Why I believe the Rapture will happen before the Tribulation.
by Jason Hommel, May, 2007

Understanding true prophecy is a protection from false prophets, and brings comfort to the believer.

For 11 reasons why prophecy is important, see:
http://www.bibleprophesy.org/important.htm

I have been comforted and encouraged in my studies of prophecy, and I hope you will be, too.  This is my testimony.

I created bibleprophesy.org in 1998.  From then to today, I've answered thousands of questions about the rapture through personal email.  I've read hundreds of commentaries online.  My views have held up to scrutiny, and have been "tried by the fire" of ministry.  I try to assume nothing, and confirm every major doctrinal point with at least two scriptures. 

Where is the rapture found in the Bible?  The rapture is the event described in 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15; it is when Christians will be "caught up" to heaven, and "changed" to immortality.

1 Thessalonians 4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
1 Thess 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
1 Thess 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
1 Thess 4:18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1Cor 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
1Cor 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
1Cor 15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
1Cor 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
1Cor 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

These two passages are often read at Christian funerals, because they address the topic of death and the Christian hope of immortality, and they give hope and comfort to believers. 

Some will contentiously claim that the word "rapture" is not found in the Bible.  True, the English word, "rapture" is not found in the King James Translation.  But the word "rapture" refers to the Greek word, "harpazo", which is translated as "caught up" in 1 Thess 4:17.  Why is that important?  Because the doctrine is right there in the Bible.  And second, you should realize that those who claim the opposite, that "the word is not in the Bible", are just desperately attempting to cast any doubt that they can on the issue.

Most of the debate on the rapture centers on the timing, and most of the rest of this article will focus on the timing.  The key question is, "When will the rapture happen in relation to the tribulation:  Before, in the middle, towards the end, or after?"  The positions are "pre-trib", "mid-trib", "pre-wrath", and "post-trib".  There are as many different views as there are people, but most views on the timing of the rapture can be classified as one of those basic four, mine included.  The mid trib view has lost the most support in the last 20 years, and has few advocates today.  The Pre-wrath view seems to be gaining ground.  And pre-trib is the most popular, by far.  The pre trib view is the view of the popular rapture teachers, Hal Lindsey, Jack Van Impe and Tim LaHaye. 

My pre trib view differs in many ways from the popular pre trib dispensationalist view.  I do not have to justify their views which I think are wrong.  I only need to explain what I believe, according to Peter: 

1 Peter 3:15  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

My views are different from the popular dispensationalist pre trib rapture teachers in that I do not believe many things that they do.
I do not believe in "once saved always saved".
I do not believe that "all Christians will be worthy to go in the rapture".
I do not believe in "imminency" or an "at any moment" rapture.
I do not believe that the "Feasts of the Lord have nothing to do with the rapture".
I do not believe that the rapture was revealed for the first time to Paul, and not taught in the Old Testament.
I do not believe that we are forbidden from knowing the season for the rapture.
I do not believe that Matthew 24 says nothing about the rapture.
I do not believe that Revelation Chapters 5-19 say nothing about the rapture.
So, I don't believe the same as most popular, dispensationalist, pretrib teachers believe.

In contrast,
I believe in conditional security; that we must remain faithful to the end of our life, or the rapture.
I believe that only some people who think they are Christians will be found worthy to go in the rapture.
I believe that there is a set time for the rapture, and that it is not imminent, (at least, not yet).
I believe that the rapture is most likely to take place on the Feast of Trumpets (in a day or hour, no man knows).
I believe that the rapture was taught in the Hebrew Scriptures.
I believe that we ought to be able to anticipate the season of the rapture.
I believe that Matthew 24 teaches all about the rapture, in as many as 15 references to the rapture.
I believe that Revelation teaches about the rapture in most of the chapters of the Book.
I also believe that two of the earliest Church Fathers, Clement and Polycarp, taught and believed in the pretribulation rapture.

Now, no two scholars will have all the same views, so it is certainly refreshing to run across people who believe about 90% of the same things as I do.  Conditional security is a common belief, and it is also not too uncommon among such believers to believe that the rapture will happen on the Feast of Trumpets.  So that explains the first 6 differences.  A few others see the rapture in some parts of Matthew 24, but they often find it difficult to articulate why.  My belief that Revelation 12 teaches about the pre trib rapture was also held by Darby, but was later used to try and prove a "mid trib" rapture by others.  My belief that Clement and Polycarp believed in and taught the pretribulation rapture might be groundbreaking, since I've read hundreds of commentaries, but I've not seen anyone else say that.

For my analysis of Clement and Polycarp, see:
http://www.bibleprophesy.org/clement.htm

Therefore, since my view of the pretribulation rapture is different from many of the popular teachers, I will be using different scriptures to prove my views and beliefs, and different arguments, that you may not have not seen before. 

You can read further on how my doctrine differs from the popular pre trib rapture teachers, here:
http://www.bibleprophesy.org/pretriberror.htm

Some people get confused and distressed by the fact that there is so much debate and different views on the issue of the rapture.  Some get disgusted or anguished with it all.  But debate is unavoidable, and helps to show the difference between what is right and what is wrong.

1 Corinthians 11:19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

Matthew 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

For more on why there is debate on the issue, see:
http://www.bibleprophesy.org/debate.htm

Next, the tribulation is most widely recognized to last seven years long (although the length of the tribulation is debated, too.) 

Here are a few verses to show why the tribulation will last seven years long. 

Daniel 7:25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

Daniel 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

Revelation 11:3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

Revelation 13:5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.

So events that happen in either the first or second half of the 7 year tribulation are described with varying language as 3.5 years. 

I list at least 10 reasons why I believe the tribulation will last seven years, see:
http://www.bibleprophesy.org/7yeartrib.htm

So, I've established why I believe there is a rapture, and why I believe the tribulation lasts seven years, and that my other beliefs may be different than popular scholars.  Although I could list well over 100 reasons why I believe the rapture will happen before the tribulation (and have, all throughout my site at bibleprophesy.org), I will start by listing several scriptures that show why I believe the rapture will happen before the tribulation.

The Lord's prayer concludes with:

Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Our Lord is a deliverer.  Jesus saves. 

2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

Jesus saves us not only from death, through the power of the resurrection and rapture, but also from many afflictions and troubles even in this world here and now.  He saves people from drugs, from sexual immorality, from debt, from slavery, from idols, from witchcraft, from demons, from a way of life of theft and pain, and many more afflictions and evils and sins too many to list.  Not all Christians actually are saved from those things, many continue to struggle.  But perhaps it is a matter of faith.  But we are commanded to pray to be saved from evil.  The tribulation is a time of evil.  Therefore, I will pray to be saved from it.  It certainly would not be contrary or inconsistent to pray to escape the coming time of evil.  Therefore, I hope you do too.

Next, Revelation 3:10 also seems rather encouraging.

Revelation 3:10 Because you have kept my word of patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial which is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell upon the earth.

Like everything, every point is debated.  The word "keep" does not have to refer to the rapture, doubters will claim.  But the context is very compelling.  Revelation 3 has Jesus saying he has set before them an open door, and the door is mentioned again as being available to the Laodicians, and Revelation 4 shows John going through a door open in heaven.  Further, Matthew 25 has 5 wise virgins going through an open door to be with Jesus when he returns for those waiting for Him. 

This symbol of the doorway to heaven is widely ignored by most pre trib teachers, and yet the "pearly gates" that are mentioned at the end of Revelation are such an overwhelming popular symbol in the media and popular culture in the U.S. that it is mind boggling that scholars miss this obvious connection.  I believe they overlook it because those who teach "once saved always saved" cannot stand the idea that only the "worthy" will be saved, because in the parable of the ten virgins, the five foolish virgins who do not go through the open door are clearly representative of members of the Church who are looking for Christ to return, but who are not worthy!

For my study on Matthew 25, the ten virgins parable, see here:
http://www.bibleprophesy.org/tenvirgins.htm

Next, the tribulation is a main topic in the Olivet Discourse, or Matthew 24.  Parallel passages are found in Luke 12, 17, and 21.  Luke's context is rather clear that the "things that shall come to pass" are the tribulation, and we are to pray to escape it.

Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Again, this passage is ignored by most popular pre-trib teachers, because they don't like the idea of a rapture only for the "worthy", because that is contrary to their "once saved always saved" view. 

The passage's application to a rapture is doubted by "post tribbers" because they claim that "escape" does not necessarily mean a rapture, but could be fulfilled by being accounted worthy to be "protected through" the tribulation.

Admittedly, this passage does not conclusively prove that the escape must be the rapture.  But since there is a rapture, and since the context of the "things that shall come to pass" is clearly the tribulation, it certainly implies to me that the way of escape is the rapture!  And I can certainly put my hope, and my belief, in this passage, along with the 1000's of others that I know and have studied, if I want to, and I'm not "twisting" anything if I do that. 

Before I go further, I should make clear that most people who have not done much research, who deny the rapture, are really in denial of there being any escape from tribulation, or from the wrath of God.  They think they need to suffer God's wrath.  They can not admit even the possibility of a pre tribulation rapture, because it is impossible for their spirit to admit it.  Frankly, I feel that the following passage explains their belief:

Hebrews 10:26-27  If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

If you feel that way, it is probably because you should feel that way, because of continuous, deliberate, unconfessed sin, that you enjoy, which is the hardest to break free from, and which causes deception, as the Bible teaches. 

2 Thessalonians 2:10 "...they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Such unrepentant sinners might perhaps be wondering if they have committed an unforgivable sin.  The Bible teaches that the unforgivable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which the Pharisees committed by saying that Jesus was performing healing miracles by Satan's power.  In other words, it was outright conscious rejection of what was good and true.  In other words, how can we be saved from lies if we reject truth? 

Sin grieves the Holy Spirit, and only the Holy Spirit of truth can convict us of sin.  Once convicted, we can then turn away from sin and repent from sin.  The only sacrifice for sins is Jesus, who died for us, and we must accept that the only way of salvation is through our acceptance and belief that Jesus took God's punishment that we all deserve.  We also must testify, and tell people, that we actually believe that.  Without a belief in Jesus's resurrection (which implies His death), and a testimony of that, we cannot be saved, let alone, raptured.

Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Romans 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Since Jesus died in our place, there is no need for God to punish us with death for our sins, nor any other punishment. 

Matthew 10:32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 10:33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

The Holy Spirit is truth, as Jesus is truth.  Quite simply, accepting what is true, and confessing Jesus, leads to salvation.  Denying Jesus and denying truth, and believing lies, leads to deception and damnation.

I digress off the topic of the rapture, and into the gospel of salvation, because in my experience, this is not merely an intellectual debate on timing.  It is a spiritual battle.  If the spiritual battle is won first, through a good understanding of the good news of the gospel that Jesus died for us and rose from the grave to conquer death, then, and only then, can an understanding of prophecy serve you.  The Bible is clear that prophecy is for believers.

1 Corinthians 14:22 ... prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

Also, one of the first questions people ask once they begin to be convinced about the doctrine of the rapture is, "What then must I do to be saved, or go in the rapture?"  I believe Romans 10 and Matthew 10, above, answer that.

Now, the teaching in the Bible is very clear that the wrath of God is not to be poured out on his true followers, despite the fact that Hebrews 10:26-27 says some people can only expect God's wrath.

1 Thess 1:10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

1 Thess 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

Romans 5:9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

In fact, this is so clear, that all scholarly views agree that the rapture happens before the wrath of God.  

Therefore, the debate is not only on the timing of the rapture, but also, on when God's wrath is poured out.  So, the mid trib view says that the wrath of God is in the second half of the tribulation, while the pre-wrath view puts God's wrath sometime towards the end of the middle of the second half of the tribulation, and the post trib view typically has the wrath of God falling after the tribulation.

There is virtually no debate that the wrath of God is poured out during the Day of the Lord.  So, another way to describe the issue is that people disagree on when the Day of the Lord begins in relation to the tribulation.  Again, nearly all the views have the rapture starting before the Day of the Lord, which is when the wrath of God begins.

Here are several reasons why I believe the Day of the Lord, and the wrath of God, starts at the beginning of the seven year tribulation.

The day of the Lord, and the tribulation, are both described by the same language, they are a "time unlike any other".

Matthew 24:21  For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

Joel 2:1 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;
2 A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.

Next, Zephaniah describes the day of the Lord as tribulation.  The Greek word for tribulation, and the Hebrew words used in Zephaniah, contain 5 similar words in their respective definitions: "trouble, distress, tribulation, affliction, straits".

Zephaniah 1:14 The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.
15 That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,
16 A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.
17 And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung.

Finally, Luke describes the tribulation as wrath

Luke 21:23  But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.

For a full 10 reasons why I believe the tribulation starts with the Day of the Lord, see the 4th part of my commentary on Matthew 24:
http://www.bibleprophesy.org/matt24commentary4.htm

Next, one of the most heavily debated passages in the rapture timing debate is 2 Thessalonians 2.  I've read over 50 commentaries on the passage, some over 10 pages long detailing the meaning of one word.

Here is my summary of what I believe the passage is saying (clarifications in parentheses):
2 Thessalonians 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together (rapture) unto him,
2 Thessalonians 2:2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ (or day of the Lord or tribulation) is at hand. (present, here now)
2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come (or don't be worried as if the day is present) except there come a falling away (apostasia / departure / rapture) first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
The five words in the King James Translation, "that day shall not come," are not contained in the Greek text.  Therefore, I think we should omit them.  If we omit them, the passage reads like the following:  "--be not shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the Day of the Lord (or tribulation) is present, (let no man deceive you by any means), except there come the departure first, and that man of sin be revealed--"

In other words, the only way we will know that the Day of the Lord is present, is if the rapture comes first, and if the man of sin is revealed. 

Interestingly, all views place the rapture before the Day of the Lord, and all views say that the man of sin is definitely revealed during the tribulation.  The key controversy, therefore, is whether the Day of the Lord begins at the start of the tribulation.

My understanding of 2 Thessalonians 2 shows me the rapture is before the tribulation, because all other definitions of the terms or explanations of the passage result in heresy, or illogical contradictions, as I show in my commentary.

My commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2 can be found here:
http://www.bibleprophesy.org/2thessalonians2.htm

Next, the popular rapture teachers teach that the rapture is "imminent", meaning, that it can come "at any moment".  But I don't find those words or concepts in the Bible.  They get this view from verses which say that the rapture is supposed to happen "on a day or hour no man knows", such as the following five passages:

Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
Matthew 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
Matthew 25:13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

Mark 13:32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
Mark 13:33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

However, the Feast of Trumpets is supposed to happen on the first day of the first month on the Jewish calendar, which is a lunar calendar, based on the new moon.  The new moon happens every 29.5 days, so there is no real way to know which day is the "first day" for absolute certainty.  Therefore, the verses above may more accurately refer to the Feast of Trumpets.  Ironically, my view is still literally correct in that even if I believe the rapture is appointed to happen on the Feast of Trumpets,  I still don't know the exact day or hour!  Further, my view is more fitting to the specific language of the passages, much more so than the idea of an "imminent" or "at any moment" rapture.

To read my 12 main points about how the Feast of Trumpets teaches more about the rapture, see:
http://www.bibleprophesy.org/introtrumpets.htm

Furthermore the Bible teaches rather clearly that if we don't know when the rapture will happen, that would be a punishment for "not watching". 

Revelation 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

Matthew 24:50 The lord of that [evil] servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,

Further, the Bible implies clearly that we ought to know the time, and not be surprised, because we ought to watch.

Luke 12:39 And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.

Mark 13:23 But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

Next, some of the most beautiful and interesting passages that show me that the rapture is before the tribulation are from the study of the Wedding, which is a theme of the Feast of Trumpets.  The Church is the Bride of Christ, and Jesus is our Husband.

Ephesians 5:25 "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church... ",

2 Corinthians 11:2 "...I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.",

Romans 7:4...."ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead..."

So Jesus will come to steal away and seize, or "catch up" his bride, to take us to the "bridal chamber" or "mansions" in heaven.

John 14:2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

The passage from John is perhaps one of the top 5 most commonly quoted verses about the rapture. Jesus will "receive" us to himself.  If the Bible is teaching us that we will enter into our Chambers in heaven at the rapture, then the next passage from Isaiah is clearly saying that the rapture is before the tribulation, or "indignation".

Isaiah 26:19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
Isaiah 26:20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.
Isaiah 26:21 For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.

Psalms also mentions this theme, how we will be hid in the father's house, or pavilion, "in the time of trouble", or tribulation. 

Psalms 27:4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the
LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.
Psalms 27:5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.
Psalms 27:6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.

I believe that the bridal week (which is like the "honeymoon" in Western tradition) is a parallel to the tribulation week, or seven years.  The bridal week is mentioned in two places in scripture.

Judges 14:1-18 ...And Samson made a feast there, as was customary for bridegrooms. ...If you can give me the answer within the seven days of the feast... She cried the whole seven days of the feast.

Genesis 29:22-28 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. ... Finish this daughter's bridal week

To read my 18 part study on how the picture of the Wedding helps us to understand the rapture, see:
http://www.bibleprophesy.org/introwedding.htm

No commentary about the pretribulation rapture would be complete without addressing the most common passage that is quoted in objection, which is Matthew 24:29-31.

Matthew 24:29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
30
Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31
And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

I have written a 5 part commentary, over 60 pages in length, to explain my views and Biblical research on these verses.  In summary, I believe the passage has two fulfillments:

I believe that after today's tribulations will be the rapture, and at that time, Satan will be cast out of heaven, after which, will begin the seven year tribulation.

I believe that after the future seven year tribulation will be the gathering together of the Israelites to Israel to meet the Lord as he returns with his previously raptured saints whom he has gathered together from out of heaven, and at that time, Satan will be cast into the pit.

I believe there are at least 14 references to the rapture in Matthew 24:27-51, as I explain at the conclusion in my 5 part commentary.
http://www.bibleprophesy.org/matt24commentary1.htm

Next, the implications of my view lead to some interesting conclusions about where the world is headed.  I have discarded the view of "we must be ignorant", which is the view of "imminency", and replaced it with seeing that the rapture has a set time, the Feast of Trumpets.  Further, as I showed from the Bible, we ought to be able to watch, to know the general season, or perhaps the world conditions leading up to the time of the pre tribulation rapture.

In Ezekiel 38-39, the passage describes Israel living in peace and safety, and being wealthy in gold, silver, and cattle.  Israel's wealth is the temptation that causes an army of "Gog and Magog" to invade from the North.  This army is defeated by the "fire of God" falling from heaven.  Afterwards, Israel goes out to burn the weapons of their enemies for a time period of seven years, which is the same time length as the tribulation.

Ezekiel 39:9 And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves, and the spears, and they shall burn them with fire seven years:

I have surveyed people who believe in the pretribulation rapture, and I asked, "When do you think the battle of Ezekiel 38-39 takes place with regard to the pretribulation rapture?"  There are at least six possible answers.  It could be before the tribulation, at the start of the tribulation, in the first half, in the middle, in the second half, or at the end.  About half of the pre trib believers placed the battle at the start of the tribulation, as I do.  So, I'm not really going out on a limb, or making a "private interpretation" to believe that these two 7 year time periods are the same time.

As a second support of this point, Paul writes about the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4 and 5, and I believe he refers to Ezekiel 38 in Chapter 5, verse 3.

1 Thessalonians 5:1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.

The only time in the Hebrew Scriptures where people are saying, "Peace and Safety", which is followed by a sudden destruction, is in Ezekiel 38. 

For my 2 part commentary on 1 Thessalonians 4 and 5, see here:
http://www.bibleprophesy.org/1thess45.htm
http://www.bibleprophesy.org/1thess45b.htm

So, if the timing of this is right, then the world events leading up to the time of the pretribulation rapture are described in Ezekiel 38!  In Ezekiel 38, Israel is living in peace and safety, and is wealthy in gold, silver, and cattle, before an invasion from the North. 

Ezekiel 38:11 And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates,
12 To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.
13 Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?
14 Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it?

But today, Israel is not living in peace and safety.  Nor does Israel's wealth in gold and silver appear to be enough of a lure today to cause such an invasion today. 

So, how might those conditions be brought about?

In Revelation 17-18, we see the 7th and 8th beasts, or world governments.  The 8th beast is the antichrist's world government, which will use the "mark of the beast", cashless & goldless, monetary system described in Revelation 13. 

For my study on the mark of the beast, and why it is evil, see here:
http://www.bibleprophesy.org/666mark.htm

The 7th beast comes before, and gives power to, the 8th beast.  So, the 7th beast is also a world government, but is not the antichrist's world government.  Another difference between the 7th, and 8th beasts is that the Harlot rides the 7th beast, until it turns on her to destroy her, and then, after that, the 7th beast gives their kingdom to the 8th beast. 

Revelation 17:16 And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. 17 For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. 18 And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.”

So, who is the Harlot?  I believe that the Harlot who will ride the 7th beast will be international bankers operating out of Jerusalem.  Bankers will control the 7th beast through lending and usury, as the borrower is the servant to the lender. 

To see why I believe that Jerusalem is the Great Harlot, the Mother of all Harlots and Abominations (and why other interpretations are really only daughter harlots), see:
http://www.bibleprophesy.org/rev1718.htm

So, the monetary system between the 7th and 8th beasts, two successive world governments, is likely very different.  I believe that the 7th beast will most likely use gold and silver as the world monetary system.  Then, through usury, Jerusalem in Israel will gain much of the world's gold and silver during the reign of the 7th beast, and this will lead up to the conditions described in Ezekiel 38.  This may take a full generation from now.

Christians are supposed to "come out" of the Harlot so as to not partake in her sins or plagues.   So, I try to avoid borrowing and lending.

Honest weights of gold and silver are God's economic system of freedom, which are the opposite of the "mark of the beast" monetary system. 

One way to determine the character of a Christian is to examine his fruits.

"Matthew 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."

I encourage you to examine mine at bibleprophesy.org and at http://silverstockreport.com/ssrarchive.htm

See especially:

Paper Money Violates all Ten Commandments
http://www.silverstockreport.com/email/commandments.html

Bible Verses on How to Manage Money
http://www.bibleprophesy.org/goldismoney/biblemoney.html

Accurate prophecy helps protect you from deception, and the gospel of truth also helps protect you from deception.  Today, I believe the world's biggest deception is paper money.