The Bible foretells that without warning, millions of true Christian believers will suddenly disappear into the clouds. This event is commonly called the Rapture. To the unbeliever, this prophecy must seem like something out of the Twilight Zone, a pie in the sky promise, but to the believer it ranks as a top reward for their faith in Christ. According to 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, it is when they instantly receive their immortal bodies.
The Timing Views for the Rapture
There are conflicting views about the timing of the Rapture event, which is primarily predicted in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-53. Pre-Tribbers believe that the event occurs sometime prior to the 7-year Tribulational Period, (Trib-Period). Mid-Tribbers subscribe to the view that Christ comes at the Mid-point of the Trib-Period. Post-Tribbers teach that Christ comes at the end of the Trib-Period. Some find humor in a Pan-Trib view, which says that “It all pans out in the end.” However, the timing of the Rapture is no laughing matter because, shortly afterward the world will experience the worst 7 years in its history! The Trib-Period is when God pours out His wrath on a Christ rejecting humankind!
“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.” (Matthew 24:21)
I stated, “shortly afterward,” because the Trib-Period doesn’t begin at the time of the disappearances, rather it commences with the confirmation of a covenant by the Antichrist between Israel and another party. The details of this detrimental covenant are described in Isaiah 28:15-18 and Daniel 9:27. I call this interval period between the Rapture and the Trib-Period, The Post-Rapture / Pre-Tribulation Time-Gap. In my book entitled, Apocalypse Road, Revelation for the Final Generation, I have authored a 64-page thesis on this topic. This thesis is also available to read over the Internet at this link.
The Post-Rapture / Pre-Tribulation Gap is Not a New Idea
Many of today’s top Bible prophecy teachers acknowledge the existence of this Post-Rapture / Pre-Tribulation Time-Gap. For instance, Dr. Tim LaHaye, the co-author of the best-selling Left Behind book series, and I discussed this possible gap interval in December 2009, at the Pre-Trib Rapture Research Center conference in Dallas. In a postscript to our conversation, Tim emailed me this statement below in the early part of 2011, a few years before he passed away to be with the Lord on July 25, 2016.
“Pre-Trib. scholars are not agreed on whether the rapture starts the Tribulation (Nothing in scripture says it does). Daniel 9:27 says the Antichrist will confirm a contract with Israel for one week (or seven years), which leads me to believe that starts the Tribulation. There is a high possibility that the Rapture could take place prior, but only God knows how long.”
In addition to Dr. Tim LaHaye, other respected Bible prophecy teachers that believe this gap exists include Dr. David Reagan of Lamb and Lion Ministries, Gary Stearman of Prophecy Watchers TV, and Gary Frazier of Discovery Missions, just to name a few.
Introducing the PRE-GAP RAPTURE Theory
The point of this article is to introduce the “PRE-GAP” theory for the timing of the Rapture. Pre, Mid and Post-Tribbers now have another view to consider. The epic Rapture event happens in the twinkling of and eye according to 1 Corinthians 15:52, and just a split-second later those left behind get plunged into the perilous Post-Rapture / Pre-Tribulation Time-Gap period! Thus, the Rapture occurs immediately before the gap begins for a PRE-GAP timing!
To be clear, this is not a new hypothesis about the gap between the Rapture and the Tribulation, rather it is a clarification of the Pre-Trib timing of the Rapture. Pre-Gappers advocate that the Rapture occurs somewhat further in advance of the Trib-Period.
The Prophecies of the Post-Rapture / Pre-Tribulation Time-Gap
I say, “somewhat further in advance,” because the Post-Rapture / Pre-Tribulation interval is an unspecified time-period. In my estimation, this event will last several years and will include the following major prophetic events:
1. Lying Signs and Wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9)
2. Unrestrained Lawlessness (2 Thess. 2:7)
3. Revealing of the Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:8, Revelation 6:1-2) (1st Seal)
4. Peace Taken From the Earth (Rev. 6:3-4) (2nd Seal)
5. Famines and Pestilences (Rev. 6:5-6) (3rd Seal)
6. Global Order and Religion (Rev. 6:7-8) (4thSeal)
7. The Emergence of Mystery Babylon (Rev. 17:5)
8. Christian Martyrdom (Rev. 6:9-11) (5th Seal)
9. The 144,000 Witnesses (Rev. 7:1-8)
10. Overflowing Scourge (Isaiah 28:15, Rev. 6:7-8) (4thSeal)
11. Drafting the False Covenant (Isaiah 28:15, Daniel 9:27)
Most Bible prophecy teachers place the timing of the 7 seal judgments in the first 3 and one-half years of the Trib-Period. I believe this is a clumsy fit and explain in the Apocalypse Road book how the first 5 seals seemingly fit perfectly within the Post-Rapture / Pre-Tribulation Time-Gap. I believe these first 5 seals are opened during the gap, but conclude within the Trib-Period. I encourage you to read my thesis to see if you agree with my thinking.
Why the PRE-GAP RAPTURE Timing is Important
The PRE-GAP timing of the Rapture is important to acknowledge, because in addition to the fact that the Church is not appointed to the wrath of God in the Trib-Period as per 1 Thess. 5:9, it is also not going to be subjected to the dangers of Satanic supernatural deception, unrestrained lawlessness and the revealing of the Antichrist according to 2 Thessalonians 2. These are three perilous scenarios that the Church is presently being safeguarded from, and because the Church is still on earth, the world at large is also being shielded.
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one (the Antichrist) will be revealed, whom the Lord (Jesus Christ) will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His (Second) coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous (Supernatural) deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:7-10, NKJV; emphasis added)
Once the PRE-GAP RAPTURE occurs, Satan advances his overpowering supernatural deception upon unsuspecting humanity. This begins during the time-gap and carries over into its advanced stages during the Trib-Period.
When a believer recognizes that prior to the Trib-Period their unsaved loved ones will be unsuspectingly plunged into the perilous time-gap interval, it should prompt them to evangelize their lost love ones NOW! These unbelievers need to hear the good news Gospel of Jesus Christ and be made aware of His soon coming in the PRE-GAP RAPTURE for His believers.
They should also be warned about the predicted events within time-gap that comes NEXT and alerted to the judgments in the Trib-Period that follows LAST! Otherwise, some of our loved ones that are left behind may be deceived into thinking that believers were not Raptured and there is no Trib-Period forthcoming for mankind to be concerned about.
Many readers will get Raptured as true believers of Jesus Christ before this time-gap period commences. The good news is that they will not personally face the frightening events that are forthcoming in this interval period. The bad news is that someone they love will!
The Apocalypse Road book has been specifically designed to stimulate the mind and pulsate the heart of believers, and to invigorate their love for the lost. Careful consideration in that regard has gone into the overall content of the entire book. If you are concerned about the eternal destiny of an unsaved loved one, then consider Apocalypse Road as your invaluable guidebook for these last days. The biblically supported scenarios within this book will embolden you to share the good news about Jesus Christ with the ones you love.