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How happy and blessed are those who die in the Lord

In the same way God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 1 Thessalonians 4:14, NKJV 1960

This verse should not lead us to believe that souls sleep, remaining in a kind of unconscious state after death, for Christ's whisper to every saint on the verge of death is: "Today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). Yes, they "slept in it," but their soul is "before the throne of God, and day and night they serve Him in His temple" (Revelation 7:15) and sing alleluia to Him who washed them from their sins with His precious blood.

The body rests in its lonely earthly bed under a cover of grass, but in this verse, what does the word "slept" mean? In this context the Spirit of God gives us the idea of rest. It makes going to sleep each night a kind of rest day for us, to be well the next day.

And this rest of the soul prevents intruders from approaching so that the life of the soul may enter the summer garden of rest. The believer burdened by his toil rests like a babe in its mother's lap.

How happy and blessed are those who die in the Lord! They rest from their toil and are followed by their good works, yet their rest will not be interrupted until God raises them up and gives them their full reward. Cared for by angels and surrounded by eternal mysteries, they (the heroes of glory) rest until the fulfillment of time finally brings them the fullness of redemption. And how glorious will be their awakening!

Their bodies went to rest worn out and dejected, but that is not how they will be resurrected. They went down to their earthly bed frowning, pale and limp but they will rise beautiful and glorified. The wilted seed, formless and unattractive, will rise from the dust of the earth like a beautiful flower. The cold winter grave will give place to the spring of redemption and the summer of glory.

Blessed, therefore, is physical death since through it the divine power of God strips us of our daily garments of toil to clothe us with garments of wedding and incorruption. Blessed are "they who have fallen asleep in Jesus."

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