I have just finished re-reading Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams, a really good comedic read. Chapter 7 ends with one of my favourite cliffhangers:
“Gordon Way’s astonishment at being shot dead was nothing to his astonishment at what happened next.”
What happens after death is a question that fascinates even atheist authors like Adams. What happens after death is also the subject of the Bible passage we had in church(Holy Trinity Huddersfield) last Sunday. We had the whole of Chapter 4 of 1 Thessalonians as out reading. It ends like this:
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep,that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. I Thessalonians 4:13-18 ESV
The Thessalonian church was being persecuted and as a result some had died. The question is what happens to them. It is not really about the rapture, but about about what happens to those who have died. And it is about hope. Jesus has died and rode again, and those who have died in the persecution will be raised.
So forget those who push the rapture, that is not the main thrust of this passage. It is about hope in persecution. Those who have died in persecution will be raised.
I’m not saying there will not be a rapture, there may be, but that is not what it’s all about.