Yes, I am one of those who believes that the rapture will take place before the tribulation begins, and I think that there is sufficient evidence to support that belief. But if you want to believe in a mid-tribulation-rapture, or a post-tribulation-rapture, I have no objections. Nonetheless, when I study end-time events in the Bible, I tend to think of the rapture, the tribulation and the second coming as all one event, carried out over a period of time. The rapture of the church will signal the beginning of the end, so to speak, and from that point on, the final moments will be counting down. Of what hour the rapture will take place no man knows, but when the evacuation of every believer from off this earth takes place, for anyone who is willing to look into it and see for themselves the Bible tells them when the Second Coming will be.
“Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that makes desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waits, and comes to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.”(Dan. 12:10-12)
So when the rapture has taken place; that is the first sign, and then the daily sacrifice will be reinstated in Jerusalem. Then approximately three and a half years later, the daily sacrifice will be taken away(I.e. forbidden) and the abomination of desolation will be set up in the Holy place, then there will be 1290 days till the accomplishment of the scattering of the people(Jews), and 45 days after that will be the coming of the Son of Man. “And all the families of the earth shall mourn.” This abomination of desolation spoken of here is some sort of idol—probably a statue of the antichrist himself—that will be placed in the Holy place of the temple. It will be an abomination because it will say that the god that should be worshiped is the antichrist and not Jesus. But just as with the Jews of Jesus day; the time, place and manner in which Jesus would come were laid out in black and white in the pages of the old testament, yet they did not recognize the signs; likewise those who are on the earth now cannot perceive the signs of the times, though the signs are all around us and the time is at hand.
Yes, Jesus did say: “But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”(Mat. 24:36) But in that instance I feel certain that He was referring to the rapture of the church rather than the second coming. The reason I say that is because directly after that, He speaks of the days of Noah. “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”(Mat. 24:37-39)
The days of Noah can be likened unto the series of end-time events in that Enoch was translated that he should not see death, and Enoch is a type of the raptured church. Noah on the other hand is a type of Israel, which will go through the judgment but will be saved in the end. So when millions of Christians are suddenly taken out of this world, that they should not see death, I think that will be a fairly-sure sign to the rest of the world that the tribulation and the second coming of Christ are not far off.
And in Jesus’ statement about the days of Noah, He reiterates the truth that most of the world, when they see even the most obvious signs that the end is near, still will not believe. The reason is that people do not want to let go of their sin. They want to remain in it. And they will believe anything that will allow them to do so, even at the expense of their own souls.
Now the time of the end has been predicted by many and varied people throughout the ages, and many have made the emphatic statement that the end of the world will be on such and such a date, at such and such a time, and those dates and times have come and gone, and the end of the world didn’t happen. And so many have come to the conclusion that it is never going to happen. But let it be known that many promises and prophecies throughout the Bible have come to pass already, and that which has not come to pass yet is going to come to pass. “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.”(Mat. 24:4)
Let it be understood that those Christians who are doing all that they can to live for God in this life need not be caught by surprise when the end comes, for the Lord will come as a thief in the night and will take His people away from the judgment to come. But for those who are not living for God, you have cause to fear, for Jesus also said: “Therefore be you also ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord has made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He comes shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, that He shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, my Lord delays His coming; and shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looks not for Him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”(Mat. 24:44-51)