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COMING ON THE CLOUDS

We have seen that Christ's discourse on the Mount of Olives, recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, deals with "the end" — not of the world, but of Jerusalem and the Temple; it has exclusive reference to the "last days" of the Old Covenant era. Jesus clearly spoke of His own contemporaries when He said that "this generation" would see "all these things." The "Great Tribulation" took place during the terrible time of suffering, warfare, famine, and mass murder leading up to the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. What appears to pose a problem for this interpretation, however, is what Jesus says next:

But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken, and then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and all of the tribes of the land will mourn, and they will ^ see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 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 heaven to another (Matt. 24:29-31).

Jesus seems to be saying that the Second Coming will occur immediately after the Tribulation. Did the Second Coming occur in A.D. 70? Have we missed it? First, let us be clear about one thing at the outset: there is just no getting around that word immediately. It means immediately. Acknowledging that the tribulation took place during the then-living generation, we must also face the clear teaching of Scripture that whatever Jesus is talking about in these verses happened immediately afterward. In other words, these verses describe what is to take place at the end of the Tribulation - what forms its climax.

In order to understand the meaning of Jesus' expressions in this passage, we need to understand the Old Testament much more than most people do today. Jesus was speaking to an audience that was intimately familiar with the most obscure details of Old Testament literature. They had heard the Old Testament read and expounded countless times throughout their lives, and had memorized lengthy passages. Biblical imagery and forms of expression had formed their culture, environment, and vocabulary from earliest infancy, and this had been true for generations. The difference between their outlook and ours can be illustrated by the fact that while much of the present book's discussion of the Paradise theme was probably very new to you, it would have been old hat for the disciples.

The fact is that when Jesus spoke to His disciples about the fall of Jerusalem, He used prophetic vocabulary. There was a "language" of prophecy, instantly recognizable to those familiar with the Old Testament (some of which we have covered already in our study of the Garden). As Jesus foretold the complete end of the Old Covenant system - which was, in a sense, the end of a whole world - He spoke of it as any of the prophets would have, in the stirring language of covenantal judgment. We will consider each element in the prophecy, seeing how its previous use in the Old Testament prophets determined its meaning in the context of Jesus' discourse on the fall of Jerusalem. Remember that our ultimate standard of truth is the Bible, and the Bible alone.

How To Survive The End Of The World

How To Survive The End Of The World

Preparing for Armageddon, Natural Disasters, Nuclear Strikes, the Zombie Apocalypse, and Every Other Threat to Human Life on Earth. Most of us have thought about how we would handle various types of scenarios that could signal the end of the world. There are plenty of movies on the subject, psychological papers, and even survivalists that are part of reality TV shows. Perhaps you have had dreams about being one of the few left and what you would do in order to survive.

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