Matthew 24:27–35 (NKJV, also appearing in Mark 13:24-31; Luke 21:25-33)
27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels 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.Matthew 24:27-31
Jesus continues His discussion of the end times by describing the sudden and uncertain nature of the coming of the Messiah. It is important to understand that Eastern writing (including the writing of the New Testament) does not necessarily follow a linear order like Western writing (which includes the Americas and Europe). Chronology is not imposed on the writing of the gospels or letters. Instead, it is a stream of consciousness that can speak of tomorrow first, and then pick up yesterday later with no confusion for the writer. However, we Western readers are often confused or misled because B does not necessarily follow A, and F can come before C.
When we read the passages from yesterday’s blog and today’s blog, it would be possible to intepret them as suggesting a mid-tribulation rapture, which I do not embrace. We remember from the previous passages that there is a tribulation of the church that occures prior to the parousia, or coming of the Lord in the rapture of the church. There is also a tribulation of the world that occurs after the rapture and before the coming of the Lord to do battle with the armies of the world at Armageddon. This Eastern writing in Matthew does not distinguish between the two well. However, the message is still there. Jesus will come like a thief in the night to take the church to heaven and save them from the tribulation of the church, and He will come again in glory to end the tribulation of the world and win the ultimate victory over the powers of Satan. There will be a cataclysmic order of events, and He will come!
32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.Matthew 24:32-35
This passage has been used many times in an attempt to pin down the time of the rapture. The budding of the fig tree is often connected to the reestablishment of the nation of Israel. That happened in 1948. A generation, defined as forty years by some, would have expired in 1988. There was a grassroots movement proposing that Jesus would rapture the church in that year, but obviously, the rapture has still not occurred at the time of this writing (2019). The next passage–discussed in tomorrow’s blog–says that no one knows the day or the hour of Jesus’ return, so such specualtion is useless. It is more likely that the event identified in this passage is the destruction of Jerusalem and the desecration of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes. However, the future application is that the coming of Jesus to rapture the church is of uncertain timing, but is imminent. Therefore, it is imperative to be ready. We cannot pinpoint the date, but we can be ready. Be ready, because His words are true and will not pass away.
Artwork from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ncy99IW8MI