“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”
I have touched on many phrases in this particular passage.
Phrases like “We who are alive and remain” speaks of those who remain (left behind) after the shaking of nations. The same way the tares (children of the wicked one) were taken off from the field (world) first before the wheat (children of the Kingdom).
Jesus affirmed that in his statement in Matthew 24: 36-41, where the people in Noah’s day were taken away by the flood while righteous Noah and his family remained or were left behind on earth. That depicted Jesus’ second coming. If anyone was to be taken away, it wouldn’t be the church. The church is meant to inherit the whole earth (Mathew 5:5, Psalm 37:11). You can’t do that when you’re away from it, waiting for its destruction.
I also touched on the concept of the “Lord’s descent” which is
exactly what it is – the Lord descending. The Kingdom of Heaven comes to the earth and not vice versa (Matthew 6:10).
Christ (the groom) leaves his parents (The Father) and his abode(Heaven), and descends to join with bride as prophesied in Genesis 2:24 and again in Ephesians 5:31-32. The bride(church) doesn’t leave her abode(earth), Christ does.
Another thing I taught on, was the phrase “caught up. The Word we refer to as the “rapture.”
One example is that of Philip who was caught up
(raptured) and disappeared from the presence of the Ethiopian. He later appeared on earth, in
Azotus and continued preaching. We saw patterns like that with
Moses concerning his trip to meet the Lord who DESCENDED on Mount Sinai.
Moses met the Lord in the clouds and later returned to minister to
the people on earth.
This brings us to today’s topic:
What exactly are these clouds?
From the opening passage, those who are alive and remain during that time will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
Are these physical clouds?
Probably we are taking this text from an earthly standpoint.
Jesus said in Mark 13:26:
And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
Did Jesus mean coming in condensed water molecules?
What if He was speaking of heavenly things? – which he usually does. Spiritual things
can only be spiritually discerned with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Let’s check out more passages.
Jude 1:14 speaks on how the Lord comes:
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints.
Instead of clouds used in both Jesus’ and Paul’s statements, it says here that Jesus is coming with tens of thousands of his saints. Tens of thousands is a Hebrew idiom for a whole bunch of them.
The clouds are compared analogously to the saints.
The Greek word for “clouds” is nephele, from the root word nephos.
Vine’s Expository Dictionary says this about the meaning of nephos:
“denotes a cloudy, shapeless mass covering the heavens. Hence, metaphorically, of a dense multitude, a throng.”
Clouds speaks metaphorically of a “dense multitude“.
We see this clearly pointed out in the Book of Hebrews:
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so
great a CLOUD OF WITNESSES, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…”
Here has the mystery been unveiled. The Cloud actually refers to a crowd – full of witnesses.
- These clouds are people – saints for that matter. A saint is simply one made holy in Christ. Every believer, dead or alive, is a saint.
From the passage in 1 Thessalonians 4, the dead in Christ will arise first. And as the phrase puts it:
“…Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air”
Now look at the phrase carefully.
Those who are alive and remain will be caught up (harpazo)
together. With who?
When we read the whole opening passage; we see that it’s about the
dead in Christ who have been roused to life.
Those who are alive and remain will be caught up together with a group of people. Who are they?
Here’s the answer.
“…THEM IN THE CLOUDS”
The bible speaks of so many in Hebrews 11 – Abraham, Noah , David, the prophets; so many.
And in Hebrews 12, the bible says that we who are alive are encompassed with a great cloud of witnesses. These witnesses are all those who died in Christ or died in the faith, walking with God.
Some, before Jesus, were born in the flesh like Abraham, Isaac, Moses, Joshua, David, Rahab etc.
All those dead in the faith and
in Christ are referred to as “CLOUD OF WITNESSES” or “THEM IN THE CLOUDS“.
We who are alive and remain during the appointed season of the glorious appearance of Christ
will be caught up together with these people.
The dead saints will be caught up first (…for the dead in Christ shall rise first…) and they will come with the Lord as clouds of witnesses, in glory and in power. Similarly to what Jude described in his epistle: “The Lord cometh with tens of thousands of his saints…”
These saints are what Jesus referred to as the clouds.
These are the clouds or crowds that our Bible speaks of as the Dead in Christ or The righteous ones who died in the Faith (Hebrews 11).
I pray that this revelation sinks in deeply into your hearts as we
eagerly await in hope for the glorious appearance of our Lord.
The rest of the passage will be dealt with in our next session