Reason Seven for a Pre-Tribulational Rapture
The final reason why I believe the rapture will occur before the tribulation, to me, seals the argument. There are many passages in the New Testament that speak of Jesus coming as a thief: Matthew 24:43; Luke 12:39; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 3:3; and Revelation 16:15. These passages do not make any sense if the rapture comes after the tribulation. The whole point that Jesus was making is the thief comes without advanced notice. Have you ever been burglarized? Did the thief call you and say, “Thursday night at 2:00 a.m., I am coming to your home to take your stereo and your computer”? No, of course not! Without any warning, suddenly the thief was there.
Living Through the Tribulation
Now, think about this: Do you think for a moment that people are going to live through the tribulation period and not realize what is coming? Think about what is going to happen during the tribulation period. For one thing, there are going to be two witnesses in Jerusalem—Elijah and perhaps Moses. They are going to be prophesying in Jerusalem and will be seen all over the world via satellite. They are going to frustrate the antichrist and irritate people because they are preaching the gospel. They will be talking about Jesus Christ and about the fact that He is coming back. We are also told that during the tribulation period, there is going to be an angel flying through the midst of heaven with the everlasting gospel, warning people about the mark of the beast (see Revelation 14:6–10.) With all of this, not to mention the cataclysmic judgments, do you think anybody could possibly live through the tribulation and not realize what is happening?
Behold, I Come As a Thief
So, you see, when Jesus said, “Behold, I come as a thief,” it really only makes sense if He is talking about coming in the air to receive His people to Himself, not His second coming to the earth to set up His kingdom. That is the only way the “thief passages” make sense! Jesus said on six occasions that He would come as a thief, and we have to believe that He was referring to the rapture itself. That is how He is going to come, with that element of surprise!