The great gathering together will be an awesome time of rejoicing. All those born again of God?s spirit will be there! As with any family reunion, we expect to spend time visiting with one another. We will be reuniting with loved ones. We will be meeting others we have only read about and heard about, but never met. What a grand time!
Family Reunion? What Family Reunion?
I Thessalonians 4:17
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.
The words to meet the Lord are a verb (action word) in most English translations. If we look at the Greek and Aramaic, however, we find this should be translated as a noun, an event, instead of an action. The interlinear translations quoted earlier both translate this for the meeting instead of to meet.
The Aramaic Interlinear[i]
And then we who remain who are living will be caught up with them as one in the clouds, for the meeting of our Lord in the air, and thus we will always be with our lord.
Then we the living who remain, together with them shall be caught away in [the] clouds for [the] meeting of the Lord in [the] air: and thus always with [the] Lord we shall be.
A Great Gathering
When he snatches us up to the clouds, Jesus will receive us and welcome us to his heavenly dominion. This word meeting in both the Greek and Aramaic is same word used in the parable of the ten virgins. There the ten virgins go out to receive the groom?s party and escort them back to the wedding.[iii] In the same manner, Jesus will receive us and escort us.[iv]
Another great point – the word translated meeting in the Aramaic can also be translated reception. The phrase of our Lord is in the genitive (possessive) case in the Greek. Putting these together, we could rephrase for the meeting of the Lord as for the Lord?s reception.
We will all be attending the Lord’s reception. We know the Lord Jesus will be there to receive us. We don?t know what kind of reception it will be. Wouldn?t it be one worthy of the grace and glory bestowed upon us, as sons and daughters of the Most High?
Courtesy of Jesus Christ
Lest you think we are getting a little high-minded here, remember that the Lord Jesus purchased this exalted position for us, by his atoning work.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
The Lord Jesus paid the price to bring us into God?s household. We are worthy of this grand reception because of what he did for us, not because of anything we have done. And he is the one in charge!
The Great Gathering is Just the Beginning
Our new, spiritual bodies and our grand reception with our Lord is just the beginning of the goodness we will receive.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
Once the trumpet sounds the age of the Church is done. The new age begins, the next of the ages to come spoken of in Ephesians. We have all experienced God?s grace in Christ Jesus here on earth. We will begin seeing the exceeding riches of His grace at Christ?s return!
I Corinthians 2:9
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
God has been preparing for this day for a long time, and He is good at keeping secrets! We will be totally delighted.
This grand reception is part of the great gathering, the gathering together, the rapture, apart of the hope of Christ?s return. It occurs at the very beginning of the new age we are all anticipating. It will be a time of great rejoicing with one another, and abundant honor and praise to God and to our Lord.
So shall we ever be with our Lord!!!
[i] The Way International Research Team, ed. The Aramaic-English New Testament, Vol. II, 2nd Ed. (New Knoxville OH: American Christian Press, 1992).
[iv] Due to the usage of apantesis in Thessalonians, it is commonly believed that we are welcoming Jesus to earth in order to bring him back to earth for the future battles. That is just the opposite of the action here. The movement is from the earth heavenward, not from heaven to the earth. We are not welcoming him, he is welcoming us. We will not go out to receive him, but will be transported, caught away, to be with him, to what he has prepared for us. This action is passive on our part, active on his.