Let us pray: Dear Savior, we know that You received the loudest, warmest, most joyous homecoming ever when You ascended into glory about 2000 years ago. How the heavens shook with praise and thanksgiving over Your homecoming! How the angel choirs sang! Today we join together in anticipation of a similar homecoming, ours, when all You have ordained is finished upon this earth. O, the party that awaits! Thank You in advance for planning it out and setting it in place. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO AWAITS YOU IN HEAVEN!
TEXT: I Thessalonians 4: 13-18
Dearly Beloved Saints, Made So By The Blood of God’s Son:
What’s the loudest noise you’ve ever heard? On Thursday morning 5 F-15’s were doing a p.r. photo shoot over the Boston area. They were whizzing by at about 1000 feet. I didn’t see it live, but viewed it on T.V. I’m told, by my lovely wife, that they were impressive and loud!—She experienced it on her way to work. Of course, if they had kicked on their afterburners they would have shook everything and shattered a number of windows. That’s loud!
There’s an old expression which goes: “Be quiet! You’re making so much noise you’ll wake the dead.” Those jet fighters don’t have that amount of power. But God does. And God will. When? When He comes to end this world and take His saints into glory. George Frederick Handel captures that moment in words in his famous oratorio, “The Messiah,” when it says: “The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised, incorruptible.” Of course, it’s taken from out lesson: “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.” Moreover, whether we’re still alive or residing in our graves, we’ll all hear it, too. It will shake the world and shatter its foundations.
I’ve buried many of your loved ones. I’ve been there with you at the church service and the grave. I’ve seen the pain of that loss etched on your faces and felt your grief. Likewise, you’ve seen my pain over loved ones dying, too. And that’s why we all need to listen carefully to Paul’s words, God’s Words, here in Thessalonians. The apostle describes what we will, or have, gone through emotionally, but he also adds words of great comfort. “But we do not want you to uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.”
It is striking how Paul describes death.—As being asleep. Sleep is fascinating and mysterious. We all do it every day, yet we’re only now discovering amazing truths about it. First, sleep rejuvenates the body. It reinvigorates us. Second, it enables our bodies to fight off disease and illness. I read recently in a newsletter I subscribe to that the pineal gland at the base of the brain is vital in this process. For example, during sleep it shuts off various chemicals in the body which in turn can lead to Alzheimers and the hardening of the arteries. Additionally, it prevents some cancer cells from reproducing since some of the chemicals they employ are not produced. In fact, women taking tamoxifan need to sleep in a completely darkened room with absolutely no ambient light source, otherwise the pineal gland senses this and tamoxifan is rendered useless! Put into Bible language: “We are fearfully and wonderfully made!” Much more could be said about sleep, but I find it fascinating that Paul speaks of death as simply being asleep. And as you all know, sleep is peaceful and when you awake from it you are refreshed. Thinking of our loved ones, that fact is comforting beyond measure!
After the trumpet of heaven shakes every grave and the Lord comes back here, we’re told: “The dead in Christ will rise first.” They will want to arise. They will want to be eagerly embraced by God, their Savior. “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.” The living and the dead who trust in their Savior will all be assumed into glory. Just like Jesus, our Forerunner, levitated into the air at His ascension until a cloud hide Him from the disciples’ sight, so it will be for all the saints. Our bodies and souls together will literally “walk on air.” We will leave behind this “valley of tears” to be taken into God’s reality of heaven. Can you imagine the excitement of that day? No fear of falling will come over us. No apprehension will grip us. We’ll all know in an instant that: “The Lord has come! Joy to our new world!” This is God’s promise to us as believers in Christ. This has been etched into the foundation stones of heaven and can never be changed. “Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
The Christian faith is an anticipatory religion. It clearly teaches us that the best is yet to come. The excitement of our heavenly homecoming should always be lurking in the background and the foreground of our minds. But, of course, it usually isn’t. Instead, we get bogged down by another Middle East crisis, or economic problems, or personal sickness, or our own sinfulness, or human uncertainty over death. The beat goes on, and on, and on….Yes, this life is wearisome to the extreme if you think about it.
But God has something better in mind! That’s the message today. Moreover, He has given us the best He has to offer! He has given us His Son, Jesus, Who died so that we might live forever with Him in glory! He has given us Jesus’ holiness, Jesus’ forgiving love, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, all to make our deaths a simple sleep from which we will arise and then be taken in glory. All this is yours simply by believing in Christ as your Savior.
When the end of the world comes, all believers will experience, and utter, a sigh of great relief. We’ll know, just know, that the triumph of eternal life is now ours. All the stress and worry of earth will be gone and forgotten. Yes, we’ll be Saint’s Triumphant! And it all begins with the sound of a trumpet. So, next time you hear a loud noise, remember that. And don’t forget to encourage each other with this reminder: God’s Trumpet wakes the dead and turns them into an army of living saints! Amen