It is a very common belief that the rapture is what triggers the tribulation. This assumption is caused by a streamlining of end-time events. The tribulation does follow the rapture, but a detailed examination of Scripture reveals a gap between these two events.
The timing of the rapture is not known. Jesus said, “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Mat. 24:44).
The tribulation will start when the Antichrist signs the seven-year peace agreement with Israel. The treaty will likely be a peace agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbors, one that will validate Jewish worship at a rebuilt Temple, which was destroyed in 70 A.D.
“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate” (Dan. 9:27).
Because the rapture is an unknown event, it cannot occur at the same time as the start of the tribulation. It’s anyone’s guess as to how big the gap of time will be. It could span a few days or a few years.