God has promised that angels will gather us from all over the earth.
Imagine yourself standing in a dimly lit graveyard, looking at rows of tombstones with names of friends from your past. You feel vibrant and energetic, yet you remember being old and feeble. Your skin is youthful and smooth, and you are no longer hunched over. With wonder, you gaze at the details etched on your stone.
Did you truly die in 1993? The monument beside yours displays 2023! Have so many years passed? In awe, you conclude that the resurrection has occurred, and you will soon meet the new King of the world — the Lord Jesus Christ!
Will gravestones be overturned? Will there be a deep hole in the ground or any other evidence Jesus has returned? God can certainly recreate us without digging up holes to find our bones. He knows our DNA; He has written our names in His Book. Yet, the stone blocking the tomb of Jesus was rolled away by an angel—a visual demonstration that a miracle had occurred. Will God graciously allow the world to view disturbed cemeteries all over this earth?
We know that we won’t be instantaneously immortal when resurrected, as not all who rise will receive this gracious gift. There will be a resurrection to life and a resurrection to shame (John 5:29; Dan 12:2). There are those to whom Jesus will say, “I never knew you, depart from me you workers of lawlessness.” (Matt 7:23).1 “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matt 25:46).
Many Christians were tragically tortured and maimed before dying, so surely God won’t bring us back with body parts missing. Indeed, John the Baptist will require his head! It seems quite possible we will come back to life whole and in our prime, already tasting God’s incredible power to make all things new.
Possibly before we are brought to the Judgment Seat, the risen saints will visit relatives and friends, proclaiming that Jesus Christ has returned and it is time to come. What could be a more powerful witness to the veracity of this claim than a resurrected relative standing at your door? Paul says, “The dead in Christ will rise first.” (1 Thess 4:16).
Imagine the apprehension you may feel knocking on the door of someone who lived on after you died. How exciting to appear to your loved ones, not as the old, wizened figure they remembered, but vibrant, healed, and restored! How long will it take them to recognize you?
Maybe they will throw their arms around your neck and cry tears of joy! Will they be thrilled to know that Jesus Christ has returned, or will they be fearful, dismayed, and anxious? This could be a difficult interaction. You may have words of encouragement, reminding them of the Father’s great mercy and His strong desire for none to perish. Or you may observe what is happening in their home, and your heart might break. It will be too late to repent and change (Matt 25:1-13; Rev 22:11). You will be calling them to come away just as they are.
God has promised that angels will gather us from all over the earth (Matt 24:31). Somehow, we will meet Jesus in a private, secluded place. Will angels take our hands to pull us away, like with Lot and his family? Will we arrive instantaneously in the place of judgment, unseen by the world, or will it be an awesome trip, transported through the air like never before, over sea and land?
Thinking about the future, meeting Jesus Christ will surely be the highlight. When we first see him, we may discover he is not the glamorized, handsome model this world portrays. Isaiah 53:2 says, “When we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” Yet, no doubt, something in his demeanor and deportment will command our respect, admiration, and love beyond anything we’ve ever felt.
Seeing Jesus in action, marveling at how he perfectly manifests his Father and wisely and lovingly interacts with others, will captivate our attention and bring everything we have learned about him to a powerful reality. He will be the bridegroom of our dreams, and we will not be disappointed if we long for a godly, righteous King. Paul says a crown of righteousness will be given unto those “that love his appearing.” (2 Tim 4:8).
Visualizing the Judgment Seat as anything but a sobering experience is hard. We must give an account of our life, and we will either be accepted to partake of God’s Divine Nature—as Jesus has (2 Pet 1:4; 1 John 3:2-3), or we will weep and gnash our teeth lamenting the foolish choices we made (Luke 13:28). Every knee will bow to Christ and acknowledge him as their Lord (Phil 2:10-11).
Even if we are judged faithful, we will still be convicted of our shortcomings and fully acknowledge our desperate need for grace and mercy. Yet, what great joy to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant… enter thou into the joy of thy Master.” Consider the supernatural change as “this mortal body puts on immortality.” (1 Cor 15:53). What will we feel when Jesus transforms “our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Phil 3:21)?
We have been blessed to live in the “image of God,” enjoying the marvelous sensory awareness our Creator has bestowed. Do you dream about what it will be like to experience God’s nature? Will energy surge through us? Will we be aware of a vast new range of sounds, thoughts, understandings, and visual perceptions? Serenity will fill our hearts, knowing we will never again face debilitating doubts, sinful temptations, or death and disease!
We may have lifelong, heartfelt petitions never answered in our mortal lives. Is this when those never-moved mountains will suddenly be tossed into the sea? Some of us have loved ones with a veil of darkness upon their eyes. Will we be sent to visit and encourage them to recognize the evidence that Jesus Christ has returned? When Jesus arose from the dead, many saints were resurrected and appeared to those in the city. Could this be a precedent for what is to come?
Will those who have lost young children beg the Lord to raise them to mortal life in God’s Kingdom? There isn’t any explicit guarantee in the Bible that children will be raised, but three of the eight recorded resurrections were of young children. The appeals of desperate parents were heard by Jesus and the prophets with great compassion, and God restored mortal life. However, if our Lord denies our request, we will, as immortal beings, understand his decision so much better than we can now.
We have two models to consider when we meditate on what it will be like to experience immortality. Those who are resurrected will be equal to the angels. We will not die anymore or marry (Luke 20:34-36). Angels are often called young men, sometimes indistinguishable from human beings, sometimes in shiny white clothes with a divine glow. Angels have been very involved, often appearing to give guidance and teachings from God and to provide encouragement, support, and protection. The faithful will take on this consecrated role in the coming age, ministering as “kings and priests” to the mortals who survive Armageddon (Rev 5:10; Isa 30:19-21).
After Jesus was immortal, he could be handled and touched, eat food, move instantly from place to place, and enter locked homes (Luke 24). This may indicate the physics of immortality are quite different from anything we’ve experienced so far! Jesus remembered all his friends, experiences, and the Scriptures. We have every reason to believe that we will too.
We know God’s Holy Spirit will be poured out (Joel 2:28). How wonderful to speak any language, have the right words to say, and have incredible power to heal those sick and diseased!
Our Father, in His great mercy, gave us proof that He CAN and WILL bring us back from the dead by the eight resurrections recorded in the Bible. Jesus Christ is the prime example because not only was he resuscitated, but he was also the first to be given eternal life. Because of this, he is the firstborn from the dead, the beginning of the new creation, and a precious token of what is to come. “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Rom 8:29. See also Rev 1:5; Col 1:18; Acts 26:23; 1 Cor 15:20-22.)
So, visualize yourself now under a starry sky enjoying deep conversations with a multitude of old friends, loved ones, faithful Bible characters, and so many others you’ve met at the Marriage Feast of the Lamb. Suddenly, your beloved Savior and Redeemer stands up to speak. In glistening white clothing, shining like the sun, he tells us it is time to begin our mandate to bring true peace and righteousness to the earth. With wild elation in our hearts, eager to finally start making the changes this world so desperately needs, we join Jesus Christ to stand on the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:10-12; Zech 14:1-4). We are about to save the devastated nation of Israel from an overwhelming assault and reveal God’s chosen King and ourselves–his chosen bride to the world. But that is another story!
Chris and Martha Sales,
Collingwood Ecclesia, ON
- All Scriptural citations are taken from the English Standard Version, unless specifically noted.