13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4).
Here’s the picture. One great day the spirits of those who have died in Christ will descend from heaven along with Him, and upon hearing three sounds: a “shout” from Jesus (perhaps “Come Forth!”—John 11:43), “the voice of the archangel,” and “the trumpet of God,” they will watch their own bodies rise from the graves to come and be joined again with their spirits while still “in the air.”
That’s one aspect of it. The other is those believers who are still alive who are watching and marveling as all of this take place right before their eyes, before being themselves “caught up together with them in the clouds.” The point is, these believers who are still alive will not be allowed to meet the believers who have gone before—until they have been “properly clothed” in their glorified bodies.
Lord, there is such “comfort” in these images! Thank You for this great hope! Help us This Day to live in this hope and to comfort one another with it. Amen.