Keep Your Eye on The Sky
Read 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (ESV)
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
How do these verses offer believers both comfort and hope?
When Jesus ascended to heaven, He didn’t just go up in a cloud in the sky and leave us here forever. He left us with a promise. He will come back for us!
In Acts 1:6-11, we read of how Jesus charged His disciples with being His witnesses to the ends of the earth and then He was lifted up on a cloud and was taken to heaven. Afterward, angels appeared to the disciples and told them that Jesus will someday return in the same way they saw him go up. He went up into the sky and He will come back down to us from the sky.
Today’s verses confirm this information but add even more details. Paul assures us that Jesus will descend from heaven with a loud cry and a trumpet call. But then we read even more exciting details. Paul says, “the dead in Christ will rise first.” But aren't those who are dead already with Jesus? Yes and no. We believe that when a believer dies they are “absent from the body but present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8) This presence with the Lord is a spiritual one rather than a bodily one. When a loved one dies, they leave their bodies behind but the Bible reassures us that their spirits are with the Lord.
When Jesus returns, those who have already died in Him will rise first and receive resurrected bodies. Believers in Jesus who are still alive will then rise into the air and meet the Lord in the sky! Isn’t that an amazing thing to think about? Can you imagine the moment when we get to gaze upon the Lord? And with glorified bodies?
As if that weren’t enough to wonder at and hope for, Paul made one last comment that should bring our hearts everlasting hope. He said, “and so we will always be with the Lord” (v. 17). There will no longer be any separation between God and us. Plus, we’ll all be together. Who’s “we”? All believers. Yes, that means a great reunion in the sky will take place. While we don’t know all of the details of how this reunion will take place, we will recognize our family and friends who have died. We will no longer live separated from them either!
Friends, death is a part of life on earth. But in Jesus Christ, we have much to hope for! Keep your eye on the sky. Jesus IS coming back for us. And when He does, we will never be separated again.
Lord Jesus, Your promises are comforting. I know that I will see my believing loved ones again and that death is not the end. What hope I have in You that one day, I will get to meet You face to face! I am eagerly waiting for that moment! Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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