Of all the extravagant and absurd interpretations of Scripture which have found a place among sober expositors is the belief that Death is the Hope which God has set before the believer. How it ever came to find acceptance it is difficult to say. It is true that there are a number of passages which speak of the Lord returning suddenly and unexpectedly, but to make the words |At such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh| and |Behold I come as a thief in the night| mean that death may steal in upon the believer without warning is to reduce the Word of God to meaningless jargon and is to make sane exposition impossible. Scripture says what it means, and means what it says. True there are Parables in the Bible; true there are some passages which are highly symbolical; but where this is the case the context usually gives clear intimation to that effect, and where it does not, the plain and literal force should always be given to the language of Holy Writ. In Scripture |death| means death, and the coming again of the Son of man means His coming, and the two expressions are not synonymous. As we have said, the Return of Christ and death (sometimes) each, alike, come suddenly and unexpectedly, but there all analogy between them ends.
It is passing strange that Bible teachers should have confounded Death with the Second Coming of Christ. The former is spoken of as an |Enemy| (1 Cor.15:26), whereas the latter is termed |that blessed hope| (Titus 2:13), and surely these two terms cannot refer to the same thing. At the Return of our Lord we shall be made like Him (1 John 3:2), but believers are not made like Him at death, for death introduces them into a disembodied state. That |death| is not the believer's Hope is clear from many Scriptures. In 1 Pet.1:3 the apostle returns thanks because we have been begotten again |unto a living hope.| The saint of God has a living hope in a dying scene: a glorious prospect beyond this vale of tears. In 2 Tim.4:8 the apostle Paul reminds us that there is laid up a crown of righteousness unto all them that love Christ's |appearing,| which is further proof that death is not the Second Coming of Christ, for who is there that |loves| death? Death is my going to Christ, but His Return is Christ coming to me. Death is a cause of sadness and sorrow, but the Return of the Lord is a cause of joy and comfort -- |Wherefore comfort one another with these words| (1 Thess.4:18, see context). Death lays the body in the dust, but at the Return of our Redeemer His people arise from the dust -- |the dead in Christ shall rise first| (1 Thess.4:17). Death is the |wages of sin,| which means that death is the penalty of sin, but so completely has that penalty been borne by our Saviour that we read, |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| (Heb.9:28). Death was certainly not the hope of the early Christians as is clear from 1 Thess.1:9, 10 where we read, |Ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven| - these Thessalonian saints were looking for Christ not death. Finally; death cannot be our Hope, for death will not be the portion of all believers as is clear from the language of 1 Cor.15:51, |We shall not all sleep.| What then is our Hope? We answer --