The Jewish people view the resurrection of the dead as taking place when the prophet Elijah, who was caught up to heaven in a whirlwind {II Kings 2:11}, shall return. In their understanding, it is he who will descend to the earth and with a shout, and the dead will be raised.

This event will also herald the coming of Messiah, the judgment of the nations and the beginning of God's Kingdom on earth. The Passover Seder has a special cup of wine (the cup of Elijah) which is poured during the service. At the end of each Passover service, the door of the home is opened to welcome Elijah, should he return at that time.

While they look for Elijah to come at Passover, it is generally believed that Messiah will appear with the sounding of the "last trumpet" on Rosh Hashanna (the two day, Jewish Feast of Trumpets) to judge the people. Most Christians however, tend to view the shout of the archangel, and the last trumpet as occuring on the same day (a day which cannot be not known).

As we have previously stated, the word "angel" simply means, "messenger". The word "arch" as found in "archangel" means, "first in rank or power". Among angelic beings, that would unquestionably point to Michael, who is the only angel in Scripture referred to as an archangel {Jude verse 9}.

John the Baptist was also called the messenger of God (Matt. 10:10-11). The word "messenger " used there is from the same Greek word (ang'-el-os) from which we derive the word, "angel" (Strong's #32).

In Hebrew, the word for angel is pronounced "mal-ak' ", which comes from the root word, "mal-awk' " meaning, "to dispatch as a deputy" (Strong's #4398). Those included in this category are: angels, prophets, priests, kings, ambassadors and messengers.

The point which may be made here is, that while Michael is the chief messenger among angelic beings, Elijah is considered to be the chief messenger among God's prophets. So the question is, Have we misunderstood the use of the word archangel, as used in I Thess. 4:16?

It is believed by many that the two witnesses mentioned later in the Book of Revelation are Moses and Elijah, and that they will appear on earth, at the time of the rapture of the church, to begin 3 1/2 years of testimony.

What a testimony it would be to the Jewish people to see Elijah appear with a shout and the dead in Christ raised. It becomes more clear how this could be a great factor in many of the people of Israel accepting the two witnesses who come down from heaven. They will restore the Law and the Prophets to the land; and teach the people that both pointed to Jesus as Messiah.

Whatever the case may be concerning the identity of the archangel, we know that when the church is caught up to heaven, it will appear before the Judgement seat of Christ {Romans 14:10} ; {II Cor. 5:10}.