Examining Matthew 24, Part 10: The Sign of Christ's Presence

– posted by meleti

Welcome back. This is part 10 of our exegetical analysis of Matthew 24.

Up to this point, we have spent a lot of time cutting away all the false teachings and false prophetic interpretations that have done so much damage to the faith of millions of sincere and trusting Christians over the past two centuries.  We have come to see the wisdom of our Lord in warning us about the pitfalls of interpreting common events such as wars or earthquakes as signs of his coming.  We’ve seen how he provided escape for his disciples from the destruction of Jerusalem by giving them tangible signs to go by.  But one thing we haven’t tackled is the one thing which most affects us personally: his presence; his return as King. When will Jesus Christ return to rule over the earth and reconcile the whole human race back into the family of God?

Jesus knew that human nature would create within all of us an anxiety to want to know the answer to that question.  He also knew just how vulnerable that would make us to being misled by unscrupulous men spouting lies.  Even now, this late in the game, fundamentalist Christians like Jehovah’s Witnesses think the coronavirus pandemic is a sign that Jesus is about to appear. They read Jesus’ words of warning, but somehow, they twist them into the very opposite of what he is saying.

Jesus also warned us repeatedly about falling prey to false prophets and false anointed ones.  His warnings continue on into the verses we are about to consider, but before we read them, I want to do a little thought experiment.

Can you imagine for a moment what it would be like to be a Christian in Jerusalem in 66 C.E. when the city was surrounded by the greatest military force of the day, the virtually undefeated army of Rome?  Put yourself there now.  From the walls of the city, you can see the Romans have built a fence of pointed stakes to keep you from escaping, just as Jesus foretold.  When you see the Romans form their Tortuga shield formation so as to prepare the temple gate to be burned prior to their invasion, you remember Jesus’ words about the disgusting thing standing in the holy place.   Everything is happening as foretold, but escape seems impossible.  The people are deflated and there is much talk of simply surrendering, yet that would not fulfill the words of the Lord.

Your mind is in a whirl of confusion.  Jesus told you to escape when you saw these signs, but how?  Escape now seems to be an impossibility.  You go to bed that night, but you sleep fitfully.  You are consumed with anxiety on how to save your family.

In the morning, something miraculous has happened. Word comes that the Romans have gone. Inexplicably, the entire Roman army has folded their tents and fled.  Jewish military forces are in hot pursuit.  It is a great victory!  The mighty Roman army has tucked tail and run.  Everyone is saying that the God of Israel has performed a miracle.  But you, as a Christian, know otherwise.  Still, do you really need to flee in such a hurry?  Jesus said not even to go back to retrieve your things, but to get out of the city without delay. Yet you have your ancestral home, your business, many possessions to consider.  Then there are your unbelieving relatives.

There is much talk that the Messiah has come. That now, the Kingdom of Israel will be restored.  Even some of your Christian brothers are talking about this.  If the Messiah has indeed come, then why flee now?

Do you wait, or do you leave?  This is no trivial decision. It is a life-and-death choice.  Then, the words of Jesus come back to your mind.

“Then if anyone says to YOU, ‘Look! Here is the Christ,’ or, ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will give great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones. Look! I have forewarned YOU. Therefore, if people say to YOU, ‘Look! He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; ‘Look! He is in the inner chambers,’ do not believe it. For just as the lightning comes out of eastern parts and shines over to western parts, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” (Matthew 24:23-27 New World Translation)

And so, with these words ringing in your ears, you gather your family and you flee to the mountains.  You are saved.

Speaking for many, who, like myself, did listen to men telling us that Christ had come invisibly, as if in a hidden chamber or far off from prying eyes in the wilderness, I can attest to just how powerful the deception is, and how it preys on our desire to know things which God has chosen to keep hidden.  It makes us easy targets for wolves in sheep’s clothing seeking to control and exploit others.

Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms: “Do not believe it!”  This is not a suggestion from our Lord. This is a royal command and we must not disobey.

Then he removes all certainty about how we will know for sure that his presence has begun. Let’s read that again.

“For just as the lightning comes out of eastern parts and shines over to western parts, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” (Mt 24:23-27 NWT)

I can recall being at home in the evening, watching TV, when lightening flashed.  Even with the blinds drawn, the light was so bright that it leaked in.  I knew there was a storm outside, even before I heard the thunder.

Why did Jesus use that illustration?  Consider this: He had just told us not to believe anyone—ANYONE—claiming they knew about Christ’s presence. Then he gives us the lightening illustration.  If you’re standing outside—let’s say you’re in a park—when a bolt of lightening flashes across the sky and the fellow next to you gives you a nudge and say, “Hey, you know what?  Lightening just flashed.”  You’d probably look at him and think, “What an idiot.  Does he think I’m blind?”

Jesus is telling us that you won’t need anyone to tell you about his presence because you will be able to see it for yourself.  Lightening is completely non-denominational.  It doesn’t appear only to believers, but not to unbelievers; to the scholars, but not to the unlettered; to the wise, but not to the foolish.  Everyone sees it and knows it for what it is.

Now, while his warning was specifically directed to his Jewish disciples who would be living during the Roman siege, do you think there is a statute of limitations on it?  Of course not. He said that his presence would be seen like lightning flashing across the sky.  Have you seen it?  Has anyone seen his presence? No?  Then the warning still applies.

Remember what we learned about his presence in a previous video of this series.  Jesus was present as the Messiah for 3 ½ years, but his “presence” had not begun. The word has a meaning in Greek which is missing in English.  The word in Greek is parousia and in the context of Matthew 24, it refers to the entrance on the scene of a new and conquering power.  Jesus came (Greek, eleusis) as the Messiah and was murdered.  But when he returns, it will be his presence (Greek, parousia) that his enemies will witness; the entry of the conquering King.

The presence of Christ did not flash in the sky for all to see in 1914, nor was it seen in the first century.  But besides that, we have the testimony of Scripture.

“And I do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, that ye may not sorrow, as also the rest who have not hope,  for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also God those asleep through Jesus he will bring with him,  for this to you we say in the word of the Lord, that we who are living — who do remain over to the presence of the Lord — may not precede those asleep,  because the Lord himself, in a shout, in the voice of a chief-messenger, and in the trump of God, shall come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ shall rise first,  then we who are living, who are remaining over, together with them shall be caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in air, and so always with the Lord we shall be…” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 Young’s Literal Translation)

At the presence of Christ, the first resurrection occurs. Not only are the faithful resurrected, but at the same time, those alive will be transformed and taken up to meet the Lord.  (I used the word “rapture” to describe this in a previous video, but one alert viewer drew my attention to the association this term has with the idea that everyone goes to heaven.  So, to avoid any possible negative or misleading connotation, I will call this “the transformation”.)

Paul also refers to this when writing to the Corinthians:

“Look! I tell you a sacred secret: We will not all fall asleep in death, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, during the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised up incorruptible, and we will be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51, 52 NWT)

Now, if the presence of Christ had occurred in 70 C.E., then there would have been no Christians left on earth to carry out the preaching that has brought us to the point where a third of the world claims to be Christian. Likewise, if the presence of Christ had occurred in 1914—as Witnesses claim—and if the anointed asleep in death had been resurrected in 1919—again, as Witnesses claim—then how it is that there are still anointed in the Organization today?  They should have been all transformed in the twinkling of an eye in 1919.

Indeed, whether we’re talking 70 C.E. or 1914 or any other date in history, the sudden disappearance of a massive number of people would have left its mark on history.  In the absence of such an event and in the absence of any report of a visible manifestation of Christ’s arrival as King—akin to lightening flashing across the sky—we can safely say that he has yet to return.

If doubt remains, consider this Scripture which speaks of what Christ will do at his presence:

“Now concerning the coming [parousia – “presence”] of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to Him, we ask you, brothers, not to be easily disconcerted or alarmed by any spirit or message or letter seeming to be from us, alleging that the Day of the Lord has already come. Let no one deceive you in any way, for it will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness—the son of destruction—is revealed. He will oppose and exalt himself above every so-called god or object of worship. So he will seat himself in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-5 BSB)

Carrying on from verse 7:

“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but the one who now restrains it will continue until he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will slay with the breath of His mouth and annihilate by the majesty of His arrival [parousia – “presence”].”

“The coming [parousia – “presence”] of the lawless one will be accompanied by the working of Satan, with every kind of power, sign, and false wonder, and with every wicked deception directed against those who are perishing, because they refused the love of the truth that would have saved them. For this reason, God will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie, in order that judgment will come upon all who have disbelieved the truth and delighted in wickedness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:7-12 BSB)

Can there be any doubt that this lawless one is still in action and doing very well, thank you very much.  Or has false religion and apostate Christianity had its day?  Not yet, it seems.  The ministers disguised with fake righteousness are still very much in charge.  Jesus has yet to judge, “slay and annihilate” this lawless one.

And so now we come to the problematic passage of Matthew 24:29-31.  It reads:

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity.” (Matthew 24:29-31 NWT)

Why do I call this a problematic passage?

It seems to be talking about the presence of Christ, doesn’t it?  You have the sign of the Son of man appearing in heaven.  Everyone on earth, believer and non-believer alike see it.  Then the Christ himself appears.

I think you’ll agree that it sounds like a lightening-across-the-sky event.  You have a trumpet sounding and then the chosen are gathered. We just read Paul’s words to the Thessalonians and Corinthians which parallel Jesus’ words here.  So, what’s the problem?  Jesus is describing events in our future, isn’t he?

The problem is that he says that all these things occur “immediately after the tribulation of those days…”.

One will naturally assume Jesus is referencing the tribulation that occurred in 66 C.E., which was cut short. If so, then he cannot be talking about his future presence, since we’ve already concluded that the transformation of living Christians has not yet taken place and that there has never been a manifestation of the kingly power of Jesus witnessed by all the people on earth which will bring about the destruction of the lawless one.

Indeed, ridiculers are still saying, “Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as they were from creation’s beginning.” (2 Peter 3:4)

I believe that Matthew 24:29-31 is speaking of Jesus’ presence. I believe there is a reasonable explanation for the use of the phrase “immediately after that tribulation”.  However, before getting into it, it would only be fair to consider the other side of the coin, the view held by Preterists. <insert link—YouTube Card—to part 6>

(Special thanks to a “Rational Voice” for this information.)

We’ll begin with verse 29:

“But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.” (Matthew 24:29 Darby Translation)

Similar metaphors were used by God through Isaiah when prophesying poetically against Babylon.

For the stars of heaven and their constellations
will not give their light.
The rising sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light.
(Isaiah 13:10)

Was Jesus applying the same metaphor to the destruction of Jerusalem? Perhaps, but let’s not arrive at any conclusions just yet, because that metaphor also fits with a future presence, so it is not conclusive to assume it can only apply to Jerusalem.

The next verse in Matthew reads:

“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the land lament, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30 Darby)

There is another interesting parallel found in Isaiah 19:1 which reads:

“The burden of Egypt. Behold, Jehovah rideth upon a swift cloud, and cometh to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt are moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt melteth in the midst of it.” (Darby)

So, the coming-in-the-clouds metaphor is seen as indicating the arrival of a conquering king and/or a time of judgment.  That could fit symbolically with what happened in Jerusalem.  This isn’t to say that they actually saw the “sign of the Son of man in heaven” and that they subsequently saw him literally “coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory”.  Did the Jews in Jerusalem and Judea perceive their doom was not by the hand of Rome, but by the hand of God?

Some point to what Jesus told the religious leaders in his trial as support for a first century application of Matthew 24:30.  He told them: “I say to all of you, from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:64 BSB)

However, he didn’t say, “as some point in the future you will see the Son of Man…” but rather “from now on”.  From that time forward, there would be signs indicating that Jesus was sitting at the right hand of Power, and would be coming on the clouds of heaven.  Those signs came not in 70 C.E., but at his death when the curtain separating the Holy and Most Holy was torn in two by the hand of God, and darkness covered the land, and an earthquake shook the nation.  The signs did not stop either.  Soon there were many anointed ones walking about in the land, performing the healing signs that Jesus had performed and preaching the Christ resurrected.

While any one element of the prophecy can seem to have more than one application, when we view all the verses as a whole, does a different picture emerge?

For example, looking at the third verse, we read:

“And he shall send his angels with a great sound of trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from [the one] extremity of [the] heavens to [the other] extremity of them.” (Matthew 24:31 Darby)

It has been suggested that Psalm 98 explains the application of verse 31’s imagery.  In that Psalm, we see Jehovah’s righteous judgments being accompanied by trumpet blasts, as well as rivers clapping their hands, and mountains singing in joy. It has also been suggested that since trumpet calls were used to gather the people of Israel together, the use of the trumpet in verse 31 alludes to the extracting of the chosen from Jerusalem following the Roman retreat.

Others suggest that the gathering of the chosen by the angels speaks to the ingathering of Christians from that time forward down to our day.

So, if you want to believe that Matthew 24:29-31 had its fulfillment at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, or from that time forward, there does appear to be a path for you to follow.

However, I think that viewing the prophesy as a whole and within the context of the Christian Scriptures, instead of going back hundreds of years to pre-Christian times and writings, will lead us to a more satisfying and harmonious conclusion.

Let’s take another look at it.

The opening phrase says that all these events happen immediately after the tribulation of those days.  Which days?  You might think that nails it down to Jerusalem because Jesus speaks of a great tribulation affecting the city in verse 21. However, we are overlooking the fact he spoke of two tribulations.  In verse 9 we read:

“Then people will hand you over to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be hated by all the nations on account of my name.” (Matthew 24:9)

This tribulation was not limited to the Jews, but extends to all the nations.  It continues down to our day.  In part 8 of this series, we saw that there is reason to consider the great tribulation of Revelation 7:14 as ongoing, and not just as a final event preceding Armageddon, as is commonly believed.  Thus, if we consider that Jesus is speaking in Matthew 24:29 of the great tribulation upon all faithful servants of God down through time, then when that tribulation is completed, the events of Matthew 24:29 commence. That would put the fulfillment into our future.  Such a position fits with the parallel account in Luke.

“Also, there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation. People will become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” (Luke 21:25-27)

What happened from 66 to 70 C.E. did not bring anguish to the nations of the world, but only to Israel.  Luke’s account doesn’t seem to jibe with a first century fulfillment.

In Matthew 24:3, we see that the disciples asked a three-part question.  Up to this point in our consideration, we’ve learned how Jesus has answered two of those three parts:

Part 1 was: “When will all these things be?”  That pertains to the destruction of the city and the temple which he spoke of on his last day preaching in the temple.

Part 2 was: “What will be the sign of the end of the age?”, or as the New World Translation puts it, “the conclusion of the system of things”.  That was fulfilled when “the Kingdom of God was taken from them and given to a nation producing its fruits.” (Matthew 21:43) The ultimate proof that had happened was the total eradication of the Jewish nation.  If they had been God’s chosen people, he would never have allowed the total destruction of the city and temple to have taken place.  To this day, Jerusalem is a disputed city.

What is missing from our consideration is his answer to the third part of the question.  “What will be the sign of your presence?”

If his words at Matthew 24:29-31 were fulfilled in the first century, then Jesus will have left us without an answer to that third element of the question.  That would be uncharacteristic of him. At the very least, he would have told us, “I can’t answer that.”  For instance, he once said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you are not able to bear them now.” (John 16:12) On another occasion, similar to their question on the Mount of Olives, they asked him directly, “Will you be restoring the Kingdom of Israel at this time?”  He didn’t ignore the question nor leave them without an answer.  Instead, he told them pointedly that the answer was something they were not allowed to know.

So, it seems unlikely that he would leave the question, “What will be the sign of your presence?”, unanswered.  At the very least, he’d tell us that we are not allowed to know the answer.

On top of all this, there is the juxtaposition of his warning about not being taken in by false stories about his presence.  From verses 15 to 22 he gives his disciples instructions on how to escape with their lives. Then in 23 to 28 he details how to avoid being mislead by stories about his presence.  He concludes that by telling them his presence will be easily discernable to all like lightening in the sky. Then he describes events that would exactly fit that criteria.  After all, Jesus coming with the clouds of heaven would be just as easy to discern as a bolt of lightening flashing from east to west and lighting up the sky.

Finally, Revelation 1:7 says, “Look! His is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him…”  This matches with Matthew 24:30 which reads: “…they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds…”.   Since Revelation was written years after the fall of Jerusalem, this also points to a future fulfillment.

So now, when we move to the final verse, we have:

“And He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” (Matthew 24:31 BSB)

“And then he will send out the angels and will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from earth’s extremity to heaven’s extremity.” (Mark 13:27 NWT)

It is hard to see how “from earth’s extremity to heaven’s extremity” could fit with the highly localized exodus that occurred in Jerusalem in 66 C.E.

Look now at the communality between those verses and these, which follow:

“Look! I tell YOU a sacred secret: We shall not all fall asleep [in death], but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, during the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised up incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51, 52 NWT)

“…the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’s voice and with God’s trumpet, and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first. Afterward we the living who are surviving will, together with them, be caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we shall always be with [the] Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17)

All these verses include a trumpet sounding and all speak of the gathering of the chosen ones in the resurrection or the transformation, which occurs at the presence of the Lord.

Next, in verses 32 to 35 of Matthew, Jesus gives his disciples assurances that the foretold destruction of Jerusalem will come within a limited time frame and will be foreseeable.  Then in verses 36 to 44 he tells them the opposite concerning his presence. It will be unforeseeable and there is no specified time frame for its fulfillment.  When he speaks at verse 40 of two men working and one will be taken and the other left, and then again at verse 41 of two women working and one being taken and the other left, he could hardly be talking about the escape from Jerusalem.  Those Christians weren’t taken suddenly, but left the city of their own accord, and anyone who wanted could have left with them.  However, the idea of one being taken while his companion is left fits with the concept of people being suddenly transformed, in the twinkling of an eye, into something new.

In summary, I think that when Jesus says “immediately after the tribulation of those days”, he’s speaking of the great tribulation that you and I are enduring even now.  That tribulation will end when the events related to the presence of Christ come to pass.

I believe that Matthew 24:29-31 is speaking about the presence of Christ, not the destruction of Jerusalem.

However, you may disagree with me and that’s okay.  This is one of those Bible passages where we cannot be absolutely certain about its application.  Does it really matter?  If you think one way and I think another, will our salvation be blocked?  You see, unlike the instructions Jesus gave his Jewish disciples about fleeing the city, our salvation depends not on taking a course of action at a particular time based on a particular sign, but rather, on our ongoing obedience every day of our lives.  Then, when the Lord appears like a thief in the night, he will take care of rescuing us. When the time comes, the Lord will take us.


Archived Comments

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  • Comment by Leonardo Josephus on 2020-05-01 12:25:20

    Thank you very much, Eric, for this series of articles, and your view on these tricky verses. There is plenty to think about.
    One thing I found intriguing, but not particularly important, is that Matthew 24 verses 29-31 do not include a cross reference to Isaiah 13:10.
    Appreciate you not being dogmatic. As you say, what is important is whether we are followers of, and obedient to, Christ, not men.

    • Reply by Nightingale on 2020-05-02 03:24:41

      By the way, there is one interesting sentence by Jesus that is not so often mentioned, only Luke records it in Luke 17:22: Then he said to his disciples, "The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it.

      Notice the context. He continues: "People will tell you, 'There he is!' or 'Here he is!' Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other"

      Clearly he is talking about the same things than in Matthew 24:23-27. But in Luke 17:22 he seems to be saying something like: you know, when the destruction of the temple happens, you will hope to see me back right then. But sorry, that won't happen, it will take a long time before I will be back.

      It seems that many Christians in the 1st century thought that the coming destruction would be followed immediately by God's Kingdom. They might have connected these 2 separate events. But here Jesus seems to indicate it's not going to happen that way.

      • Reply by Frankie on 2020-05-14 17:47:32

        Hello Nightingale.

        Dear brother, you correctly said that Christians were expecting the early coming of the kingdom of God already in the 1st century, which can be seen from the statements of Paul, James, Peter and John, for example: Rom 16:20; 1 Cor 7:29; Phil 4:5; Heb 10:37; James 5:8; 1 Pet 4:7; 1 John 2:18.

        In Luke 17: 22-24, the Lord speaks to His disciples and warns them against false messiahs (similarly in Matt 24:23-24). I think the crucial verse is Luke 17:23: "People will tell you, 'There he is!' or 'Here he is!' Do not go running off after them", which Jesus also emphasizes in Matthew.

        In verse 17:22 Jesus says ".... when you will long to see ....". The word "long" (Strong 1937) refers rather to a strong desire for something (to long for, covet, lust after, set the heart upon), e.g. at Luke 22:15: ".... I have earnestly desired to eat ..." where the same word is used. Verse 22 is not an aspect of long time, but a strong desire for something in a particular situation. This situation is the complete destruction of the entire Jewish system. And in the midst of such a catastrophic situation, the disciples will long (covet, desire) for the Son of Man to come.

        Then, in a time of absolute distress and great tribulation, false "messiahs" will appear, false saviors of the nation. So Jesus warns the disciples: ".... Do not go running off after them ....". Then, at that time of destruction, the Son of Man will not come: ".... you will not see it." IMO, verse Luke 17:22 speaks of a strong desire for salvation on the day of trouble, which will not be fulfilled.

        God bless you, Nightingale.

  • Comment by Nightingale on 2020-05-01 16:43:19

    Thank you once again for your work! What about the carcass verse though? I don't think it was mentioned? I have always found that puzzling.

    • Reply by anonymous on 2020-05-01 18:09:22

      Heres my take on that. The Roman legions each had a standard (an eagle)

      The eagles were the Roman armies. Where were they gathered? Jerusalem, the carcass.

      This would be self-evident, just like the lightning flash.

      “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”

    • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2020-05-01 18:33:12

      I avoided that because I didn't want to speculate wildly. Anonymous has put forward a suggestion, though I don't find it compelling. One thought is that it is a variation on the lightning analogy. You can see birds of carrion circling above a carcass from a great distance. You see that, and you know that if you go there, you'll find a dead body. So the presence will be something that you can witness from a distance in the sky, just like lightning. But I don't have an scriptural basis for that speculation, so I avoided including it in the video.

      • Reply by anonymous on 2020-05-01 18:57:35

        I actually picked up on that from reading the works of Josephus.

        “ Then came the ensigns encompassing the eagle, which is at the head of every Roman legion, the king and the strongest of all birds, which seems to them a signal of dominion, and an omen that they shall conquer all against whom they march; these sacred ensigns are followed by the trumpeters.”

        But I also found something more interesting than that while reading Josephus.

        Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the one and twentieth day of the month Artemisius, [Jyar,] a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared: I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals: for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armour were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the] temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said, that in the first place they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a multitude, saying, "Let us remove hence." But, what is still more terrible, there was one Jesus the son of Ananus, a plebeian, and an husbandman, who four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, came to that feast whereon it is our custom for every one to make tabernacles to God in the temple," began on a sudden to cry aloud, "A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!" This was his cry, as he went about by day and by niglit, in all the lanes of the city.

      • Reply by Nightingale on 2020-05-02 03:53:06

        Interesting points, thank you both.

  • Comment by anonymous on 2020-05-01 18:03:38

    Hi Eric,

    Matthew 24:29 is actually a direct quote from Joel 2:10. If you read the whole of Joel 2 we get very descriptive imagery, which reminded me straight away of the book of Revelation.

    “They have the appearance of horses, and like cavalry they run. As with the sound of chariots, they leap on the mountaintops, as with the sound of a flame of fire consuming stubble, as a mighty army arrayed for war. Before them, peoples are tormented; every face turns pale. Like mighty men they run, like men of war they scale a wall; each marches on his way, they do not swerve from their paths. They do not jostle one another; each marches in his track. Through the weapons they plunge; they do not break rank. They rush on the city, they run on the wall; they climb up into the houses, they enter through the windows like thieves. Before them the earth quakes, the heavens shake; the sun and moon darken, and the stars withdraw their radiance.”
    I don’t personally find any of Matthew 24 problematic really as I don’t take everything as a literal event that occurred. And we can’t, due to the Jewish way of speaking. In my mind Jesus words were spoken to his disciples and would be fulfilled within a generation however that won’t be everyone’s conclusion. Thanks for tempering your words at the end and not isolating Christians who may believe differently.

  • Comment by lazarus on 2020-05-01 18:10:09

    Thanks Eric, similar conclusion I’ve arrived in regards to the return of the Lord. No need to panic.
    The Apostle Paul in describing the events of Christ Return starts with the words in 1 Thess 4 :13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”

    Doesn’t want them to be ignorant as if they have no hope...

    Then in verse 18 he says “ 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words”

    So the in between and what is said in Chapter 5 of 1 thess is about reassurance, every believer is safe and secure, whether asleep in death or alive, as to when the Lord arrives.

    Thanks Eric, the lighting was awesome ?

  • Comment by Meleti Vivlon on 2020-05-01 18:30:37

    I don't believe we will be transformed into angels, but I do believe we'll be raised as was Jesus, a spirit. As for going to heaven or not, the important thing is that we will be on earth to administer the benefits of the ransom. This will require us to assume flesh as did Jesus so as to interact with the unrighteous who are resurrected. I am only explaining what I believe to be the hope, but as Paul said, we only know partially. I see you have a different belief, but just as I cannot be dogmatic about my belief, neither can anyone else. We'll have to wait and see. However, the fact that one is taken while another is left indicates a departure of some form. We will also be with the Lord, the Bible says.

    • Reply by Nightingale on 2020-05-02 03:11:22

      Interesting points. I don't see Christians being resurrected as spirits. They have a spiritual body, yes, like Paul writes in 1Co 15, but that to me means they are now immortal. They have a spiritual body now instead of the soulical (physical) body than they had before. I don't like the word "physical" that much because it makes you think that the spiritual body is not something tangible. At the moment Christians have the spirit as a token what is to come for them, that is the spiritual, immortal human body, a new creation.

      Interesting thought about the air as well. I see "the rapture" as a amazing event where the resurrected faithful ones (who are already changed to be immortal) and the living faithful (who are suddenly changed from mortal bodies to immortal bodies) being caught away (that's what the word rapture means) momentarily to air to meet the descending Lord and after that they will all descent and stay on Earth as God's children and the new administration of the world. The word "meet" is the same as was used about those Roman Christians who came to meet Paul when he was approaching Rome and then they traveled together back to the city.

      But it could also be like you said they simply meet Jesus "in the air" of the Earth on Earth. The end result would be the same anyway.

      • Reply by frankvague on 2020-05-18 00:43:02

        I was reminded by Nightingale's comment on the rapture reading somewhere a similar thought that during the kingly visitation (parousia) people would go out from the city to greet the king. Obviously they wouldn't stay there, but would return together back into the city. Similarly, "meeting the Lord in the air" does not require the saints to stay in the air, whatever that means.

        Also, N.T. Wright discusses the concepts of "a physical body" and "a spiritual body" in an interesting way. The adjectives translated as physical and spiritual occur in 1 Cor 2, which helps to understand Paul's ideas in 1 Cor 15. According to Wright the usual translation is quite misleading. Here's a quotation from Wright's Resurrection of the Son of God:

        "In 1 Corinthians 2:14–15, the psychikos person does not receive the things of the spirit, because they are spiritually discerned, while the pneumatikos person discerns everything.

        The words clearly refer to matters quite other than whether the people concerned are ‘physical’; clearly they are, and the question is rather to do with whether they are indwelt, guided and made wise by the creator’s Spirit, or whether they are living at the level of life common to all humankind (psychikos).

        These adjectives describe, not what something is composed of, but what it is animated by. It is the difference between speaking of a ship made of steel or wood on the one hand and a ship driven by steam or wind on the other. The only major translation I know that attempts to come to terms with this is that of the Jerusalem Bible: ‘when it is sown it embodies the soul, when it is raised it embodies the spirit. If the soul has its own embodiment, so does the spirit have its own embodiment.’"

    • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2020-05-02 08:37:49

      I imagine that your thought of "second class Christians" left behind might be a legacy of JW doctrine. My understanding is that there are no second class Christians. Those who are transformed and who are taken up with those who are resurrected, are true Christians. All others are nominal Christians. They call themselves Christians, but Jesus doesn't know them.

      So all those who claim to be Christians and how run to Jesus as described in Matthew chapter 7 and are told that he never knew them are lumped in with non-believers. They will either survive Armageddon to join those resurrected as unrighteous or not, according to the Lord's will.

      I appreciate your interpretation of using the Flood example to explain being "taken". However, I feel that given the evidence of 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17, Jesus was not referring to the manner of their being taken, but only to the unexpected nature of the event.

      As to your main question, John tells us that we will be like the Christ. (1 John 3:2) Christ became a life-giving spirit. (1 Co 15:45) Therefore, he was not resurrected in the flesh, but could raise up flesh at will, something he did on more than one occasion. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of the heavens, and so when he returned to sit at the right hand of God it was in spiritual form that he did so.

      I disagree with the use of the term "non-corporeal entity". Corporeal means "having a body". In Corinthians chapter 15, Paul goes out of his way to show that there is such a thing as a spirit body. As humans, we only know the physical or fleshly body, so we tend to think of angels as non-corporeal--not having a body. Perhaps we imagine clouds of energy. Yet Paul speaks of a spiritual body and that until a human is given either a physical (fleshly) or spiritual (?) body, he cannot wake up to life. Often, we cannot know exactly what something is, but we can know what it is not. A spirit body is not composed of flesh and blood. That contrast is clear. Beyond that, we'll just have to wait to find out.

      The spirit that God gives is delivered into some type of receptacle--either made of flesh, or something beyond our current understanding--which is the body of his choice. Only upon becoming corporeal (not fleshly, but having a body of some type) can consciousness be achieved.

      I don't want to get into a debate on this. I'm just giving you my understanding. Yours may very well differ, and that is okay. This is not a salvation issue.

      • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2020-05-02 14:55:37

        [JA] "How could it be unexpected?"

        In the context of your previous comment where you connected the flood with being taken, it is unexpected. Not the event, but the timing. That has to be the case because--oh, wait a minute, I think I already explained this when I referenced Mt 24:44 in my previous comment.

        [JA] "Yes, John does say that “we will be like HIM” – that is, like God – though not necessarily like God’s son." Not accurate. Here's what it says: "We know that when Christ appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as Christ is pure." (1 John 3:2,3 BSB)

        As for the rest of your reasoning, as I said, I don't want to debate this. You say the same, that you don't want to debate, yet you write a long response which belies your words. In any case, I don't want to engage in speculation. It is fruitless since neither of us can prove what we believe beyond a certain point. You have your right to believe what you wish and I fully accept that reality.

        • Reply by Fani on 2020-05-03 05:25:26

          Je me permets de m'immiscer dans la discussion.

          Lors de la transfiguration, Matthieu 17:2
          [2]Il fut transfiguré devant eux; son visage resplendit comme le soleil, et ses vêtements devinrent blancs comme la lumière."

          Les apôtres virent Jesus transfiguré, glorieux. Tout en étant sur la terre, Dieu leur donna une faculté exceptionnelle pour voir Jésus lumineux. Cette faculté disparut après.
          Puis une nuée lumineuse les enveloppa et ils entendirent la voix de Dieu Matthieu 17:5
          [5]Comme il parlait encore, une nuée lumineuse les couvrit. Et voici, une voix fit entendre de la nuée ces paroles: Celui-ci est mon Fils bien-aimé, en qui jai mis toute mon affection: écoutez-le!"

          Juste avant cet événement Jésus leur a dit : Matthieu 16:28
          [28]Je vous le dis en vérité, quelques-uns de ceux qui sont ici ne mourront point, qu
          ils naient vu le Fils de lhomme venir dans son règne."

          Il n'y a donc pas besoin d'être élevé dans les cieux pour être dans les nuées et rencontrer Christ dans son royaume. Cela peut se réaliser tout en étant sur terre comme pour la transfiguration avec les 3 apôtres. En un instant Dieu les a changés avec la faculté de voir le Fils de l' homme dans son royaume. Ils ont eu manifestement a ce moment là un autre corps tout en restant les mêmes personnes.

          C'est juste une pensée.

        • Reply by Frankie on 2020-05-13 16:10:27

          Dear Eric,

          I know that neither you nor JA wanted to discuss further. But I have to respond to the matter of salvation, because I consider it important. I'd like to confess what, according to my biblical knowledge, is important for salvation and why I agree with your remark "This is not a salvation issue" with respect to Heavenly / Earthly hope.

          Both "Heavenly hope" and "earthly hope" are only two other religious doctrines among many. These two doctrines divide people in looking at the future position of Christians in God's kingdom.

          If we say that one doctrine saves people and another doctrine condemns people, we take the position of a judge in matters that neither side fully understands. And then we will be immersed in confessional disputes. Why is it bad?

          Sister Maria indicated this in her good brief commentary, when she let only the Bible speak (1 John 3: 2-3). Even the apostle John was not sure in the form of being. Similarly, Paul speaks of our misty knowledge before the coming of Jesus (1 Cor 13:12). And yet they both had direct contact with Jesus.

          There are things we don't understand exactly. We do not know for sure whether we will walk the Earth in the form of Jesus after he was resurrected (though I think so, based on my imperfect knowledge), or as physical people (flesh and blood), or we will surf on cloudlets like angels, and we can speculate on this indefinitely and create various doctrines.

          But there are things that are essential to salvation and that, as Christians, we know at 100%. Such things are said by the apostles, but above all by Jesus Christ. These verses (and others) are the basis for our salvation:

          Matt 10:32; John 13:35; John 14:6; John 14:15; Act 2:21; Acts 16:30-31; Rom 1:16; Rom 5:1,9; Rom 10:9; 1 Cor 15:1-2; Eph 1:13; Eph 2:8; Phil 2:11; 1 John 3:14; 1 John 4:7,15.

          Our opinion on certain "technical” details that may be the subject of speculation will not save us. May doctrinal questions never divide us, but let us be united by the basics that are important for our salvation. The information about salvation is clear, unambiguous, and strong in the Bible. That unites all followers of Jesus Christ who are scattered throughout all denominations. And we all know these essentials with certainty and without discussion:
          "But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge." (1 John 2:20)

          " So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13:13). No doctrine can divide true Christians. Because love will overcome all doctrines. And no doctrine can separate us from God's love "for I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39).

          You certainly know all of this. But I needed to write it also for others.

          • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2020-05-13 17:35:57

            Thank you, Frankie. That was well put.

  • Comment by Maria on 2020-05-02 03:23:24

    1 John 3:2–3 (ESV): 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

  • Comment by Vox Ratio on 2020-05-02 07:18:14

    Nicely done, Meleti.

    You delivered a helpful exposition of your views and made a fair assessment of some of the alternatives. Your logic was easy enough to follow and you expressed a rational voice (pun intended).

    Don't our burning hearts just long for the day when we can put that pesky metal mirror down and see things as they really are (cf. Lu. 24:32)? That will be a time for singing hallelujah indeed!

    • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2020-05-02 08:48:15

      Amen, Vox. Amen!

  • Comment by Fani on 2020-05-02 09:35:48

    Merci pour tout ce travail. C'était super !
    Oui c'est possible que la t. ribulation concerne les épreuves que subissent les chrétiens (Rev 24 :12 parle de l'endurance des saints- rev 6 : 9 à 11 tous les chrétiens doivent être éprouvés. )

    Mais bien sûr, vu que tu nous donnes gentiment la parole, je suis tentée aussi de donner mon point de vue qui n'est que ma réflexion, rien de plus.

    Ce qui me gêne c'est qu'on applique les versets de Math 24 : 29 à 31 à la présence du Christ et c'est exact, c'est clairement ecrit.
    Puis les versets 32 à 35 s'appliquerait à Jérusalem (si j'ai bien compris)
    Puis on revient à la présence de Christ à partir du verset 36.
    Ça ne me paraît pas logique.

    Je pense, pour ma part, qu'il faut appliquer tous les versets à partir du 29 et toute la suite au Jour du Christ. (considérant que la génération qui passera n'est juste qu'une idée de certitude et non une notion de temps ; il prend à témoin cette génération qui passera aussi sûrement que ses paroles se realiseront).
    Quant au figuier, on peut savoir que quelque chose est proche sans connaître précisément le jour et l'heure précis. Ça ne contredit pas "nul ne connait le jour et l'heure".

    Si on prend Luc on peut considérer qu'à partir de Luc 21 : 24 "Et Jérusalem sera piétinée par les nations jusqu’à ce que le temps accordé aux nations soit accompli", Jésus parle dorénavant de toute l'époque des nations depuis la destruction de Jérusalem jusqu'à nos jours. Il aborde le sujet du temps des nations accompli, de la fin des nations, fin concomitante à son Jour.

    Juste après il dit : 25 "de plus, il y aura des signes dans le soleil, la lune et les étoiles. Sur la terre, les nations seront angoissées et ne sauront pas quoi faire à cause du grondement de la mer agitée.  26 Les gens seront morts de peur dans l’attente de ce qui doit arriver sur la terre, car les puissances du ciel seront ébranlées.  27 Alors ils verront le Fils de l’homme venir dans un nuage avec puissance et grande gloire. 
    Vers 27 : il parle bien de la présence du fils de l'homme.
    Il poursuit :
    Vers 28 : quand vous VERREZ CES CHOSES... Relevez la tête parce que votre délivrance approche"
    Quelles choses ? Il vient de le dire (vers 25, 26) :
    " l'angoisse des nations (mer agitée) la peur parce que les puissances des cieux sont ébranlées (ne peut-on pas penser au changement climatique unique sur la terre habitée qui engendre des catastrophes de plus en plus frequentes venant des cieux et dans la mer provoquant de sévères inondations ?)
    Y a t'il eu une autre époque où les hommes étaient autant anxieux à cause des éléments naturels déchaînés ? Tous les gens autour de moi trouve que les éléments naturels sont déréglés.

    Juste après Il parle du figuier. 
    Luc 21 : 29 "Regardez le figuier et tous les autres arbres.  30 Quand vous voyez qu’ils bourgeonnent, vous savez que l’été est proche."
    PROCHE : il ne dit pas qu'on connaît le jour.
    Le fait de voir ces signes, "ces choses" dont il parle pour la 2eme fois (vers 28 et 31) nous permet de rester aux aguets, dans l'attente du moment précis que nous ne connaissons pas.

    Dans son evangile Luc est plus précis que Mathieu. C'est lui qui identifie la chose immonde (les armees Romaines) Peut on penser que Luc 21 :  25,26 expliquent tout simplement les paroles de math 24 : 29 ?

    C'est juste mes réflexions.
    J'adhère complètement à la conclusión d'Éric.
    Ce qui importe comme dit Pierre qui a aussi parlé du Jour du Seigneur : 2 Pierre 3:11, 14 :
    [11]Puisque donc toutes ces choses doivent se dissoudre, quelles ne doivent pas être la sainteté de votre conduite et votre piété,..
    [14.... , en attendant ces choses,soyez trouvés par lui sans tache et irrépréhensibles dans la paix."
    Voilà l'essentiel

    Merci encore

    • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2020-05-04 08:49:18

      Quite right, Fani.

  • Comment by Fani on 2020-05-04 04:21:04

    Ce matin j'ai trouvé intéressant de tomber lors de ma lecture biblique sur :
    Math 13 : 21 "comme la parole ne s’enracine pas en lui, il ne tient pas longtemps. Et dès qu’une épreuve (thlipsis = tribulation ) ou une persécution survient à cause de la parole, il trébuche"
    Rev 1 : 9 "Moi, Jean, votre frère qui ai part avec vous à la persécution (thlipsis) et au royaume et à l’endurance en compagnie de Jésus"
    Voir renvoi dans la TMN = tribulation
    2 thess 1 : 6 "car, en effet, il est juste pour Dieu de rendre la détresse (thlipsis ou tribulation) à ceux qui vous causent de la détresse (voir renvoi TMN)

    Thlipsis employé dans tous ces versets est le même terme qui est employé dans Mathieu 24 : 29 et Rev 7 : 14

    Ceci pour confirmer que la tribulation concerne en particulier toutes les épreuves que subissent les chrétiens en raison de leur foi et non un évènement particulier à un moment particulier.

    • Reply by Leonardo Josephus on 2020-05-06 03:57:12

      Merci Fani. But the tribulation in Matthew 24:21 is "Great", and in Revelation 7:14 is "The great" tribulation.

      • Reply by Fani on 2020-05-06 04:33:26

        Apocalypse 2:22
        [22]Voici, je vais la jeter sur un lit, et envoyer une grande tribulation à ceux qui commettent adultère avec elle, à moins qu`ils ne se repentent de leurs oeuvres."
        Grande tribulation ne s'applique pas que dans Rev 7 : 14 ou Math 24
        Jesus l'applique à Jezabel de la congrégation de Thyatire et à ceux qui la suivent. Même nom, même adjectif : megales thlipseos
        On est d'accord, je pense, pour dire que cette grande tribulation sur Jezabel n'a rien à voir avec celle de la révélation.

        Donc, cette expression n'est pas unique dans la révélation et Mathieu.
        Dans Rev 7 et Math 24, c'est la fin des temps, on peut penser qu'on parle de toute la persécution (ou détresse) durant les siècles, qui fut effectivement très grande.
        Cet adjectif "grande" n'a rien d'exceptionnel dans son usage et aucun aspect unique.

        • Reply by Leonardo Josephus on 2020-05-06 14:53:45

          Fani, you are correct that Rev 2:22 speaks of "great tribulation", but at Rev 7:14 the word "the" is before "great tribulation", making it something different from other tribulations. My thoughts are that Matthew 24 refers to an outstanding time of great trouble, whenever it occurs, while Rev 7:14 is whatever the final time of trouble proves to be.
          Thank you for your insight.

          • Reply by anonymous on 2020-05-06 17:05:59

            The King James Bible doesn’t have it interestingly

            “And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
            ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭7:14‬ ‭KJV‬‬

            But that uses the Textus Receptus. Maybe that is the difference

  • Comment by Examining Matthew 24, Part 10: The Sign of Christ’s Presence – Religion And The Law Of Attraction on 2020-05-07 05:06:36

    […] To view a transcript of this video, go to: https://beroeans.net/2020/05/01/examining-matthew-24-part-10-the-sign-of-christs-presence/ […]

  • Comment by Zacheus on 2020-05-15 08:30:27

    Wow.. Ithink i must do this one again. There is so much to take in.

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