Matthew Chapter 24
As depicted in the illustration above the majority of professed believers have been taught to believe that the Lord will descend visibly from heaven on the clouds and with a great shout and sounding of a trumpet accompanied by myriads of his holy angels, every eye will see him. If this were so why would the disciples question how they would recognize him? It would seem evident that IF he came as so depicted, visibly that there would be no doubt in anyone’s mind, that even the non-believing world would be able to easily recognize his arrival, would they not?
But we have the express declaration of Christ himself that "If any man shall say to you, LOOK, here is Christ or LOOK there; believe it not." (Matt 24:23)
Why? Because false Christs and false prophets will arise, and they will be visible and will deceive many. If he were to appear to the natural eye, surely there would be no harm in believing it and instead of his warning us to not believe it, we should expect to be exhorted to believe it, and to give good heed to those who should announce, ‘Look, here is Christ.’
What sign would be needed of Christ’s presence if he were visible? Surely the natural man could ask for no better evidence of his presence than to look upon him.
At the first advent our Lord showed himself (that is he came in a fleshly body and was therefore visible to the natural eye), and was attested by signs--by his wonderful words and works (miracles), and by John the baptizer.
Their pointed question now was:
What sign should they expect to indicate his second presence?
Our Lord's answer assured them that his people would not be left without a suitable and sufficient sign; but of its character he said nothing, "Then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man." This sign will be sufficient for the faithful, watchful people of God, but is not intended for others. It was this class that saw and understood the signs or proofs of his first advent, while the masses of nominal Israel could not discern the SIGNS of their times, and God did not wish that others should discern them; hence many of the wonderful words of life were spoken in parables and dark sayings, that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand, being unworthy of the light then due to the faithful only.
And so it will be in respect to the sign or evidence of the Lord's second presence. It will not be manifested to all mankind: it can be recognized only by Israelite's indeed, and they must be honest--without guile.
The word sign (Verse 30) is in the Greek seemion and has the significance of proof or evidence as illustrated in the following cases:
"And many other signs truly did Jesus." John 20:30
"The Lord...granted signs and wonders to be done by their [Paul's and Barnabas'] hands." Acts 14:3
"Tongues are for a sign...to them that believe not." 1 Cor. 14:22
"Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs," etc. 2 Cor. 12:12
Hence, "Ye shall see the sign of the Son of Man," does not signify that the Lord's disciples then living will see him (visibly), but that they will have an indication or evidence (a sign) of his presence at that time. The signs of our Lord's second presence will be found to be in full harmony with, and corroborated by, the testimony of the prophets (prophecy), as was the case at the first advent. Luke 24:44-46 (D597-598 edited)
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