But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
The Return Of Jesus Christ
There is nothing more exciting than thinking about the day Jesus returns. It will be a day unlike any day in the history of the world because the history of the world will end. The day Jesus returns is when everything that man knows about life is destroyed in the blink of an eye. This will not be a day where an earthquake demolishes a town or destroys a region. It will not be a tsunami that wipes out a town on the coast or a volcano erupting in a massive ball of fire like Krakatoa. The day the Lord returns is when the sun, moon, and stars are obliterated into a vapor in an instant. All the stars. The big bright moon and the burning sun will disappear instantly. As for the earth, it will be pulverized into a vacuum of empty space. No more seas and no more mountains. Every human being on the face of the earth (in the billions) will immediately know the same thing – Jesus Christ has come back.
The first-century Christians lived in a unique time of history. Many of the early Christians had been with Jesus during His ministry. Some had witnessed His death, and many more His resurrection. People were living in the church’s early years that could testify to being with the resurrected Christ. Everyone knew Jesus had returned to the Father just over a month after His resurrection. What remained in their hearts was the promise He would return. It seems the disciples’ minds rested upon the notion Jesus would return soon – in their lifetime. They all died without Jesus coming back. Two thousand years have passed, and Jesus has yet to return. This does not change the promise that He will return. Jesus Christ is coming back.
Paul explains the coming of the Lord. First, there is no doubt the return of Jesus is ordained by the Father. Jesus taught it, the early church embraced it, and the Father assured the persecuted saints of the Revelation the King of Kings and Lord of Lords would be victorious. Believing Jesus died and rose again assures the heart that God will bring with Him all those who have died in Christ (asleep in Jesus). The word of the Lord declares Jesus Himself will descend from heaven with a shout. Not quietly or by stealth or by some raptured false notion of unawares. Whatever the voice of the archangel is will be heard by every soul. The trumpet call of God is included in the loud announcement of the coming of the Lord. That should be sufficiently loud enough to wake the dead and the living – all of them. When Jesus returns, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. The dead in Christ rise first. Then, together with them, all those who remain alive on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
There is comfort in the knowledge of the coming of the Lord. For most people (the majority), this day will be one of terror and horror. To those in covenant with God, the coming of Christ will be long desired and longed for and welcomed with spirits filled with eternal joy. The day will come. It all becomes a matter of who is ready for the day. There will be no second chances. The coming of the Lord will bring an end to all things. Nowhere in the Bible is the doctrine of the Rapture taught because this will never happen. Those who are waiting for the Rapture will be surprised when it all ends in an instant at the coming of the Lord. It will be a noisy affair with God’s shout, voice, and trumpet sounding. To the child of God, it will be a blessed welcome home. The coming of Christ will be better than death. What follows the return of Jesus is the Father wiping away the tears and sorrows of this life and the destruction of death in the second death. Jesus is coming back. Lord – come now.