I was at one of my Granddaughter’s wedding yesterday and it was so interesting to see all the young people rejoicing and celebrating and I suddenly realized, ‘I’m getting old!’ It was one of those realizations that sneaks up on you. But, it was such a blessing to see that the joy of life still goes on. This wedding truly honored God and I’m sure He enjoyed watching it too. It made me realize once again that God never gives up on mankind, He is a God of Hope. Even though wickedness is abounding in this world, God still blesses those that seek Him and love with His love. In fact, God has planned a heavenly wedding for us to take part in –
“And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.” – Rev. 19:9
At 84 years old, I have a lot of loved ones and friends who have gone to be with the Lord. And strangely this wedding, where there was so much life, made me think of them and the joy we will have in our great reunion. It brought to mind Paul’s writing of encouragement –
“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 Thes. 4:13-18
Now I know there is a lot of disagreement about this ‘catching away’ (Rapture), whether it will be a ‘pre-trib’, mid-trib’, or post-trib’ , but I prefer not to get into that argument. All I know is what the Word states plainly: Jesus is coming back; there will be a heavenly shout, the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God will sound; the dead in Christ will rise first then we who are alive will be caught up to meet the Lord in the sky. Paul write further in 1 Corinthians about this reunion –
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.” – 1 Cor. 15:22-24
At some point those who are alive and remain will rise to ‘meet’ the Lord in the sky. The Greek word translated ‘to meet’ is apantēsis. This word is only used one other time in the New Testament in Acts 28:15 as Paul was nearing Rome, the brethren went out to ‘meet’ him and escort him into Rome. So, according to Paul, when we rise to meet Christ in the clouds, we will escort Him back to the earth.
The Apostle John also describes the resurrection of the dead in Christ that Paul talks about and calls it “the first resurrection”.
“But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” – Rev. 20:5, 6
Verses before this describe who will be included in this first resurrection: The souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus, and that includes all who have been beheaded throughout history up until the times of the Antichrist; those who had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark and that includes all those who have died in Christ. We of course are concerned about the times of the Antichrist but, down through history there have been many who have died at the hands of those driven by the spirit of Antichrist, some by beheading.
We all will suffer the first death but, those who choose Jesus Christ will be spared the second death where they will spend eternity in hell fire. How precious it will be to reign with Christ for a thousand years and then for all eternity. It will be somewhat like this wedding I just attended where joy and life will reign. Every time I witness the birth of a new Great Grandchild, I think, God has not given up on mankind YET! He is still giving new life.
I pray you also will witness this new life in Jesus – it is wonderful!