These are the basic events of the rapture of the church with a small amount of commentary.
We will be gathered back to Jesus and taken to heaven with Him after the last trumpet, which I believe to be the Seventh Trumpet of Revelation.
The Bible says, “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.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52 NKJV)
At the end of the age, sometime after the Seventh Trumpet has sounded, the human, flesh bodies of all believers alive at that time will be instantly changed into our heavenly bodies that are imperishable, which means that they are not subject to age or death. Those believers who are already dead are currently with Christ. Their bodies will be changed from the dust left behind into those same imperishable bodies. All will live forever.
I am not suggesting that the dead in Christ are disembodied spirits. We see in Revelation 6:9-10, that the souls of the dead are given white robes. Robes are clothing; therefore the souls were clothed in white, which means pure, that is, without sin. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:2-3, that we long to put on the clothes of our spiritual body. He said in verse 3, “…having been clothed, we shall not be found naked.” The New Living Translation renders it “…we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies.” Those souls of the departed referred to in Revelation are clothed in sinless heavenly bodies of some sort, but apprently not the imperishable bodies spoken of in this passage. John Gill said about this subject, “‘Souls’, being immaterial and incorporeal, are invisible to the bodily eye; these therefore were either clothed with corporeal forms, as angels sometimes are or rather John saw them in a visionary way, as he saw the angels…” (John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, note on Revelation 6:9)
We then find that the Bible says, “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.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 NKJV)
This describes what we know traditionally as the rapture of the saints. It is this simple; we will instantly receive our imperishable bodies, both the living and the dead, and will rise into the air to meet our Savior in the clouds and from that point onward, we will eternally be with our Lord. I take this literally. This event occurs at the end of the age. Nothing is said here about any events surrounding this occurrence. We we are simply getting the essentials.
Nothing is said about a “secret rapture,” nor does any scripture support such an event. In fact, Scripture says the very opposite. In Matthew 24:30-31, the Lord Himself said, “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 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.” This apocalyptic statement has a dual fulfillment.
It was partially fulfilled when Jerusalem was destroyed-Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven with power and glory is symbolic of God’s judgment (see Jer 4:13; Joel 2:1-2; Zeph 1:15). This surely happened to Jerusalem in AD 70. The future fulfillment of this prophecy is the exact time that Paul is talking about above. When Jesus sends his angels all over the world to gather His people to Himself, it will be an open event for the entire world to see. All the tribes or peoples of the earth will see this event and mourn. They will mourn because they will remain and they will know that they are not a part of the saved.
The proponents of a secret rapture believe that God has two paths to salvation. One is for the church, the other for Israel. They teach, contrary to Scripture (especially Romans chapters 9-11) that Israel and the church are forever separate. Accordingly, God has a plan of salvation for the church and that is the rapture. However, according to these folks, His plan for Israel or the Jews is different. They will suffer through a seven year tribulation period that is horrendous where God will pour out His wrath on Israel because they rejected Christ when He came. This cannot be upheld by Scripture. All humans are saved by the blood of Christ and that includes Israel. See the study entitled, The Relationship between Israel and the Christian Church.
The church will see tribulation, just as it always has. In fact, tribulation is commonplace in the church today. We in the US are not going through very much tribulation today, but there is some persecution even here. Western Europe is seeing more persecution against the church than we in the US are. But in the remainder of the world, Christianity is under immense attack. It is a deadly danger to be a Christian in most of the world. Tribulation and persecution are occurring right now against the church outside to the protected areas of the West. This persecution is spreading and not receding. It will eventually take over the world and the entire church will suffer persecution and tribulation. The church will not be removed from this persecution. As in the early days of the church, persecution strengthens believers. The same is true today and will remain true in the future.
The rapture will occur after the seventh trumpet sounds, and after the believers are raised with Christ, then God will pour out the last seven bowls of God’s wrath on the unbelievers left behind. This not specifically against Israel; it is against any and all unbelievers, both Jew and Gentile. After the wrath of God is finished, Christ will return with His church behind him like a might army and Christ will destroy all His enemies that survive the wrath of God with a word. He will speak and they will be destroyed. You will find these events in Revelation chapters 14-19.
There is nothing that tells us of a seven year tribulation period against the Jews. It simply is not in Scripture. The only place seven years is mentioned is in Daniel. There is simply says that the prince that will come will force people into a covenant with him for seven years and somewhere in the midst of that covenant period, he will change the rules and outlaw the worship of God. There is no seven year period in Revelation. Revelation speaks only of a 3.5 year period. More information about this seven year will be provided in the study entitled “The Seventieth Week.”