"and then the sign of the Son of
Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn,
and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and
great glory." - Matthew 24:30
In the previous
installment I was providing reasons why the context argues in favor of the
futurist interpretation that the sign is visible to the human eye in heaven,
which is the sky. The following is
the final reason for taking this view.
Fifth, I believe
that " the sign" will likely be some form of the Shechinah Glory that has been
manifested throughout history.
After all, it was the sign of Christ' s first coming- the Shechinah
Glory- that flashed upon a darkened sky announcing His birth to the
shepherds. It was the Shechinah
Glory star that led the Wise Men from the East. So it is that His sign, the sign of the Son of Man will once
again be His trademark, the Shechinah Glory Cloud.
Gentry argues that " they will see. . ." Christ' s " . . . coming on the clouds"
is once again not visible sight (the eyes of faith) nor a physical coming. He goes so far as to evidence
" exegetical vertigo" when he says that Christ' s " coming on the clouds" " actually
speaks of his ascension."  At this point, preterists confuse
coming with going. Gentry further
the sign" of verse 30 is
" when the Romans lay waste the temple (vv. 6 and 15 anticipate this) and pick
apart Jerusalem (v. 28). That is, when
the government of Israel utterly collapses (v. 29), then it will be evident
that the one who prophesies her destruction is " in heaven." The " sign" is not a visible token in
the sky. Rather, the sign is that
the " Son of Man" rejected by the first century Jews is in heaven. The destruction of Israel vindicates
is hard to believe that Gentry could put forth this view with a straight face,
since, unlike many preterists, he understands Acts 1:11 as a second coming
And after He had said these
things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him
out of their sight. And as they
were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in
white clothing stood beside them; and they also said, " Men of Galilee, why do
you stand looking into the sky?
This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in
just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven." (Acts 1:9- 11)
The language in
Acts 1 is clear that Christ is ascending upward to heaven in verse 9. It is equally clear that verse 11
speaks of His return as a coming down from heaven on a cloud. Further, the Greek word for " coming" in
both Matthew 24:30 and Acts 1:11 is erchomai.
Thus, once Christ has ascended into heaven, His next act of coming could
not be up, but only down- down from heaven to earth. This is clearly the picture our Lord paints, not only in the
specific passage (verse 30), but throughout the overall context (verses
27- 31). Dallas Seminary professor,
Stanley Toussaint adds the following:
It will be conceded by all that the
first part of Matthew 24:30 looks back to Zechariah 12:10. However, it is important to notice that
in Zechariah the mourning of 12:10 is explained by the verses that follow. It is a repentant lamentation by Israel
because it results in the purification of the nation (Zech. 13:1). The context of Zechariah 12:10 is most
significant. Rather than prophesying
the destruction of Jerusalem, it is predicting the opposite. " And it will come about in that day
that I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem"
(Zech. 12:9). This is the tenor of
Zechariah 12:1-8. It looks ahead
to God's future deliverance of Israel when Jerusalem will again be surrounded
by enemies. " In that day" is
prophetic of a time of deliverance of Israel, not judgment. (Note the constant repetition of " in
that day" [12:3, 4, 6, 8 (2x), 9, 11; 13:1, 2, 4]). It is clear that the context of Zechariah is a mourning that
results in cleansing and deliverance for Israel. Whatever the sign of the Son of Man is, it results in the
national repentance of Israel.
This parallels perfectly what Paul says in Romans 11:25-27. This explanation of Matthew 24:30a sets
the stage for the understanding of the last half of the verse.
It is true that in the vision of
Daniel 7:13 as it is translated in the nasb
the Son of Man came up to the Ancient of Days to receive the dominion to
rule. However, the Hebrew verb has
no idea of direction; it simply means to arrive or to reach. This specific verb is only used in
Daniel where it may refer to something reaching up as Nebuchadnezzar's
greatness did in 4:22, or it may describe something going down as in 6:24 where
the detractors of Daniel were thrown into the lion's den. It has no intrinsic sense of
direction. Nor does the following
preposition indicate direction in itself.
The construction simply means the Son of Man approached the Ancient of
Days. But even if it describes the
Son of Man coming up to the Ancient of Days, it only looks at the bestowment of
authority. The question is where
is the authority expressed? Keil
says it well when he writes:
In this very chapter before use there is no
expression or any intimation whatever that the judgment is held in heaven. No place is named. It is only said that judgment was held
over the power of the fourth beast, which came to a head in the horn speaking
blasphemies, and that the beast was slain and his body burned. If he who appears as the son of man
with the clouds of heaven comes before the Ancient of days executing the
judgment on the earth, it is manifest that he could only come from heaven to
earth. If the reverse is to be
understood, then it ought to have been so expressed, since the coming with
clouds of heave in opposition to the rising up of the beast out of the sea very
distinctly indicates a coming down from heaven. The clouds are the veil or the " chariot" on which God comes
from heaven to execute judgment against His enemies; cf. Ps. xvii;10f., xcvii 2-4,
civ. 3, Isa. xix 1, Nah. i. 3.
This passage forms the foundation for the declaration of Christ
regarding His future coming, which is described after Dan. vii. 13 as a coming
of the Son of man with, in, on the clouds of heaven; Matt. xxiv. 20, xxvi. 64;
Mark xiii. 26; Rev. 1.7, xiv. 14.
summary, Matthew 24:30 describes a visible appearance of the sign of the Son of
Man, the repentance of Israel and the triumphant return of Christ to reign on
information show us why the next time Jesus comes, it will not be some
" signless sign" that did not actually exist in the form of the Roman army, but
instead the visible, bodily, physical return of Christ that mirrors His
ascension. Matthew 24 is not
concerned with the destruction of Jerusalem, but with the coming of the
Lord. No one in a.d. 70 recorded a second coming of
Christ, not even Josephus. The New
Testament predicts the destruction of Jerusalem, which was fulfilled in a.d.
70, not a second coming.
All The Tribes of The
Earth Will Mourn
We have seen up
to this point that God is preparing the cosmic stage to showcase the most
spectacular event in all human history- the glorious return of Jesus Christ to
planet earth to reign for a thousand years. First, this will occur after the events of the tribulation
(24:29). Second, it will interrupt
the campaign of Armageddon. Third,
God will darken the sky by causing the sun, moon and stars to cease
shinning. Fourth, in the midst of
this blackened background, the sign of the Son of Man with burst forth in
brilliant light and glory.
Finally, then, and only then, will the stage be set for Jesus to return
to planet earth- to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. It is within this scenario of events that Jesus says, " then
all the tribes of the earth will mourn."
The next part of
verse 30 says, " then all the tribes of the earth will
mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with
power and great glory." Why
will they mourn, because they will see the undeniable sign of the returning
Christ. Dr. Gentry says, that this
merely refers to the Jewish tribes of Israel in a.d.
70. NO! This is a universal term used of global unbelievers. Every time this plural phrase is used
in the parallel Book of Revelation it clearly refers to Gentiles. For example in Revelation 13:7 it
speaks of " every tribe and people and tongue and
nation." Every use in the
Old Testament of " all the tribes of the earth" has a universal meaning in the
Septuagint. The Old Testament uses
the term " all the tribes of Israel" (about 25 times) when it wants to refer to
the Jewish tribes.
the verse goes on to say, " they will see the Son of
Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory." It says, " they
will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky." The text says, " they will see the Son
of Man." This has to be a
reference to the visible, bodily, physical return of Jesus Christ to planet
earth! This did not happen in a.d. 70? Josephus does not record it. This cannot refer to a symbolic, naturalistic interpretation
that somehow Jesus returned in conjunction with the Roman army in the first
century. Jesus said, " they will
see the Son of Man."
Christ' s Return Still
If Jesus returned
in a.d. 70, as preterists say,
then, on what day did He return?
Since this is a past event, we should be able to know the exact day our
Lord supposedly returned and fulfilled this passage. I have never read in any preterist material, any of them who
can tell me the day and exact manner or event that supposedly was Christ' s
return in a.d. 70. In fact, this was such a non-event in
terms of church history, that it was not until the seventeenth century that we
have an extant record of anyone suggesting anything like a preterist view that
refers Matthew 24:27 and 30 to a.d.
returned as described in that passage, surely Josephus would have observed
it. But even the verbose Josephus
does not record such an event, because it did not occur. When the second coming of Christ- as
described prophetically in Matthew 24:27- 31- occurs, we will all be able to note
the day and the hour. The
description of Christ' s return in this passage is of a nature that it will be
such a public event that will be observed by multitudes of people. The exact day and hour of this event
will not be lost in human history. Maranatha!
Continued . . .)