THE SOUND OF THE TRUMPET
Come, Lord Jesus.
Read 1 THESSALONIANS 4:13–18
Believers Who Have Died
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 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. 17 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. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
During the Nazi occupation of Guernsey in World War II, the RAF dropped leaflets with a message from the king: ‘We will return!’ This message is ours from King Jesus!
It is perfectly natural and right to mourn the death of loved ones, but the Thessalonians are confused about the circumstances and the future of dead believers. Paul gives them hope so that they are not discouraged by the hopelessness in the society around them. Only further information could dispel their doubts, so he begins with the facts of the gospel, that Jesus died and rose again. When I question the reality of eternal life, I remind myself of the historical facts of the resurrection. If Jesus rose from the dead, then His words can be trusted. He alone can defeat the grave.
Our hope is also based upon the fact that Christ is coming again. This confirms the Lord’s own words (Matt 24:30) and the promise of the angels (Acts 1:11). When He returns, the ‘dead in Christ’ (16) will come with Him. Those believers who are still alive will be joined with them. Neither the Christian dead nor the living will be left behind. Because Jesus lives, we shall live also. The coming of Jesus will be personal, visible, and glorious. We shall meet Him as he comes in the clouds, like villagers in ancient times rushing out to meet and greet an approaching dignitary (cf., 1 Cor 15:51,52). This will mark the beginning of a new relationship with Christ in which we shall be with the Lord forever. The near return of our King should be a matter for great encouragement and comfort. Death is not the end but simply an ushering into the theatre of eternal life. Christ is coming again and His trumpet will soon sound to announce the end of this age, the world with all its hostility towards God, and even death itself. The war is nearly over. The King is returning.
If you knew with certainty that Christ would return tomorrow, what impact would that make upon your plans for today?
Lord, Your people believe Your promise to return to this earth, and we live our lives with this expectation in mind.
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