We are continuing to look at Matthew 24, and seeking to let the Bible interpret itself rather than seeing it through the filters that might be in place for us, or imposing a particular set of doctrines upon it. If you are new to this blog you might want to skip back a few posts to see where we have come from. Today we have reached Matt 24:30, “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”.
Again, this is not talking about the end of the world: this is about Jesus coming in authority judgement. It is about the destruction of Jerusalem. The end of the Old Covenant system had come because the New Covenant had been established.
All this language is very symbolic, and ‘in the sky’ is really a poor translation. It does not mean that a sign will appear in the sky. What it is saying is: the sign that the kingdom has come is that the Son of Man is in heaven.
Jesus said later said to the Pharisees and to the High Priest, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matt 26:64).
So He told those who were alive at that time that they would see it.
This is the prophetic fulfilment of Daniel 7:13-14. “I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed”.
This is Jesus coming at the Ascension, His blood was presented on the mercy seat in heaven and He received the kingdom from the Father.
Mark 16:19 tells us, “So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God”. Do you see how this is all the same language? It is talking about the end of the Old Covenant system, and the beginning of the New. We have to prepare for kingdom dominion.
Let’s go on. “And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other” (Matt 24:31).
The Greek word ‘angellos’ means ‘messenger’, and the trumpet is symbolic of the proclamation of the gospel: ‘Behold, I send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ (Matt 11:10). ‘Gather’ is the word ‘synagogue’: it speaks of what church was to do, of being gathered as part of God’s people.
All this is easily misunderstood if you take statements in isolation and do not let the Word interpret itself correctly.
The people of God are revealed. We are now the true nation, city and temple. The same language continues to be used of us because we are the continuation of the people of God. Some say the church has replaced Israel; but actually the church is the continuation of Israel (the covenant people). We are the same. Jews and Gentiles are now one in Christ; but we do all have to come together in Christ.
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven” (Heb 12:22-23).
The same language is here being used of the New Covenant people as was being used of the Old Covenant people. That’s because it is the same people being described. Abraham himself was ‘looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God… But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them’ (Heb 11:10, 16). We have a city prepared for us, the New Jerusalem of which we are part. We are living stones being built into that city and into that temple.
‘But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy’ (1 Peter 2:9-10).