"The Coming of the Son of Man"
For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; 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 then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (NKJV)
Identifying the events that are linked to the second Coming of Jesus Christ should not be very difficult to a person who has done any extensive Bible study and background research pertaining to those events Jesus said would shape the end times. The reason I say this is according to the Scriptures, the second coming of Christ will be visible to the public both by believers who have survived the onslaught of the Antichrist during the Great Tribulation period as well as unbelievers who took the mark of the Beast.
According to Dr. Warren Wiersbe: “The world’s condition will be so terrible that men will wonder if any relief will come, and this will give way for many false “messiahs” to come forth claiming to be the Christ and deceive many.” (Wiersbe, 1988) The Apostle John said in Revelation 1:7 “Every eye shall see Him and they also which pierced Him, and all kindred of the earth shall wail because of Him.” Many Jews will be deceived by the Antichrist because” the Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22)
The Apostle Peter reiterated to the early church the same prophetic word in this manner: “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers (forefathers) fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. (Nothing has changed) For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men”.
The Rapture, (the first stage of the Second Coming) the event that set the Matthew 24 prophetic wheels in motion for the Great Tribulation Period some 7 years prior occurred suddenly, caught many people by surprise. A peace treaty was signed by the Jews with the new world leader, the Antichrist and was in place for 3 and ½ years. The Antichrist then broke the covenant and began to persecute the Jews.
During the time of “great tribulation” according to (Adams Clarke Commentary, 2006) Dr Adam Clarke made the following observations concerning that time period:
1. “These were the days in which all the calamities predicted by Moses, Joel, Daniel, and other prophets, as well as those predicted by our Savior, met in one common center, and were fulfilled in the most terrible manner on that generation.”
2. “These were the days of vengeance in another sense, as if God's judgments had certain periods and revolutions; for it is remarkable that the temple was burned by the Romans in the same month, and on the same day of the month, on which it had been burned by the Babylonians”.
Some theologians see the Rapture in the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24: 29-35. The events Jesus describes in that passage from my perspective does not pertain to the Rapture, but His “Revelation.” Jesus, In Matthew 24: 27 describes the Rapture in the following manner: “For as lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be”. Verse 29 clearly speaks of when Jesus comes back to earth to set up the Millennial Kingdom. The Apostle John said“ Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."
Comparing the “Rapture” (1st stage of His second coming) with the “Revelation,” (the second stage of His second coming) Dr. Clarence Larkin, talking from his book “Dispensational Truth” makes the following statement: (Larkin, 1920) “ “The Rapture is said to be the event when Christ comes “for His saints” whereas the Revelation of Jesus Christ is the time after the great tribulation when Jesus comes back “with His saints.” Dr. John Walvoord also confirms in his book (Walvoord, 1991) “Major Bible Prophecies” that Jesus will physically return here on earth a second time. He also believes that Matthew 24:27 refers to the Rapture and not the Revelation. He believes as I do that the verse is dualistic in the sense the world will be just as surprised when the Rapture takes place 7 years before the Revelation as when the Revelation occurs in verse 29.
So, when we describe the time of Christ’s return, we must do it with the understanding that this event happens in 2 different stages. Thus, this “second coming” Jesus mentioned in Matthew 24:39 is the second stage of one event. This in itself makes the event a 2-fold prophecy. The Rapture and the Revelation are separated by at least 7 years. The Antichrist after the first 3 and ½ years broke this covenant and began to persecute the Jews with wicked veracity, killing or imprisoning them who refused to receive his identification mark.
According to Dr. Wiersbe, (Wiersbe, 1988) “this event will have special meaning to the Jews in particular because Jesus will return at that very hour when Israel as a nation is about to be defeated by the Gentile armies. (Zechariah Chapter 12) (Revelation 19:11) Right about the time the Gentile Nations think they have Israel at their mercy, suddenly the sky changes and out of the sky Jesus burst through riding a while horse accompanied with a legion of angels and the saints. Just as the rapture was sudden and unexpected, the second phase of His second coming will be just as sudden and just as surprising, especially for those Gentile Nations who will be armed up against Israel.
When Jesus came the first time in His “incarnation,” He was said to be “disguised in the flesh.” His incarnation did 2 things:
First, it partially hid His full intrinsic power because Jesus, for the purpose of the fulfilling His part in the salvation plan of God the Father divested Himself of some of His Glory and as a result of it veiled His Deity. One of the "divine attributes" that was limited was the “physical proximity” of Jesus . He could only be in one place “physically” at a time, yet his words could influence events in other towns simultaneously as shown when he declared the healing of the centurion's servant in Matthew 8:5-13.
Jesus gave us a detailed description of the attitude of the people that will be left behind when he comes first to take out of the world “a people” for His name (the church). Jesus said they will be doing the same thing and acting the same way the people acted back in the day of Noah. They will be eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. Dr Larkin put it this way: “The sun will rise on that day strong and clear. Gentle breezes will raft themselves over the earth. There will be no signs of a storm or of a coming judgment. The people will be buying and selling, (those who have taken the mark of the beast) building and planting, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. (that is, openly engaged in extramarital affairs) The statesmen will be pondering in their minds newer plans for making the world better. The philanthropists will continue to develop new ways to help the people who bought into the Antichrist’s new pseudo-peaceful society, as the pleasure seekers will continue to seek new sources of pleasure". Of course", He continued, "we can’t leave out the fact that the wicked will continue to plot more wicked schemes and devices as all of these unbelievers will all of their works feverishly attempt to prove to their own satisfaction that there is no God, no heaven, no hell, no coming judgment that life will go the way they planned it …then all of a sudden…coming out of heaven will be a light; brighter than the sun shining at noon and out of that light, the world will see Jesus, riding on a white horse (Revelation 19:11-16) with His Saints and the armies of Heaven."
When this happens, the Bible said all the tribes of the earth shall mourn because they shall see the "Son of Man coming in the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30) The plain meaning of this is, that the destruction of Jerusalem will be such a remarkable instance of divine vengeance, such a signal manifestation of Christ's power and glory, that all the Jewish tribes shall mourn, and many will, in consequence of this manifestation of God, be led to acknowledge Christ as their Messiah, recognizing that the same Jesus their ancestors rejected was indeed the one prophesied to come by the prophets of the Old Testament.
Now, Jesus coming through the clouds does 2 things: first, it answered the question the disciples had concerning the restoration of the Kingdom. Jesus made it plain to them that it wasn’t their business to know the season or the exact time when He would come back to restore the kingdom. They obviously understood that He was to come back.
Second, it fulfilled what the angels said to them in Acts 1:9-11”: (Dakes, 1999)(NIV) “ After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This “same Jesus”, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." Accordingly, Jesus gave them an answer to their question, as he tells them in general that the time of the great events of God's kingdom was not to be understood by them. They had asked a similar question on a former occasion in Matthew 24:3, In that passage, they asked: "Tell us when shall these things be?" Jesus answered them then by showing them that certain signs would precede his coming, and then by saying (Matthew 24:36), "But of that day and that hour no man knows, not, even the angels of heaven, but my Father only." God has uniformly reproved a vain curiosity on such points, (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2; 2 Peter 3:10; Luke 12:39-40).
So, the question of the apostles in respect to the time of the restoration was not whether he would do it. They were convinced of that. They wanted to know when. They were aware of what the Old Testament prophets had said and before their personal relationship with Jesus, they also believed that when the Messiah came, He would immediately restore the kingdom. In Dr. John F.Walvoord book “Matthew Thy Kingdom Come” (Walvoord D. J., 1974) Walvoord said: “This will be the coming of the Lord to judge and subdue the earth and to bring His heavenly kingdom.” He further states: “His second coming (revelation) is nevertheless a gathering of all “his elect” as stated in Matthew 24:3. There are those who believe this is in reference to the nation of Israel as an elect nation. Others believe this is in reference to all those who are chosen, that is the saints of all ages whether on earth or in Heaven, for all of them will converge upon the Millennial Kingdom scene. Matthew mentions only the elect of Heaven. Mark 13:27 mentions those who are on earth, who are them referred to in Matthew 25:32. As Jesus begins to gather “the elect,” He will send his angels to gather his chosen, his elect, together from all places." This expression expresses that they shall be gathered from all parts of the earth wherever they are scattered. The word "heaven" is used here to denote the "visible" heavens or the sky, meaning that through "the whole world" he would gather them. See Psalms 19:1-7 and Deuteronomy 4:32.
Dr. H.A. Ironside (Ironside, 2005) writes:”Then the trumpet shall be blown (Isaiah 27:13) and the angels will gather together the elect from all quarters of the earth, those who in the time of testing will have received the kingdom message and so be prepared to welcome the King at his return. His elect will be gathered to greet Him as their King and Deliverer. Thus, at long last shall the throne of David be set up once again in Jerusalem, and the law shall go forth from Mount Zion, where Christ Himself shall reign in righteousness for a thousand glorious years as we learned from Revelation Chapter 20."
In Matthew 24:32-35, Jesus uses the Parable of the Fig tree to answer the question: What shall be the “sign” of thy coming? Jesus used parables to convey the kingdom message to those who wanted to receive it and veiled it from the Pharisees, scribes and the temple leaders who rejected Him as the Messiah. Starting in verse 32, Jesus said to them: “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh”: What Jesus conveyed to them was these signs which He gave them would be an “infallible proof “of the approaching ruin of the Jewish state just as the budding of the trees is the proof of the coming summer. In the book entitled (Pendelton, 2007) "The Fourfold Gospel" in the section entitled “A Harmony of the Four Gospels”, Dr. Phillip Y. Pendleton makes this comment: “As the change of the season in the natural world has its preliminary signs, so the change of conditions in the spiritual realm has its premonitory symptoms. When men see the symptoms which Jesus has described, they will recognize that changes are coming as to the nature of which they can only guess. But the Christian is informed that these changes indicate the coming of the Son of God and a change from a worse to a better season.” Dr. H.A. Ironside also makes this observation: “The “preeminent” sign that the time for the appearing of the Son of Man has drawn near is that of the budding fig tree.” The fig tree is the well known symbol of national Israel. Even now during this present day many Israelites, God’s covenant people who were scattered and exiled in other countries having no national existence have chosen to come back to their native homeland to Palestine in huge numbers and once more have an indulgence of becoming a distinct nation again. Thus, the fig tree (Israel) is putting forth its green leaves which prophetically is a proclamation that the return of Jesus grows ever so near to his covenant people who still as of this juncture in history as a nation has not recognized Him or given acknowledgement of Him as their Messiah or their King. So as they return to their home land, many of them return as unbelievers, yet according to Dr. Ironside will be regenerated.
In verse 33, Jesus further states: "So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near (judgment and redemption), even at the doors". That is, in the same manner, when you see what I have predicted the "signs" around Jerusalem-then know that its destruction is at hand. Luke says in Luke 21:28, "your redemption draws near, and in Luke 21:31: that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand." This meant their deliverance from the dangers that threaten the city approaches, and the kingdom of God will be set up in the earth; or their everlasting redemption from sin and death will come at the day of judgment, and His eternal kingdom will be established in the heavens and come down to earth at the end that God may be all and in all and in you all
In verse 34, Jesus said: “Verily I say unto you, “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” When Jesus spoke of “this generation, He spoke of the existence of the Hebrews as a race of people and that will remain intact until these things shall be accomplished or take place. As we know, 37 years after the crucifixion of Jesus, Israel was under siege by Roman Empire with Titus, general of the Roman army leading that siege and many in Israel lost their lives. Not only that, the temple was desecrated and the children of Israel were forbidden to approach the temple ever again. But as horrific as that time period was, this reference is in regards to the judgment, and the destruction of Jerusalem. Thus the words of Christ describing the destruction of Jerusalem had a fullness of significance that would also coincide with the events of the judgment, and whose meaning would not be "entirely filled up" until the world came to an end as we know it.
Finally, Jesus said to His disciples: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away”. Before the words of Jesus would ever fail, and they will not ever do that, But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. Jesus wanted us all to know in regards to the precise time of the fulfillment the following: The "general signs" of its approach (His second coming-“The Revelation”) have been given, as the budding of the fig-tree is a certain indication that summer is near; however, "the precise time" is not indicated by these things. One part of their inquiry was (Matthew 24:3) when those things should be. He now replies to them by saying that the precise time would not be foretold.
In summation,, the coming of “the Son of Man” will usher in these future events: according to (Pendelton, 2007) and (Knapp, 2008) “The Great Doctrines of the Bible” (The Doctrine of “Last Things”)
1. After the Jews pass through the great tribulation (Matthew. 24:21, 22, 29; Revelation. 3:10; 7:14); are converted (as a nation) at the coming of Christ (Zechariah. 12:10; Revelation. 1:7); become great missionaries (Zechariah. 8:13-23); never more to be removed from the land (Amos 9:15; Ezekiel. 34:28).
2. With Regard to Antichrist, and the Enemies of God's People (2 Thessalonians. 1:7-9; Revelation. 19:20; 20:10). The enemies of God shall be destroyed by the brightness of His coming; The Antichrist will be cast finally into the bottomless pit.
3. The Millennium begins with the coming of Christ with His saints; with the revelation of Christ after the great tribulation (Matthew. 24:29, 30); at the close of the seventieth week of Daniel. (Revelation. 19:11-14; Daniel. 7:21, 22; Zechariah. 14:3-9).
4. Then comes the destruction of Antichrist, the binding of Satan, and the destruction of the enemies of God's people (Revelation. 19:20; 20:1-3, 10).
5. The Judgment of the Living Nations (Matthew. 25).
6. The conversion and missionary activity of the Jews (Zechariah. 8:13-23; cf. Acts 15:14-17). Then, we may have a converted world, but not now, nor in this age; This evangelistic effort concerns Israel, not the Church. The Church was gathered at the Rapture.
The Nature of the Millennium Kingdom:
1. It is a Theocracy: Jesus Christ Himself is the King (Jeremiah. 23:5; Luke 1:30-33). The Apostles will, doubtless, reign with Christ over the Jews (Isaiah. 66; Matthew. 19:28); the Church, over the Gentile nations (Luke 19:11-19; Hebrews. 2:6, 7).
2. The capitol city will be Jerusalem (Isaiah. 2:1-4). Pilgrimages will be made to the Holy City (Zechariah. 14:16). The reign of Christ will be one of righteousness and equity (Isaiah. 11:4; Psalms. 98:9).
3. A renovated earth (Romans. 8:19-31; Isaiah. 65:17; c. 35).
4. The events closing the Millennium are apostasy and rebellion (Revelation. 20:7-9); the destruction of Satan (Revelation. 20:10); the Great White Throne judgment (Revelation. 20:11-15); a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21 and 22).
Dr. Arthur E. Bloomfield writes “The kingdom is the climax of all prophecies the Jews, the nations and the church. It is there that all prophecy meets. No prophecy reaches beyond the kingdom except that concerning the everlasting home of the saints, the Holy City. (New Jerusalem) The Jews, the gentiles and the church are all in the kingdom and they all have their appointed place. The Jewish Nation will be there. Christ will appear as the deliverer of Jews in their greatest hour of trial. So all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26-27) and the kingdom of David will be revived as David will co-rule as a regent. As for the Gentile Nations, Christ is to rule over them with a rod of iron. (Psalms 2:7-9). He will judge them for their behavior toward Israel during their time in great tribulation. They will be judged either as “sheep” or as goats, (Matthew 25:31) and He will rebuke them for their warlike activities. (Micah 4:1-3) All the nations left after the Battle of Armageddon will be forces to worship Jesus Christ.
Finally, the church will also be there. The saints will also reign with Jesus Christ. (Revelation 2:26-27) According to Dr. Bloomfield , the saints will be a very special group and separated from all the others. He writes, “They will be the only ones in the kingdom who passed through the resurrection, or the “Rapture” and will have immortal bodies. They will be rulers, not subjects. They are the “kingdom” which comes down from heaven and is established over the nations of the earth (Daniel 7:27) They are the “kingdom” in the sense, that the church is the kingdom and only those who are redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ are permitted to enter into the kingdom.