9After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” 13Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” 14I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:9-14 Emphasis mine).
There are those who tell us that the catching up of the saints from this earth (the rapture) will happen before the tribulation starts. Well, how can that be? The passage above tells us that a great multitude from every nation, tribe, people and language will stand in white robes before the elders (v.11), before the living creatures (v.11), before the angels and before God, after going through the great tribulation. How do I know? Verse fourteen explicitly says that this great multitude is those who came out of the Great Tribulation. This meeting in heaven is the rapture of God’s people from all over the world (v. 9).
Some teachers and books inform us that these believers are those left behind after a pre-tribulation rapture. They say that they got saved during the tribulation. But that contradicts the Scriptures for on two different occasions, Jesus said that the door will be shut when the Bridegroom comes for His bride (Matthew 25:10, Luke 13:25). If Jesus came in a pre-tribulation rapture (if there was such a thing) before all the trouble (tribulation) starts, then why do we not see the pre-tribulation saints welcoming this great multitude we just read about in our passage of scripture above? There are the angels, the living creatures, the elders and God Himself welcoming this great multitude, but no pre-tribulation saints! Why not? Because there is no pre-tribulation rapture!
For argument's sake, let's suppose that there is a pre-tribulation rapture and that those not saved are left behind to come to Christ during the Great Tribulation. In essence, then, we are teaching people that they don't have to come to Christ now. When unbelievers see Christians suddenly raptured, then it will be confirmed to them that there is a God and they can come to Christ then. Is that biblical? Of course not! The part of the church that teaches people can get saved after the church is caught up in a pre-tribulation rapture is working against the convicting grace of the Holy Spirit.
The church must wake up from its sleep and prepare to endure hardship and persecution at the hands of Antichrist. We will be delivered by a catching up (rapture) at some point (no man knows the day nor the hour) during the tribulation and before the wrath of God is poured out on the unrepentant. The time to prepare to endure hardship for Christ is now, not when the trouble starts. The best way to prepare for the darkness before the coming of the Bridegroom is to lay up the Word of God in your heart, get rid of the moral corruption that seeks to drag you down, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). Begin to plead before the throne of Grace for those around us, that they, too, might draw near to God. Keith Thomas