Sign Of The Son
“And then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then will all the tribes of the earth mourn. And they will see the Son of Man coming [present] in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
We must be sure to note that some translations use the English word “coming” to translate the Greek word parousia in this text. In this context this is an unfortunate translation since the coming of Jesus in person is out of context and not under consideration. His coming at the end of time will be personal (At 1:9-11; 1 Jn 3:2). But the presence of Him having all authority as King of kings would be revealed through the termination of national Israel, which termination He prophesied.
Jesus had earlier spoken to His disciples on the subject of His coming judgment. He had said that this coming (presence) would be “in the glory of His Father with His angels [messengers]” (Mt 16:27). Jesus had said in chapter 16 that some of His immediate disciples would experience this coming (presence). “Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Mt 16:28).
So the sign here in Matthew 24:30 refers to what Jesus had previously prophesied. When the Roman army eventually came, such would be God’s final signal to believe in King Jesus who foretold these things. The fulfillment would be God’s last proof of Jesus as the Messiah.
The word “see” could be translated “perceive” or “discern.” When all these things happen, people would perceive the judgment of Jesus on Jerusalem. “Coming in the clouds” is judgment language from the Old Testament (See Is 19:1; Jr 4:13; Ez 30:3). When Jesus brings down this judgment on national Israel through the Roman army, then people will perceive the judgment power of the Son and His gospel reign as King of kings.
The disciples would witness the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy. They would understand that Daniel 7:13,14 was fulfilled. Daniel had prophesied,
“I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven. And He came to the Ancient of Days. And they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion and glory and sovereignty, so that all peoples, nations and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away. And His sovereignty will not be destroyed.”
This prophecy speaks of the ascension of Jesus, for Jesus ascended unto the Ancient of Days who is the Father. However, before Jesus ascended to heaven, all authority in heaven and earth had been given unto Him (Mt 28:18; Jn 13:3; 17:2). Many would not realize this until the physical fulfillment of the prophecy that He made in Matthew 24.
When Jesus came in judgment on Jerusalem, then the Jews would realize that Jesus was “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Ep 1:21; see Ph 2:9-11). Jesus was Lord of lords and King of kings before A.D. 70 (1 Tm 6:15). However, true Israel by faith did not “shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Mt 13:43) until after national Israel was shaken in A.D. 70. When national Israel was taken away, the true Israel (the church), that could not be shaken, shined forth in the kingdom reign of Jesus. This was a marvel, “a sign,” that the disciples would experience in their lifetime.
If reference in Matthew 24:30 is not to the ascension of Jesus to the Father by the coming in the clouds, then the figure is to coming in judgment. This is a figure from the Old Testament that signified God’s coming in judgment upon the unrighteous (See Is 19:1; Jr 4:13; Ez 30:2). In the historical context, therefore, this is what Jesus is here signifying. He indicated this same thought during His trial when He stated to the high priest in Jerusalem, “Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Mt 26:64).
The high priest would not literally see Jesus at the right hand of the Father with all authority. However, he would see this power manifested by proxy through the instrumentality of the Roman army. Those unbelieving Jews who experienced the destruction of Jerusalem certainly wondered why God was judging them. On the other hand, the disciples before A.D. 70 recognized the kingdom reign of Jesus. This kingdom reign would be demonstrated in A.D. 70 by the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy. The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple encouraged many disheartened Jews to turn to Jesus. This is the historical commentary on what Paul revealed in Romans 9-11,
“For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part [before A.D. 70] has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved [through obedience to the gospel]” (Rm 11:25,26).
Israel would be saved in the same manner as the Gentiles, that is through obedience to the gospel. However, because of the stubborn nature of some Jews, these Jews, before they would believe, had to experience an open demonstration by God before they would understand that God was finished with national Israel.
Sending Of The Evangelists
“And He will send His messengers 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.”
The Greek word angelos, here translated “angels,” should be translated “messengers” in this text. It is so translated in Matthew 11:10: “Behold, I send My messenger [“angelos”] before Your face.” It is also translated such in Luke 7:24: “When the messengers [“angelos”] of John had departed.” Also, Jesus “sent messengers [“angelos”] before His face” to Jerusalem (Lk 9:52; see 2 Co 12:7; Js 2:25).
It seems that because some translators believed that Matthew 24 referred to the end of time, they translated the word angelos to refer to heavenly angels. But the context does not warrant this translation. Jesus is not historically jumping in the text from A.D. 70 to some time over two thousand years later.
Before the gospel of His ascension and coronation, Jesus did send His messengers forth into all the world. He said to His disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Mt 28:19). “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15). “And they went out and preached everywhere” (Mk 16:20).
The disciples went forth from Jerusalem in Acts 8:4 in order to take the message of the gospel to all the world. Those who would believe were gathered together into the community of gospel-obedience subjects. Those who recognized that “all things were fulfilled” (Mt 5:18), came to Jesus. In their obedience to the gospel, they turned from Jewish nationalism to spiritual revivalism. They were taught the following:
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gl 3:28,29).
The messengers (evangelists) went forth with the gospel sound of a trumpet call. The trumpet call finds its symbolism in the Old Testament. The trumpet was sounded as a warning of impending danger (See Nm 10:2; Is 27:13: Jl 2). The preaching of the gospel was Jesus’ call to all men to believe the gospel (2 Th 2:14). The disciples went forth not only with the message of the gospel, but also the message of Matthew 24. There was a call to King Jesus in response to His atoning sacrifice. The trumpet call of the gospel delivered obedient Jews from sin, as well as from death that would result from the physical destruction of national Israel in A.D. 70.
[Next in series: Aug. 10]