I Thessalonians Chapter 4
 
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

The following statement caught my eye recently: “Redemption is the casting down of false images.”  We can never fully enter into what God has for us as long as we misunderstand His Word.  I think this is especially true of this chapter.  To understand God, we have to understand how He sees things and how He speaks.  In the last verses of this chapter, God is describing not a future event that all Christians will experience at the same time, but rather a process that is even now occurring in the individual lives of God’s people.  This process can only begin when we detach ourselves from our common, everyday understanding of words in order to enter into God’s meaning.  This is not easy.  Because, after all, a cloud is a cloud, a trumpet is a trumpet, the air is the air and an angel is an angel, right?  Wrong!  Especially when God is speaking prophetically as he is in these verses.  These verses come alive with such richness and power when we see the spiritual meaning behind the physical symbols.  What, then, is God truly saying when He uses the following symbols: 

trump or trumpet – Paul refers to the trumpet as an instrument sounded to prepare troops for battle.  It is far from being a signal to fly away over the horizon.  In the book of Revelation, a trumpet represents a voice or message. 

archangel – This represents a body of people who proclaim the message of God’s kingdom.  It is derived from the Greek word for messenger or pastor.  The word evangelist is also derived from the same Greek root word. 

dead in Christ – These are not Christians who have passed away.  Those we think of as dead, God calls asleep in Christ.  The dead in Christ are dead to sin and to the law.  They have been crucified with Christ.  They are not only dead, but also bound up in the grave clothes of religious traditions and bound by their carnal understanding of God’s Word.  These are the dry bones Ezekiel prophesied to which stood up and formed an army.  What this passage is describing is the process whereby the dead in Christ are quickened (“the dead in Christ shall rise first…”) by revelation truth.  Once this happens, those who are now “alive in Christ” enter a realm of spiritual fellowship and communion with those who are now “asleep in Christ”.  This heavenly fellowship, which has nothing to do with an after-life, is what is described in Hebrews 12:22 & 23:
 
But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first born, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant… 

air – The word that is translated as air in the King James version is the Greek word meaning to breathe unconsciously.  The word is a verb and not a noun and conveys the idea of a process that occurs in our spirits without our being fully conscious of it. 

clouds – The clouds God is referring to here are not the vapor clouds containing particles of pollution, but rather Glory clouds containing ten thousands of saints.  This same cloud of witnesses, as it is referred to in the book of Hebrews, covered Mt. Sinai when the law was given to Moses, it filled the tabernacle in the wilderness and also Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem and it appeared to John, Peter and James on the Mountain of Transfiguration.  Just as the glory cloud filled the temple in the Old Testament, God is in the process of revealing the fullness of His glory in His New Testament temple – our physical bodies.  As this process unfolds, which is actually the coming of the Lord with the saints or in the clouds, we come into fellowship with those in the realm of glory just as Jesus fellowshipped with Moses and Elijah on the Mountain of Transfiguration. 

The Christians in Thessalonica, like most Christians today, expected any day to see Jesus floating over the skyline of their city.  They had conceived a false image.  This is because God had not yet opened up their spiritual understanding and they were still seeing things through the eyes of Adam, the Old Man, or the man of sin or perdition as Paul terms it in the second letter to the Church at Thessalonica.  This “man of sin” is the natural mind of man that insists on seeing God and His Word in a physical and carnal way.  The Word tells us that to be carnally minded is death but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 

The Father is sounding the trumpet today.  His messengers are proclaiming the good news of the kingdom.  He is equipping His army with the mind of Christ whereby we see things as God sees them.  We are being caught up to a place in Him of such power and anointing that all the armies of Hell will not be able to resist us.  God’s people are going to be raised up – not over Lake Michigan or the Sears Tower – but over the head of the enemy as we put all things - including death, hell and the grave - under our feet.   
 
  

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