1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God…
The phrase implies —
I. NEW, LIVING, DIRECT SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE REDEEMER. There is more intended than being associated together in one glorious scene. It is not only to see Him and live in His house, one of His family, always in His presence; it is the getting rid forever of what is unChristlike in character, the gaining of the real perfect sympathy with the Christ life. We are with our Friend, not only when we are in His society, but when we blend our thought, our love, our life with His; when we become His other self. There is here the intimacy and closeness of spiritual fellowship and spiritual resemblance: "We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." We shall be like Him in faith, in spiritual emotions, in purpose, in tendency, in character. We shall then reach our lost ideals of manhood. The spotless radiance of the perfect Christ shall then be associated with a perfect Church, which He has loved and redeemed, every member of which shall be "without spot, and blameless." "Perfect in Jesus Christ." We shall be with the Lord in perfect holiness, "unblamed and unblamable," and "unreprovable"; in untemptable purity, in power not to sin. The spirit shall with Him be possessed of indestructible good.
II. We shall be with the Lord also IN THE UNFOLDING LIGHT OF HIS NEW REVELATIONS. We shall see light in His light. Truth shall no longer be seen in broken parts and through media which distort and mislead. Now the glass is flawed, and much we see is out of harmony and proportion. There are faults in ourselves which hinder the perception of Truth's harmony and beauty. There are also Divine withholdings of Truth which now we cannot bear or receive. But when we live our life with the Lord, all will be changed. We shall know Him, who is the Infinite Truth, and "that which is in part shall be done away."
III. We shall be with Him IN THE BLESSEDNESS OF HIS OWN PERFECT LIFE, AND REIGN AND JOY, Fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore are with Him. Holy desires shall only be cherished, to be satisfied out of the Infinite fulness. The life will surpass all we have known or can imagine. We call it, therefore, from its plentitude, and perfection, and blessedness, Eternal. It is the adjective of quality, not of duration. It exceeds exceedingly; is "a joy unspeakable and full of glory," "an eternal weight of glory." The joy is the joy of marriage. We sit down "at the marriage supper of the Lamb." The life is ever new, the joy is ever fresh, the fulness exhaustless. "Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasure."
IV. And the crown of all is SECURITY, CHANGELESSNESS, CONTINUANCE. "Ever with the Lord." They go no more out forever. No possibility of fall is here. There is no change here. "Change and decay in all around we see." The familiar faces are missed. Every Sabbath is an anniversary of our losses. Every act of our life has in it the memory of a past joy, which was and is not. The social life of heaven will complete its blessedness. The thought throws a halo of tenderness and affection over that world. The relational emotions are not cut off and sundered by death. The new life will be ordered by them. What the most hallowed sacramental experience foreshadows and typifies will be then enjoyed in full sweetness and elevating power. The sacred signs will not be needed, because we shall have the reality in its unspeakable grace.
(W. H. Davison.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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: