Löhe on 1. Thessalonians 4:16-17

graveyardThe dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left. (1Th 4:16-17 NIV)

In God’s kingdom it is all grace and mercy. Yet everything is also just, right and precise. God’s righteousness is not visible everywhere and always. He has deemed it wise and salutary to hide it mostly and only to let us glimpse part of it here and there and once in a while. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to talk about natural order instead of righteousness here as we hear about this order of resurrection. Those alive at the time will not precede those who have died by then, but rather will follow them. The dead will rise first. They will receive a new, perfect body – just as those alive will experience this perfection and transformation too. Doesn’t this eternal mercy and order demonstrate a holy righteousness? Some Christians would prefer to live until the Lord returns in glory. That’s not entirely wise and rather unsuitable. The dead will be joined to Christ first and thus before the living attain this our final goal and destination. Therefore it is better to die before Christ comes, because then we will be with him sooner. Blessed are the dead, who have died in the Lord!    Amen.

Eternal, holy God, you are the Lord over living and the dead. Your day is drawing closer and nobody will escape this last judgement day. We go about our daily lives and spend our years as a tale that is told. (Psa 90:9 KJV) Waken us up out of our sleep o Lord. Teach us to be awake and to pray constantly and so be ready for your big day, when your beloved Son Jesus Christ is going to judge the living and the dead. Grant that we will stand before him with holy joy and by his grace enter into your eternal kingdom. Amen.  (From “Year of the Church”)

1 Oh, how blest are they whose toils are ended, Who through death have unto God ascended! They have arisen From the cares which keep us still in prison.

2 We are still as in a dungeon living, Still oppressed with sorrow and misgiving; Our undertackings Are but toils and troubles and heartbreakings.

3 They meanwhile are in their chambers sleeping, Quiet and set free from all our weeping; No cross or sadness There can hinder their untroubled gladness.

4 Christ has wiped away their tears forever; They have that for which we still endeavor; By them are chanted Songs that ne’er to mortal ears were granted.

5 Come, 0 Christ, and loose the chains that bind us; Lead us forth and cast this world behind us. With You, th’Anointed, Finds the soul its joy and rest appointed. (Simon Dach, 1635 tr Henry W. Longfellow 1845)

This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Friday after the twenty fifth Sunday after the high holiday of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 395 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu!   (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
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