The Lord himself shall descend from heaven…and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord– 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
Paul gives us here one of the clearest descriptions in Scripture of the last day.
First, the Lord himself descends from heaven. Language could not be plainer. This is not a “spiritual” visitation, or symbolic return—the Lord Jesus Christ himself will return in bodily form, descending from heaven just as he went into heaven.
And not a single one of Jesus' children will miss his spectacular and victorious descent. The dead in Christ will rise first, followed by every believer who is still living. Together they will fly! They will meet the Lord in the air.
But here is the greatest promise of all: then we will be forever with the Lord. No more separation. No more waiting. This is the consummation of all God has planned for this old sin-cursed world, and every future moment for the people of God will be spent in the presence of God.
This is the magnificent expectation of every believer, to be forever with their Lord. What comfort these words bring to the heart of each one who has long anticipated the personal presence of their Savior!
As Paul therefore exhorts, comfort each other with these words.