The Mid-Trib Rapture in Revelation 3:10?
The Mid-Trib Rapture in Revelation 3:10?
By Caryl Matrisciana
Question: "I have been believing in a Pre-trib Rapture, but recently someone brought up to me that in Revelation 3:10 the word keep doesn't always mean remove. So, when it says He will keep us from the hour of temptation the word keep is tereo (5083) in Strongs and can mean 'to keep, watch; to reserve with unhappy results or with possibility of either deliverance or execution; to maintain as opposed to leaving; to observe as commands, traditions etc.' Is there some way to tell which definition applies to Revelation 3:10? If it is to reserve with possibility of deliverance that would indicate we may be here for some of Tribulation and He will get us through it. Thanks."
Answer: Thank you for writing in with your comments concerning the timing of the Rapture. Sometimes it's easy to let others draw our attention to one part of a verse, not realizing the answer can be found within the larger context. With your attention focused on the Greek word "keep" found in Revelation 3:10, "10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth", it sounds like you've begun to wonder whether the Rapture is Pre-tribulational or Mid-tribulational. There are many reasons why a Mid-trib view can be dismissed, but let's first look at the word in question.
Greek Words — Definitions for the Greek word "keep" (tereo - Strong's #5083) include: attend to carefully, take care of, to guard, to keep one in the state in which he is, to observe, to reserve or to undergo something, to detain in custody, hold fast, keep, watch, to detain, and prevent from escaping. When Jesus says He will perform these actions on behalf of His children, He is saying that He will carefully guard His children not allowing them to escape His protection. While some say His protection will take place on earth as the Tribulation is occurring, notice that Jesus promises to "keep" (guard) them from the "hour," not the presence, of temptation that is coming upon the whole world. Therefore, the emphasis should be placed on the words "from the hour" rather than on the word "keep".
In the Greek, the word "hour" (hora - Strong's #5610) means: day, hour, season, tide, fixed time, fitting time, and right time. In the Greek, the word "from" (ek - Strong's #1537) means: from out of, to express distinction or separation from, outside of, beyond, removal from, or away from. When these combined definitions are taken into consideration, Jesus is promising to protect and guard His children from the hour of temptation coming upon the whole earth by removing them beyond this worldwide trial. Therefore, Revelation 3:10 supports a Pre-tribulational Rapture. If Jesus were guarding through the trial, there would be no need to say that He will keep them from the trial.
Daniel's 70 Weeks — When addressing the problems of a Mid-Trib Rapture view, the Pre-Trib Rapture begins to emerge as the clear teaching of Scripture. Of course, the main proof for the Pre-Trib Rapture is Daniel's 70th Week prophecy found in Daniel 9:24-27. In Daniel 9:24, the angel Gabriel is clearly telling Daniel that 70 Weeks are determined for Daniel's people the Jews, "24Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people..."
The first 69 Weeks of years began with the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem given by Artaxerxes in 444 B.C. and ended with Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem recorded in Luke 19:41-44 where He says; "41And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, '42Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! ...44...because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.'" The leaders of Israel were responsible to know the very day that Messiah would present Himself (visitation) to the nation of Israel, "25Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks..." (Dan 9:25). After the 69th Week, Messiah was cut off (crucified), "26And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off..."
Two thousand years have elapsed between the end of the 69th Week and today, aligning perfectly with the Church Age that began with the New Covenant. The final 70th Week commences with the confirming of a covenant "27And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week" (Dan 9:27) between the Antichrist and Israel. The time phrases described for the 70th Week of Daniel and the book of Revelation match perfectly, telling us that the 7 year Tribulation is the final week of years (70th week) spoken of by Daniel.
Other Considerations Refuting a Mid-Trib Rapture
Israel Distinct From the Church — Since all 70 Weeks were determined for Daniel's people, the Jews, and since the Church is the mystery hidden between the 69th and 70th Weeks of Daniel, it is clear that the Church and Israel do not overlap. As further proof, the Church and Israel each have a different priesthood, law, temple, and sacrifices. When a Mid-tribulational view is considered, the distinction between Israel and the Church is blurred.
Imminency — Another problem presented by the Mid-tribulational view, besides the overlap of Israel and the Church, is the destroying of the imminency of Christ's return. The time phrases in the book of Revelation are so precise that if a Mid-tribulational Rapture view were true, the Church could count the days from the beginning of the Trib, when the prince "shall confirm the covenant with many for one week" (Dan 9:27) to know the very day when Christ would return in the air. This return will occur in an unknown hour, is sign-less and requires no prior fulfillment of prophecy before its occurrence. Therefore, the Church remains vigilant, sober, alert and waiting, rather than counting off days for her Bridegroom to return to take her to His Father's house (John 14:1-3). She will spend the seven year Tribulation there as the period of indignation passes (Isa. 26:20).
Last Trumpet — Confusion is also created when Mid-trib advocates equate the last trumpet of Revelation with the trumpet call for the Church in 1 Corinthians 15:52. The seventh trumpet blast of Revelation 11:15 contains the 7 Bowl Judgments. Notice the voice of this seventh trumpet sounds for many days, until the last bowl judgment is poured out; "But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets." (Revelation 10:7). Therefore the last trumpet for the Church, which happens in the twinkling of an eye, cannot be the last trumpet of Revelation which lasts for nearly 3 1/2 years!
Great Tribulation — Some believe the first half of Daniel's 70th week isn't actually part of the Tribulation, in spite of the many catastrophic events that occur during those years. Mid-trib people refer only to the second half of Daniel's 70th week as the Tribulation because the Old Testament describes this as the "time of Jacob's trouble." However, Revelation 10:7 explains that only the second half was revealed to the OT prophets, "But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets." Even though God primarily revealed the second half of the Tribulation to the OT prophets, we shouldn't be reluctant to call the first half of the Tribulation the wrath of God. After all, it is the Lamb of God who is breaking the seals that bring much trouble and tribulation upon the earth.
Wrath vs. Persecution — Therefore, Mid-tribulationalists want to place the wrath of God only in the second half of the Tribulation so that the Church, who is not destined for wrath, can be present in the first half, "For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ..." (1 Thess. 5:9). If wrath occurs only in the second half, then the Church can be present in the first half. Some say the Church is promised persecution and tribulation, but persecution for the Church from the world is very different than wrath for the world from God. If the first half of the Tribulation is relegated to worldly persecution, then the Church can logically be present in the first half of the Tribulation until a Mid-trib Rapture takes place.
Church Not Mentioned in Tribulation — Another interesting dilemma for Mid-trib proponents is the absence of the Church throughout the actual Tribulation period (Rev. 4-19). However, Israel is referred to several times, pointing once again to the 70th week prophecy being determined for the Jews.
Day of the Lord — And finally, Paul addresses the relationship between the Rapture and the Day of the Lord in his letters to the Thessalonians. Apparently this Thessalonian church had received false information as if it were coming from Paul, leading them to believe the persecution they were experiencing for their faith was actually the wrath of the Day of the Lord. These Thessalonians were distressed because they knew the Church should not be in the Day of the Lord. The Thessalonians mistook the persecution from the world as the wrath of God. If they were in the Day of the Lord, they weren't part of the Church and thus not saved. The Day of the Lord will surprise the world, who is expecting "peace and safety," with entering into travail instead (1 Thess. 5:3). The Day of the Lord also includes Armageddon's "valley of decision" at the end of the Tribulation mentioned in Joel 3:14. Again, descriptions of the Day of the Lord more accurately fit a Pre-tribulational Rapture scenario.
Paul explains the apostasy and removal of the Restrainer (Holy Spirit in believers) must precede the Day of the Lord. These provide more evidence that the Rapture must take place before the man of lawlessness, the Antichrist, is revealed.
I hope this helps to sort out the issues of Pre-tribulational versus mid-tribulational Rapture, as well as how to interpret Revelation 3:10.