The Bible prophecies several things that will happen at the end of the world. I am a premilliennialist who believes Jesus will rapture the church, the antichrist will rule the world for seven years, those seven years will be a time of massive natural disasters and great tribulation, the seven years of tribulation will end with the return of Jesus to the earth, and when Jesus returns He will judge the wicked and establish His kingdom. The kingdom of Jesus on earth will last for one thousand years. At the end of the thousand years Satan will stir up a final rebellion against God. That rebellion will be smashed, the unsaved will be condemned to eternal suffering in the lake of fire, the entire physical universe will be destroyed and a new heaven and new earth will be created.
Those who hold to postmillennial and amillennial views arrange these events differently and do not believe the church will be raptured. However, the timing of the rapture is an important question for those with a premillennial perspective. Those who believe the church will be raptured are divided on when they think it will happen. A minority group believes the church will be raptured in the middle of the tribulation. The two most popular views on the rapture are pre-tribulational and post-tribulational. The post-tribulationist believes the church will be raptured at the very end of the tribulation when Jesus returns to establish his kingdom on earth. The pre-tribulationalist believes the church will be raptured at the beginning of the tribulation at or before the start of the antichrist’s reign.
A pre-tribulational rapture seems to fit best with the Biblical prophecies, primarily because of one compelling reason. Revelation 19 describes the return of Jesus to the earth in power and victory. Just before the description of Jesus’ triumphal return Revelation 19 describes a scene of great praise in heaven. The saints in heaven praise Jesus for His justice and mercy. The great multitude praises God for His powerful rule and they then say, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” This marriage supper of the Lamb is the wedding feast for the bride of Christ- the church. The wedding feast of the church and Jesus takes place in heaven before Jesus returns to the earth. Therefore, the rapture cannot take place at the end of the tribulation when Jesus returns to establish His kingdom on earth.
The pre-tribulational rapture seems to be the best interpretation of the Biblical prophecies regarding the church, but the Bible does not give a definitive statement on the timing of the rapture. Faithful Christians who uphold Biblical truth reach different conclusions on the timing of the rapture. This matter is of great interest, but should not be a cause for controversy or division in the church.