1. Is it being seated with Christ in Heavenly Places, far above all heavens?
( Eph. 2:4-6, Col. 3:3-4)
2. Is it meeting with Him in the air, then returning to earth to judge the world?
(Heavenly City, 1 Thess. 4:17, 1 Cor. 6:2)
3. Is it to welcome His return as King at the Mount of Olives upon the earth?
Often in talking to Christians about the present troubled state of the world I ask them about their hope. Almost without exception a believer tells me “I am looking for Christ’s coming into the air- it may be at any moment now.” It is put forth in plain language in 1Thess.4:15-17 and 1Cor.15:51-52 and in still simpler terms in John 14:2-3. This hope rests upon the “Word of the Lord” – that “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven, that the “dead in Christ shall rise first” and that “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 to be forever with him. 1Thess.4:15-17. We shall be changed, in the twinkling of an eye, into His likeness.1Cor.15:51-51,1John3:2.
It can be shown however, from the same letters of Paul to the Thessalonians and to the Corinthians as well as from his prison letters (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 2Tim.), that this is not the hope set before the faithful believer at the present time.
The church of Thessalonica were followers of the CHURCHES OF GOD in Judea, 1Thess 2:14 . They were expecting “the Day of THE LORD” and were told by Paul that the apostasy from the faith must come first and be followed by the revelation of the man of sin 2Thess2:3-12. The Temple of God in Jerusalem is spoken of in verse 4. The voice of the archangel is in keeping with all this, for Michael is the great Prince which standeth for the children of Israel (Dan.12:1-2). This hope will be realized at the last trump (1Cor.15:52). This is the last of the seven trumpets of Revelation and it is sounded in Revelation 11:15, at the time of the judgments of God in Jerusalem after the ascent of the two witnesses following their death at the hand of the Beast from the bottomless pit. We can see therefore that this hope cannot be realized any moment. It is noteworthy too that the Christians who hold this hope are expected to “come behind in no gift” and to live as if they were not married 1Cor.1:7, 7:29.
Trumpets have always had to do with the earthly hope and Israel. There is not a mention of a trumpet in any of Paul’s prison epistles which reveal the Great Mystery. Also, Abraham is not mentioned even once. Why do you suppose that is so? Could it be that we do not look for a “city whose builder and maker is God.”? Could it be, because our hope does not have anything to do with the earth? The omission of words and phrases can speak volumes. Search and See
The earthly hope is associated with Christ as the Messiah and the Son of Man and is likened to the lightning, Matt.24:27. It is set forth in innumerable Bible passages. It is the hope of the Gospel of the Kingdom, i.e that Christ shall return as King and is therefore the hope of the book of the Acts. Acts1:11, 3:19-20, 28:20. It’s realization is dependent on the repentance of Israel. It is set forth by Paul in:
Romans 15:11-13; “And again, Esais saith, there shall be a root of Jesse and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in Him shall the Gentiles hope (Isaiah 11:10). Now the God of that hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.”
This was nothing new for it was foretold in Isaiah 65:1,2. The healings, tongues, and ministry of angels which mark the book of the Acts were consistent with this earthly hope of the Kingdom. When the Jews rejected the Kingdom in Acts 28:23-27, the earthly Kingdom was postponed. The signs and wonders associated with the Kingdom continued all the way through the book of Acts, even to Acts 28:3-6, where Paul was bitten by a viper without harm. In Acts 28:17 Paul who was bound for Israel (v.20) once again gathered the Jews again to testify nothing more than –
“… expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.
Paul tried to persuade Israel for the last time out of the law of Moses and out of the prophets. Then his final pronouncement:
Acts 28:26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:
Acts 28:27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
Acts 28:28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.
Paul’s 1st seven books were concerning this Kingdom. It included 1,2 Cor. 1,2 Thess. Romans,Galatians, Hebrews.While the Kingdom was in view, the signs and wonders were associated with it and the Gentiles were grafted in as a wild olive branches to provoke them to jealousy.This grafting in to provoke Israel to jealousy was nothing new. It was foretold by Moses and Isaiah:
Rom. 10:19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
Rom. 10:20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
After the last pronouncement of blindness in Acts 28, a new and glorious hope was given to Paul, which is the Mystery. It involves a group of believers whose hope is the highest of heavens. This hope was never before known, but hid in God, till revealed to Paul. His prayer throughout was for the Saints to know “what is the hope of His calling, for this was a NEW hope never before revealed to the Old Testament Prophets.
This gospel of the Glory is proclaimed by Paul in his prison letters. It imparts the ascension power of Christ to the faithful believer, setting him in Christ far above all heavens in the heavenly places and blessing him there with every spiritual blessing. It calls him to the privilege of knowing the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings and sets before him a hope consistent with the super heavenly nature of His calling. The seven-fold unity of the Spirit embraces this hope, to which the eyes of our hearts have to be enlightened (Eph.4:4, 1:18). It is layed up for us in heaven and we must not be moved away from it, for it is the hope of Glory that we shall be manifested in Christ in Glory (Col.1:5,23,27, 3:4). This appearing of our Great God and Saviour is called the blessed hope (Titus 2:13). When He appears, He will change our bodies of humiliation and fashion them like unto His body of Glory (Phil.3:20-21). If we love His appearing we shall receive a prize – the crown of righteousness (Phil.3:14-15, 2Tim.4:8,18). There are no voices, signs or trumpets associated with this hope. As the Churches do not proclaim it, we must be prepared for rejection and isolation and be ready to endure all things in holding fast to it. Christ Jesus our Head will never forsake us.
Something to ponder: This hope is very spiritual and requires more faith than any of the other hopes before. The City of Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven has a description of it in Rev.21. We do not have a description of “far above all”, the heavenly places, except for the types and shadows of the Holy of Holies recorded in the O.T. The books written to those who embrace the Mystery and the hope of heavenly places truly are the Saints and FAITHFUL (full of faith) in Christ Jesus.
Which is your hope?
The above, though it may be new to you, is but elementary to those who realize what it means to be a member of the Church which is His Body.