Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 23:9-25:14 / 1 Thessalonians 4:1-18 / Proverbs 24:23-34
The sequoia trees of California are close to 300 feet high. Surprisingly, their root structure does not match their height. These giant trees have a shallow root system that does not grow downward but in all directions. The roots grow in search for needed water and will intertwine with the other sequoia roots. Their intertwining roots provide support for each other against the storms because high winds and destructive weather would quickly uproot it. This is why they grow in clusters and a giant redwood seldom stands alone!
Paul writes to the young congregation at Thessalonica to encourage them about eternity, specifically the return of Christ. He wrote, “Therefore encourage each other with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:18) Paul’s words were designed to give hope, support, inspiration and reassurance to these young Christians. Some had quit their jobs thinking Christ’s coming was virtually days away while others were confused about deceased saints whom they thought had missed out on Christ’s return.
Paul assured them that Christ would return and they were to live in expectancy and watchfulness. They were to live life in the manner of a normal quiet life and a diligent work ethic. They were to patiently wait for Christ’s return as they lived in the “here and now” with the knowledge of “His return”.
They were not to be like the heathens who thought the dead were simply non-existent and eternally hopeless. Just as Christ rose from the dead, Jesus promised to raise those who believed in His name. They were not dead but “asleep” and would be awakened by the sound of His coming. Their bodies would be shaken out of slumber and joined up with their spirits/souls, which Christ would bring with Him. (vs.14) The departed saints don’t miss anything…they are part of everything!
Not only will Christ call the sleeping bodies to meet Him but will also rapture (a catching up) the living believers to meet Him in the clouds. (vs.16,17) Our bodies will defy gravity and be miraculously transformed into a body that is divinely equipped for eternity!
Christ will then take us all to the portals of heaven and share with us the joys of His presence for all eternity. Heaven will be an eternal reunion for all the saints. A reuniting with one another and our greatest fellowship will be with Jesus! This is our “blessed hope” so we do not grieve as the rest who have no hope. Goodbyes are the law of earth…reunions are the law of heaven! “Therefore encourage each other with these words.”