Matthew 24:30 (The Sign of the Son of Man)

In response to His disciples’ request for a sign of His coming and the end of the age which they associated with the destruction of the temple He had just foretold, Jesus has warned of tribulation to His followers for seeking a heavenly kingdom rather than the worldly kingdoms promised by false Christs (Mat 24:4-14).  He also warned of an even greater tribulation to those who are drawn to the artificial light of false Christs and false prophets seeking a worldly salvation apart from the salvation from sin that He as the true Messiah came to provide and that alone is able to give lasting peace and joy (Mat 24:15-28).  He has now stated that immediately following the tribulation of those days would be a time of darkness as the powers of the heavens would be shaken and those luminaries that were meant to reflect His splendor and separate light from darkness would cease to shine with the light of life (Mat 24:29).  What does Jesus say would happen then?  See Mat 24:30.  Note that the NAS sky can also be translated as heaven (see KJV); what is the significance that Jesus says the sign of the Son of Man will then during this time of darkness appear in the sky or heaven where He has just said the existing luminaries would be darkened and their powers would be shaken?  Why is it that only after all other lights have been extinguished that men can see the light of the Lord?  Cf. Isa 26:9-10.  What is the significance that when Jesus says this sign will appear in the sky, the word used is the same as that used in Phil 2:15 where the righteous children of God are said to shine like stars in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, and in Mat 24:27 where He has just said His coming will be like lightning that flashes from east to west; cf. Isa 60:1-2, 2Pe 1:19, 1Jo 2:8, Rev 1:16 and 2Th 2:8 KJV.

Recall that the disciples had asked for a sign of Jesus’ coming; what should we understand to be the sign of the Son of Man that He says will appear (or shine, or be seen) in the sky (or heaven)?  What sign appeared in the sky at His first coming?  See Mat 2:2-10; cf. Num 24:17, Rev 22:16.  As the Jews at Christ’s first coming did not seem to understand the significance of the star and perhaps didn’t even see or notice it as the Magi did, should we suppose it will necessarily be any different at Christ’s second coming?  Is it possible that such a sign will only be seen and understood by those who like the Magi are observant of heavenly things?  Cf. Joh 12:28-29.  Considering also the symbolic nature of the prophetic language Jesus has used throughout this passage, while allowing that such a sign certainly may have a physical manifestation as it did at His first coming, should we necessarily suppose that the sign of which He speaks is primarily physical in nature, or is it possible that the brightness of His shining is more spiritual in nature and even if some physical light is observed, it will only be understood by those who have spiritual eyes to see?  Cf. Mat 12:38-39, 16:1-4.  In this regard, is it significant that neither Mark nor Luke mention the sign of the Son of Man appearing in the sky, but both simply state that “they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory” (Mar 13:25-26, Luk 21:26-27), as if the sign of the Son of Man that will be seen in the sky is Jesus coming in the clouds with power and great glory?

What prophecy from the Old Testament was Jesus referring to when He says that then “they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky”?  See Dan 7:13.  Although this sign speaks of a real manifestation of Christ’s power and glory in the world, how does the context of Dan 7:1-14 also indicate that this sign is primarily symbolic in nature, referring to a greater spiritual reality behind the physical?  See also Mat 26:64 and think: was it in a physical sense that those who condemned Jesus to death would see Him “sitting at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven”?  In what sense did they see Him coming on the clouds of heaven, even as He was also sitting at the right hand of Power?  See Mat 24:35; cf. Deut 32:1-2, Job 36:27-37:13, Isa 55:10-11.  In what sense did the tribes of Israel mourn as they saw the truth of Christ’s words come upon them like a storm—just like in the days of Noah—and Jerusalem, the temple, and their whole nation was destroyed?  How was their mourning different from those upon whom God’s grace had been poured out to believe the truth of Christ’s words?  Cf. Zec 12:10, Luk 23:27,48.  Shall we suppose that the mourning of all the tribes of the earth will be any different in regard to these two senses?  In what way has this been true throughout history?  Cf. Rev 1:7.

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