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 end of earth time as we know it is described by Paul in his letter to the Greek city dwellers of Thessalonica. Thessaloniki, also known as Thessalonica, Saloniki or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece, with over 1 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area. Paul described to his Greek friends how the dead will rise first to meet the Lord before the living generation is caught up in the clouds to join the party.

Particularly, I notice that the ones who have gone before us get to lead the way, which is a great way of honoring the older generations. I love that about God – little details like that. But then also the consoling thought that our bereavement is only temporary! After our passing there is still a lot of life ahead of us – Eternal Life that is – Life in its fullness; Life in a kingdom where God is King.

The dead will rise to a new chapter in the history of mankind, actually, a new chapter in the history of the universe because the old order has passed making way for the new order of the world. What that means exactly, I don’t know. I’m assuming the stars and planets are still running their orbits. But one thing is for sure: The King of kings will be the leader of the universe, a King unlike any world leader that we know. As the Prince of Peace there won’t be war and violence. Jesus does not rule with an iron fist. He is not the King of bloodshed. If anything, He shed His lifeblood for peace to stop violence for good. The Lord knew that violence begets violence. This is what Jesus said as solders attacked Him in the Garden of Olives and Peter tried to help Him by drawing his sword (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, war does not bring everlasting peace – but Jesus does. The kingdom of God is a kingdom of peace.

Right now this piece of information feels a bit like utopia. For this reason it’s good to be reminded that this “utopia” will come true one day. The here and now is temporary. The future established by God is forever, and forever is a long time!