Posttribulationists believe we will be on earth protected during the bowl judgments. Prewrathers, on the other hand, believe that we will be raptured before the trumpet and bowl judgements begin and only afterwards descend in the New Jerusalem to earth for the millennium and beyond.
One particular passage I want to highlight why we will be in heaven and not earth during the bowl judgments is found in Rev 15:1–16:1:
“Then I saw another portent in heaven, great and amazing: seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is ended. And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: “Great and amazing are your deeds, Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, King of the nations! Lord, who will not fear and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your judgments have been revealed.” After this I looked, and the temple of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, and out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues, robed in pure bright linen, with golden sashes across their chests. Then one of the four living creatures gave the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever; and the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were ended. Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”” (Rev 15:1–16:1)
This passage strongly depicts the saints in heaven, not on earth, during the bowl judgments.
i. The portent that John sees is “in heaven” which are “seven angels with seven plagues” (Rev 15:1). Immediately, then, without any indicator of a spatial shift, John sees “a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands” (Rev 15:2; cf. 15:4). There is no evidence that they are on earth. Rather, its connection with the action of the seven angels locates them in heaven.
ii. If the previous reason was not persuasive enough, this second reason is explicit. Where else is the “sea of glass” mentioned in Revelation? Revelation 4:6 gives us the answer: “and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal. Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind.” Without question, in the immediate context, John sees the sea of glass “in heaven” (see Rev 4:2–5). No interpreter would deny that Rev 4–5 is a depiction within heaven. I don’t think that many posttribulationists are aware of this link to Rev 4:6.
iii. Those who are “standing beside the sea of glass” are described to be “victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name” (Rev 15:2). This certainly refers back to, or at least refers in part to, the great multitude in Rev 7, which in turn are linked with the fifth seal martyrs, who “had been slaughtered for the word of God and for the testimony they had given” (Rev 6:9). They conquered the beast through their faithful deaths (Rev 20:4–6; Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21).
iv. This sea of glass, linked with the throne and described as “crystal” (Rev 4:6) may be associated with the body of water of the New Jerusalem in Rev 22:1: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life—water as clear as crystal—pouring out from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”
This latter point further suggests that the descent of the New Jerusalem to earth must occur after the bowl judgments—not before. “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Rev 21:2). Nevertheless, the scene in Rev 4:6 and Rev 15:2 pictures those on the sea of glass before the bowl judgments are poured out, and, therefore, in heaven.
For these reasons, it is best to view the saints in heaven, who are privileged to have a front row seat to witness the glory of God’s eschatological wrath poured out upon the inhabitants of the earth. Similarly, the Israelites had a front row seat to witness God’s destruction of Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea!