Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Thessalonians 4:17
“Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:17
This verse addresses the coming of the Lord for His people. Starting back in an earlier verse we read, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 4:14. When He comes He will not come alone but will bring with Him those who have died as Christians. In other words, at His coming, those who have died in Christ will be resurrected just as Christ was. We will not precede those who have died first but we will join them.
Next we see a clear picture of this coming. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16. Jesus will not come quietly but will descend from heaven with a great shout, which will be accompanied by the voice of the archangel. This could be Michael the archangel. In Jude we read of Him, “But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, The Lord rebuke you!” Jude 1:9. We also see him mentioned in Revelation. “And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war.” Revelation 12:7. There is no indication what He will shout, but it will be such that all will hear it. There is the possibility that He will call out to the dead in Christ to rise from the grave and to join Him.
Then we come to our focus verse. “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air,” 1 Thessalonians 4:17a. Then, probably being called upon, we who are alive at His coming will be caught up in the air to join Christ and those in Christ who were resurrected. Think about this a moment. All people who died in Christ will be together in the air with Christ and those followers who did not die. Millions and millions of people who have died in the faith, from the beginning of mankind to His coming, will be with Him at His return in the air. This will be an amazing sight. And this verse ends with a beautiful statement. “and so we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:17b. From this point forward, we will be with the Lord forever, for all eternity in the new heaven and earth.
The times are difficult now and will only become harder leading up to the return of Christ. The tribulations and trials we endure here will one day end, either we will die in Christ or we will live till He returns, at which both groups will join Him upon His return. We shall then be with Him forever. John, in telling of the words given to the church in Philadelphia, gives us a picture of our future. “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.” Revelation 3:12. We shall never leave our new home where we reside with God. We shall be in His presence with no end; for death will not exist in the new Jerusalem.
Matthew puts it this way. “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 25:34.
Christ’s return will be like nothing we have ever experienced. When He comes back, all His people will join Him in the air, first those who have died, then those who are still alive. And where we ail spend eternity, the new heaven and earth will be far more wonderful then we can imagine. “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9. It shall be far more wonderful than we can imagine, and there is no chance that it will be thwarted. What He has promised will also come to pass. So, as the last verse in this chapter states, “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:18.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.