The rapture is when Christ will come back to take His Church, as he promised. He will the take the Church, the saved, the Saints, into Heaven. The most common mistake is thinking of the rapture as something that is going to happen in a couple hundred years or more. Although this may very well be the case, since, in 2 Peter 3:8 (NIV), we see that “…with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day”. So it’s impossible to say whether the rapture will occur in five minutes, in five years, or in five hundred years. However, I sincerely doubt the last one. For the Bible tells us of the signs that the end is near. Mark 13:5-8 says: “Jesus said to them: ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.” Have these things not already happened? Is there not war all around us? There have been several major earthquakes. All these things were predicted thousands of years ago. It should also be noted that when Israel became a nation in 1948, that event made possible the events predicted in the book of Revelation–and bringing us even closer to the rapture, Tribulation, and Jesus’ Second Coming.
Mark 13:12-13, says: “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Another passage later on in Mark chapter 13. We see families rebelling against each other today; maybe you’re seeing some of that in your own family. Christians are despised. What was once a God-fearing nation is now a place where Bible reading and prayer are not allowed in schools, nativity scenes are not allowed in certain states, and other things.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thess. 4:16-17)
The Tribulation is a period of seven years that will follow after the rapture. The rapture, of course, will become a major news event as people try to explain the phenomenon. Then someone will come forward, claiming to have the answer to what happened. He will propose a seven-year treaty between Israel and her enemies (seven years…noticing a coincidence? Exactly–the length of the Tribulation). This man will gain respect, and some people will even come to think of him as God. He will be, ultimately, the antichrist. Soon, he will not only encourage this line of thinking, but will tell people that he is God. Revelation 13:16-17 says: “It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.” This is the mark of the beast. As the verse says, everyone must wear this “mark”. If you didn’t, you couldn’t buy or sell anything. This mark will not only pay respect to the antichrist, but it will be a sign of allegiance to him: ultimately, allegiance to the devil, Satan.
If you’re still unsure that the end-times are actually here, think of it this way: this “mark” may actually be a microchip, or it could be some technology that has not yet been invented.
Sometime during this seven-year treaty, the antichrist will probably have the temple of Solomon rebuilt. In Jerusalem, there will probably be sacrifices and such made there. However, at some point, he will order the sacrifices to be stopped and set up and image of himself, ordering everyone to worship it. The Bible says that this image will somehow be alive. Revelation 13:14-15 says: “”He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.” What this is saying is that anyone who refuses to worship the antichrist’s image has the possibility of being killed by it.
During this seven-year period of the Tribulation, 18 judgments will descend upon the earth, each one more horrible than the last. The Bible says that the earth will have never seen a time as terrible as these seven years.
The Bible then says that a nation will march against Israel (despite the peace plan); this is the beginning of a three year war known as the “Battle of Armageddon”. At the end of this war, all armies will unite in a war against Israel. Jesus will then return (the Second Coming) with His army of saints to end not only this war, but all wars.
If you would like to read more about the Tribulation, simply go to Revelation. If you would like to read more about the 18 judgments, read Revelation 6-9 and Revelation 16.
Please note that some of what is written here is not absolute. For example, some people believe in a Mid-Trib or a Post-Trib rapture, somewhere between those, or no rapture at all. Also, this is a very non-technical description of the rapture and Tribulation. I encourage you to read the passages listed to see for yourself the Biblical basis for everything I’ve said. Anything I’ve written that is not stated directly in the Bible is simply what I consider to be the most Biblically accurate theory, based on studies of Revelation with my church and on my own. Please feel free to share your thoughts and questions in the comment section below!