We are now living in the most blessed time that has ever been experienced in human history. Not only are we in that wonderful Age of Grace when by simple faith in Jesus Christ one can receive the glorious gift of eternal life ( Matt.18:3-4, John 3:16, Eph. 2:8-9, Rom. 10:13), but we are obviously living in the last days of that age and are witness to the abundant signs and "stage-settings" that tell us we are very near the conclusion of the Church Age. Although none of today's signs point directly to the concluding event of the Church Age, the Rapture, they DO point to the nearness of the day of the Tribulation and to our Lord's glorious Second Coming following the Tribulation. And since we believe the Rapture will precede the Tribulation, our hearts leap with joyous anticipation at the thought that we will soon see our Lord coming in the air to receive us unto Himself that where He is, we might be also (John 14:3).
In this wonderful Church Age in which we now live, our Lord, by the power of His Holy Spirit, is gathering out from among the population of the world a very special people (Acts 15:14) called "The Church" or "The Bride of Christ" (II Cor. 11:2). And when the last person is "born again" (John 3:3) into The Church and "The Bride" is complete, The Bridegroom (Jesus) will come suddenly and snatch us away unto Himself and we will never be separated from Him again! (I Thess. 4:13-18) Hallelujah!!! Thus, the Church Age in which we now live will conclude with the Rapture of the Church.
After the Rapture, the seven year Tribulation will begin. But will it begin immediately after the Rapture? In other words, will the Rapture mark the end of the Church Age and the first day of the Tribulation? Or, will there be a space of time between the Rapture and the beginning of the Tribulation? First of all, Daniel 9:27 makes it clear that Daniel's Seventieth Week (the seven year Tribulation) will start when the Antichrist "shall confirm the covenant with many for one week". Many Bible scholars believe this means he will accomplish something that the last eleven presidents of the United States have not been able to accomplish. He will establish a seven year peace agreement in the Middle East that will require the Arab nations to accept Israel's right to exist in peace within secure borders. On the day that peace agreement is signed, the clock will start on the seven year Tribulation.
So, it is NOT the Rapture that marks the beginning of the Tribulation. It is the "confirming" of the peace covenant with Israel. And will that signing of the covenant happen exactly on the same day as the Rapture? Probably not. It appears from the Scriptures that there will be a short period of time (maybe no more than a few weeks or months) after the Rapture before the Tribulation begins, although it's impossible to specify the exact duration of this interval time period. We might call it the "Pre-Trib Preparation" time though, since it will allow for certain events to happen in preparation for the signing of the peace treaty.
This idea of a "Pre-Trib Preparation" time may come as a surprise to some, but it's really not such a hard idea to accept. God's prophetic revelation of various events in history are rarely, if ever, accompanied with details on the specific timing of those events. So, we tend to line up the last days scenario of events in an uninterrupted sequence. But it is very possible that there are "time breaks" between some of the events.
For example, if we lived in Daniel's day, we would likely have thought that when God said He was going to deal with Daniel's people for another 490 years (Dan. 9:24), it would be 490 successive years. But of course, from our present perspective in history, we realize that the entire Church Age (already about 2000 years) falls between the first 483 years and the last seven years of that 490 years. When the Church Age is finished and Jesus comes for His Bride in the Rapture, then God will resume His 490 years of dealing with the Jews; that last seven years, the "seventieth week of Daniel" (the Tribulation) will commence. So, at this time, there has been a very long (almost 2000 years) break between the end of the first 483 years and the beginning of the last 7 years.
But what makes us think that there will be a "Pre-Trib Preparation" time between the Rapture and the Tribulation?
Daniel 7:8 tells us that the Antichrist (the little horn) will rise to power by "subduing" three of the "kings" in a ten-king power block. These ten "kings" (probably a ruling committee of some sort) will have power over the last days empire (Dan. 2:33,41-45, 7:23-24) until Antichrist comes to power by overthrowing three of them, then replacing those three and making himself the supreme leader over all ten. (We know that according to Rev. 17:12-14, the ten-king setup will still be in place as subordinates of the Antichrist when Jesus returns and destroys them..)
Also, II Thess. 2:1-3 tells us that the "man of sin" will be "revealed" (make his rise to power) BEFORE the Tribulation begins. Obviously, Antichrist will have to be in power to negotiate and sign the "peace covenant" with Israel. And even though we don't know this for sure, it is likely that his rise to power will come AFTER the Rapture. The Rapture will create a short time of world chaos and confusion, the perfect environment for the man of sin to step forward as the man with all the answers to the world's problems. People will be looking for someone to restore order and prosperity to the planet. And he will appear to be just the man for the job.
So, the Pre-Trib Preparation time will allow for the Antichrist to rise to power, get established as a world renowned political leader and then negotiate and sign the covenant with Israel.
The Pre-Mill Preparation
Neither will the inauguration of the Millennial Kingdom commence on the last day of the Tribulation. There are some things that must happen AFTER the Lord returns in preparation for His Millennial Kingdom on earth:
- Antichrist and False Prophet are thrown into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 19:20)
- Satan is locked up in the Abyss (Rev. 20:1-2)
- There must be the coronation of the King of Kings on Mt. Zion (Isa. 24:23, Micah 4:7)
- There must be time for the restoration of the earth to its Edenic beauty (Isa.. 65:17)
- There must be the "Judgment of Nations" to determine who is qualified to enter the Kingdom (Matt. 25:31-46)
Of course, our Lord is not limited by time, so He will be able to accomplish all of this in short order. But, as with the Rapture and Tribulation, we should not automatically think that the Tribulation and Millennium are successive. There will definitely be a "Pre-Mill Preparation" time.
This time will probably be fairly short in duration also. The closing scriptures in the book of Daniel seem to refer to it when it speaks of a period of 30 days after the Tribulation and also 75 days after it:
"And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up [According to Dan. 9:27, this happens at the midpoint of the Tribulation], there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days" (Dan 12:11-12).
The Tribulation is seven years of 360 days each (7 x 360 = 2520 days). Counting from the midpoint when the Abomination of Desolation takes place to the end is 1260 days (2520 divided by 2 = 1260). So, when verse 11 says that "there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days", that's 30 days past the end of the Tribulation. However, the Scripture doesn't tell us what the significance of that thirty days is.
Likewise, the 1335 days past the midpoint mentioned in verse 12 would be 75 days past the end of the Tribulation. The fact that this verse says that "blessed" is the one who makes it that far is probably because that will mark the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom and anyone not already condemned to Hell in the Judgment of Nations (Matt. 25:31-46) by that time will be allowed to enter the kingdom. They will certainly be blessed!
Of course, this is all speculation about the meaning of those first days after the Tribulation. The Bible simply doesn't explain to us the significance of the first 30 days or 75 days post-Trib. However, it does support the idea that there will be an intermediate time of some length between the end of the Tribulation and the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom. And somewhere in that time, Jesus will return to earth as the King of Kings! But no one will know the exact day and hour of His coming (Matt. 24:36).