Is it possible that Jesus' parable about the ten virgins could indicate that there will be a Mid-tribulation Rapture?
As I look at Jesus' parable of the ten virgins, in Matthew 25:1-13, I cannot understand why only some of the virgins go with the bridgroom initially. Are all of these "virgins" saved? It is possible that some will be taken away in a Mid-tribulation Rapture, with the rest being caught away at a later time?
Actually, I do believe in secondary rapture events. The question is, when does the first Rapture event take place? I am convinced that a Pre-tribulation Rapture is a false notion, mostly because I believe it is unscriptural. Furthermore, Christians who believe that they will escape all end-time "trials and tribulations" are deluding themselves.
The next time that could be associated with a "catching-up" episode would be in the middle year of the 70th Week, at a Mid-tribulation Rapture. It certainly would not be the main event, but it might involve the translation of a select group of "firstfruits" believers. Perhaps one ramification of the phrase "No one knows about that day or hour..." (Matthew 24:36) is that even believers do not know in which Rapture event they will be caught up to be with the Lord. Only the Father will be the Judge of that.
At my website, most of what I state about the Rapture pertains to the Pre-wrath (or Pre-Seventh-Seal) view. This event is to take place soon after the opening of the Sixth Seal of the heavenly scroll. I feel that the Pre-wrath Rapture is most likely to take place a year prior to the end of the 70th Week (Isaiah 34:8, 61:2, 63:4—see The Seventh Year), with the final year of the seven years being equivalent to the final "day" of the 70th Week.
I also feel that this will be the primary and most important Rapture event, because I believe this is when the dead in Christ, throughout all the ages, will be raised (1 Corinthians 15:52). The great multitude of these believers "from every nation, tribe, people and language," who will have been "caught up" into heaven via the Pre-wrath Rapture, can be seen in Revelation 7:9,10.
I believe it is reasonable, though, to consider the feasibility of another Rapture event, prior to this point. All ten virgins in Jesus' parable have lamps; however, five are foolish and five are wise, with the foolish ones not having "oil" for their lamps, while the wise ones will have lamp "oil" (Matthew 25:1-4). All of the "virgins" will become "drowsy" and will "fall asleep" (25:5). Then:
At midnight the cry rang out: "Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!" (Matthew 25:6)When the Bridegroom (I believe Jesus) comes suddenly at midnight, this could mean that He will be coming for certain members of His Bride (anointed believers) midway through the dark "tribulation" period.
If the five wise "virgins" go to be with Him at that time, this very well could be indicative of a Mid-tribulation Rapture, with as many as half of living believers going with Jesus and the rest remaining behind. The purpose of this Rapture would be to protect this first wave of believers from the Great Tribulation. Now, is there anything else that might indicate a "catching" or "snatching" up of believers at the midpoint of the 70th Week, when the Great Tribulation will begin? I believe there is.
John wrote this:
A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. (Revelation 12:1-5)The "woman" is Israel (according to Joseph's dream in Genesis 37:9,10). It could be argued that the son to whom the woman gave birth was Jesus, since He "will rule all the nations with an iron scepter" (Revelation 12:5, 19:15). And we know that, forty days after Jesus' resurrection, He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9). So maybe Jesus' ascension is the event to which "snatched up" refers.
However, there is something else worthy of note. Look what the next verse says:
The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. (Revelation 12:6)The 1,260 days is the final 3½ years of the 70th Week. We know this because Jesus made the following statement, warning those in Judea about this future time:
So when you see standing in the holy place "the abomination that causes desolation," spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (Matthew 24:15,16)Jesus' reference was to the prophecy in Daniel 9:27, which indicates that "the abomination that causes desolation" would occur in the middle of the prophesied seven-year period:
He will confirm a covenant with many for one "seven." In the middle of the "seven" he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. (Daniel 9:27)Thus, a remnant of Israelis—the "woman"—will flee (perhaps to the mountain/desert area of Petra), to be cared for by God for 1,260 days (Revelation 12:6). This also is equivalent to "time, times and half a time" (12:14)—that is, "a year + two years + half a year" = 3½ years or 42 months (considering a Hebrew month to be 30 days in length).
Why, then, in Revelation 12:5, would John write about events that happened during the same century in which he wrote (that is, the birth of Jesus and, later, his ascension into heaven)—yet, in the very next verse, suddenly skip to the middle of the 70th Week, almost two millennia in the future? Could the "son" born of the "woman," and being "snatched up to God and to His throne" in heaven, be referring to anyone besides Jesus? I suggest that, indeed, this may be the case.In recording the words of Jesus spoken to him, John wrote this to the Church in Thyatira:
To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—"He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery"—just as I [Jesus] have received authority from my Father. (Revelation 2:26,27)Jesus and John were saying, to him who overcomes, that he will rule over the nations "with an iron scepter"—that is, he eventually will co-reign with Jesus over the nations of the world. Then later in John's prophecy, he notes that the "son" will "rule all the nations with an iron scepter" (Revelation 12:5).
We know that the Gentile church of believers has been "grafted in" to Israel (Romans 11:13,17). Collectively, they are as much of a "son" of Israel as are the Israeli remnant who will flee at the midpoint of the 70th Week. Each of these believers is part of the entire group known as "the elect." Perhaps, then, Revelation 12:5 has a dual meaning, as do many things spoken by God. Look what was about to happen to the "child" of the "woman" just prior to his being snatched away:
The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. (Revelation 12:4)Now look at the warning Peter gave to believers:
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)So the "son" could be a portion of believers, midway through the 70th Week, who will be "snatched up" to heaven in a Mid-tribulation Rapture. Maybe this initial group of caught-up believers refers to those to whom Isaiah was alluding when he wrote this (see also birth pains):
Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. (Isaiah 66:7,8)At the end of chapter 12, John wrote this:
Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. (Revelation 12:17)The "rest of her offspring" sounds suspiciously, to me, like the remainder of believers—the "foolish virgins" (Matthew 25:3,8,11)—who may be "left behind" after a Mid-tribulation Rapture and who will have to experience the suffering and distress of the Great Tribulation period, until the next "train out of here" comes by. If so, for these believers who "obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus," this statement by Jesus will apply:
For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:21,22)The event that will "shorten" the period of the Great Tribulation, for elect believers, will be the cosmic disturbances of the Sixth Seal, followed imminently by the Pre-wrath Rapture, probably just prior to the beginning of the seventh year. I also feel that a Post-tribulation Rapture, of "over-ripe" believers, will take place at the end of the 70th Week, on the day Jesus returns to earth (Revelation 14:14-16), just before He tramples the "great winepress of God's wrath" (14:18-20, 19:15).
Believing Gentiles and Messianic Hebrews, along with chosen Israelis, ultimately will come together as one, sharing together in the promise of Christ Jesus. This "mystery of Christ" (Ephesians 3:6) will manifest itself in "stages" of gathering the elect: first believing Gentiles and Israelis/Jews (in consecutive catching-up events), then the Israeli remnant when Jesus returns. A Mid-tribulation Rapture, of "firstfruits" believers, very well could be the "first domino" that begins this process.
I believe that the Pre-wrath Rapture (following the opening of the Sixth Seal) will take place on a Rosh haShanah or Feast of Trumpets (just prior to the onslaught of the trumpet judgments). It would be noteworthy, then, if a Mid-tribulation Rapture of believers were to take place on the Feast of Firstfruits—the very day on which Jesus rose from the dead. Look what Paul wrote:
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)Also, this feast day would seem like an ideal day for the Bridegroom's wedding feast to begin, with other believers joining the great banquet at subsequent rapture events. Another possible day could be Pentecost, at the end of the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot. Traditionally, that also has been a day of firstfruits offerings (Leviticus 23:17,20).
Now, look at what Jesus spoke:
The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: "Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!" Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. (Matthew 25:5-7)The risen Yeshua/Jesus was the firstfruit from the dead of all who had "fallen asleep" (that is, had died) and would be raised again. The "wise virgins" may be the firstfruits of the full group of "virgins" who fell asleep. The "sleep" of the "wise virgins" may be merely a temporary distraction caused by the world's troubles and worries. Yet, they will have been spiritually prepared to be awakened at "midnight" or "mid-tribulation."
On the other hand, the "foolish virgins" may be those who have wrongly supposed that the Rapture was an indeterminate event, falsely believing that it always was "imminent" and could come "at any moment." They had become weary and bored, waiting for the Bridegroom's arrival, and were "asleep" to the fact that His consecutive comings, for members of His bride, are very predictable.
They also may have lost enthusiasm and fervency in studying God's Word. Furthermore, many have rejected the importance of obedience and submission to God's instructions in the Book of the Covenant
Paul indicated that believers would not suffer wrath but, whether awake or asleep (alive or dead), would live together with Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:9,10). However, during the 70th Week, there will be two types of wrath: Satan's fury and wrath (Revelation 12:12,17) and, later, God's wrath (during the dreaded "day of vengeance"). Perhaps a Mid-tribulation Rapture will protect some believers from Satan's wrath during the Great Tribulation, while the Pre-wrath Rapture will protect the remainder of believers from God's wrath, which will commence after the opening of the Seventh Seal.
If, indeed, there will be a Mid-tribulation Rapture, the obvious question is this: Who is part of this first group to be taken away, and who is left behind? Frankly, only God is worthy to judge that; I merely can speculate. It would seem that if the left-behind believers ("foolish virgins") are "those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 14:17), there must be something that "qualifies" someone to be "worthy" of being "snatched away" before the Great Tribulation begins.
I believe that, in general, the importance of the Law/Torah (in Genesis through Deuteronomy) is underestimated. Jesus stated that He was the fulfillment of the Law (Matthew 5:17). He came to fulfill (that is, to perform or to carry out) the Law, but this was not so that we didn't have to. Rather, He fulfilled the Law—by always keeping it and never breaking it—as a perfect example for us to follow.
The Law/Torah is the "fuel" or "oil" (Matthew 25:4) that God has given us to generate His Light and to proclaim His luminous Truth in the world. The five "wise" virgins, recognizing their Hebraic roots, may revere and venerate the five books of the Law, or the Torah (Psalm 1:2, 40:8); whereas, the five "foolish" virgins may have failed to do so (Matthew 25:3), up to that point. Once they see how they have fallen short (and have been left behind), they may set out to learn as much as they can about the mysteries, insights, and treasures of the Law/Torah. Thus, they will "obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 14:17).
Also, perhaps the "wise virgins" are those who have developed and nurtured an intimate relationship with the Lord, through the Holy Spirit. They will reflect light, faith, and hope into the dark, deteriorating world around them. On the other hand, Jesus' response, later, to the "foolish virgins"—those having remained in a "religious" or "pious" void—was "I tell you the truth, I don't know you" (Matthew 25:12).
Maybe the faultless Philadelphian Church (Revelation 3:7-13) represents the "wise virgins," who act out their faith throughout the week, rather than merely on the Sabbath. Jesus detested religious, self-righteous hypocrites. It could take the suffering and distress of the Great Tribulation to cause the "foolish virgins" to "walk the walk," rather than just to "talk the talk"—to know the One, true God, not just to know about Him, and to be a real light to those around them, rather than to be part of the darkness. The "open door" that has been placed before them (3:8) could be the same door that they enter, with the Bridegroom, into the wedding chamber, which then is shut to the "foolish virgins" (Matthew 25:10,11).
On the contrary, the Sardian Church was told to "Wake up!" (Revelation 3:2). They were told to obey what they had received and heard (the Torah) and to wake up and repent; otherwise, "I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you" (3:3). Yet, maybe a few of them will be wise and observant enough to be part of a Mid-tribulation Rapture (3:4), with the remainder of those believers following at a later time (3:5).
Perhaps the "oil" for the "lamps" also implies a special anointing of the Holy Spirit. It may be that only those who have utilized the gifts of the Holy Spirit, in the most effective ways possible, along with meditating upon and keeping the Law/Instruction of God, will be eligible to participate in the "firstfruits" Rapture, at the midpoint. Those who celebrate the Hebrew feasts/festivals, and who keep the Sabbath properly (Friday sunset to Saturday sunset), also may be more likely to take part in this event.
Another consideration is that the oil is a product of "crushing." One may be a "virgin" awaiting Jesus' return, but extra oil indicates a life lived in imitation of the Messiah, taking up one's cross daily. The anointing oil is an anointing for suffering. All Israel had to bring the oil for the menorah, which means that each life required bruising and crushing in order to release the light of the Holy Spirit. This is how we "know" Jesus in the fellowship of his sufferings. Few choose to live according to that call, but those are the ones who are prepared. Every person has a measure of oil, but not every person has been "crushed" so that one's soul goes under the altar and one's spirit ascends in authority over that life.
I believe that Jesus' urgings to the seven churches, in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, will apply to believers during the 70th Week, especially during the second half. Basically, it will involve firm rejection of the ways of the world and complete acceptance of the ways of God, learning to substitute His perfect Will for their own imperfect wills. It may be that those who heed and follow Jesus' counsel of repentance, endurance, and overcoming, prior to the midpoint—as well as those who long earnestly and sincerely for Jesus' next appearance (2 Timothy 4:8)—will be removed in a Mid-tribulation or "Firstfruits" Rapture. Then, those "left behind" will have to demonstrate the capacity to follow Jesus' guidance and direction, if they expect to be taken up in the Pre-wrath Rapture (probably about 2½ years later) and to become part of the Messiah's Bride.
Return to Email Questions and Ted’s Responses
Go to Ted’s Bible Commentaries and Other Links
View the New International Version of the Bible
Go to Ted’s Homepage