Tribulation: a period of 7 years duration when there will be great judgment via famine, natural disasters, wars, corrupt governments.
Rapture: The faithful are transported to be with the Lord Jesus.
Remnant: Refers to those who have remained faithful to the Lord in the face of trials.
Whenever one mentions the book of Revelation in the New Testament nearly everyone has their own opinion as to its veracity and or the way things will occur. When it comes to interpreting the Bible, we need to be diligent and careful to not read things into the text. Over the centuries people have misinterpreted the Bible to their own destruction and perhaps this is what the early Roman Catholic Church had in mind in discouraging the uneducated from reading the Bible. This of course backfired and caused the Reformation and since has spawned a wide variety of denominations, each with their own slant on the Word of God. In my studies over the years I have come across a variety of different interpretations of the same set of words. One of the beliefs that all Christians hold is that Jesus will indeed return, but the point of difference is how and when he will return. Of course, no one can know when, although many scholars have predicted this event, and been subsequently proved wrong. One bone of contention that nearly everyone has an opinion on is The Rapture, when and how will we have a part in His reward.
There is one school of thought that holds that Jesus will return first at the beginning of the seven years of tribulation, but that only the elect will see him. So the saved at that point will miss out on the hardships of the Great Tribulation. He will spirit them away and then return again with them seven years later to collect those who have become believers through the trials of the Great Tribulation. This version of events is quite believable especially in the light of the Jewish Marriage traditions, and indeed the Parable of the Foolish Virgins. In the Jewish Tradition the marriage takes place first and then it is consummated in private while the invited guests wait for the groom to come and get them to go to the marriage feast.
If this is the case then Jesus comes and takes his Bride (the church) and the marriage is consummated in heaven while the invited guests wait to go to the feast. This also lines up with the foolish virgins who ran out of oil because the groom tarried. (Matthew 25:1-13) If this is the case then the physical Israel, the Jews are the invited guests and they won’t get to go until the groom returns. This sounds plausible but I have not seen anywhere in the scriptures which says the Lord comes twice in the clouds, to get two sets of saved people.
The analogy here is that the Jewish people are the invited guests and the ‘Church’ is the bride who goes off with the ‘Groom’ Jesus at the Rapture. Jesus the groom then returns 7 years later for the Marriage Feast when it seems there will be another Rapture of those who have survived the Tribulation. But then what of the Gentiles who will be saved during the tribulation? Is this a third group or are they part of the Church (bride) also?
The other main school of thought holds that the Rapture will not occur until the end of the seven years of tribulation. If this is the case then everyone will go through this period of trial at the end of the age. Adherents to this line of thought claim that since there is only one Trump and the Arch angel speaks only once then surely this happens only once. If it happens only once then it must by necessity happen at the end of the seven years of tribulation and not at the beginning. Doesn’t Jesus himself say, “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved, but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. (Matthew 24:22)
Then those of the former school of thought will say that the ‘elect’ are in fact the Jews who are spoken about in Zechariah 12:10 as looking upon Jesus when he returns and weeping for him then. Christians will already be with their Lord as rulers with him, having been taken up at the pre-tribulation Rapture. I have written my novel Thief in the Night from the latter point of view, but also from the former in that my characters are around during the last days and are of the Remnant of Israel. These are those who have remained faithful but have been called out to witness to the world during the Tribulation. Each of these two points of view have as many adherents as each other and one could argue until the cows come home as they say. The important thing that believers should be concerned about is the state of their own heart in the Lord. If you have communion with him then he will be able to say “I knew you.”