As pointed out in part 1, the mid-Tribulation rapture theory was developed chiefly by Norman B. Harrison shortly after WWII. The main distinctive of this theory is that the rapture does not occur until the mid-point of Daniel’s seventieth week. They teach that the church will go through some tribulation during the seal and trumpet judgments (which they don’t regard are judgments), but God will spare the church by rapture for the next three and one-half years, during the bowl judgments.
Some of the leading supporters and teachers of this theory besides Norman B. Harrison are Gleason Archer, Richard Reiter, James Oliver Buswell, Harold J. Ockenga, and Marvin Rosenthal (Rosenthal and others have recently modified this view, and have called it the pre-wrath rapture theory).
Here is part 2—point 4 through 6.
4. Regarding the two witnesses, Revelation 11:12. This theory teaches that the two witnesses in the Tribulation, which they believe are Moses and Elijah, represent both the living and the dead church. Moses, they say, represents the dead church, which will be resurrected; and Elijah (the one who was translated) represents the living church, which will be raptured.
Since the ascension of the two witnesses occurred at the midpoint of the Tribulation, upon hearing a voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here,” this gives this theory support that the rapture will occur at the midpoint.
Rebuttal. The belief that the two witnesses represent the dead and the living church is mere speculation, made up to support their theory. These witnesses are two Old Testament, resurrected individuals, with the purpose of preaching the gospel during the Tribulation. Also, the fact that they are mentioned as two olive trees (Rev. 11:4) means that they represent Israel, and thus could not represent the church (read Zech. 4:11-14).
5. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 and Daniel 7:25. They teach, according to this Thessalonians passage, from verse 2, that the “day of the Lord” is the rapture of the church (that day which the Thessalonians thought they had missed). Then, from verse 3, the “apostasy,” they say, occurs during the first three and one-half years of the tribulation, in which the antichrist has power over the church. They support this belief from Daniel 7:25, teaching that “the saints of the Highest One” are the church.
Rebuttal. The mid-Tribulation rapture teaching from these verses is in error. The “day of the Lord” here is not the rapture. It is the day of wrath—speaking of the Tribulation (or the end of the Tribulation). Some bible versions (KJV) render it, “day of Christ,” and this could be part of the confusion. A better translation is the “day of the Lord,” which always indicates the time of God’s wrath.
What is happening with the Thessalonians in this passage is that since they were under so much persecution and suffering, they thought they had missed the rapture and were in the tribulation—the “day of the Lord.”
This theory is correct in teaching that the apostasy is during the first three and one-half years of the Tribulation, but I think it is mainly in the last three and one-half years, when the man of sin (the antichrist) is revealed, for it is he that will lead them in this apostasy (which is lawlessness).
Concerning Daniel 7:25, it is most critical to get the correct interpretation of this verse; and, as I see it, the Mid-Tribulation rapture teaching has it all wrong. Their theory teaches that the three and one-half years mentioned here is the first half of the Tribulation; however, the context shows that it is the last half of the Tribulation that is in view, for these reasons: 1) he (the antichrist) speaks out against the Most High, and 2) he will intend to make alterations in times and in law, which means that he will try to change the Jewish sacred festivals and laws. What is going on here sounds an awful lot like what will happen at the midpoint of the Tribulation, when he breaks the covenant, enters the temple, and displays himself as being God (2 Thess. 2:4; Matt. 24:15).
Most importantly, the saints of the Highest One are not the church. They are the newly converted believers that have come to faith during the first half of the Tribulation—both Jews and Gentiles. The term “wear down” here means to persecute. Indeed, they will be severely persecuted and many will be martyred. Note that this verse in Daniel parallels with Revelation 13:5-8; and we can see clearly that it all happens in the last half of the Tribulation.
Since the “saints” are not the church, and since the time period in Daniel 7:25 is not during the first three and one-half years, this makes this mid-Tribulation rapture theory teaching invalid. Indeed, it seems to me that they are desperate to find evidence for their theory, so much so that they are willing to falsify the evidence.
6. Regarding imminence. They teach that the seals and trumpets in the first three and one-half years of the Tribulation serve as a prelude to the rapture, and then also as a warning of the coming wrath of God immediately after the rapture.
Rebuttal. The mid-Tribulation rapture theory teaches that the seals and trumpets serve as a warning and as a prelude to the rapture and the last half of the Tribulation. But if they are using Matthew 24 as being written to the church, this is where they go wrong. Matthew 24 is written mainly to Israel, and it is teaching them concerning the Tribulation; that all who are converted during the Tribulation should get ready for His second coming.
Matthew 24 may be used by us now to show us that the time of the end is near, but it does not instruct the church to be prepared for those events. Rather, the church is instructed, mainly in the Pauline epistles, to be patient, strong, and to wait for His appearing. We are taught that we don’t know when He is coming, but that it will be at the proper time and at the time of His choosing. Here are five verses that show us that His coming is imminent (bold is for emphasis):
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;
1 Thessalonians 1:10
And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.
Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus;
1 Timothy 6:13-15
I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which He will bring about at the proper time…
Notice that we are to live righteous until He comes. Passages like this that emphasize the imminence of His coming, motivates us to live righteously, as if He is coming today or tomorrow. If we knew when He was coming we would not be nearly as motivated to live righteously.
Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. 8 You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
God tells us here that His coming could be at any time, so be patient and be strong. But if His coming is known to be at least three and one-half years away, as would be the case with the mid-Tribbers, then this verse has no meaning.