For All the World to See
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
The church today doesn’t exist in a miracle-friendly environment. And, it does not seem to be part of God’s plan, for whatever reason, to catch the attention of the non-believing public through displays of spiritual power as he did in earlier eras.
Consider what happened in the days of Christ and the apostles. Jesus miraculously fed crowds of 5,000 and 4,000 (not counting women and children) with 12 loaves of bread and less than 10 small fish (Matt. 14:21; 15:38). Therefore, more than 10,000 people saw these miraculous events. Every time a miracle occurred, it garnered public attention and response from national leaders. In the anti-miraculous age in which we live, one wonders if public miracles would be acknowledge as enthusiastically today. The apostle Paul wrote about one yet-to-occur demonstration of God’s power that is going to be pretty hard for anyone to miss—or deny.
Here are the particulars of that event: First, Jesus Christ will descend from heaven. Next, a command will be issued in two forms: The loud voice of an archangel and the sound of a trumpet call. Based on what happens next, the command seems to be a summon to all who have died in Christ, much like Jesus’ command at Lazarus’ tomb (John 11:43). Third, the “dead in Christ” will rise up, apparently out of their graves. Finally, believers in Christ who are alive on earth at the time of this great event will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. This “rapture” (not a biblical word, but a word from the Latin translation of the Bible), or “taking away,” has been interpreted variously by Bible students as to its timing. But as to its impact, it appears that it will be public, loud, visible, and universal—i.e., it will be a great demonstration of God’s power such as the generation that witnesses it has never seen before. The return of Christ will be an undeniable fact of history.
Some believers wish they could have been among the crowds that Jesus fed miraculously. But all believers—whether living or dead—will have a part in this world-changing miracle. “Therefore, encourage each other with these words” (1 Thess. 4:18).
God’s Promise to You: “As a believer, you will be the subject of one of my greatest miracles.”
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