The Privileged Few
And the dead in Christ shall rise first and then we which are alive…
1 Thessalonians 4:16,17
There is a verse in the Old Testament which I consider to be one of the most beautiful in all the Scripture. It appears in Genesis 5:24, “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” There Enoch was, walking along the hillside, having a conversation with the Lord. The sun was setting, and so, God suggested that they continue their talk at His place. Before he knew what happened he had entered the glories of Heaven. What occurred shortly after, down on earth, can only be imagined. Perhaps, a silver alert flashed across iPhones. Perchance, there was an all-out search for the old man. Their hunt, though, was to no avail, for the prophet was dining in higher quarters amid cherubs and seraph. In all of history, only two men have escaped the grip of death, Enoch, and Elijah.
It is estimated that well over 100 billion people have inhabited the earth since the beginning of time. In that context, the fact that these two men were the only ones that avoided death is impressive. Think of the privilege they both enjoyed, never having to face the day of their demise. Imagine the splendor of never having to be packed into a velvet box or sent through the flames of a crematorium. Elijah’s spectacular exit even included a ride in a flaming chariot. Imagine one day, while drinking your coffee and enjoying gentle breezes, you are taken up into the clouds to be with the Lord. This scenario is highly possible on the days in which we are living. His return is eminent and our moment of rapture into Heaven hangs over us like a glorious rainbow of hope. While the world prepares for the apocalypse, we look to the sky. Consider the magnificent privilege which is ours because we are living in these last days.
To gain a perspective let’s crunch some numbers. It is believed that there are about two billion people in our world today who claim Christianity. Most of us would consider this number high, so let’s say, for sake of argument, that there are about one billion Christians living today. If Jesus were to return, we would be among the one percent of all humanity, from Adam until now, who will not experience physical death. Allow that fact to sink in.
This reality does force us to question a biblical truth that our early exit seems to violate. “It is appointed man once to die and after this the judgement.” (Hebrews 9:27) Alas, those who have been saved have already died with Christ. The judgement of God’s against our sin was satisfied in Christ’s sacrifice and we are free to fly away. We are so close to His return that it is not a stretch to say with confidence that we may be in God’s one percent club. There is a reason why this last generation is called Generation Z. The last time I checked, Z was the last letter of the alphabet. As a preacher once shouted, “I’m not waiting for the undertaker, I’m looking for the uplifter."