) from the earth. The main passages pertaining to the "Rapture" are:
I Thess 4:16-17
Jesus said that nobody knows the day or the hour of his return (Matt. 24:36). Notice that he didn't say, "Nobody has any idea whatsoever about when I'll return." He said (very specifically) that nobody knows the day or the hour. I don't believe that Jesus has given us some kind of license to be airheads about eschatology; there's way too much information about it in the Bible. I believe that he wants us to be watching for his return, because such an expectation makes us want to purify ourselves (see I John 3:2-3).
In other words, even if one can't know the day or the hour, perhaps one could figure out the year, or the month, or even the week of Christ's return.
Think about it. Suppose I said to you, "I don't have any idea whatsoever about when I might die. It could be years, it could be days, it could be centuries." NONSENSE. I know the year of my birth. I know the state of my health. I know about the longevity of my ancestors. I have a pretty good idea of when I'll die ... but I don't know the hour or the day.
Interestingly enough, we don't see the "Rapture" in the book of Revelation, although some interpreters believe that it occurs at Revelation 7:9.
In God's prophetic timetable, when does the Rapture occur?
I think the Bible gives us some clues:
1. II Thess. 2:3 indicates that the Rapture won't occur until the Antichrist has been revealed. I believe that this (the "coming out" of the Antichrist) is the same event that is referred to as "the abomination of desolation" in Daniel 12:11.
2. These two events the abomination of desolation, and the Rapture happen 1,290 days before the end. This is almost exactly 3.5 years before the end, or halfway through the seven-year tribulation.
So this could mean that we Christians will live through the first half of the Tribulation (referred to as "the beginning of birth pains" in Matt. 24:8), but not through the second half (known as "The GREAT Tribulation" Rev. 7:14).
On the other hand, Matthew 24:29-31 says that the "Rapture" ("and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds ...") will happen immediately after "the distress of those days." This seems to indicate that it happens at the END of the seven-year tribulation.
If one wishes to become a teacher at Dallas Theological Seminary, he must first sign a statement to the effect that he believes that the "Rapture" will occur seven years before the Second Coming of Christ. No kidding.