“Then 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 shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 The. 4:17)
In our recent messages we have reflected on the significance of the catching up of the saints and what most of the evangelical church system erroneously believes to be a future physical rapture. It is indeed true that the saints shall be “caught up”. But as we have seen, this is not referring to a physical lifting off or relocation but to a glorious reality where we are raised up to move and live and have our being in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. This is not a place in the clouds, but a spiritual position of eminence, glory and authority that we attain to even while in the body.
A section of scripture that has led to the confusion of the rapture teaching is the misunderstanding of 1 Thessalonians 4:17. We have discussed the key topics of this verse in our previous messages, namely the meaning behind being “caught up” and “the clouds”. If read literally, the remainder of the verse could also lead us to espouse beliefs about a physical evacuation. But, if we are to lay hold of the essence of the message, we need the Spirit of wisdom and understanding to reveal to us what it means to “meet the Lord in the air”.
Before delving into the topic, we need to first establish that the scriptures draw on various symbolisms of nature to relay spiritual truths. The earth, the sea, winds, fire, clouds, rain, lightnings, sun, moon, stars, hailstones, snow, etc. are all used to depict an underlying spiritual message. Nowhere are these symbols readily mentioned than the book of Revelation. For instance, in the sevenfold expression of the judgment of God’s wrath, we read that the seven angels pour out the vials “upon the earth” (Rev. 16:2), “upon the sea” (Rev. 16:3), “upon the rivers and fountains of waters” (Rev. 16:4), “upon the Sun” (Rev. 16:8), and, as we will discuss further, “into the air” (Rev. 16:17).
Now to assume that the aforementioned events speak of literal proceedings will cause a great deal of confusion and render the book of Revelation completely incoherent and irrelevant to our lives. Perhaps this is why many rarely read or teach on this book. Of course, the deep symbolism of the book can be troubling even to the learned of theologians. But, one thing is certain, the abovementioned events signify the dealing of God in the spirit. Each sphere in the natural typifies spiritual conditions, realms of consciousness and understandings and dimensions of life and experience into which the dealings of God are released in judgment. For instance, the sea, earth and heavens are repeatedly mentioned in the Revelation. If you have been following the writing on these pages, you will know that the dealing of God in the book take place in three realms: the sea (the fleshy realm of the body), the earth (the soulish realm) and the heavens (realm of the spirit). Not only are these spheres of existence within the individual but they also find collective expression as the order, system, and arrangement of the world until the new heaven and new earth find their reality in all people.
In like manner, “the air” has a deeper spiritual significance. Paul sheds light on this as he states: “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to THE PRINCE AND POWER OF THE AIR, THE SPIRIT that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). The ‘air’ of which Paul speaks is not the mixture of oxygen and nitrogen – the invisible gaseous substance surrounding the earth. Rather, it signifies the spiritual dimension or atmosphere from which men draw their life source and in which they move and live and have their existence. Paul tells us that this spiritual atmosphere, ruled by the prince and power of the air, influences the actions and thoughts of the children of disobedience. Notice that the “prince and power of the air” (Eph. 2:2) operates in “the spirit” and is not confined to the air surrounding us. Paul also refers to this sphere of influence as the “course of this world” (Eph. 2:2) and “the spirit of the world” (1 Cor. 2:12).
The course and spirit of the world find their reality and existence in and through man – through man’s thoughts, actions, and words. That is to say, if there were no human beings on the earth, there would be no “spirit of the world”. The course of this world proceeds out of the inwards parts of men. Therefore, the state of things out there in the world is the projection of man’s inward reality.
There is a common idiom used to express the mood, attitude and feelings that men project. For example, people say: “he has an air of confidence” to mean that the person projects a sense of self-assurance. When a person has an “air of superiority” they display an arrogant way of behaving. One can have an air of mystery, an air of authority, an air of excellence, an air of hostility, and so on. All these are expressed or projected by men and can influence the thoughts and behaviors of others. Thus, the energy that a person projects through their words, actions or mere presence can encourage, motivate, inspire, revitalize and embolden people or it can hinder, discourage, demoralize, depress, intimidate and upset them. But the state of mind and energy that men project does not ‘live’ out there in the ether, so to speak, but resides in the consciousness of their soul.
Thus, the air, in the spiritual sense, represents the atmosphere of our consciousness, understanding and life-flow which exists right there within our very own soul and which is released to influence our environment. Thus, the sphere of the soul can be a force for good or evil. In the negative sense, the dominion of our fleshy Adamic nature in our soul projects sin and death, while in the positive sense, the dominion of the mind and consciousness of Christ in our soul projects divine life. Therefore, the condition of our soul conveys who inhabits and rules our “air”.
The sphere of influence and control of the world is today occupied by the god of this world; the prince and power of the air. Thus, Paul instructs us that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of the world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). Where? Right there in our soul – in our mind, in our will, in our emotions, in our desires. That’s why Paul goes on to state: “casting down IMAGINATIONS, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every THOUGHT to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor.10:5). The purpose of our warfare is “the pulling down of strongholds” that have exalted themselves in the atmosphere of our consciousness and understanding. In each of us, the prince and power of the air who opposes and exalts himself above God has to be “pulled down” and “cast down” from the high places it inhabits.
This is the spiritual significance of what John saw as the vials were poured out “into the air” (Rev. 16:17). John was witnessing in the Spirit the shaking of “the power of the heavens” (Mat. 24:29) and the judgment of God being released upon the spirit of the world. Thus, immediately after the seventh angels pours out his vial into the air there comes a great voice out of the temple heaven, from the throne, saying: “it is done” (Rev. 16:17). When the prince of power of the air is cast down, pulled down, judged and cleansed from our heavens, there will be great victory declared. But, that realm will not remain empty. It will be filled by another power that exercises its legal dominion over it. This is the rightful position to be occupied by our Lord Jesus Christ. For He has “ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things” (Eph. 4:10).
However, the Lord is also raising us up with Him to the same sphere of influence and authority previously occupied by the prince and power of the air. For Paul states that, having been caught up, we shall “meet the Lord in the air, so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 The. 4:17). To do what? To rule and reign with Him. To become the divine influence in the spiritual atmosphere that effect change in the understanding, desires, convictions, actions, and beliefs of all peoples. This is our preordained position in Christ as the sons of God and as ministers of reconciliation. It is for this cause that He “has raised us up TOGETHER, and made us sit TOGETHER in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).
Notice, just as the vials are poured out “into” (Greek: ‘eis’) air, we are also caught up to meet the Lord “into” (Greek: ‘eis’) air. It is this same word ‘eis’ and not ‘en’ (i.e. ‘in’) that is used in our opening text. Therefore, the verse should read: “to meet the Lord into air” and not “in the air”.
Dear saint, you and I are being caught up to dispose the sphere of influence, authority and spirit-control of the prince and power of the air that works in the minds and hearts of all men. This is not about casting out and rebuking Satan from the four corners of the earth. This is about bringing forth an inward transformation so that, like Jesus, we too can testify: “for the prince of this world comes, and has nothing in me” (Joh. 14:30). This is why the focus of our ministry is partaking of the divine Word of God which washes, cleanses and saves our soul elevating us to a realm of being and living out of the Spirit of Christ. Then, not only will every devil and fowl of the air be cast down from our heavens, but we will be raised up to cleanse the heavens of our fellow brothers and sisters. For only then can total and eternal deliverance take place from the power of sin, sorrow, limitation and from the evil of the times, from religion, and from every bondage of the Adamic consciousness. Then will that victorious declaration be heard from the temple of God – it is done!