The Last Days-cont-part 3
(I Thess. 3-4)
I was impressed to continue this theme. I stay with the same reference given to us by Paul and I will repeat some thoughts for emphasis. We will not all sleep. The Lord will have a people who are alive and remain at His return, at the consummation of this age. I do not know of anything recorded in the law and the prophets that speaks to this but that may be simple ignorance on my part. I have heard Simeon and Anna as representative of this group of people. They are a foreshadow of those who will be alive and remain. Simeon personally heard that he would not die until he had seen the savior. For any reader who does not understand that God speaks directly to His servants, things that are not written, take note. God does that, so we may be aware. In Revelation John hears things he is specifically told not to write. Again, take note.
A leader in the church whom I respect very much has written that at His return, Jesus would go around the earth in a fast procession so that every eye would behold Him. I do not understand it that way. This very moment the Spirit is speaking to His children all over the world. We all hear Him. Similarly, on that great and terrible day, when we transition to a new heaven and new earth, every eye will behold Him all at once. Impossible??!! Of course!! It will be more awesome than the first, natural creation when He said let there be light. It has never happened before, and it cannot be explained or understood beforehand. Eye has not seen, nor ear heard.
Twice in one passage in Peter’s letter, he writes that the elements will burn with intense heat. It is written twice. We need to pay close attention. He also writes a great noise will accompany the day. I believe we meet Him in the air to be above the intense fire that purges the elements but that understanding may be too simplistic. Twice, in the same passage cited above, Paul writes to the Thessalonians that some will be alive and remain at that day to behold His appearing. We will not all sleep (die naturally) but be changed in the twinkling of an eye. These are aspects of the same “day.” It is that last day, that great and terrible day of the Lord.
John writes, 2000 years ago, “Little children, it is the last hour.” In one of Smith Wigglesworth’s messages, he said that when Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, time ended and eternity began. I hear that! Smith walked a life of faith that few have experienced, but we now together are growing into it. The last days appear to us to be some 2000 years long. A day is as 1000 years, and a thousand years as a day. His ways are far, far, above our ways. Mysteries.
I caution us in searching the scripture, especially the law and the prophets, to “develop” eschatology. Jesus said, you search the scripture for life (or knowledge?) and they testify of Him. Again, I mention the concept of a thousand-year intermediate reign of Christ from earthly Jerusalem. It does not make sense to me and is inconsistent with the rest of those things recorded from Paul and Peter. But what do I know? I do not insist on my thoughts; I do not know. But this I believe, this I think. Jesus is not leaving His glorious heavenly throne, nor His Father’s right hand, to take up some earthly one. We meet Him in the air to ever be with Him, and I am not interested in coming back down to an ongoing mess. That was not the apostle’s expectation either.
With all this, questions remain. Are some lifted up to heaven before that great appearing? Clearly, two witnesses (whoever they are) ascend in full view of the world, before the final day. But I think the great and terrible day is the end, and the new heavens and new earth. We are called now to rule and reign in the midst of our enemies (who are spiritual, not flesh and blood) and walk as He walked while He was in this world/age as a man. Love your enemies, even lay day your life before them, as He did.
Personally, I think that the end is the tearing of the separation of heaven and earth. If heaven is then fully present, what unrighteousness could remain? The veil that was part of the law because of sin is already rent so that by, and in the Spirit, we have full access now. We have full access to live and walk in His presence.