Each of the four major rapture beliefs (pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, pre-wrath, and post-tribulation) have a specific point, during the 70th week of Daniel, for the rapture to occur. The events of the 70th week are unfolded in the 7 seals, 7 trumpets, and 7 bowls of Revelation (chapters 4-19). We will look at the differences in the timing of each rapture theory to get a better understanding of them. This article will not argue the pros and cons of the different views, but simply looks at their timing in relation to the seals, trumpets, and bowls. Also, be aware that there are varying views and beliefs among each group. We can’t even confine our differences to just four views. So, please forgive me if I don’t “get it right”.
The pre-tribulation view places the rapture before any of the events of the seals, trumpets, and bowls of Revelation. This view says that the entirety of the seals, trumpets, and bowls is the wrath of God, and that Christians will not be present during any of it (1 Thessalonians 5:9). (Note- the other three views divide the 70th week of Daniel into two sections- the Great Tribulation and the Wrath of God.) The pre-tribulation view looks to Revelation 4:1 where the apostle John, who they say represents the church, is called up to heaven. In the next fifteen chapters (Rev. 4-18), John (and therefore the church) looks down on earth as the events of the seals, trumpets, and bowls unfold. They point out that the word “church” does not appear again until chapter 19 where it is pictured as a bride, beautifully adorned for her husband, which then returns to earth with the Bridegroom.
The mid-tribulation view places the rapture after the sixth seal, but before the 7 trumpets and 7 bowls. Revelation 6:12-17 speaks of a cosmic chaos, after the opening of the sixth seal, during which time the unbelievers declare, “…the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Revelation 7:1-9 then tells of the “sealing” of the servants of God, after which a great multitude is seen in heaven.
The mid-tribulation view looks at 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 which says the rapture will not occur until after the Antichrist is revealed. This event, which Jesus calls the abomination of desolation (Matthew 24:15), occurs around mid-point of Daniel’s 70th week (Daniel 9:27). The mid-tribulation view generally says that Christians will miss the most intense part of the Great Tribulation.
The mid-tribulation, pre-wrath, and post-tribulation views all say that Jesus specifically mentioned the cosmic events of the sixth seal in Matthew 24:29-31, and said they would occur immediately after the tribulation, and just before the rapture. Therefore, these views hold that the rapture must occur sometime after opening the sixth seal. (See also- Joel 2:30-31; Haggai 2:6; Isaiah 13:9-13; Mark 13:24-25; Luke 21:25-28; Acts 2:17-20)
The pre-wrath view is often confused with mid-tribulation because it also places the rapture after the sixth seal. They differ, however, in that the mid-tribulation view places this event around mid-point of Daniel’s 70th week, but the pre-wrath view places the sixth seal near the end of the 70th week. The pre-wrath view is also often confused with the post-tribulation view because both views place the rapture after the tribulation period. They differ, however, in relation to the Wrath of God. The pre-wrath view is often (incorrectly) called the “3/4 view” because it occurs between mid-point and the end of the 7 year period. The pre-wrath view generally says that Christians will go through the entirety of the Great Tribulation period, but be raptured before the Wrath of God is poured out on unbelievers.
The post-tribulation view, like the mid-tribulation and pre-wrath views, also places the rapture after the sixth seal. This view differs, however, in that it generally views the seals, trumpets, and bowls as running simultaneously rather than concurrent. Therefore, the post-tribulation view also places the rapture after the sixth trumpet and (usually) after the sixth bowl, and at the end of Daniel’s 70th week. Placing the rapture after the bowls of God’s wrath means that Christians will not be raptured until after the wrath of God is poured out on unbelievers. The post-tribulation view holds that the rapture and the return of Jesus are one event.