For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:16–18
In these verses the Holy Spirit tells us what will transpire when the Lord returns for His own to fulfill the promise made in the upper room, “I will come again and receive you to Myself” (John 14:3). It tells of His personal bodily descent from Heaven, of the resurrection of the dead in Christ and the rapture of the living who will be caught up without passing through death to meet the Lord in the air. This glorious event may take place at any moment. No prophecy awaits fulfillment before it can take place. It should be our constant expectation and comfort.
Quite suddenly—it may at the turning of a lane,
Where I stand to watch a skylark soar from out the swelling grain,
That the trump of God shall thrill me, with its call so loud and clear,
And I’m called away to meet Him, whom of all I hold most dear.
Quite suddenly—it may be in His house I bend my knee,
When the Kingly voice, long-hoped-for, comes at last to summon me,
And the fellowship of earth-life that has seemed so passing sweet,
Proves nothing but the shadow of our meeting round His feet.
Quite suddenly—it may be as I tread the busy street,
Strong to endure life’s stress and strain, its every call to meet,
That through the roar of traffic, a trumpet silvery clear,
Shall stir my startled senses and proclaim His coming near.
Quite suddenly—it may be as I lie in dreamless sleep,
God’s gift to many a sorrowing heart, with no more tears to weep,
That a call shall break my slumber and a Voice sound in my ear;
Rise up, My love, and come away! Behold, the Bridegroom’s here!
H. A. Ironside, The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1994), 318.