I realize this can be a source of contention among some Christians, which makes me sad. Whether Jesus is coming for His Bride before, in the middle, or at the end of the Tribulation should not be something that divides believers! The point is, Jesus is coming! Why argue and get upset? It's fun to look at different viewpoints.
I will point out that there are many theologians in the Pre-Trib camp such as the recent Chuck Missler, John MacArthur, David Wilkerson, Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, John Hagee, Benny Hinn, Perry Stone, Hal Lindsey, David Jeremiah, Oral Roberts, Chuck Swindol, Chuck Smith, Charles Stanley, John Darby...etc. I could go on. Does that mean they are right? No. But it certainly lends credence to this viewpoint
I used to believe in Post-tribulation in my early years as a Christian, but after extensive study in the Scriptures, and in particular in end times prophecies, I have done a complete flip. I now believe the Bride of Christ (true believers) will be taken out of this world BEFORE the 7 year Tribulation. Could I be wrong? Absolutely! I'm human.
I will list below four proofs for a Pre-tribulation rapture that I believe are pretty much irrefutable.
1. The Apostle Paul's Own Words
Now, dear brothers and sisters, let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered to meet him. Don’t be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. Don’t believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us. Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed—the one who brings destruction. He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God. Don’t you remember that I told you about all this when I was with you? And you know what is holding him back, for he can be revealed only when his time comes 2 Thess 2
The church at Thessalonica was very worried, obviously, that the "Day of the Lord" had already begun . The Day of the Lord, from other Scripture, appears to encompass most, if not all, of the Tribulation. For some reason, they were frightened that they'd missed the Rapture! Note how Paul begins the Scripture. He mentions the Rapture right off, so we know that is the main topic. So, Paul gives them some clues about the timing of things to make them feel better. He says that the Day of the Lord will not happen until there is a great apostasy against God and the son of perdition is revealed.
The Great Apostasy. We are already seeing this. This is a turning away of many believers from the True Faith. I will note also here, that there are some very reputable preachers who believe this "Falling Away" is actually a reference to the Rapture itself!.
The Son of Perdition is the Antichrist. So, The Day of the Lord CANNOT even start until the AntiChrist is revealed. What does revealed mean? It means that those who are paying attention and know even a little bit about Scripture will know who he is. How? Because in Daniel 9:27, we are told that the Antichrist will confirm a covenant or treaty with Israel for 7 years. Obviously, if you are watching the news and you see a man strengthening or confirming a treaty with Israel for 7 years, you can bet that's the guy!
Hence, if these 2 things happen, the Tribulation can start right away. AND, Paul is saying don't worry cause before that happens, we will be gathered to meet Jesus.
Another thing to note here is that "something or someone" is restraining the Antichrist from revealing himself. Who or what is keeping the evil of this world from exploding to its full vileness?
Scripture always interprets Scripture, right? Jesus, Himself, told the church that we are the salt and light of this world. (Matt 5:13-14) The Holy Spirit inside of true believers is the only thing holding back the darkness. Our prayers are effective and powerful. Our good deeds spread light everywhere! If we were not here, Satan would have free reign. Therefore, that is yet another reason to believe that the church must leave before the Antichrist can be revealed!
One more point to be made by Paul's own words. In 1 Thessalonians 4, he speaks of the Rapture yet again.
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
It is plain that Paul had told the church at Thessalonica all about the rapture. If they were not to be raptured until the end of the Tribulation, why would he suggest they "comfort" one another with these words. What's comforting about going through the Tribulation?
2. The Ancient Jewish Wedding Customs
In Biblical days, Jewish Wedding traditions went like this.
A. The man desiring to marry the woman approached her father and offered a huge bride price.
(Jesus fulfilled by offering His own life on the cross to purchase His bride)
B. If the father agreed to the price, he would call in his daughter and pour a glass of wine for both the man and for her. If she drank the wine, it meant she agreed to marry the man
(Jesus fulfilled this in Matthew26: Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” The disciples drank of the cup, thus accepting the contract. Important to note here that the phrase "I will not drink of this fruit... until... " is what the man would actually say to the woman and her father. The disciples would know this was an engagement.
C. The Groom now presents gifts to his intended Bride. These were to help her remember him fondly during the long engagement period.
(Jesus fulfilled this by giving us the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit)
D. The bride now partakes of Mikevh which is a cleansing bath
(Fulfilled by baptism)
E. The groom would now go and build a wedding chamber for he and his bride. Typically, this would be a room or rooms attached to his father's house. It was to be built only at his father's specifications and could only be deemed finished by his father's inspection. The groom and bride were to spend 7 days in this chamber after they were married. If anyone asked the groom when the chamber would be finished, he would reply. "Only my father knows."
(Jesus fulfilled this when He told His disciples that No man knows the day or hour, only my Father in heaven. The disciples would have known this was a reference to the bridal chamber being completed and His return for his bride.
Jesus also fulfilled when he said "In my Father’s house are many rooms or mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." Again, the disciples would have known this was a reference to a wedding.)
F. The Bride makes herself ready. During this betrothal time, the bride spends her days preparing herself for the wedding. She makes her wedding gown and makes herself more beautiful. She never knows when the groom will come for her. He usually comes in the middle of the night, so she must keep her lamp full of oil and burning.
(Fulfillment: The True believers who are the Bride of Christ are currently spending their time making their wedding gown (Which is the righteous acts of the Saints. Rev 19:8) and making themselves more beautiful by doing the will of their groom. They keep their lamps full of the Holy Spirit so they will be ready when He returns.)
G. The Groom comes for His Bride
When the Groom's father approves of the wedding chamber, he gives his son permission to go get his bride. he bridegroom would abduct his bride secretly, like a thief at night and take her to the wedding chamber. As the bridegroom approached the bride’s home, he would shout and blow the shofar (ram’s horn trumpet) so that she had some warning to gather her belongings to take into the wedding chamber.
(Future fulfillment: When Jesus returns for His Bride, the trumpet will sound, and the dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet our groom)
H. The Groom and Bride would spend the next 7 days in the Bridal chamber where they would consummate the marriage.
(Future fulfillment: While the earth is enduring a 7 YEAR Tribulation, Jesus and the church will be celebrating their marriage)
3. The last seven years of this age, God turns His full attention back to the Jewish people
In Daniel 9, the Archangel Gabriel tells Daniel of events that will occur at the end of the age. He tells Daniel that 70 sevens have been decreed for the Jewish people and for the Holy City (Jerusalem) to complete a bunch of tasks you can read about in Daniel 9:24-27. All these tasks are specific for the Jewish people and have nothing to do with Gentiles. Bible scholars all agree that these 70 sevens or 70 weeks or years represent 70 x 7 years (490 years). Gabriel then goes on to tell Daniel that after 7 weeks + 62 weeks (Or 69 periods of 7 years = 483 years) the Messiah will be cut off or die. This happened precisely on the year Gabriel predicted. Notice, however that there is 1 period of 7 years left to complete what God has decreed for the Jewish people. That week or 7 year period has not yet happened. In fact, if you continue reading that chapter in Daniel, you'll see that Gabriel then talks about the Antichrist who will confirm the covenant with Israel for 7 years and then break that treaty in the middle of that time.
My point? God is not done with the Jewish people. After the church is gone, He will turn his full attention back to His chosen people, the Jews. We are currently in the age of the Gentiles, the age of Grace, but that will end when the Bride gets raptured. God will not be dealing with both the church and the Jewish people that final 7 years.
For more detailed information
4 Jesus would not beat up his Bride. Argument against Mid-Trib
Some Christians believe that the rapture will occur in the middle of the Tribulation, before the actual wrath of God is poured out. I have two arguments against that.
A. As we saw above, the church is gone BEFORE the Antichrist is revealed. When the antichrist signs the 7 year peace treaty with Israel, the church will know who he is. Hence, he will be revealed at that time, not 3 1/2 years later
B. By the time the middle of the Tribulation comes, (Before the bowls of God's wrath are poured out in the last half) the world would have endured the following:
- World Wide War
- World Wide Famine
- World Wide Disease
- 1/4 of the population killed
- Many Christians butchered for their faith
- 1/3 of the Trees burned up and all the grass burned
- 1/3 of Sea becomes blood and 1/3 of sealife dies
- 1/3 of Fresh water becomes poisoned
- 1/3 of sun and moon struck
- Locusts from the bottomless pit torture men with extreme pain for 5 months
- Massive army from the east kills 1/3 of mankind that is remaining
Do you really think ANY Groom, and especially Jesus would allow His precious Bride to endure all that horror and basically be tortured, beat up, suffer famine, disease, and horrific worldwide events while He just sat and watched?
There are more reasons I could give you, but this post has gone on long enough. I hope by now, I've given you enough evidence to believe the Church is out of here BEFORE the 7 year tribulation.
I will also point out that it is my personal belief that there will be more than one rapture. There are definitely TWO of them. One in the beginning and one at the very end just before Jesus sets His feet down on the Mount of Olives. However, it's quite possible there will be another in the middle of the Tribulation as well, which would coincide with Israel's THREE main Harvests. If that's the case, then whether you believe in a pre-mid-or post Tribulation rapture, we are all correct. For me, however, I want to go in the first round! How about you?
Here's a few more related Scriptures
"Being now justified by His blood, we shall be 'SAVED FROM' THE WRATH through Him."
1 Thessalonians 1:10
"Wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus, which 'DELIVERS US' FROM THE WRATH to come."
1 Thessalonians 5:9
"God has NOT APPOINTED US TO WRATH, but to obtain 'salvation by our Lord' Jesus Christ."
" Because you have kept the word of My patience, I ALSO WILL 'KEEP YOU FROM' THE HOUR OF TEMPTATION which shall come upon all the world.."