This event appears to be the rapture for several reasons.
1. It reads like the rapture. Even if this passage were strictly and only speaking of the supernatural gathering together of the Jews carried one by one by Angels to another location, that alone is certainly similar to various rapture events such as happened to Philip in Acts 8:39-40 who was transported from place to place, and to Elijah in 2 Kings 2:11-12
2. The parallel passage from the gospel of Mark 13:27 says they are gathered "from... earth to... heaven." The rapture is a gathering of people into the air, 1 Thess 4:17.
3. It is "A great sound of A trumpet" in Matthew and not necessarily "the great trumpet" of Isaiah 27:13. Why is Matthew more vague, saying "a trumpet" instead of "the great trumpet"? Is it because two events are in view? The point is that a trumpet sounding blast is a key element of the rapture mentioned in 1 Thess 4:16 "the trump of God" and 1 Cor 15:52, "at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound."
4. It mentions the son of man "coming in the clouds", as does 1 Thess 4:17. "...caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air..."
5. As I have already noted, and will continue to explore, Matthew 24 is filled with double references. These passages can easily be describing BOTH the pretribulation rapture, and the posttribulation gathering together of the Jews. I believe it is typical of the Lord to conceal things in prophecies like this. It hides things from unbelievers, and makes the study of his word glorious, bringing glory to God. ("It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter." --Prov 25:2)
Furthermore, a third event might also be in view which is the posttribulation return from out of heaven of those who were previously raptured. The return of the saints from out of heaven following Jesus Christ is pictured in Revelation 19. The first reason for this idea is that Matthew writes they are gathered "from one end of heaven to the other" and not gathered from the earth as does Mark. The second reason is the "great trumpet", because this is associated with the Day of Atonement, which should be fulfilled at the end of the tribulation with the defeat of Satan. The third reason might be that the two events, the gathering of the Jews from the earth, and the gathering of the saints from heaven, all together into Christ's presence at his return, happens at the same time. If these two gatherings from the earth and heaven happen at once, it would make sense that these two events are blended together in scripture. Thus, the term "elect" can easily refer to both the Jews and to the previously raptured Christians.
6. Matt 24:30 appears to be the rapture because of the mention of the sign, "the sign of the Son of man in heaven". Those who deny the pretribulation rapture have challenged, "Where does the Bible ever describe two returns in one verse?". Well, in Matt 24:30, the "son of man" is mentioned twice, first as a sign in heaven, and then, after the nations mourn, he is coming in the clouds. The pretribulation rapture would, indeed, be a sign for the nations.
As an aside, if the rapture is "the sign of the Son of man in heaven", then it supports the argument that Jesus remains in heaven at the rapture. This is an important point, because it refutes the argument from Acts 3:21 that Jesus cannot return before the "time of restitution of all things" which is supposed to be after the tribulation. This argument is refuted because Jesus remains in the sky, in heaven, at the rapture. (Sky and heaven are nearly interchangable terms in scripture.) Acts 3:21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
I wonder, if the sign of the son of man in heaven is not the rapture,
then what else would it be? And there is no statement in Matt 24:30
that the three sequential events need happen simultaneously. There
could easily be 7 years from the sign to the coming of Christ in glory.
After all, there needs to be time for the nations to mourn, which would
be the tribulation.
Margaret Macdonald, in her vision, appears to identify "the sign of the Son of man" from Matt 24:30 with the rapture. The entire vision, "as published in The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets In the Catholic Apostolic Church (1861)" can be found online at vision.htm
I agree with Margaret Macdonald that the rapture is the "sign of the son of man in heaven". After that, the nations will mourn because it will be during the tribulation. There is scriptural support for Margaret Macdonald's position that there will be a time when only a few, the blessed, those filled by the spirit, will see the Lord (Matthew 5:8, John 11:40, Hebrews 9:28, Numbers 22:23, Acts 9:7) and this would be the rapture. I agree with Margaret Macdonald that the verses "one taken and the other left" from Matt 24: and Luke 17 refer to the rapture, as I will explain further. She also identifies the ten virgin parable as a parable that explains the rapture, and I agree with that, too.
I am not appealing to her vision as if she is an authority on the subject. But her writings has helped to clarify some of my views since much of what she said is a paraphrase of scriptural teachings. Scripture is the only authority, and is sufficient to show the idea:
One only needs to turn to 1 Thess 4:17 to see that at the rapture, the Lord is returning in the heavens, which is much like a "sign of the son of man in heaven".
If the "sign of the son of man in heaven" is the rapture, whether the nations see the Lord or not at that time is not the issue. Margaret suggests they will not see the Lord -- and this may be the origin of the "secret rapture" idea -- but that's not the issue. The nations will certainly see the results of the rapture. And in that case, it will certainly be a sign for all people. Whether they understand it correctly as the rapture of the righteous or whether the nations are deceived by any one of the many possible lies about it afterwards (2 Thes 2:11) is the real issue. Some such lies might be "that was the rapture of the wicked", or "those people not ready for the earth changes and not ready to evolve to the higher plane were removed", or that "those were abducted by space aliens", or any combination of the above.
Matt 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven:
and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the
Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
That the tribes of the earth mourn, (bewailing, lamanting, in grief, cut off, [kopto --Strong's) is unlike how they are described at the end of the tribulation, which is in anger. "Revelation 11:18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come..." How can one be lamenting in grief, and provoked to wrath at the same time? It seems that sadness would be the appropriate emotion for the nations after the pretribulation rapture, when millions of people have disappeared and the world thrown into chaos. And anger aptly describes the world that has gathered together to battle at Armageddon.
Mourning, bewailing, or lamenting in grief, is a description that fits the rapture parable of Matt 25:1-13, where the foolish virgins are left behind the shut door of the rapture. Other false-believers to whom the Lord says "I know you not" are described as weeping and gnashing their teeth. First, those who didn't have the proper wedding garment in Matthew 22:13 are described as "weeping and gnashing of teeth". Second, the evil servant in Matthew 24:51 is described as "weeping and gnashing of teeth". Third, it's the unprofitable servant who mourns, Matthew 25:30 "And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Both mourning and anger seem incompatible with the description of the world that is carrying on as usual with normal daily activities and taking no note. Thus, the time when people are not taking any note is appropriate for before armageddon when people are in anger, and before the tribulation when people are in mourning. Thus, when people are "eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage", this is the time before the rapture, before the tribulation.
36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
This description in Matt 24:36-41 where people are living their lives as usual, is out of place with the description of how they will act after the beginning of the stellar signs and the Day of the Lord when the nations are mourning, as described in verses 29-31. The mourning in grief and lamenting seems most appropriate for the beginning of the tribulation, and anger is appropriate for the end.
Thus, we have three descriptions of the emotional state of the nations, which represent three different times. Life as usual before the rapture at the start of the tribulation. Mourning after the rapture in the tribulation. And finally, anger at the end of the tribulation at Armageddon. This also shows that the description of Matt 24:29-31 is apt for the beginning of the great tribulation, at the start of the Day of the Lord.
Isaiah 13:6 Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come
as a destruction from the Almighty.
7 Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man's heart shall melt:
8 And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.
Rev 6:15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich
men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and
every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
Isaiah 2:19 And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.
Amos 5:16 Therefore the LORD, the God of hosts, the LORD, saith thus; Wailing shall be in all streets; and they shall say in all the highways, Alas! alas! and they shall call the husbandman to mourning, and such as are skilful of lamentation to wailing.
Zephaniah 1:10 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD,
that there shall be the noise of a cry from the fish gate, and an howling
from the second, and a great crashing from the hills.
11 Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off.
Joel 1:13 Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God.
Thus, the emotional state of the nations may be a strong clue to what is being described here, which is the tribulation of the Day of the Lord.
Matt 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
The tribes of the earth mourning seems to most appropriately describe
the start of the day of the Lord, just after the pretribulation rapture.
This is long before the world has turned angry at Armageddon.
And there is another key word in this verse: THEY. It says "they shall see the Son of man"... Now, if seeing Christ return after the tribulation was the blessed hope of the believer, wouldn't the appropriate word be YOU? Why the change, unless it signifes that faithful believers, YOU, are no longer there?
Luke also contains the different words "they" and "you", but also includes a phrase that might be a final warning to be especially ready, which suggests to be ready for the rapture.
Luke 21:27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a
cloud with power and great glory.
28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
The question must be asked, why didn't Jesus say in verse 27, "and then shall YOU see the Son of man coming"? The answer is that YOU would be behind Jesus, following after him as depicted in Rev 19. The armies that follow him out of heaven would include faithful believers such as YOU.
The phrase "when these things begin to come to pass" indicates a pretribulation rapture before all these things come to pass. It does not say "after these things completely come to pass..." Nor does it say "when these things begin to come to pass, hide your heads, for you will have to endure tribulation for several years". And a few verses later, Luke records one of the strongest pretribulation verses in the Bible:
Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
In order to escape the abomination of desolation, which is among "all these things that shall come to pass", the rapture must be before the tribulation.
Regarding the abomination of desolation, it also says "YOU", instead of "they". It has been argued that this indicates that we would have to go through the tribulation to become the "YOU" that sees the abomination. But this is a wrong conclusion for the following reason. All the word "you" proves is that there will be believers in the tribulation. But "believers in the tribulation" is not a valid reason to say the rapture could not have happened earlier. Some people left behind after the rapture will repent. From Rev 3:10, we see that the tribulation is the "hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." So, some will be tried and found faithful who were not raptured and kept from the hour. Scriptural examples of saints in the tribulation are from Rev 7, the "a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations" & Rev 12:17, the "the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." Revelation 12:17's "remnant" are those left behind after the rapture of the man child, which we will see is the rapture of the Church.