1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

The Greek port city of Thessaloniki, also known as Thessalonica, Saloniki or Salonica, is presently the second-largest city in Greece with over 1 million people in its metropolitan area. In his letter to the Thessalonians, the apostle Paul talks about a red letter day in the future, the dawn of a new age when heaven and earth form a unit.

Generations of believers gone before us will lead the way, which is a great way of honoring them; the dead in Christ will rise first to meet the Lord in the air before the living generation catches up in the clouds to join the party. We will wake up to a new chapter in the history of mankind, actually, a new chapter in the history of the universe. The old order will end making way for the new order of a wonderful world to come, a world no longer dictated by death. It is the conclusion of all wars and the beginning of peace time with unrestrained access to the heart of Heaven, the Trinity.

The King of kings will be the center of the new world, a King unlike any leader we know. Jesus does not rule with an iron fist. His lifeblood was shed to stop violence for good. The Lord knows that violence only creates more violence. Back in the Garden of Gethsemane, when soldiers attacked Him and Peter drew his sword, Jesus said (Matthew 26:52):

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”

Even with the best of intentions, all our wars combined do not bring lasting peace – but Jesus does. The kingdom of God is a kingdom of peace.

This mental leap into the future paints a strangely beautiful picture and may feel a bit like utopia. However, we need to be reminded from time to time that “utopia” will come true one day, especially when things in the here and now look grim. The world we live in has an expiration date. Let’s not get eaten up by the status quo and raise our heads in hope. The future established by God is going to be forever, and forever is a very long time.