Newsflash! There is no rapture before the beginning of the tribulation. There is not one scripture reference that verifies that Jesus returns twice–once before the tribulation to resurrect and rapture the church, and once after the tribulation to resurrect and rapture the tribulation saints. The pre-trib theory is false.
There is one rapture of living saints, which happens at the same time as the one resurrection of dead saints–at the end of the tribulation, which is "the last day". Pre-tribbers are known for using two scripture references that they claim prove the return of Christ for the church before the tribulation occurs.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. – I Thessalonians 4:14-17, NKJV
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” – I Corinthians 15:51-54, NKJV
The above two references are both speaking of one event in different ways. WHEN do those verses say this event happens? Before or after the tribulation? They don't. There are actually numerous verses that speak of Christ's second coming or appearing without actually saying WHEN it happens (Heb. 9:26-28; I Cor. 15:22,23; Col. 3:4; I Tim. 6:14; Titus 2:11-13; I Peter 1:13; I John 2:28; 3:2; Rev. 1:7,8). I don't believe the many verses referring to Christ's second coming are divided into two different appearances–once at the beginning of the tribulation, and once at the end of the tribulation. There is ONE second coming (Heb. 9:26-28). If we are going to interpret scripture with scripture, all we need to do is find other references that also talk about the second coming of Christ that do tell us WHEN it occurs.
At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. – Daniel 12:1,2, NKJV
In the above verse it shows that: AFTER "a time of trouble" (tribulation), believers will awake (at the resurrection) to everlasting life.
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. 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. 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. – Matthew 24:29-31, NKJV
In the above verse it shows that: AFTER the tribulation, Jesus will appear from heaven in the clouds with the sound of a trumpet, and the elect will be gathered together (the dead are resurrected and living are raptured).
since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed. …Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. – II Thessalonians 1:6-10; 2:1-4, NKJV
In the above verse it shows that: WHEN Jesus appears and resurrects the saints, His wrath will begin on unbelievers remaining in the earth. But His coming and our being gathered together with Him (resurrection/rapture) won't happen until AFTER the antichrist/beast is already set up in the temple claiming he is god. In fact, we are told not to be deceived into thinking Christ will come before that time (which Pre-tribulation beliefs claim will occur).
Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” – Revelation 11:15, NKJV
In the above verse it shows that: The seventh angel sounded (the same trumpet spoken of in I Thes. 4 and I Cor. 15) and Christ comes to reign on earth for 1000 years AFTER the tribulation.
Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl …And I saw three unclean spirits …For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon. Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” – Revelation 16:12-17, NKJV
In the above verse it shows that: The Battle of Armageddon is the final battle on earth as Christ descends to earth–AFTER the tribulation. Jesus said that this is when He comes like a thief. And a voice claims, "It is done."
So no verses speaking about the second coming of Christ ever reveals that He will come to resurrect and rapture Christians before the tribulation. But numerous verses teach about His return AFTER the tribulation. In fact, we are told not to be deceived into thinking there could be a gathering of believers (rapture) before the rule of the antichrist.
There is only one resurrection of pre-millennial believers (Rev. 20:4-6), which is at the last day of pre-millennial history (John 6:39,40,44,54). Christ's second coming is only once at the end of the tribulation. He comes one time in the clouds, at the last trumpet, on the Day of the Lord. These are all ONE event that occur on ONE day at the end of the tribulation (Zech. 14:5-9). And guess what. Believers are still raptured before the wrath of God, which also happens at the end of the tribulation (as shown in many of those verses above).
The tribulation is not the wrath of God. It is troubles and persecution. This brief period of human history will show us signs that the end is near (Matt. 24:3-13; 32,33). It will be a wake-up call for humanity to call on the name of the Lord before it's too late. Yes, the tribulation will bring about great natural disasters. A great number of people will die during this period. Jesus promised we would have tribulation and persecution in this life. There is nothing unusual about that (Matt. 5:10-12; II Tim. 2:3,4; 3:12; I Peter 3:13-17; John 15:18-20; Phil.1:29,30). Neither is it unusual that Christians will have to endure the period of the tribulation. Many Christians in other countries besides America and other free countries are well aware of the possibility of persecution. There will also be persecution upon believers by the antichrist government (Rev. 13:7,15).
But the tribulation is only birth pangs of the wrath of God. It is birth pangs of the morning of eternity on earth. It is birth pangs of the redemption of our bodies (Isaiah 26:17-21; Romans 8:18-23). The day of the Lord, the day of God's wrath, the day of the resurrection and rapture are AFTER the tribulation. That is WHEN the Lord Jesus Christ returns for His people, and then only.
Most Christians do not desire or yearn for troubles and persecutions in life. We want enjoyment and safety with our families and loved ones. We just have to rightly divide the word of truth at the same time (II Tim. 2:15). If we love our families, we should want to be watching so we can warn them if troubles are on the horizon. Nobody can avoid troubles by closing their eyes to it.
Read more about worldwide Christian persecution in the future