There are no specific events that are supposed to happen before the rapture takes place. Indeed, Jesus himself said to stay on the alert because we do not know the hour of his coming. He was very adamant about that point in Matthew 24, and further stressed that he would come at an hour when we do not expect it. He did, however, give us signs of the times. But there are no prophetic events that must happen before the rapture occurs. It could quite literally happen at any time.
Many people who believe in the pre-tribulation rapture assume that the 7-year tribulation in Revelation will start immediately after the rapture occurs. However, this does not necessarily have to be true either. There could be a significant gap in time between the rapture of the church and when the tribulation starts.
In fact, an extra period of time there would tie certain prophecies together nicely, especially the battle of Ezekiel 38 and 39. That begins when Israel is at peace, living in unwalled cities. Perhaps that peaceful state will be a result of the peace treaty negotiated by the anti-Christ. But there also seems to be a need for a seven year period afterwards before the battle of Armageddon starts, being as the leftover weapons are burned for fuel for seven years. It seems unlikely that they would continue doing that through the battle of Armageddon and into the Millennium after the return of Christ. The only real way that could be reconciled is with an extra time period between the rapture and the tribulation.
Watching the battle of Ezekiel 38 and 39 shape up is in fact one of the fun end-times activities that we Bible-studying Christians enjoy. It is probably the only real enjoyment we get out of watching the news these days. There is no doubt that this is an unfulfilled prophecy set in the last days. This “battle” is actually just an invasion attempt into Israel by a coalition of certain nations which include Russia, Turkey, Iran, certain former soviet block countries, and certain north African nations. Germany may also be involved. The invaders will have spoil as their motivation (like maybe those newly discovered rich oil fields). They will be supernaturally defeated by God himself, in grand Old-Testament style. However we don’t know whether this invasion begins before or after the rapture.
In Matthew 24 and Luke 21 Jesus gave signs of the end times to his disciples. They include:
• Wars, rumors of wars, nation rising against nation
• Earthquakes in various places
• Famines and disease
• Many false prophets rising up, deceiving many
• Lawlessness increasing and love growing cold in people
• Distress of nations
• Sea and waves roaring
Any of that sound familiar? In Luke’s gospel, Jesus tells us that When these things begin to happen, look up, lift your head, because your redemption draws near. I don’t know about you but that really excites me. Those things have certainly begun to happen. My redemption is drawing near!
Does it excite you as well? What if you heard a great trumpet sound across the sky right……now! Are you ready to go? Is your heart right with the Lord? Or do you have your priorities mixed up, with too many attachments in this world (to things that are going to burn anyway). If you cannot honestly pray “Lord Jesus please come right now,” something isn’t right in your heart. Perhaps a quick prayer will help remedy this condition. Something like:
Lord Jesus come into my heart right now and bless me with your spirit. Help me to fully surrender to you and not be attached to anything that separates me from God.
Now, if you are a mid-tribulation rapture believer, then the primary thing you are looking for is the arrival of the anti-Christ. Personally I love being a pre-tribber, because we are looking for Jesus. Not the anti-Christ. We are happy people, looking up with hope. The worse the news gets the more we look up with hope. (That, no doubt, is why the post-tribbers get so frustrated with us.)
2 Thessalonians 2:6-12 gives great insight into the coming of the anti-Christ. Notice how that passage begins by stating He which restrains him must first be removed. He is capitalized (in my New King James Bible), referring to God or the Holy Spirit. We pre-tribbers believe it is the Holy Spirit through the presence of the church here on earth that is restraining him. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit as a helper to the church in the book of Acts. When He is removed, He takes the church with him.
It is more accurate to say the final anti-Christ however, as in 1 John 4:3 John tells us the spirit of the anti-Christ was already in the world, even back in early church history. That evil spirit has apparently manifested itself in possessing certain people throughout history, in individuals like Caesar Nero and Adolf Hitler. The final anti-Christ will actually be two people, a political leader and a false prophet. The political leader will be very successful and amaze the world with his accomplishments at first. So look for that. Me, I don’t plan to be here, so I ain’t looking. Just waiting for that trumpet.