We have established that the one of the signs of the fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets is that the “dead in Christ” will rise. These will be those chosen, along with those who are called and chosen who are alive at His return, to be a part of the FIRST resurrection to reign with Christ in the Millennium.
“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” (1 Thes. 4:16).
The next Scripture is key for the order of events for all those who are alive when this event happens on the Feast of Trumpets.
“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” (1 Thes. 4:17).
Let’s unpack this last Scripture, starting with the word first word, THEN. “Then,” in verse 16, indicates that the next event will happen AFTER the dead in Christ are raised, but it is not clear WHEN.
Most Christians assume that after the dead in Christ resurrect, those Christians who are alive are “caught up” with them immediately. But this is because most Christians aren’t familiar with the blueprint of the Fall Feasts, and how they are a prophetic pattern that reveal the redemption story concerning Christ’s return. When we examine the Feast blueprint, it gives us a clearer timetable.
It is conclusive that THEN does indicate afterwards, but according to the Fall Feast blueprint, there is ten days, known as the “Days of Awe,” that elapses between the Feast of Trumpets [The appointed day that the dead in Christ rise], and the next Fall Feast, which is the Day of Atonement. On the Day of Atonement, the Church is judged, and this is the day that the Lord sifts out those believers who are alive who are His overcomers; for it is the day of reward or judgment of the body of Christ. This is when the THEN is.
The Scripture also defines who will be caught up by saying it will be those who are alive AND REMAIN. The word “remain” defines those saints who are alive at that appointed time whose hearts “abide” in the Lord, who have surrendered their will for His and have become “bondservants” of Christ:
“…He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruits; for without Me you can do nothing”(John 15:5).
Next, the purpose of the “dead in Christ” being raised from the grave is to inherit God’s promise of their “glorified body.” In order to do so, they need to first be above ground, “in the air,” where the Lord can breathe new life into them and form their body:
” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army” (Ez. 37:10).
On the Day of Atonement, when the reward/judgment is determined, the “dead in Christ” and those who are “alive and remain” will be “sealed” by the Lord to be the ones to inherit the promise of their gloried bodies first. The two will come together with Christ and begin the glorification process during the Feast of Tabernacles, until the 8th day when they are ready to ascend to the throne, and then descend to the earth, as Christ did.
“..who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself”(Phil 3:21).
Let’s continue unpacking 1 Thes. 4:17 as we look at the meaning of “clouds” in the Scripture:
“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” (1 Thes. 4:17).
Clouds can be both literal and figurative in the Bible. In the literal sense, God’s presence comes like a cloud at Mt. Sinai, and the cloud covered the children of Israel by day when they were in the wilderness.
“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way…”(Ex. 13:21).
Clouds are also figuratively used in referring to the list of the “heroes of faith” in Hebrews 11 as the great cloud of witnesses.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses… (Heb. 12:1).
Jesus speaks of the day He returns “coming on the clouds of heaven with power and glory” (Matt. 26:64). I think these clouds are again those “witnesses” who are a part of the Lord’s army escorting Him here to earth.
John also begins the book of Revelation with this statement in the first chapter of how Christ is coming with clouds (witnesses):
“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen”(Rev. 1:7).