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Matthew 24:29-35 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Answer Part Two – Sign 2: The Parousia. A Sign after the Great Oppression

Matthew 24:29-35 – Part Two – Sign 2: The Parousia. A Sign after the Great Oppression

|| Mark 13:24-31; Luke 21:25-33

MT24:29 “But immediately after the oppression[1] of those days {LK21:25 there will be signs in sun and moon and stars:} the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light[2] and the stars will fall from the heaven[3] and the heavenly dynamics will be shaken.[4] [Isaiah 13:10] {LK21:25 And upon the earth anguish of nations in perplexity (noise of an agitated sea)[5] LK21:26 men fainting from fear[6] and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth.} MT24:30 And then there will appear[7] in the sky the sign of the Son of Humankind.[8] [Daniel 12:1; Isaiah 11:12] Then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation.[9] They will see the Son of Humankind[10] coming on the clouds of the sky[11] [Daniel 7:13, 22; 12:1] with power and much glory.[12] {LK21:28 But as these things start to occur[13] rise and look upward[14] because your deliverance is drawing near.[15]} MT24:31 And the Son of Humankind will send off his angels[16] with a great trumpet[17] and they will gather his Chosen Ones[18] from the four winds[19] {MK13:27 from the extremity of earth to heaven’s extremity} from one extreme of the sky to another extreme.[20] [Isaiah 11;12] MT24:32 {MK13:28} But learn from the fig tree,[21] {LK21:29 and all the trees,} this parable: when the branch becomes tender and the tender leaves begin to sprout you know that summer is already near. MT24:33 {MK13:29} So, also, when you see these things you will know that he is near at the doors.[22] {LK21:31 Know the Kingdom of God is near![23]} MT24:34 I tell you this truth: this generation will not pass away[24] until all these things occur. MT24:35 {LK21:33} The heaven and the earth will pass away[25] but my words will never pass away.[26]

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[1] Immediately after the oppression: An interesting and perplexing problem develops here which has been interpreted in various ways. Jesus has been dealing wholly with Jerusalem up to this point and what follows with regard to the Great Oppression can also apply to the years 66 to 70. Remembering Jesus admits to not knowing “the day and hour” when he says “immediately after” he may mean what occurs next in the prophetic stream of events, telescoping centuries or millenniums to the next important occurrence. Paul does something like this at 1 Corinthians 15:23, 24 where his words EPEITA (then) and EITA (next) may span more than a thousand years.

On the other hand, there may be an overlap as the Nazarene moves from the subject of Jerusalem’s “end” and now on to the Parousia. The events of Daniel 12:1, 2, 7 have not all been completely fulfilled. Precisely, there has been no resurrection or judgment. Thirty years after the destruction of Jerusalem the Apocalypse paraphrases Luke 21:24 with another application of three and a half years (Revelation 11:2; 13:5-7; see also Daniel 7:18-22). So there may a device used here as a transition or pivot of thought as Jesus uses this point of the Great Oppression to shift to the subject of the Parousia. Following the verse about the oppression Jesus never uses the word “end” as he has not used “arrival” (or, parousia) before the Great Oppression.

[2] The sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light: One way for God to get everyone’s attention at once is to turn out the lights, something only He could do. Obviously when Christ returns as described in the following verses it will be night on one side of the planet where mankind would be in different degrees of sleep (Luke 17:34). If the moon and stars are bedarkened the news of this will flash like lightning. Certainly it will not be longer than a dozen hours or so (except above the Arctic Circle) before this phenomenon comes to the attention of virtually everyone. Such a dark background provides a perfect backdrop for the “sign” about to appear causing the entire globe to break out in great lamentation. Jesus draws this picture from various sources which may have to do with a gloomy or dark situation: the fire and smoke from a burning city, or literal sights (Compare Isaiah 13:10; 34:4; Joel 2:31; 3:15; Amos 8:9; Acts 2:20; Revelation 6:12, 13; 8:12; 9:2). Note Peter’s use of Joel 2:31, adding the paraphrased words “last days,” at Acts 2:20 applying this darkness and rising smoke to the “last days” of Jerusalem.

[3] The stars will fall from the heaven: The word for “stars” in Greek is ASTERES and might also include asteroids. The word OURANON (heaven) may also mean the sky or atmosphere.

[4] The heavenly dynamics will be shaken: Not just an earthquake but seismic activity in the celestialum. Events hard to miss by earth’s population and with startling reactions. Some have pointed to the Space Age with its rockets, moon visits, satellites, deep solar probes, and Star Wars technology as being part of this ‘shaking.’ But, the Nazarene places all of this “after the oppression.”

[5] Sea: Many would make this symbolic of mankind (Isaiah 57:20, 21), but since that is obviously already being discussed it may be more likely that agitation of the sea is a result of solar and lunar and possibly asteroids.

[6] Fainting from fear: The one major emotion from all of this is “fear” on the part of all those who do not understand what is occurring. The reaction to these sudden events, taking place within hours, affects the entire planet. They must actually have “seen” something.

[7] Appear: Interestingly, the Jewish Tanakh version by the JPS translated Daniel 12:1, ‘At that time, the great prince, Michael, will appear.’ The Hebrew here, amad; (Strong’s #5975), may be translated “appear” according to BDBG which lists Daniel 12:1 as an example. If this be the source for Jesus’ words now he was justified in making the statements which follow his mention of the “oppression.” Compare Isaiah 11:12 where SEMEION, the disciples’ word “sign” in their question, occurs in the LXX. The context of Isaiah deals with the gathering of Israel from ‘the four corners of the earth’! Could Matthew 24:30, 31 be a conflated paraphrase of Isaiah 13:10, Daniel 12:1, and Isaiah 11:12? This would be the compound paraphrase: ‘For the stars of heaven shall not give their light and it shall be dark at sunrise and the moon shall not give her light.… And Michael will appear.… and he will lift up a sign for the nations and he will gather the lost ones of Israel from the four corners of the earth.’

[8] The sign of the Son of Humankind: Nowhere is this “sign of the Son of Man” described but many assume it will be a vision like that of Daniel 7:13 only in reverse direction. Not an ascending Son of Man, but a descending one in harmony with Daniel 7:22 and the “arrival of Yahweh” to deliver the Saints following the “great oppression.” (Daniel 7:18-22)

[9] All the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation: The peoples of the earth would not all be lamenting if they had not seen something quite startling. Compare Revelation 6:12-17.

[10] They will see the Son of Humankind: The Parousia or Arrival of Christ is visible (Hebrews 9:28). To “see” something it must be visible in some form. The Greek for “see” here is OPSONTAI the same word as at Matthew 28:7 where the disciples “see” the Risen Christ; and Revelation 22:4 where the Saints are promised they will “see” God’s face. If the Nazarene meant the idea of “mentally seeing” he could have used a word similar to NOOUMEN in Ephesians 3:20 (NWT). Note OPSONTAI is used with regard to viewing the resurrected Jesus at Matthew 28:10. At Acts 10:42 Peter says that God gave Jesus the authority to become “visible” to witnesses appointed beforehand (John 14:19). Jesus was also seen (OPSTHE) by two non-believers after his ascension (1 Corinthians 9:1; 15:7). We have discussed this, when most will find it obvious, because some Bible students developed the idea of an “invisible presence” in which Jesus does not actually “return,” though Acts 1:9-11 and Acts 3:20, 21 would make it clear he does. Jesus came to the earth and his people (John 1:9-11) having “descended” (Ephesians 4:9). He promised to return or “come again” after his “ascension” (John 6:64; Ephesians 4:9) at John 14:3. In all of these cases he actually left heaven, and was thus absent, to come to the earth to be present; and, then he leaves earth to become absent from his disciples but promises them he will “come again” and thus become present once again. Does 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 state that our Lord “descends” (or, comes down) from heaven to the “air”?

[11] Coming on the clouds of the sky: This is a phrase from Daniel 7:13 but it should be noted in Daniel the idea is one of ascending (John 6:64) to the very Presence of God. Note Daniel’s position at Daniel 7:10, 16. However, according to the Nazarene’s own promise (John 14:3), as well as that of the angel (Acts 1:9-11), the Lord is to “return” in the same type of “clouds” in which he vanished heavenward upon his ascension. This is confirmed by Paul at 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 where the Lord descends into the “air” where clouds are formed. We have refrained from referencing Revelation 1:7 in this matter for reasons which will be explained later. We feel the words of Revelation 1:7 part of a hymnal praise, with Daniel 7:13 and Zechariah 12:10 as its theme, dealing with the ascension and not the return of Christ.

[12] With power and much glory: This is not a king who has come to receive his royal power, but one who already ‘rules as king waiting for his enemies to be made subject to him.’ (1 Corinthians 15:25; Psalm 110:1; Hebrews 10:12,13) He has waited ‘a long time’ to be reunited with his disciples (Matthew 25:19; Luke 19:12, 15). This phrase drawn from Daniel 7:13 and Psalm 110:1 is used at Matthew 10:23; 16:28; 26:64 where it likely means, “In your lifetime you will see the fulfillment of Daniel 7:13 and Psalm 110:1.” That is, upon the ascension of Jesus described in Acts 1:9-11, these disciples and those Jewish priests, would still be alive during this historical experience. Compare Matthew 26:57, 59, 64 with Acts 4:6; 7:1, 56, 57. In a very real sense these same priests were on hand to hear the martyr Stephen’s words, ‘Look! I behold the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ Surely, they remembered the Nazarene’s words of promise to them. The degree of power and glory is described by Daniel 7:14 and Ephesians 1:20-22.

[13] As these things start to occur: What “things”? The “great oppression”? The celestial darkness? The “sign” of the Son of Man? “These things” may include the “great oppression” itself if such an experience three and a half year period of oppression befell the Nazarene Saints, they would suspect the Arrival of the King is very near.

[14] Look upward: Or, “lift up your heads”; that is in the direction of the descending Lord in the atmospheric “air.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

[15] Is drawing near: It generally means imminent, at the doors, within days, if not hours (Matthew 26:18, 45; Luke 2:38; 22:1; John 2:13), though it can mean several years (Luke 21:20). With the forthcoming parable about ‘summer being near’ the nearness would seem to be a month or less.

[16] The Son of Humankind will send off his angels: Note that Christ does not mention any Saints alive in heaven beside him at this time. The Saints can expect to be raised, awaken, changed or resurrected at this moment of the angelic gathering (1 Corinthians 15:23). Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and Revelation 7:1-4. It is interesting that in Matthew 25:31 the Son of Man comes with his “angels” but not with his Saints. One might expect that the very “judges” would be present with Christ if they were already in heaven with him. Would this be enough to indicate that this “arrival” is for the parousia-Judgment upon the Household of Faith and the reason the Saints are missing in Matthew 25:31 is because they have yet to be raised or raptured?

[17] A great trumpet: Note 1 Corinthians 15:50-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Revelation 11:15, 18.

[18] Chosen Ones: The Elect gathered. Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1. “Chosen Ones,” or “the Elect,” may here be limited to the Christian Saints, both those dead and those alive at the Arrival or Parousia of Christ.

[19] Four winds: Note Revelation 7:1 and Isaiah 11:12. The parallels with Matthew 24:31 might establish that the 144,000 of Revelation 7:1-4 are sealed and delivered at this time.

[20] From one extreme of the sky to another extreme: If the Saints were all in one place this would make no sense. For example, if the vast majority were already with Christ in heaven why would the angels have to be sent out to gather what is already present with the King? However, if the living Saints were in fact scattered across the globe, some in the fields, some at work in the grinding mill, and some asleep (Matthew 24:40, 41; Luke 17:34), then it seems to be that “harvest” the Nazarene illustrates at Matthew 13:30, 40, 41.

[21] Fig tree: Some see Israel in this fig tree, but note the Nazarene mentions all the other trees.

[22] He is near at the doors: Extremely imminent as someone who has come to the house and now stands at the door ready to knock. Here it means within days if not hours, perhaps limiting the observable things to the darkening cosmos and the “sign of the Son of Man.”

[23] The Kingdom of God is near: Luke adds this and thus removes any notion that Jerusalem’s “end” is the subject. The Nazarene has shifted to his own Arrival or Parousia.

[24] This generation will not pass away: This has been applied to Jesus’ contemporaries or that race of Jews still alive at the parousia-Judgment. But, it may well be limited to those lamenting tribes of the earth, and those “Chosen Ones” about to be gathered, and thus still alive (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17) at the Return of Christ, who have observed the celestial phenomenon.

[25] The heaven and the earth will pass away: If this is understood to be the literal stellar universe and the planet Earth then it would seem to contradict texts like Psalm 104:5 and Ecclesiastes 1:4 (Psalm 72:8). Note 2 Peter 3:5-7, 10, 12, 13 and Revelation 21:1. This likely refers to that “heaven” and “earth” over which Satan had ruled for thousands of years (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 6:12; Isaiah 51:16).

[26] My words will never pass away: The Nazarene’s words will exist forever and thus be a beneficial guide throughout that “day of eternity.” (2 Peter 3:17)

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Preceding

Matthew 24 about temples or Houses of God and the end of the age

Matthew 24:1-2 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Desolation, Oppression and the Parousia – The Setting

Matthew 24:3 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Desolation, Oppression and the Parousia – The Apostles’ Question

Matthew 24:4-8 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Answer: Part One – Beware Being Misled

Matthew 24:9-14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Answer: Part Two – The Acts of the Apostles Foretold

Matthew 24:15-28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Answer: Sign 1: Encamped Armies. The Sign Great Oppression Is Near

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Find also to read

  1. Looking into the Future
  2. Looking forward for what is to come
  3. The resurrected Lord
  4. Memorizing wonderfully 52 Acts 7:56: the Son of man standing on the right hand of God
  5. Jesus Christ will return to earth
  6. You know neither the day nor the hour
  7. To be prepared for the Day of Judgment
  8. The New Testament and Judgement
  9. Prophecies over coming days
  10. Memorizing wonderfully 24 the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father
  11. Memorizing wonderfully 35 When the son returns it shall be As it came to pass in the days of Noah
  12. Signs of the Last Days
  13. Sign of the Times and the Last Days #2 Wars, natural disasters, famine and false Messiahs
  14. Sign of the Times and the Last Days #3 Coming events revealed in the prophetic writings
  15. Today’s thought “Sun, moon and stars” (January 22)
  16. Today’s thought “And they feared greatly” (February 6)
  17. Today’s Thought ” … the earth will be shaken” (May 23)
  18. To be prepared and very well oiled
  19. Preparing for his coming
  20. Jesus … will come in the same way as you saw him go
  21. Not about personal salvation but about a bigger Plan
  22. God’s Plan, Purpose and teachings
  23. What I Hope For Is What You Hope For
  24. As you see the Day approaching
  25. The Rapture Wars

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