For a bit of historical background, the idea that Jesus is coming back before the “Great Tribulation” is an idea introduced at the turn of the 19th century into the 20th, popularized in England chiefly by Bible doubter John Nelson Darby, and in the United States by Cyrus Scofield, he of the famous Scofield Notes which permeate the Scofield study Bible.
The following link
provides an excellent chart that shows the changes Darby made to the Bible. These alterations are reflected in Scofield’s notes, a disciple of John Darby, who was generous in correcting the Bible accordingly.
Americans at the time had a stronger independent Christian tradition, since the mavericks dominated migration to the New World and they brought their faith, and they were not so easily fooled by new “authorities” who came saying that their tested and proven Bible (aka Authorized Version) was wrong. So Scofield had to put these ideas into so-called “notes”.
The breaking of the Covenant and the placing of the “Abomination of Desolation”:
There are many passages on the timing of the “Rapture”, starting with Jesus’ own words. After giving us a list of signs he gave the apostles in answer to their questions about signs of “the end of the world”, he refers directly to the tribulation you read about in Daniel 9:24-27:
Matthew 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)….
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.
The week referred to here is a week of years, seven years, that is the last seven years before Jesus descends at the Armageddon battle to defeat Satan and the Antichrist and begin the direct rule of the Earth for a thousand years, a period also known as the Millennium.
The placing of the “Abomination of Desolation” Begins the Tribulation:
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.
Then immediately after the “tribulation of those days”:
Matthew 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
And finally, Jesus comes back and gathers together his elect:
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Certainly when Jesus comes back, one shall be taken and the other left…But also it doesn’t say anywhere that it will be a big secret. In fact, the two famous prophets of Revelations 12 are taken up into heaven in the sight of the whole world:
Revelation 11:11 And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.
12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
This event, the ascension of the two prophets, is not explicitly linked to the “gathering together” but they “shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.”, close enough to the three and a half years, the last half of the “week” of Daniel.
And that’s just getting started! Since I’m not the Antichrist, I won’t “wear out the saints”, so all this is just an abbreviated version of the issues that point to POST-Tribulation gathering.
Paul quells rumors of “any-minute” Rapture:
“Pre-Tribbers” sometimes use the next passage as if it proved the opposite of what it says. Now read it this time without all the extraneous baggage, suspending what I or anybody else told you, just read it “straight up”, as I like to call it, for what it is. Just keep this question in mind: What has to come FIRST before the “the day of Christ”,
2 Thessalonians 2:1 ¶Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
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 is at hand.
3 ¶Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
2 Thessalonians 2:7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
In Revelations it is an explicit description of the way the Lord shall descend from heaven and defeat Satan with the Word from his mouth, and the “brightness of his coming”.
The Last Trump:
1 Corinthians 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.
In Revelations 8 and 9 six angels sound trumpets of tribulation plagues that are unleashed in the Earth. Chapter 14 has visions of saints and glory in Heaven, and then the seventh trumpet opens up the plagues of the wrath of God in chapter 15.
The plagues that come down with each of the vials of the wrath of God are much worse than the Tribulation plagues unleashed with the trumpets. Paul said the “last trump shall sound”, and John’s seventh trumpet shows visions of Heaven, and then, the angels with the vials of the wrath of God.
Revelation 15:1 ¶And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.
2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
The seventh vial sets off the return of Jesus Christ with his army of saints at the Valley of Meguiddo, where the devil and his angels are vanquished and banned to the lake of fire for a thousand years! Those must be some kind of horses!
On dispensations and kingdoms:
This will be expanded later, but there is another way that “pre-Trib” is forced into places where it doesn’t fit. Some say that there is a series of “dispensations” where God sets up changing rules for salvation.
Based on this idea of what those dispensations are, they think that the “kingdom of heaven” of Matthew is meant for the Jews, and Matthew 24 in particular for the Jews that are saved after the Tribulation. But! They claim that this is another “dispensation” of works!
But the verses that clearly state flat-out that there is “no man” on earth “that doeth good and sinneth not”, both throughout the Old Testament and the New, this is clearly an unacceptable arrogation of man to “earn” his way to salvation and heaven. The examples abound from Job to David to Jeremiah, “all our righteousness is as filthy rags”, and that’s that!
As to “kingdom of heaven” and “kingdom of God”, just get a concordance and find that these two phrases are used in identical ways in identical contexts numerous times in the Gospels.