Nazarene Apocalypse ©2000

THE SECOND SIGN

#69. We saw how Jesus used a “sign” (Lamsa) to indicate to his First Century disciples when the desolation of Jerusalem was near, that is, within three and a half years of the “sign.” Now, Jesus gives a second “sign” (semeion) to indicate the imminent deliverance of those disciples alive when the King returns. All three Gospels report this “sign” to follow after the three and a half years of Great Oppression. Read carefully Matthew 24:29-30, Mark 13:24-26, and Luke 21:25-27. Take your time and meditate on what you read.193
193 READ. The composite translation of these verses from the Synoptics is found on pages 8-37.

#70. Now, if you were to write out a sequence of events from this portion of Jesus’ answer, what would you put down on paper?

  • Celestial phenomenon or global darkness. (Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24; Luke 21:25)
  • International anguish and fear as a reaction to this darkening. (Luke 21:25)
  • The “sign of the Son of Man” appearing in the Sky or heaven. (Matthew 24:30)
  • International lamentation. (Matthew 24:30)
  • The global appearance of the Son of Man coming on clouds. (Matthew 24:30; Mark 13:26)

#71. It is likely this apocalyptic scenario is drawn from Jesus’ own knowledge of the Jewish prophets. For example, a general paraphrase corresponding to the Nazarene’s own words could be taken from Isaiah and Daniel: ‘For in the sky the stars194 and Orion will shed their light no longer, the sun will be dark when it rises,195 and the moon will no longer gives its light.196... I am going to shake the heavens. ... (Messiah) will give a sign to the nations.197... Michael will appear.198... The Son of Man will come on the clouds of heaven.’199 ... And (Messiah) shall gather the lost ones of Israel from the four corners of the earth.’200 (See the footnotes for the source of these individual phrases.)
194 STARS. For those still awake when the stars would normally appear. The “midnight” of Jesus’ warning at Mark 13:35.
195 SUN RISE. The period between night and day when early risers who missed the bedarkned night might first notice something is amiss. The “cock-crowing or early in the morning” of Jesus’ warning at Mark 13:35.
196 LIGHT. The phrase is from Isaiah 13:10-13. If the sun is darkened, then the moon’s light is greatly diminished.
197 SIGN. (LXX) Greek, semeion as used by the disciples in Matthew 24:3. This phrase is from Isaiah 11:12.
198 APPEAR. This phrase is from Daniel 12:1 in the JPS.
199 CLOUDS. From Daniel 7:13.
200 GATHER. This gathering from the four corners of the earth is from Isaiah 11:12. The Greek in the LXX for the word “gather” is synaxei and related to epi-synaxousin of Matthew 24:31 and epi-synagoges at 2 Thessalonians 2:1. (Compare Revelation 7:1-4)

#72. You may have wondered why we use Daniel 7:13 in the context of the second Coming, that is, not the first ascent but the second descent of Christ? It is because of the angel’s promise to the disciples at Acts 1:9-11 when Jesus was ascending on clouds in fulfillment of Daniel 7:13. This angel assured the Apostles that ‘this same Jesus will come in the same manner you viewed him going into heaven.’ Thus, Jesus is to return in the same atmospheric “clouds” in which he left. Jesus often used a compound paraphrase of Daniel 7:13 and Psalm 110:1.201 The Nazarene did use language like Daniel 7:13 with reference to his descension in his Second Parousia.202
201 SON OF MAN SITTING AT RIGHT HAND. Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62; Luke 22:69.
202 SECOND COMING. Luke 18:8; 21:27. (Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17)

#73. With regard to the angel’s promise in Acts 1:9-11 is it reasonable to think that the disciples would have believed this meant Christ was to return invisibly? How could they get that out of what the angel said? How could they understand anything else but that this “same Jesus” (now a immortal life-giving spirit according to 1 Corinthians 15:45-50 and 1 Peter 3:18) would return, that is reversing the order or manner, just as they had seen him ascend? (Acts 3:20, 21) Any argument presented that Jesus could not return visibly because he had sacrificed his fleshly body is misleading as an argument that the Son of Man cannot appear again. The Risen Christ, an immortal spirit, was seen203 by two unbelievers (1 Corinthians 15:7, 8) and he himself makes it clear the earthly globe will “see” (opsontai)204 with the literal eye when he returns. (Matthew 24:30)
203 SEEN. Note Acts 10:40, 41. where Peter says, ‘God raised (Jesus) on the third day and granted him to become visible to witnesses appointed by God.’ Paul states he had seen Christ (1 Corinthians 9.1) and related this experience three different times. These disciples saw “a life-giving spirit” who had attained “immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15.42-50) Therefore, this “same Jesus” seen ascending was not that sacrificed body left dead on the tree but the risen One.
204 OPSONTAI. This is the Greek for “see” and is the same used at Matthew 28.7, 10 where the disciples “see” the Risen Christ who had already sacrificed his body as a ransom for mankind. (Compare also John 20.25, 27, 29; 21.1; Ac 10.40)

#74. Later, when we consider the apocalyptic visions of The Revelation, we will get more details regarding this period of grief, fear, and lamentation among the “tribes of the earth” at the appearance of this “sign205 of the Son of Man.” There are many details in the Bible’s last book which describe these “days of (revealing) the Son of Man.” (Luke 17:22, 30)
205 SIGN. It is Jesus, borrowing from Isaiah, who predicts a “sign” or “signs” at this moment preceding his Return. (Matthew 24:30; Luke 21:25) It is highly possible that “signs” are those events predicted in Re chs 8, 9.

THE GATHERING

#75. What is to follow the Great Oppression, the bedarkened skies and the glorious appearance of the Son of Man? Read Matthew 24:31 and Mark 13:27 and draw comfort from Jesus’ words. Does it not say that ‘the Son of Man will send forth his angels and gather the Chosen Ones from all four directions of the compass’? Is this not the same moment mentioned in Daniel 7:21, 22: ‘This was the Horn I had watched making war on the Holy Ones and proving stronger (for three and a half years), until the Coming (or, Arrival) of the One Most Venerable, who gave judgment in favour of the Holy Ones of the Most High, when the time came for the Holy Ones to assume kingship’?206 (JPS)
206 ASSUME KINGSHIP. See Matthew 5:3, 10; Luke 22:29, 30; 1 Corinthians 15:50.

#76. Luke uses different language which explains this angelic gathering of the Chosen. Luke 21:28 says, ‘But, as these things (celestial darkness and visible appearance of the King) start occurring, stand and look up because your deliverance is drawing near.’ Yes, this angelic gathering means “deliverance,” evidently the same as described at Daniel 12:1, for it is the living Jesus is talking about. (KJV: delivered; also, LXX) What exactly will take place then?

#77. Jesus himself had spoken of a time when the believing dead would be raised to life and the living believers would never die. (John 11:25, 26) Could this time of “gathering” be that moment? Paul answers our question when he evidently alludes to these very words of our Lord in John 11:25, 26. We find Paul’s explanation of what will happen at First Thessalonians, chapter 4, verses 15 to 17: ‘We can tell you this from the Lord’s own teaching (John 11:25, 26) that we207 who are still alive for the Lord’s Coming will not have any advantage over those who have fallen asleep. At the signal given by the voice of the Archangel and the Trumpet of God, the Lord himself208 will come down from heaven; those who have died in Christ will be the first to rise and only after that shall we who remain alive be taken up in the clouds, together with them, to meet the Lord in the air.” (NJB)
207 WE. The “chosen ones” of Matthew 24:31 and the “saints” of Daniel 7:22.
208 THE LORD HIMSELF. The “same Jesus” of Ac 1:9-11.

#78. Therefore, this angelic “gathering” (2 Thessalonians 2:1) will likely include first the resurrection of all the Christian dead (1 Corinthians 15:23). Then, as the faithful dead wait for their loyal brethren, the living Saints of Daniel 7:22 and the “chosen ones” of Matthew 24:21, 22, 31 will be “caught away,” or “snatched quickly,” off this planet. The Greek word usually translated “caught away” is harpagesometha here in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Jerome, in the Fourth Century, translated this Greek word into Latin and used a word209 rooted in rapere from which the English gets rape, rapacious, or rapture. Thus, this being “caught away” could be called the Rapture. According to Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:52 this “change” will occur in the thinnest slice of time,210 or an atomic moment, in the blink of an eye.
209 JEROME’S WORD.
210 TIME. Paul’s word in 1 Corinthians 15:52 is atomos from which “atom” is derived. It originally meant the thinnest slice of bread and then was expanded to mean something that could not be cut any thinner as respects time. Paul’s parallel to the “blink of an eye” would note the speed of this “changing.” The human eye is now known to blink between 1/250 and 1/500 of a second.

#79. This is all consistent with the timing of matters as Paul has it in 1 Corinthians 15:22, 23: ‘For as in Adam all are dying, so also in the Christ all will be made alive. But, each one in their own order: Christ, a firstfruits; thereafter, those of Christ in his Presence211 (or, at his Arrival).’ Paul has the first person truly resurrected to be Jesus Christ the Nazarene and that was in the year 33 AD. No one else goes to heaven in a resurrection until the Return or Arrival and then it will be only those Christians212 who professed belief in him.
211 PRESENCE. KJV: coming. The Greek is en te parousia and would literally read “in his Presence.” Compare 1 Thessalonians 3:13 en te parousia which is “at his coming” in KJV; and, 1 John 2:28, en te parousia. This later verse reads, ‘And now, little children, remain in (the Son) so that when he Appears we might speak freely and not put to shame in his Presence.’ This clearly ties in the “appearing” with the parousia. (Daniel 12:1, JPS; Matthew 24:30, 39)
212 CHRISTIANS ONLY. The “many” (not, “all”) of Daniel 12:1. This is called the parousia-Judgment on the Household of Faith and will be discussed in detail later.

#80. So, Jesus’ description of the sequence of events and the final gathering of the Chosen Ones is thrilling indeed. But, what about “the end of the world”? Does Jesus go on to describe the horrors of the world’s end? Many think he should, but he does not.

Nazarene Commentary 2000

Mark Heber Miller

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