist is revealed.
- So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place…there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short (Matt. 24:15, 21-22).
- Daniel 7:25 mentions this figure having power over the believers for three and a half years.
- This belief also holds that the resurrection trumpet of 1 Cor. 15:52 is the same as the seventh trumpet of Rev. 11:15.
- Problems: Revelation uses the term “great tribulation” in 7:14 and the “great day of wrath” in 6:17, which both would not correspond with the midtribulation timing.
Posttribulation – the Rapture occurs after the Tribulation
- After the Tribulation, the Church will meet Christ in the air at the Rapture.
- The Church will concurrently return with Him to establish His Kingdom on earth.
- Jesus said He would return after a “great tribulation” (Matt. 24:21, 29).
- Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken (Matt. 24:29).
- When Revelation speaks of the coming of the Lord, it only occurs in Revelation after the Tribulation (Rev. 19-20).
- Revelation indicates that believers will experience great trials through the Tribulation (Rev. 13:7; 20:9).
- Since history proves believers must endure persecution, the Tribulation shouldn’t be surprising.
- Problems: The uncondemned having to experience tribulation (Rom. 8:1), and the unmentioned church in Revelation 4-21.
- Things will get worse before they get better.
- Christ will return and triumph over our enemies.
- Believers will ultimately be rescued.
One necessary consideration for all belief systems: wrath and tribulation are not synonymous.
- Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath (Matt. 3:7)?
- Therefore, since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from wrath through Him (Rom. 5:9)!
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.