For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
The belief in Christís return is both credible and the basic hope of every Christian. Every Christian wants the promised delivery from a world where sin corrupts the soul and truth is suppressed by the overwhelming desire of sin. Sin has been popularized by the majority of people that indulge in it but see sin as an unpleasant way of succeeding in life.
Within the Christian community the teaching on Christís return has been popularized and taught as the Rapture doctrine. The truth about the rapture is God has never used a word that has been rendered in its translation as a word of choice. God revealed his return at the end of the world or age and it has become questionable that we have gone beyond what is written in scriptures (1 Corinthians 4:6).
The clues within this passage have the same signs that are identical with the second coming. What we may not realize is there are two groups that will be caught up to meet Christ in the air. The first group is made up to those who are still physically alive. The second group consists of those who have fallen asleep and absent from the body. Yet in Godís eyes they can be described with qualities consistent with being a Christian.
For the most part Christians have come to terms with God and because God expresses himself in truth we are compelled to agree with him. Yet it is within agreement with truth that we become one with God. In addition this agreement leads to approval and trust in God and his son the Lord Jesus Christ.
Within these two groups of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 both groups will be chosen because they have the same qualities that all of Godís were selected by. The qualities Jesus is looking for are in agreement with the directives of the father which have been revealed in the scriptures. The Father must draw him to Christ (John 6:44). His saint must look to the Son and believe in him (John 6:40). The saints God has given to Christ by the father (John 6:39). In addition to those who proclaim the Lord's death by symbolically eating his flesh and drinking his blood when taking communion (John 6:54). The common phrase that stands out in the previously mentioned verses is the words of Christ who ďit is the fatherís will that I raise them at the Last day.Ē
The timing of the last day casually mentioned when Jesus went to Bethany to raise Lazarus from his tomb. Jesus told Martha that her brother would rise again. Her response to Jesus was "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Rather than rebuke Martha, Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this (John 11:23-25)?
Are there others who will Christ raise at his coming?
Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. Revelation 1:7
The majority of Christians would question if every man who pierced Jesus on the cross were saints or had these for mentioned qualities. Regardless the executioners of Christ will see with their eyes Our Lord coming with the clouds of glory. This leaves a question; if the saints are the only people raised at his coming than how will those who pierced his side be present and also seeing Christ coming in the clouds? Then again if the saints are the only people raised at his coming, God would be showing favoritism (Romans 2:11).
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. Deuteronomy 10:17
God is not the author of confusion and without exception his words are consistent with an orderly plan to return and gather his elect. The teaching that Christ will return to gather just his church is not consistent with what has been written. There is no evidence that Christ taught he would return before the second coming. Rather in his teaching about his return he was clear when he said;
Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you Matthew 24:4
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 is Paulís response to a concern of the Corinthians about those who passed on before the coming of the Lord. Paul gives a scriptural reason ďAccording to the Lord's own wordĒ but in 1 Corinthians 4:6 Paul writes "Do not go beyond what is written." Remember it is easy to go beyond the scriptures when we fill in the blanks.
Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 1 Thessalonians 5:1
Paul states, we do not need to write to you about times and dates. According to the Lord's own word Christ does not know the day or hour.
"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Matthew 24:36
However Jesus revealed the resurrection would happen within a general description of the end of the age/world. Saying the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe."
Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, "Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe so he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. Revelation 14:15-16
Another time he revealed the specifics;
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Matthew 13:39
We may have an idea of the day and hour and search the scriptures to know when that time will come. While we look forward to the day Christ will appear in the sky the day and hour of Christís coming remains in the fatherís hand.
and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. Exodus 19:19
Christ gave us a vivid picture of his coming on the day he spoke to Moses in Exodus nineteen. Moses was instructed to consecrate the people and have them wash their clothes in preparation of the day God would descend on Mount Sinai. Three days later thunder and lightning was seen and heard in the skies over Mt Sinai. The sky lit up and God was within a thick and dark cloud that appeared over Mount Sinai. It all occurred in the company of very loud trumpet blast that crowned the pomp of that day. Everyone within sight and hearing of Godís trumpet trembled.
The trumpet of God could be heard for miles because it was so loud no one could her themselves think, but it commanded the peopleís absolute attention. The ground where they were standing shook causing them to tremble with fear, God was firmly in control. For the first time God had the peopleís personal attention. Godís voice was terrifying to the majority of people present. His voice was so awesome that Israel were frighten they no longer wanted to hear his voice so they pleaded with Moses do not have God speak to them or they would die (Exodus 20:19).
The trumpet will sound announcing the arrival in the splendor of our God and creator sometime in the near future. His entourage of angels will be sent throughout the world to gather his people to his throne. Many of the sights and sounds of Exodus nineteen will take place on the day Christ comes to harvest the earth. That day will be a day when God will gloriously grasp the attention of the people on earth. No one will be exempt for all will be affected by the events of that day. On that day everyone will be rewarded for what they have done.
The Lord said to Moses: "Make two trumpets of hammered silver, and use them for calling the community together and for having the camps set out. Numbers 10:1-2
The coming of Christ is marked with a trumpet call. Will the trumpet sound as loud as it did on the day God gave his law? Will it be so deafening that everyone will clearly hear it resonate and cause the earth to shake, the dead to rise.
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." Hebrews 12:26
One purpose God revealed to Moses was to hammer out two trumpets of silver to signal the camp to gather and set out. At his coming the trumpet will sound and the people of the earth will be gathered to him. In addition the people of God will move on to their home of rest in heaven but those separated because they refused to serve God will have no rest in their torment.
We love the idea of being gathered to Christ in the air because it means that the tribulation we faced in life will no longer be remembered. The troublesome life we had on earth will be over Ė kaput Ė and put out of our minds and forgotten. According to Godís word we are expecting that all things will become new and the old order of things will pass away.
Sounding the trumpet had another purpose;
When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast on the trumpets. Then you will be remembered by the Lord your God and rescued from your enemies. Numbers 10:9
Joshua was instructed to march around Jericho several times each time sounding the trumpets and on the seventh day the city fell to the ground. Again Gideon was told to break his jars and sound his trumpets to see Israelís enemies defeated by the power of God.
Judah turned and saw that they were being attacked at both front and rear. Then they cried out to the Lord. The priests blew their trumpets and the men of Judah raised the battle cry. At the sound of their battle cry, God routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. 2 Chronicles 13:14-16
The bible tells us when the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed (Daniel 12:7)." God will sound his trumpet when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels (2 Thessalonians 1:7). The Lord Jesus will overthrow the lawless one with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming (2 Thessalonians 2:8).
On that day when the trumpet sounds, God will remember his covenant to rescue his people from their enemies.
All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give all of you into our hands." 1 Samuel 17:50
Will that day be a day of rejoicing; a day of celebrating, a day of feasting? Could it be the way we celebrate the wedding supper of the bride?
Also at your times of rejoicing ó your appointed feasts and New Moon festivals ó you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will be a memorial for you before your God. I am the Lord your God (Numbers 10:10).
After the red sea closed over the Egyptians there was a sound of victory in the camp of Israel. God had rescued them from those who had ruled over them ruthlessly.
Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: "I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him (Exodus 15:1-2).
You will go out and leap like calves released from the stall (Malachi 4:2). The trumpet was blown and the Lord redeemed us from the sinful world.
After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever 1 Thessalonians 4:17
Command Of Life
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 1 Thessalonians 4:16
On the day Jesus returns to gather his people his voice will be heard by those who are asleep. John writes that everyone who is resting in their graves on that day will wake up and rise from their graves. His command will not be for those who are in Christ alone but will include every man who rebelled from his authority.
From the Cross cried out in a loud voice and look what happened?
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. Matthew 27:50-52
The ground shook, the rocks split asunder, the tombs of many holy people were opened and they rose back to life. Though crucified, Jesus was still the resurrection and the life. Think about it Christ is able to raise those who were buried at sea as well as those whose ashes have been carried throughout the earth by the wind.
Once again Christ raised his voice to glorify God at the entrance of Lazarus tomb.
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" John 11:43-44
However, Christ did not raise his voice at Nain when he raised the only son of his mother a widow. Nor when he took the hand of a twelve year old Girl and said;
He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum!" Mark 5:41
The dead will not be the only ones who will hear the trumpet call of God or his loud command; for everyone will hear him and everyone will meet Christ Ė some for the first time.
"Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out ó those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. John 5:28-29
The command of Christ will be; go gather my people and bring them to me?
And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. Matthew 24:31
The scripture reveals where they will be gathered or where they will meet our Lord in the air.
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Matthew 25:31-32
The truth of Godís word is always witnessed so it is good to note that the content of scriptures agree.
I will take note of you as you pass under my rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me. Ezekiel 20:37-38
The question is what will we wake too? The bible saysí
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changedó in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 1 Corinthians 15:51-53
The bible tells us that we will rise at the last trumpet and be changed into eternal beings our clothes changed by washing in the blood of Christ. The world we live in is temporal and perishable; once the earth is harvested it served its purpose and perish with the old order of things. But Godís realm is eternal so our temporary bodies will take on immortality and we will continue to live in the ages to come.
The twelve year old daughter of Jairus; the son of the widow of Nain and Lazarus answered Christís command and lived out the remainder of their life. Yet through the power of Christís command you also will answer and come to life. For the same reason the spirit of those who died will rise to eternal life or eternal condemnation, according to what we did in our human flesh.
The Lord will come with a command that will reach over the past age to wake everyone who has passed away. From Adam to the present day everyone who ever lived will hear his majestic voice and rise and gathered by his Angels. The sheer loudness of his thundering voice is a sign of power; it is also the divine degree of strength to command life with authority. Those who men have buried and thought were dead were merely asleep, his command will bring them back to life.
The Lord will come with a command that will attract the attention of mankind and will motivate the angels of God into action. The angels of God will carry out Godís command to harvest the earth. It wonít make any difference whether we want to go, it is the Lordís command and you will be taken to meet him in the air whether you are ready or not.
What awaits us is Judgement.
And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:7-8
Daniel asked the question;
"How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?" Daniel 12:6
The answer came back described this way.
"It will be for a time, times and half a time, When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed." Daniel 12:7
When the power of the holy people has been finally broken but we have to wonder will Christ will find faith on his return.
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Beyond The Meeting
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalms 37:4
Some may have a misconception of Christís return and overlook who else is in his procession. Christ will be accompanied by God the Father and those who have fallen asleep in him. However most Christians are looking forward the favorable side of his coming but the scriptures also say;
See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, andhis recompense accompanies him. Isaiah 40:10
Some have set their desires on the things of this world and lack the knowledge that the things of this world will pass away and be no more. What happens beyond meeting God in the air will happen swiftly but for some the desires of the heart may have driven them from God. Letís consider those who do not want Jesus as their king will serve God in torment as an example of his recompense.
Are you one of those who honors God with their lips but whose heart is far from their Creator and God. On the other hand do we enjoy spending our time to be in the presence of the Lord? Those of who are worthy of citizenship in Heaven and becoming a member of his eternal household will spend all their time in his presence and in his glory from then on.
The coming of Christ will wake the dead but may also wake some Christians up to the fact they have taken God for granted. Even among the ranks and file of Christians many may be woken to the fact of their idleness (Jeremiah 48:10a). There is something that all of us really havenít given any thought to. Will Christ be as glad to meet you in the air as you are to meet him? Will God be saddened by your choice?
Christís purpose has not changed. He is building a kingdom from mankind to serve God for all of eternity. However God will not tolerate actions that violate his moral fiber of holiness. We may not know what God has planned for the next age but he will not change his way that he treats people that are loyal to him. On the other hand that day he comes may be a horrible shock to those who have been deceived.
To some the thought of rapture may be solely be based on meeting Christ in the clouds and be with the Lord forever. To them that day will be awesome something they have been looking forward to. Yet meeting Christ in the air will begin a sorting process between good and evil between those who serve God and those who do not. Do not be deceived, we may be see the coming of Christ from the human perspective but never see the objectives or reason for Christís coming.
Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. Hebrews 9:27-28
Judgment begins at the house of the Lord
For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 1 Peter 4:17
We as Christians have a terrible problem with our eyes Ė we donít use our eyes to look for our faults. Instead we look at the lives of those around us and judge them by the way we live. We of course are always right but fail to remove the log in our eyes. We fail to compare our lives to see if we agree with the way God wants us to live. All this means that we use our eyes to find fault in others without looking at or examining our own faults. The bible says;
For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 1 Peter 4:17
What happens at the judgment seat of Christ will be a direct outcome of what we have done to prepare for that day. Moses was instructed to consecrate the people and have them wash their clothes in preparation of the day God would descend on Mount Sinai. At the same time have we consecrated ourselves to God and have we washed our robes in the blood of Christ (Revelation 7:14) in preparation of meeting Christ?
For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. Romans 14:10
Have we taken time to bathe our lives in the precious blood of Christ? Have we done everything God expects of us to make that day a foregone conclusion?
"That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:47-48
Making that day a foregone conclusion is a matter of strengthening your understanding of Godís good and perfect will. Do we make an effort to understand God from his perspective? Godís will is not always black and white but a joining of the spirit to be of one accord to know how God thinks helps. What God hates you should detest and what God condones gives you a reason to test and approve his ways.
Come now, let us reason together "says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 1:18-20
Jesus had a few words to say to pretenders.
Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? Luke 6:46
Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' Matthew 7:23
Yet to the believer who sought Jesus and delighted in him and followed him;
His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' Matthew 25:21
The destiny of life is in your hands because it is a choice that you make. The average person takes delight in the things God hates. You can set your mind on the things of this world or you set your mind on things above. Whatever you have set your mind on, it is God has promised to give you the desires of your heart.