Christian Friend vol. 16, 1889, p. 26 etc.
1 Thessalonians 4:14.
It will be seen beyond a doubt, if this passage is carefully read, that the reference is to the return of the saints with Christ. From the preceding verse it is evident that the Thessalonian believers had fallen into the error of supposing that those of their number who had "fallen asleep" before the coming of Christ had suffered loss, and that they were sorrowing for them as if they had no hope. To correct this grievous mistake, the apostle points out that the certainty of their coming with Christ was bound up with the truth of His own death and resurrection. The phrase, "will God bring with Him" (i.e. with Christ), affords no objection to this interpretation, for almost the same words are found in Hebrews applied to the resurrection of Christ, " Now the God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus," etc. (Heb. 13:20.) The same divine and almighty power therefore that raised up Christ from the dead will be again exhibited in the display of the saints in the glory with Jesus at His appearing. (Compare Eph. 1:19, 20.) Having established this fact, the apostle proceeds to explain, by a direct communication ("the word of the Lord") which he had received for this purpose, how all the saints alike would be gathered into the presence of Jesus before His appearing, so as to be able to return with Him. First, he tells us that those "who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord" shall in no wise have any advantage over those who should have fallen asleep. Then, after describing the majesty, solemnity, and power, with which the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven, he says that the dead in Christ shall rise first, and that then those who "are alive and remain" (the former being raised with incorruptible bodies, and the latter "changed," as we learn from other scriptures) "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. Wherefore," he adds, "comfort one another" (doubtless concerning those that had fallen asleep) "with these words."
If this interpretation be correct, the passage contained in verses 15-18 is parenthetical; and 1 Thess. 5:1 will connect itself with 1 Thess. 4:14. Thus taken all is plain - verse 14 speaking of the appearing of Christ with His people; while, the parenthesis explains, His coming for them, so that all might understand how they will be with Him previous to His appearing; and then the next chapter returns to the appearing, "the day of the Lord." (v. 2.)
The reader will understand that this was not the Tabernacle, the pattern and details of which had been prescribed to Moses in the mount, but a tent, which was now to be a tabernacle, a meeting-place between God and those who sought Him, pitched outside the camp to meet the present need, in consequence of the people's sin. It does not appear that Moses, in this action, had any direct commandment from the Lord. It was rather the result of spiritual discernment, entering into both the character of God and the state of the people. As taught of God, he felt that Jehovah could no longer dwell in the midst of a camp which had been defiled by the presence of the golden calf. He therefore made a place outside, afar off from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of the congregation. This was a totally different thing from what the Lord had said unto Moses. "Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them." (Ex. 25.) Israel was no longer to be grouped round about Jehovah as their centre; but He being outside, "every one which sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp." It thus became an individual thing; and the true worshippers took the ground of separation from the camp which had acknowledged a false God. This gives a principle of the utmost value and importance, for the children of Israel were professedly the Lord's people; but their condition had become such that Jehovah could no longer dwell in their midst. So in a latter day, as we learn from the epistle to the Hebrews; and hence the exhortation, "Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach." (Heb. 13:13.) We thus gather that whenever the Lord's name is dishonoured, and His authority is rejected, in the midst of the people of God, there is no resource for the godly but to go outside of all that answers to the camp, if they would worship God in spirit and in truth. In taking such a step there must undoubtedly be the authority of the word of God - the only lamp to our feet in the darkness around, as it is our only resource in the evil day. But the application of the Word to any given state of things must be a matter of spiritual wisdom and discernment through the Holy Spirit. E. D. See Typical Teachings of Exodus, pp. 367-369.