The last few days have been relatively slow from a prophecy viewpoint. There are more rumors involving potential leaders for the "new and improved" EU, but everything remains speculative until the formal announcement is made on November 19. Rather than repeat the same basic news, some links are provided (below) which defend the concept if a pre-tribulation rapture.
Personally, I believe the Rapture of the Church will occur prior to the beginning of the Tribulation for a variety of reasons, too lengthy to include on a single post. Additionally, the authors below will do a far better job. To summarize, my basis of believing the "gathering up" of the Church occurs first can be summarized by these points:
- The descriptions of the "gathering up" of the Church in 1 Thessalonians 4, John 14 and 1 Corinthians 15 are dramatically different than the detailed descriptions of the Second Advent as given in Zechariah 14, Revelation 19 and Matthew 24.
- There are scriptures that clearly state that the Church will be "kept from", "not appointed to", or "rescued from" the Tribulation, also known as "the coming wrath", "the day of the Lord", and "the hour of trial", just to name a few (1 Thessalonians 1:10, 5:9, Revelation 3:10, 2 Peter 2:9).
- The first three chapters of Revelation deal exclusively with the Church. Chapter 4 begins with the words "After this...", implying that the previous period has ended and a new one is starting. From that point on, in Revelation (which I believe to be a chronological account of the Church age through the Tribulation, Second Coming and Millennial Reign of Christ on earth and a description of New Jerusalem), there is no mention of the Church until Revelation 19, where the Church is seen in Heaven, preparing for the Wedding Supper of the Lamb and the Second Coming.
- The parallels between the Rapture and the Jewish wedding ceremonial customs of the day. Jesus pictured as the bridegroom, and the Church viewed as the bride. The fact that the bridegroom and bride (families) would agree to the marriage union - then the bridegroom would go back to the fathers "home" and prepare living quarters for the bride (as she awaited the groom's return, while separated from the groom). Once this new "home" was prepared, as determined by the father of the groom - the groom would return to the village of the bride, unannounced, and in a surprise visit he would take the bride away, back to the father's house. Then the bride and groom would go away ("in hiding") for seven days and consummate the marriage, then after seven days they would re-emerge for the wedding feast. This parallels the pre-tribulation rapture perfectly, and the sequence of events is replicated when Jesus informed his apostles of his departure and return in John 14.
- The fact that in Daniel 9, as Daniel is given the purpose of the 490 years scheduled for the Nation of Israel (of which the last remaining, pending 7 years, aka "Tribulation", is included) he is told that these prophecies are "decreed for your people", which is the Nation of Israel, not the Church.
- The Rapture of the Church prior to the beginning of the Tribulation is the only way to have consistency with the concept of "imminency", that is the "imminent" return of Christ, which is preached throughout the New Testament. The concept of "imminency" means that it is something that can occur at ANY time - i.e., nothing must precede the event. With anything other than a pre-tribulation rapture, there cannot be an "imminent" return of Christ. With a "mid-Tribulation" or a "post-Tribulation" Rapture - something must happen first, namely, 1/2 of the Tribulation or all of the Tribulation, respectively - therefore there is no "imminency" in these two scenarios.
These are just a few reasons. For a deeper and much more interesting summary of these concepts, the following links provide excellent commentaries:
"The Rapture and the Second Coming: An Important Distinction".
"Why God's Purpose for the Tribulation excludes the Church".
"Rapture Before Tribulation".