Do you think that Christians will become “celestial halo-headed angels” who will sit on clouds and play harps forever! If so, it’s no wonder that eternity doesn’t excite you! Nothing could be further from the truth! When you get discouraged by troubles of life, I challenge you, child of God, to consider the facts of your very first assignment after resurrection when the Lord returns…
It is true that we face plenty of trouble in this old world and the Lord Jesus, Himself told us clearly, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Neither did the apostle Paul deceive the early Christians that their life would be “a bed of roses”! He told them plainly ,… “that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)
Many of God’s people have been deceived to think that we will at least be spared the worst of “the tribulation” which will come upon the world just prior to the coming of the Lord. But scripture is very clear as to the time when we can expect rest from our troubles. Our rest is promised to us, not some years before the Lord Jesus’ revelation from heaven, but Paul clearly told the Thessalonians that our rest comes WHEN the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven!
I want you to get a clear scriptural picture of that day so your mind and heart will be filled with anticipation of your first day’s assignment in immortality!
First, here’s the promise concerning WHEN our rest will come in II Thessalonians 1:3-10…3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly,and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; 4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: 5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: 6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, (here’s the promise about when to expect your rest…) when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
The day of the Lord’s return to earth is most often called in scripture, “THE DAY OF THE LORD”. Come with me now to the testimonies of three inspired writers who tell us of that day from three different perspectives:
(1)The apostle Paul, in I Thess.4:13-17 and I Cor.15:51-58 tells us of the events of that day from the perspectives of Christians, many who have died and some who will still be alive on that day… what will we hear? What will we see? What will happen to us?
In I Thessalonians 4 we read these words…“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.”
Then in I Corinthians 15, Paul “zeros in” on the specific changes which will be made in those who have died and in those of us who remain alive… (get you head “wrapped around” these truths for the changes that will be made in your body are those which will equip you for your very first assignment that very day!)
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”
(2) The prophet Zechariah tells of the events of the Day of The Lord from Israel’s perspective. That day will be the very worst time of trouble that Israel has ever experienced in all her history! Jeremiah called it “the time of Jacob’s trouble” …. “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” (Jeremiah 30:7) What will Israel see? What will they hear? What will be their experience in that day?
Israel has often been opposed and attacked by many nations, but she has usually had a few faithful allies among the nations of the world. But in the Day of the Lord, she will have none! All nations will be gathered together against her, (including our own)! Listen to Zechariah as he tells of that day in Zechariah 14:1-5… “Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
(Remember, the “Day of the Lord” is the day of His return to earth! Watch as Zechariah describes his actual arrival to Israelites in Jerusalem…. “Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feetshall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.”
Do you recall that, as the Lord is descending from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God, the dead in Christ and we which are alive and remain are caught up to meet the Lord in the air? Did you also recall that from that moment onward we will be “forever with the Lord”? So have you got the picture so far? As we come with Him to the earth, what are we going to observe at “ground zero” where the Lord Jesus descends on the Mount of Olives? A huge valley which was never there before is going to be carved into the landscape at the very spot from which the Lord Jesus ascended to heaven in Acts 1:9-11!)
But that is not all! The Lord Jesus does not bring all his saints with Him just to be spectators! And here is where the story gets really exciting…. The gathering of ALL HIS SAINTS (millions of saints from all the ages from Abel right to the Day of the Lord) who come with Christ has a BIG PURPOSE! The first resurrection is not just for OUR BENEFIT! It is not just for us to be made incorruptible (incapable of deterioration) and immortal (incapable of dying) but it is FOR CHRIST TO BE ADMIRED (WONDERED AT) IN ALL THEM THAT BELIEVE IN THAT DAY! (II Thess.1:10) (What plans does God have for us that very day?)
Do you remember how John, in Rev.1:7, revealed that “every eye shall see Him”? If they see Him, they are also going to see that vast company of ALL HIS SAINTS WITH HIM! But, are they going to see us as a bunch of “celestial halo-headed angels”, sitting on clouds playing harps???
Hold on to your hat as we go to Joel chapter two where Joel describes in detail what will be YOUR ASSIGNMENT (with millions of other saints) ON YOUR FIRST DAY OF IMMORTALITY!
Please read for yourself as Joel records the events of that future day from the perspective of the nations which are gathered together on that day intent on utterly destroying Jerusalem and Israel. What will they see? What will they hear? What will be their experience?
They are going to encounter an army such as they have never imagined! This army will be a huge host of men, women and children who just moments before were raised, instantly changed, made incorruptible and immortal and instantly “mustered” from every corner of the globe to accompany the King of Kings in the greatest battle of all history! Many of them spent their earthly days lame, crippled, paraplegics, blind, deaf and disabled in numerous ways. BUT NOT ANY MORE! Furthermore, this army has no weapons nor do they have armour! ! (Are you sure you’d want to go into battle with no weapons and without armour??!) Here’s the key…. An army which is immortal doesn’t need them! They cannot be killed!
Let Joel tell the story, himself… as you picture yourself as one of millions of immortal soldiers in the Lord’s army at the Battle of Armageddon… “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness. They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks: Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded. They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief. The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?
Child of God, may we all get a fresh perspective on the purposes of God to strengthen us in the difficult days ahead. What we have read above is just a little of our first day in our new bodies! Truly, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (I Cor.2:9)