I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the moral puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ 1 Corinthians 15:50-55
The centerpiece of all history is Jesus Christ. Everything before Him looks toward His coming, and everything after Him looks back at His work. He is like the center point on the letter X, joining the two halves together, two arrows pointing at each other. Without Him, there is no congruency between the halves. His sinless life, death on the cross, and resurrection bought for us the mystery that Paul proclaims in 1 Corinthians 15 – that this is not the end, that something better is about to happen because of Jesus. Namely, we will not all die, but we will all be changed. Changed from this nature into what we are supposed to be. Death, that has ruled since Adam, will be forever defeated, and we trade the temporary, perishable things for imperishable bodies.
Imagine the shock at hearing this! That everything you have ever known is about to be reversed. Could you even fathom that death is not the only way? Up to this point, it’s the only option! That’s just how it ends; and yet here Paul is saying, “No, just get ready.”
Most of what we have hinted at on the previous 9 songs has been that “something more is coming, just hold on”. It is the same picture the Bible paints. Isaiah alluded to a day when Death would be swallowed up in victory (see Isaiah 25), and here Paul proclaims that this is coming to pass. Because of Jesus, we triumph over death. If we are “in Christ”, then His death and resurrection meant that we died and will live also. Romans 6:3-4 says, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” We have been “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20).
Jesus’ atoning sacrifice means that He paid for our sin, and we won’t taste death as a result. When God ends this whole thing, we will all be changed, in the twinkling of an eye. All of the pain, all of the hurt, all of the death will be forever banished, and these mortal bodies will become what God always designed them to be. Believer, it is for this we wait! No matter your current circumstance, no matter your current trial, they are momentary afflictions (we looked into this more deeply in “The Preparing”). My wife’s father’s passing is only temporary. Your loved ones that have dealt with so much heartache and grief on this earth will be comforted. There is great joy that, for believers, we will ALL be changed. Not a few of us, not a handful of “special” ones, but all of us. Jesus returns for His sheep, and He will not lose one from the fold. Be encouraged then, for we do not wait in vain, and we do not hope in vain. We can rejoice in our sufferings because they are persevering us to produce hope (see Romans 5:4-5).
“We Will All Be Changed” was written in two distinct movements to echo that experience of death to life, perishable to imperishable. The first half is kind of murky and indistinct, slow-moving and without much lasting joy. Much like “Genesis”, there is no solid form. It’s the moment before sunrise, waiting for the sun to peak up over the hills. The second movement is the “last trumpet”, that time when all of long-awaited hopes are finally realized – our victorious Savior returns and we put on the imperishable bodies that He purchased for us. The sun bursting over the horizon and we are all changed.