“In considering the signs of Christ's presence it is imperative that we are cognizant of three scriptural points.
1) If as properly understood, the Greek word parousia means presence and NOT coming, then the signs that many accept as evidence of Christ's imminent coming in actually prove that he is ALREADY PRESENT.
2) Luke 17:26, 27, Matt 24:37, 38, and many other scriptures reveal that Christ is present BEFORE the tribulation period.
“And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:26, 27)
The point of comparison here is not between the arrival of Noah and the arrival of our Lord. It is not even between the coming of the flood and the coming of our Lord. The comparison is between the days of Noah BEFORE the flood and the days of the presence of our Lord BEFORE the tribulation with which this Gospel Age ends.
In both periods, the people were in complete ignorance of the coming trouble. The days of the Son of man are the days of his parousia or presence—invisible and unknown to the world. Therefore, we should expect to see signs of Christ's presence before the tribulation.
3) These signs are to be recognized only by the Lord’s faithful (those awake and watching) as a proof of his presence. This precludes the instantaneous gathering of the living church at Christ's return as our rapture friends suppose. The dead in Christ are raised "first" when Christ returns, but the "living in Christ" remain on earth for a period of time after his return to witness the signs of his thief-like presence. The Scriptural teaching of the living saints being "caught up together" with the returned Lord was discussed under our thread, “Stumbling in the Day of Visitation, Part 3”.
There are many proofs of Christ's presence, the following are but a few.
“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." (Matt 24:32) It is generally accepted by students of prophecy that the fig tree is symbolic of the nation of Israel (Jer. 24). In Matt 21:19, Jesus cursed the fig tree because he found no fruit on it and it withered away. Shortly thereafter, he proclaimed judgment on the nation of Israel, "See! Your house is left to you desolate" (Matt 23:38), because they had not borne fruitage to God. Israel was subsequently scattered and persecuted. Historians agree Israel's rebirth is a miracle of history. Never before has a nation been destroyed, its people dispersed to the ends of the earth and then nearly 2,000 years later, regathered to their homeland and re-established as a nation. The fig tree coming back to life, putting forth leaves, represents Israel coming to life as a nation and receiving God's favor increasingly.
Matt 24:32, Mark 13:28 and Luke 21:29 all say when "the fig tree puts forth leaves ye know that summer is nigh." Matthew and Mark follow this by saying, "so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things know ye that it is near, even at the doors."
Some claim that the word "it" in Matt 24:33 and Mark 13:29 should be translated "he" and feel the verse means that when Israel (the fig tree) brings forth leaves, then not "it," but "he" (Christ) is near at hand. This plainly is not correct. The "it" refers back to the "summer" in the previous verse.
When the fig tree shoots forth, then "summer is nigh." Summer is the kingdom time of favor on earth that follows the destruction of the present social order by Christ. Christ is already here when the fig tree returns to life. His presence brings about the restoration of Israel and the destruction of our present evil world to make room for his kingdom that will rule from the rivers to the ends of the earth.
Can we be certain that the "it" refers to the kingdom and not to Christ?
It is wonderful how the Bible is its own interpreter. Again, the Bible interprets a key word by means of a parallel account.
In the Luke 21:29-31 account, Verse 31 replaces the word "it" of Matthew and Mark with the phrase "kingdom of God." Compare Luke 21:29-31 with Matt 24:32, 33 and Mark 13:28, 29.
“Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.” (Luke 21: 29- 31) See our study on Matthew 24, Part 68 for more on this issue.
Many Christians will agree that the fig tree, Israel restored, is the greatest sign of our Lord's prophecy. Actually, Israel's reappearance is a proof that Christ is present.
Jerusalem No Longer Trodden Down
“… And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:24)
Jerusalem, in this passage, has been generally interpreted two ways.
One: "Jerusalem" is the literal city. Therefore, the maximum extension of fulfillment would be 1967 when the old city, Biblical Jerusalem, was captured and became a part of the modern Israeli State.
The other interpretation is that "Jerusalem" is symbolic of the Jewish people, and that the incipient fulfillment began when in 1914 World War I resulted in the guarantee of a national homeland for the Jews.
Jerusalem, ceasing to be trodden down of the Gentiles, was given by Jesus as a sign of his parousia. Parousia means presence, NOT coming. Therefore, whichever application we place on "Jerusalem," Christ must now be present because Jerusalem is no longer trodden down by the Gentiles.
Other New Nations
"Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; when they now shoot forth…" Luke 21:29, 30
If the "fig tree" is symbolic of the new nation of Israel, then it is logical to conclude that all the other trees shooting forth picture the birth of other new nations. Israel and all the new nations are signs of Christ's presence. Since 1948, over 80 new nations have joined the United Nations. The birth of so many new nations is further proof that Christ has returned. (Excerpts were taken from the booklet, “I Will Come Again” Edited)
Continued with next post.
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