“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God . . .” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
WHEN THE MOMENT ARRIVES AND THE LORD RETURNS, THERE WILL BE NO DOUBT AS TO WHAT IS HAPPENING. As Paul described it, the Lord will descend from heaven with a shout. There will be the voice of an archangel. There will be the trumpet of God. Our attention will be arrested by this event, to say the very least.
That day will be one of great change for those who are faithful to the Lord. Paul wrote, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51,52).
We don’t sing “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder” by J. M. Black much anymore, but it’s a great song: “When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more, and the morning breaks eternal, bright and fair; when the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore, and the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.” When the trumpet sounds and “the morning breaks eternal, bright and fair,” what a joyfully glorious day that will be!
Obviously, that day will be one of stark terror for those who have not accepted God’s pardon on His terms. To borrow the language of Hosea, who spoke of the Lord’s coming judgment upon Israel, “They shall say to the mountains, ‘Cover us!’ and to the hills, ‘Fall on us!’ ” (Hosea 10:8). But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can obey the gospel and look forward to seeing the Lord’s face.
We sometimes think and act as if heaven were not as real as the world we live in now. But if anything, it will be more real. The trumpet-blast of the Lord’s return will arouse us to a life that will be life indeed. If we are found in Christ on that great day, the thunderous voice of the archangel will open our eyes to the real life we were created to enjoy, and we will enjoy it forever. That day is coming. He has said so. What is happening right now is nothing more than preparation for the moment when He says, “Awake!”
“Think of yourself just as a seed patiently wintering in the earth; waiting to come up a flower in the Gardener’s good time, up into the real world, the real waking. I suppose that our whole present life, looked back on from there, will seem only a drowsy half-waking. We are here in the land of dreams. But cock-crow is coming” (C. S. Lewis).