If you’ve ever talked to anyone about the timing of the rapture of the church described in the Bible, people can generally tell you what they believe but have a hard time backing it up, or they are absolutely convinced that they are right but still can’t back it up. The most common belief is pre-tribulation, but is that supported by the Bible?
The rapture is usually called a “non-critical” or “non-salvation” issue. Is that why people don’t seem to research it much or know much about it? The book of Revelation promises blessings to those who read and apply what they learn (Revelation 1:3). It seems like that extra promise would be enough incentive for more people to read it and understand it enough to have a well-formed opinion.
Despite the “non-salvation issue” claims, the timing of the rapture has a bigger impact than most people think. Consider this: if I believe that Christians will be raptured, or taken from the earth into heaven, before the tribulation and the rule of the antichrist, and the antichrist is the one responsible for issuing the mark of the beast, then I think I’ll be gone before the antichrist does his thing, and I’ll never have to face the “mark of the beast”. If I’m wrong, then is it possible that I could take the mark of the beast without knowing it because I expect to be gone when it’s implemented? Don’t forget that anyone who takes this mark is doomed to eternity in hell (Revelation 14:9-11)! Whatever taking the mark entails, it must be accompanied by “worship”. It’s hard to guess whether that will be subtle or blatant, verbal or internal, public or private.
So does Revelation 20:4-5 give us an answer to when the rapture will take place? Does it indicate that the rapture of believers will occur at the end of the tribulation? Verse 4 describes the tribulation where some people chose not to take the mark of the beast, then verse 5 says, “This is the first resurrection.” I know many people teach of a rapture before the tribulation, but this seems to clearly contradict a pre-trib rapture, doesn’t it? Is it that simple? We shall see.