This is a study on the doctrine of the Rapture. I've broken down the study into what I hope are manageable bites.
There's a lot here, so take a topic from the list posted at the right and digest it before coming back for another topic. It's too much study for a one-time read.
What IS the Rapture?
The Bible tells us that before the great Tribulation comes upon the earth, the Lord will remove his believers from the earth.
"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. Therefore comfort one another with these words."
The source of the word "Rapture"
In the Greek translation of the Bible, the words "caught up" are the word "harpazo," which means to sieze, catch away, pluck, pull, take by force.
When the Bible was translated into Latin in the 4th century, the Latin word used was raptere, "to seize, snatch, tear away." It's from "raptere" that we get the term "Rapture."
Whom Is He Coming For?
An ominous warning here. Not everyone is taken, as is gleaned from the parable of the five wise and the five foolish virgins. That's another study. The point here is this: he's coming for those who are eagerly watching for him. More often, conversation is about who the Antichrist might be. Jesus is coming for those who are eagerly waiting for HIM, not those who are looking for the Antichrist.
"To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation."
As Christians we are not to look for the Tribulation, or for the Antichrist, but for "His Son from heaven who has delivered us from the wrath to come."
Ist Thessalonians 1:10
Jesus is the pattern
As it happened to Jesus, so will it happen to us. Those who have been conformed to his death, will also be conformed to His resurrection. Jesus is the pattern. We were shown a picture of the Rapture at the Rapture of Jesus. Are you surprised to hear that Jesus was Raptured? Read it in Acts 1:
"And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.'''
On what do you base your belief that the rapture takes place BEFORE the beginning of the last seven years?
Daniel 9:24 tells us that the entire 70 "weeks" of years is determined upon Israel and Jerusalem:
"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city..."
Sixty nine have been fulfilled, culminating in the Messiah being "cut off."
Shortly after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the "mystery" of the church age began several days later at Pentecost.
Paul explains that the church age was a "mystery" hidden from the prophets of old and only revealed after the Resurrection of Christ. The church age closes with the Rapture. After that, the story goes back to Israel to finish out the 70th week which is clearly stated to be determined upon Israel and Jerusalem. And then the Lord will return to rule and reign upon the Throne of David in Jerusalem.