Immediately before? 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 they will see the Son of Man coming up in 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 heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31)
That’s the Rapture, right? It’s the event most Bible-believing Christians are to be ready for at any moment. It has been called “the blessed hope” by some, and the question always follows, “Is it yours?”
Is it your hope that you would be removed from the earth before the great troubles break out that herald the end of this age? It would be an appealing hope if it were true. But read the verse above in your own Bible. We deliberately altered it to make a point. I should read, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days…” It is a vain hope to think that because you believe, you will escape the Great Tribulation, for it is after the tribulation that the Son of God will return to gather His people from the four corners of the earth. It’s amazing that all those “Bible-believing” churches don’t believe their Bible!
Also read carefully something Paul said on the subject:
This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. For after all, it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted, and to us as well, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God, and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed — for our testimony to you was believed. (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10)
Verses 6 through 8 make it plain that the Lord will give relief to His saints at the same time He repays with affliction those who have persecuted them. These are simultaneous events, not separated by three and a half years. It should be clear that those who believe should expect to endure the greatest time of testing in all of human history.
You may ask, “What difference does it make?” Everything! The faith that saves you should also prepare you for this terrible ordeal. If you have received the true salvation of the Son of God, you will be led to live a life with His people that will prepare you to stand in that evil day.1 Those who do so will be His radiant bride. All others who have a “faith” that never leads them to obey the gospel may very well find themselves living lives comfortably conformed to this world, trusting in a hope that will disappoint them.