TEXT: I THESSALONIANS 4:13-18
SUBJECT: JOYFUL ANTICIAPATION OF THE END TIMES, PART II
In our first message from this text, we preached on the “Great Family Reunion” that God has planned for the end of the age. This will be for all of those who are in Jesus—including those who have died or have “fallen asleep” in Him—and will take place at the Rapture and Second Return of Jesus at the end of the Tribulation Period. The Great Shepherd of the Church inspired the Apostle Paul to use the tender phrase, “fallen asleep” when referring to those who had died, to make it clear that they were not dead, only sleeping! Consequently, on “That Day,” or “The Day,” of the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus, those who have died and are now in Heaven with God will be returning back to the earth with Him to be reconciled with those in Christ who will be alive on the earth at that time.
It will be quite the event to say the least!
This is a day that the eternal God has been looking forward to for a long time, and He has been moving all things toward this day since the beginning. It will be the central focus of the Day of the Lord. To say that this event will leave the whole world at a loss for words would be the understatement of all time. This spectacular revelation that has been in God’s mind from the eternal past and was set in motion at the creation of the heavens and earth will leave all who witness it—including angels and demons—stunned at the greatness of God!
Just think of it, all of the saints—going back to Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Paul, Peter, John and every generation of believers up to that time, including our loved ones who have fallen asleep in Jesus—will be returning to this earth with the Son of God and the holy angels! Beloved, there will not have been anything like this since the moment that God spoke the universe into existence!
If you are saved and are glad that you will be a part of it, would you say a good amen?
So in our first message to you from this text, we focused on vv. 13-15 and the sheer joy of the hope that we have as believers in being reconciled with our loved ones when they are awakened from their sleep in Jesus.
In part two of this message, we will focus on the event itself and how God will bring it about. Again, it will be breathtaking! And if you will embrace it by faith, it will fill you with a joyful anticipation of the end times and set you free from fear and dread.
I. Let’s begin with verse 16: “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command (or shout), with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”
This stunning event of Almighty God—the Rapture and Second Return of Jesus—will be revealed in three powerful ways: (1).The loud command or shout of the Lord, (2).The voice of the archangel, and (3).The trumpet call of God.
(1). The Rapture and the Lord’s Second Return will begin with the loud command or shout of the Lord Jesus Himself.
A.) To help get a visual of how this amazing event will look, I want to take you back to the ascension of Jesus into heaven after His bodily resurrection from the dead and after His appearances to His disciples for over a period of forty days.
1. Acts 1:9-11, “After He said this, He was taken up before their eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. They were looking up intently into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men (angels) dressed in white stood beside them. Men of Galilee, they said, why do you stand here looking up into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.”
a.) Notice that the angels said, “This same Jesus” will return. That very simply means that the “same Jesus” who became a man through the virgin Mary; the “same Jesus” who gave His life on the cross to pay for our sins; the “same Jesus” who was raised from the dead with a physical body; and the “same Jesus” who appeared to His disciples for 40 days after He had been raised from the dead and who ascended into Heaven from the Mount of Olives in bodily form will also return back to the earth in bodily form—this “same Jesus!”
b.) And this “same Jesus” will return to the earth in the “same way” that you have seen Him go into Heaven. When Jesus returns, He will do so in physical and VISIBLE form—in the “same way” that he was taken up from the Mount of Olives. It will not BE HIDDEN OR DONE IN SECRET! Rather, it will all unfold in plain view for all the world to see—in real time.
Beloved, when the Lord Jesus splits the sky, it will be the most dynamic act of God that this world has ever witnessed!
The point that I am trying to convey here is that the Rapture and Second Return of the Lord will not be done in a corner or where no one can see it. God hasn’t waited this long for this moment only to hide it. No way!!!
This event will be the display of the raw power of the Almighty God! And that raw demonstration of God’s power, when Jesus descends from heaven, will begin with the loud command or shout of the Lord.
The question is this: what is the loud command or shout of the Lord?
Before I offer an answer to that question, I do so with this caveat: no one can fully comprehend what it will be like to hear this loud command or shout of the Lord since no one has ever experienced it. Just as no human being can describe that first grandeur moment of creation when God brought the universe into existence, so too can no one describe the moment when the Lord descends into our atmosphere with a loud command or shout.
With that said, according to the Greek word translated “loud command,” or “shout” (keleusmati), the meaning here is associated with a victorious King riding into battle with his army. As the Lord Jesus, along with those who have fallen asleep and with the angel army, leaves the third heaven and breaks into the material heavens—into our air on terra-firma—He will give the loud command or shout of the King of Kings! It will be a shout that will shake both the heavens and the earth. And it will be the Divine announcement to all of those on the earth that everything is about to change, FOREVER!
The Holy Spirit gave John a glimpse of this staggering truth in Revelation 19:11-16 “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called faithful and true. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns. He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His Name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following Him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On His robe and His thigh He has a name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
This incredible and supernatural scene unfolds first with the loud command and shout of the Lord as He breaks into our atmosphere for the first time since He ascended from the Mount of Olives. Not to be overly simplistic, but it will truly be “the shout heard around the world!”
“When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim, my God, how great thou art.”
(2). The second way that the Rapture and Second Return of the Lord will unfold will be with the voice of the archangel.
As with the last point about the loud command or shout of the Lord, no one can define what the “voice of the archangel” will actually sound like. Nor does the Bible indicate which archangel it will be, Michael or Gabriel.
But the real point is this: at this momentous event of the Rapture and Second Return of the Lord, it is only fitting that the highest in the angelic hierarchy should be present and involved. So along with the shout of the Lord, this mighty archangel adds his voice to this heart-stopping revelation of God’s Son!
I’ve never heard an archangel’s voice, but I will on that day. As with the loud command or shout of the Lord, I look forward with joyful anticipation to that mighty sound from the archangel at the end of this age announcing the Rapture and Second Return of the Lord.
(3).The third way in which the Rapture and Second Return of the Lord will unfold will be with the “trumpet call of God.”
There is little doubt in my mind that the Rapture and Return of the Lord will happen on the Feast of Trumpets. Just as sure as Jesus fulfilled the first four Feasts of God to the very day, 1.Unleavened Bread, 2.Passover, 3. First Fruits, and 4. Pentecost, He will fulfill the last three of God’s seven Feasts to the very day—5.Feast of Trumpets, 6.Day of Atonement, 7. Feast of Tabernacles.
The Lord will fulfill the Feast of Trumpets at the Rapture and Second Return. Ten days later on the Day of Atonement He will save the Remnant of Israel from the Antichrist, and five days later He will commence the Feast of Tabernacles which will lead into the Millennial Reign of Jesus over all the earth. (For a more comprehensive explanation of the Seven Feasts of God, please visit my blog: warriorprophet.blogspot.com and reference my post from February 23, 2012 “The Seven Prophetic Feasts of God.”) There can only be one fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets as it is with the other Feasts of God. Therefore, the Rapture and the Second Return of the Lord occur at the same time—at the end of the Tribulation period! (See Matthew 24:15-31 for the timing of this event)
Along with the loud command or shout of the Lord and the voice of the archangel being that of a victorious King and His heavenly army, the sounding of the trumpet call of God—in keeping with the meaning of the Feast of Trumpets—is God announcing to the world to prepare for judgment. 
However, if the sounding of the trumpet means judgment for a rebellious and unbelieving world, it is for the Church the announcement of God gathering the faithful in Christ to be rewarded and blessed because of His Divine mercy! I will more fully develop the timing and meaning of the Rapture and Second Return in subsequent messages, but for our purposes in this message I will close with what is revealed in vv. 16-18
When the Lord Jesus comes from the third heaven (a dimension that we as yet have not experienced) with those who have fallen asleep in Him and with the holy angels, as He enters our physical heavens with a loud command or shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, something spectacular is going to happen for all of those who are true believers in Jesus.
First, “the dead in Christ will rise first” (v.16). As our text says, God will bring with Jesus all of those who are in spirit form and will raise up their new and glorified bodies to be united with their spirits! This all will happen with the shout of the Lord, the voice of the archangel and the trumpet call of God. God’s great power will accomplish this amazing event!
Although this will happen “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,”(see further I Corinthians 15:51-52) I believe that their ascent into the sky will be slow and very VISIBLE just like the ascent of Jesus from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:9-11).
Secondly, v.17 “After that, (the dead in Christ having been raptured) we who are alive and are left will be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”
Once the dead in Christ are raptured up, then those believers who are still alive will also be raptured up to meet them and the Lord in the air or sky above the earth.
What a scene! What a spectacular event! Again, not since God created the universe has there been anything close to this! Beloved this is THE DAY OF DAYS!
And the call of the Spirit today is that we would be stunned with the anticipated beauty, hope and glory of the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus at the end of the age! God wants us to be overwhelmed with what He has planned for us in the end times. The Lord desires that we embrace the events of the end times with joyful anticipation.
So once again Church, the end times are not the end for those who are in Jesus. Rather, what will be the end for the rebellious and unbelieving world will truly only be the BEGINNING for those who are in Christ Jesus the Messiah.
It is for that reason that the Apostle Paul can say to the Thessalonian Church and to us today: “Therefore, encourage each other with these words.”
ALTAR AND PRAYER
Father-God, as we enter into these last days, we ask that you would pour into us the stunning revelation of the Rapture and Second Return of Jesus. Help us to focus on what the shout of the Lord, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet call of God will mean to all of those who are in Christ Jesus—eternal reward, blessing and glory!