Matthew Chapter 24
VERSE 25-27 continued, “Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (AV)
“The thought here, in the Greek is “For as the sun-light rises out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall also the presence of the Son of man be.”
The reference is not to the orb of the sun but to sun-light. The sun arises in the east and makes its transit west. If the actual physical body of the sun were being referred to, there would be a contradiction with the advice given, for we are being told not to expect something we can point a finger to and say, “There it is!”
Jesus will NOT appear in the “desert” or in the sky (a geographic place or location) or in a “secret chamber” (a room or séance). Thus Verse 27 refers to the bright shining, not to the sun itself. As the sun arises in the east and diffuses its light over the whole horizon unto the west (half of the globe is always in sunlight), so shall the presence of Jesus be.
The Diaglott refers to the secret chambers as the “retired places”, which seems a most appropriate designation, seeming to acquaint it with the abode of the dead.
Those properly acquainted with present truth (the Harvest message) understand why Jesus will not appear VISIBLY in either a physical sense (“in the desert”) or a mystical sense (“in the secret chambers”). Our risen Lord is no longer the man Christ Jesus but a glorious spirit being on the divine plane.
We have been alerted NOT TO EXPECT A VISUAL MANIFESTATION OF CHRIST at his Second Coming.
Since we have been so instructed, what is Jesus telling us?
It will SEEM as if he is visibly appearing. Jesus is forewarning us not to be deceived, for he will NOT appear visibly nor in a geographic location or elsewhere. The suggestion is that startling deceptions will occur in the future—so startling that unless we are thoroughly instructed otherwise (that is, regarding the true manner of the Second Advent of Jesus), we will be at least partially deceived temporarily. The deception will be so magnificent to see that all except the Very Elect will be deceived.
It is also suggested that this deception will be accompanied by miracles. Hence not only will there be a visual appearance but miraculous, supernatural, occult powers will accompany it—as if the appearance is coming from another planet. When something is “supernatural,” normal logic cannot explain it away.
What is the distinction between a “sign” and a “wonder”?
A “sign” is something spectacular and more visual—a visual display. A wonder refers to the miracle-working power accompanying the visual demonstration. Thus the deception will have a double force.
In Verses 25–27 Jesus is saying, “Lo, I have told you before that I will not appear in the desert or in the secret chambers.” Hence there is the possibility of a purported occurrence of the Messiah’s making his appearance as coming in the desert. (In the past many came from the desert such as John the Baptist, Moses, Elijah, and Jesus.) We are not told specifically that the visual display of Jesus’ supposed coming will cover heaven or be seen in the desert.
Instead the account gives a double warning—that whatever arises and alleges to be the Messiah, the Christ, whether it appears in the “desert” or is visible in the heavens (the sky), BELIEVE IT NOT, FOR IT IS A DECEPTION!
It is impossible for us on this side of the veil to see Christ here or there; that is, it is impossible for him to be visibly seen or identified with a geographic location or place. Jesus communicates with his people through the Word of God. God told Moses, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, AND LIVE” (Exod 33:20), and Jesus is now the express image of the Father. If Jesus came in his power and glory, the appearance would be too overpowering for man to receive. The people would most likely similar to the Apostle Paul when he caught but a mere glimmer of the Lord’s divine presence be knocked down, blinded and destroyed, for his Father in heaven he now lives in unapproachable light a light so brilliant, so pure that no man, no imperfection can dwell in its presence. (1 Tim 6:16)
If in Daniel 10:7–12 just the appearance of an angel caused the prophet to lose strength and fall down, what would be the effect of the appearance of a spirit being with the divine nature? The appearance would be so much more glorious than even an angelic spirit being that a human being could not stand it.
The point is that Matthew 24 is hinting of a visual deception in the future accompanied by miracle-working power—a deception so powerful that all will be deceived except the Very Elect. This means that, at least temporarily, even the Great Company will be deceived. Only the Very Elect will be grounded well enough not to be deceived.” (The Gospel of Matthew)
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