Q. My Pastor of Music Ministry believes that the rapture is more likely to happen in mid-tribulation because of the reference to the Great Tribulation, thinking that the tribulation actually begins at that time. I believe that the tribulation begins with the anti-Christ’s peace agreement which leads Israel into a false peace and that the Great Tribulation is God’s wrath on the earth in preparation of Jesus second coming. Is there a clear scripture reference that identifies the tribulation period as the total seven years?
A. The word tribulation appears 22 times in the Bible. Three of those times are in the Old Testament where it refers to Israel being in trouble, which is the primary meaning of the word. Of the three, only Deut. 4:30 is in the general context of the End Times. The remaining 19 references are in the New Testament, and of those only 5 concern the End times Judgments. 3 of them are preceded by the word great, and the other 2 are used in the context of the Great Tribulation.
The first mention of Great Tribulation in the Bible is in Matt. 24:21 and from this and other places we know Jesus was referring to the 3.5 year span of time just before His return. All five End Times references in the New Testament are to that 3.5 year period.
So there is no specific reference in the Bible describing the final seven years before the Lord’s return as the Tribulation. The proper name for the final seven years is Daniel’s 70th Week. That’s when Israel’s 7 year covenant is enforced by the anti-Christ (Daniel 9:27). The Great Tribulation is the last half of that week of years and begins when the anti-Christ makes the Temple desolate by claiming he’s God (2 Thes. 2:4).
Those of us who subscribe to a pre-trib rapture actually expect the Church to disappear before the 70th week of Daniel begins.