And so it is no wonder that when we turn to this passage in 1 Thessalonians 4, we have Jesus’ return being associated with a cloud cover. There is a very clear verse of prophecy in Zechariah 14, which is unmistakably foretelling the return of Jesus Christ (14:4):
“And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof …”
Since this prophecy was not fulfilled in the first appearance of Jesus Christ, it must be referring to his Second Coming.
There is another prophecy relating to this particular event, spoken this time by a man who should be qualified to know: Jesus Christ himself.
“And then shall they see the Son of man coming in clouds [again no definite article in original] with great power and glory.” Mark 13:26,27
Notice how superbly they fit in with his appearance as recorded in the 1 Thessalonians 4 passage. And there is an additional confirmation yet, in the word “aer” as the meeting place for the Believers in Jesus.
There are two words in the New Testament which translate as air. One is ‘aer’, as in this passage, and the other is ‘ouranos’. This latter represents the expanse of air from immediately above the earth where the birds are able to fly, upwards as far as the Greek imagination could describe—to heaven and beyond.
The second word, ‘aer’, refers to ‘the air, particularly the lower and denser, as distinguished from the higher and rarer’ [Thayer]. In the New Testament this latter word is always associated only with air at normal human height. For example, the writer of the book of Acts uses both words: ‘ouranos’ when speaking of the fowls of the air (Acts 10:12, 11:6), and ‘aer’ when speaking of people who¼
“cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air [Gk: aer] “. Acts 22:23
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he writes,
“So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air [Gk: aer].” 1 Corinthians 14:9
The term ‘aer’ indicates that the meeting with the Lord will not take place in the sky, but in the normal breathable atmosphere as encountered at ground level. There are other Scriptures that suggest that the meeting will be on a hill (Acts 1:9,12. Zechariah 14:4).
So this verse tells us very much the same information that is found elsewhere. It speaks of the second coming of Jesus Christ. The writer to the Hebrews states,
“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9:28
Jesus is to appear a second time. And nowhere does it ever suggest a third time as the popular “Rapture” theory would need. His return brings with it a judgment, and an immediate setting up of his Kingdom. Take, for example,.the following passage:
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word …” 2 Timothy 4:1
We note here that the judgment takes priority at his return, which is taken as being synonymous with his appearing. He doesn’t say that, after his coming there is Judgment No. 1, followed by a disappearing for seven years, followed by a third coming, a Judgment No. 2, and then the Kingdom. The appearing, judgment, and setting up of the kingdom are always treated as concurrent events. And those events take place after the tribulation period. Mark 13:24 tells of this in very plain words which do not find their way into the paper-back books on the rapture.
“But in those days, After that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory.“