Matthew 24:31, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever.
Angels play a significant part in the Finality – that’s my term for the last phases of God’s Plan. Paul, Silas and Timothy are named as the writers of this letter, and they have a clear idea of how the last stage of God’s plan for the world will develop. The faithful who are still living when Christ returns will be gathered up by angels – now that would require legions of angels.
Before that happens, those who have died will be gathered – the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised. That includes those buried, lost at sea, cremated, scattered and those who gave their bodies for scientific research. Nobody is excluded – the raised body is not the same as the physical body. The voice of the archangel, name not specified, will be heard alongside that of Christ Jesus, and those faithful remaining will be taken up.
This is a bold claim. In one sense, it is important that we know what the Bible says and can make informed assessments. In another, we might not need to worry too much about the finer details if we are safe in Christ Jesus now. Our mission is to live in Christ Jesus and bring others to him.
What will happen to the non-faithful at this time?
Do I have any responsibility for those people now?
Father God, no-one knows when Christ Jesus will return to earth. Keep me alert and ready, not because I am desperate to be among the saved, but because I want to live each and every day on earth to your glory, and then see you in glory. Amen.