According to Jesus’ own words in Matthew 24:29-42, His return takes place “…immediately after the tribulation of those days.” Jesus then goes on to describe the rapture in the context of His return. Even though this is what Jesus taught, this view is unpopular with many Christians who believe we will be raptured before the tribulation starts. So, is there other Scripture we can go to that supports what Jesus has already told us? The answer is yes! In fact, because this is what Jesus taught, all the rest of Scripture describing the timing of the rapture necessarily supports it. Here’s one example. I have included a question for Pre-Tribbers to consider and also summaries at the end that you can use to explain this to people.
During the tribulation, God will send a type of Elijah to call Israel to repentance before Christ returns:
“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. “He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”
[Malachi 4:5-6 NASB] See also Zechariah 12:10-14
Those who respond to the call are called the remnant of Israel. Those who don’t will be destroyed:
Now in that day the remnant of Israel, and those of the house of Jacob who have escaped, will never again rely on the one who struck them, but will truly rely on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. For though your people, O Israel, may be like the sand of the sea, Only a remnant within them will return; A destruction is determined, overflowing with righteousness. For a complete destruction, one that is decreed, the Lord GOD of hosts will execute in the midst of the whole land.
[Isaiah 10:20-23 NASB]
God will provide time for His remnant to flee from the wrath of Satan and his man, the Antichrist. They will know to flee because the Antichrist, their former friend of peace, will seat himself in the temple at Jerusalem. They will finally recognize him for who he really is:
“And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”
[Daniel 9:27 NASB]
This is what Jesus was teaching about in the Book of Matthew. It is the beginning of the second half of the tribulation which He called the great tribulation because things will get even worse:
“Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. “Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. “Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! “But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.
[Matthew 24:15-21 NASB]
The remnant that flees will be kept safe for 1260 days, the last half of the tribulation (this is important):
Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she *had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
[Revelation 12:6 NASB]
“For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.” And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she *was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth. So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
[Revelation 12:12-17 NASB]
As a result, they will receive salvation:
Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “THOUGH THE NUMBER OF THE SONS OF ISRAEL BE LIKE THE SAND OF THE SEA, IT IS THE REMNANT THAT WILL BE SAVED;
[Romans 9:27 NASB] See also Ezekiel 36:18-32, Jeremiah 31:31-34
Question for Pre-Tribbers:
If the rapture takes place before the tribulation starts, how will the Israelites who are saved and alive when Christ returns receive their eternal bodies so they can enter the Kingdom of God?
At the time of the end, God will save a remnant of Israel from the wrath of Satan during the last half of the tribulation. They will repent and receive salvation. This means they will become believers. This means, as believers, they will participate in the resurrection just like every other believer alive or dead because flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of Heaven [1 Corinthians 15:50]. This puts the rapture as happening at Christ’s return at the end of the tribulation. This is why in Revelation 12:17 above, it says Satan “went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” Believers are still on the earth because the rapture, which is part of the resurrection for those who are alive on the earth at the time, hasn’t taken place yet.
Summary with embedded Scripture references:
During the tribulation, God will send a type of Elijah to call Israel to repentance before Christ returns [Malachi 4:5-6; Zechariah 12:10-14]. Those who respond to the call are called the remnant of Israel. Those who don’t will be destroyed [Isaiah 10:20-23]. As a result, His remnant will receive salvation [Romans 9:27; Ezekiel 36:18-32; Jeremiah 31:31-34]. This means they will become believers. This means they will participate in the rapture just like every other believer alive or dead because flesh and blood does not inherit the kingdom of Heaven [1 Corinthians 15:50-57]. This puts the rapture, which is part of the resurrection for those who are alive on the earth at the time, as happening at Christ’s return at the end of the tribulation.
In the Book of Romans, Paul quotes from Isaiah and says that God will save a remnant of His people [Romans 9:27; Isaiah 10:20-23]. They will become believers. All believers will participate in the resurrection [1 Corinthians 15:50-57]. The remnant of Israel flees during the last half of the tribulation [Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15-21; Revelation 12:6, 12-17]. This puts the rapture, which is part of the resurrection for those who are alive on the earth at the time, as happening at Christ’s return at the end of the tribulation.
Where does that leave us?
Right where I would expect it to – Jesus. I feel like if we would just believe Christ’s words to begin with, this wouldn’t be an issue.
“But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. “And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. “Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. “Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.
[Matthew 24:29-41 NASB]
After the tribulation Jesus returns and gathers his elect.