There is a day when the temporary separation brought about by all death in this life will be overturned by the greatest day of re-unification ever!
I find airports very interesting spaces. Going to an airport one can observe a whole range of contrasting emotions on display.
On the side of departures there are last hugs, last kisses and last looks – endings, separations, increasing distance, tears & questions of when we will see one another next.
Yet, on the side of arrivals its the opposite. There are first hugs, kisses & words of joy and love. Decreasing distance, intimacy and re-unification, the resumption of relationships…
Death is like the departure section of the airport. The second coming of Jesus, however, is like the arrivals section! There is a day when the wait will be over, the distance between us and Jesus will evaporate forever, and a day when the separation we have endured from loved ones who died as believers will be over forever and ever.
These Thessalonians had questions about loved ones who had died, here in these verses Scripture describes the amazing day to come when King Jesus will return as King. The underlying Greek word (‘parousia) used here and translated as ‘the coming of the’ Lord is a word that has special meaning. It’s not just like a friend ‘coming’ round to your house but the picture the Thessalonians would have had when that word was used would have been that of a victorious king leading his armies and his captives in a victory parade through the streets, to be received with cheers and celebration from his home city/kingdom.
We get hints of this incredible scene when this passage describes the picture of Jesus’ return with three sounds;
- Jesus declaring loudly with a shout/command ,
The voice of an archangel (chief angel) saying something about Jesus no doubt
- And God sounding a heavenly trumpet!
- In this moment there will be the greatest day of re-unification ever! It seems from vs15-16 that those who had already died, believing in Jesus will be raised and then they will join Jesus in His ‘parousia’, in His victory procession as ‘God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep’ (vs14).
I can imagine Jesus in all His glory out front, and the host of believers behind Him singing glorying in Him and yet at the same time looking out for, finding in the crowd and waving with joy and excitement at those who are still alive who believed in Jesus. What a day of re-unification, joy unspeakable! This is comforting for us who just feel the loss of separation in the present time, this sadness will be overcome with everlasting joy.
Lastly, the result of what I’m calling Re-uniting Day will be an intimate proximity to Jesus that will never be undone again; “and so we will always be with the Lord” (vs17).
These truths should encourage us, and should be used by us to encourage one another (vs18).
Who can you encourage with these words today?
Have you done it yet?