“Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” Mathew 24:26
TWO: RAPTURE DATE UNKNOWN
Pretribulationists cite the scriptures to the left asserting that if the rapture occurred at the end of the tribulation the day and hour would be known for it would be exactly 7 years from the time the Antichrist signs the covenant with Israel and 3 ½ years, 42 months or 1,260 days, from the time the Antichrist breaks that covenant, Daniel 9:27 and Daniel 7:25, which corresponds directly with Revelation 13:5. Since no man knows the day or hour, Mathew 24:36, and it comes suddenly and unexpectedly like a thief in the night the rapture cannot occur at the end of the tribulation because that day is known or will be known according to the Pretibulationists.
Once again these passage citations do not prove that the rapture occurs before the commencement of the Tribulation or more specifically, the beginning of the Antichrist's 7 year covenant, they only prove that the rapture cannot occur, or more specifically is unlikely to occur, exactly 7 years to the day and hour after the signing of said covenant.
"And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate." Daniel 9:27
Even if the tribulation period corresponds exactly to the 7 year covenant of the Antichrist there is as much merit to declaring that the rapture occurs at some unknown time after the initiation of the covenant as there is with the rapture occurring prior to initiation of the covenant.
Pretribulationists have not proven that the rapture does not occur during the tribulation or for that matter during the Antichrist's 7 year covenant and reign of power by using these passages.
If the rapture occurs before the signing of the covenant then the duration of time from the rapture to Christ's second coming with the armies of heaven, His saints, is longer than the 7 year agreement and therefore does not correspond to the 7 year reign of the Antichrist. At best Pretibulatonists have only proven that the rapture cannot occur exactly on the day at the hour that the Antichrist confirms the covenant and that the rapture cannot occur exactly 7 years after the confirming of the covenant. Yet this too is speculative for no man knows the day or hour of Christ's return.
Furthermore this is all contingent upon the belief that the Antichrist's 7 year covenant/reign is equal to the tribulation period. There is no scripture that identifies that the tribulation is only 7 years long. There is no scripture that identifies the exact duration of the tribulation period. Based upon the description provided by Jesus in Mathew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 as well as the Book of Revelation it appears that the tribulation period is longer than 7 years.
We know that the Antichrist receives power for 42 months or 3 1/2 years. Revelation 11:2-3, 12:6, 12:14, 13:5 and Daniel 7:25 & Daniel 12:7. This corresponds to the middle of the 7 year reign in Daniel 9:27.
Pretibulationists claim that Jesus comes at the end of the 3 ½ year reign of the Antichrist which is kicked off by removing the daily sacrifice from the temple and the setting up the abomination of desolation, Dan. 9:27. We will not focus on the abomination of desolation for Dan. 9:27 does not refer to the setting up of the abomination but that abominations shall overspread, (the temple), making it desolate. For simplicity we will focus on the taking away of the daily sacrifice.
According to Pretibulatonists and based upon Dan. 9:27 Jesus comes back to destroy the Antichrist 1,260 days after the sacrifice is taken away.
Daniel 8:11-14 states that there would be 2,300 days of existence after the sacrifice is removed till the sanctuary is cleansed.
Daniel 12:11 states that there would be 1,290 days of existence after the sacrifice is removed.
Daniel 12:12 states that those who wait and come to 1,335 days after the sacrifice is removed would be blessed.
No eschatological scholar has provided a clear and irrefutable meaning to the dates and times of these days as they pertain to the end of the tribulation and the Second Coming of Jesus.
There is no rationale basis that supports the claim that the rapture of the Church must take place prior to or at the very beginning of the so called 7 year tribulation simply because no man, no angel and not even Jesus Christ knows. Should the rapture occur any day during 7 year Antichrist covenant, the 7 year tribulation it would still be consistent with the truth that no man knows the day or hour.
The tribulation period may very well last longer than 7 years further undermining the position that the rapture must take place when the the 7 year covenant is confirmed between the Antichrist and the many.