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[Mat 24:30 KJV] 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Is this "sign" not the arrival of the son of man at the throne of God?:

[Dan 7:13 KJV] 13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, [one] like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

Perhaps we are being careless when we don't distinguish his "coming" from his "return"? I'm reminded of this parable:

[Luk 19:11-14 KJV] 11 And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. 12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman [IE: "the son of man"] went into a far country [IE: "heaven"] to receive for himself a kingdom [IE: his "coming" to the throne to receive all authority from God], and [THEN] to return. 13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. 14 But his citizens [the Jews] hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this [man] to reign over us.

What makes this confusing is that later in the passage he uses the word "coming" to refer to his return:

[Luk 19:15, 23 KJV] 15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. ... 23 Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming [ἐλθὼν] I might have required mine own with usury?

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The Verbs אֲתָה and מְטָא

In Daniel 7:13, many English translations have a conjugation of the English verb “to come” twice. For example, the King James Version translates it as,

13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. KJV, ©1769

The Aramaic text of Daniel actually has two different verbs: אָתֵה, a conjugation of אֲתָה, and מְטָה, a conjugation of מְטָא. Theodotion’s Greek translation has ἐρχόμενος, a conjugation of ἔρχομαι, for the former, and ἔφθασεν, a conjugation of φθάνω, for the latter.

The Aramaic verb אֲתָה, like the Greek verb ἔρχομαι, is the most common verb equivalent to the English verb “to come.” When used in the sense of subject (A) coming to object of preposition (B), the syntax is typically a conjugation of the verb אֲתָה, followed by the preposition עַל (sometimes with pronominal suffix attached), followed by the subject. For example, Ezra 5:3: אֲתָא עֲלֵיהוֹן תַּתְּנַי—“Tatnai came to them.” As expected, the LXX has a conjugation of ἔρχομαι: «ἦλθεν ἐπ᾽ αὐτοὺς Θανθανα».

The verb מְטָא can be understood in the sense of “to come,” but it seems to primarily be used (at least in Daniel) in the sense of “to reach.” For example, Daniel 4:11,

11 The tree grew and became strong; Its height reached to the heavens, And it could be seen to the ends of all the earth. NKJV, ©1982

Combined with the preposition עַד (Daniel 7:13 being the sole occurrence of this combination), it seems to mean “reached unto.” Perhaps, then, Daniel is prophesying how the one like the Son of Man “passed through the heavens”1 during his ascension and ultimately “reached unto the Ancient of Days” whom is in the highest heaven. Since the Ancient of Days is in heaven, and the one like a Son of Man is brought to the Ancient of Days, then the coming upon (or with) the clouds of heaven is not to earth but to heaven.

The Clouds of Heaven

I for one have always assumed that the “clouds of heaven” were simply the clouds of the sky, “heaven” being often used in reference to the sky itself.2 While there doesn’t appear to be another usage of the Hebrew עָנָן or Aramaic עֲנָן in the Bible, the Greek word νέφος, a synonym of the word νεφέλη used in the LXX of Daniel 7:13 (as well as the Greek NT of Matt. 26:64),3 is often figuratively or metaphorically used in the sense “of a compact, numberless throng.”4 Hence, when the Lord Jesus Christ comes “with” or “upon the clouds of heaven,” the “clouds” could be a multitude of people or angels.

The Kingdom

When the one like a Son of Man is brought to the Ancient of Days, then he is given his kingdom. Therefore, it seems that the Lord Jesus Christ received his kingdom when he ascended to God the Father in heaven.

John Flavel wrote,5

This Vision of Daniel’s was accomplished in Christ’s Ascension, when they, i.e. the Angels, brought him to the Ancient of Days, i.e. to God the Father, who to express his Welcome to Christ, gave him Glory, and a Kingdom. And so it is and ought to be expounded.


Footnotes

1 Heb. 4:14
2 cf. Gen. 1:20
3 cf. Mark 14:62
4 BDAG, p. 670, νέφος; cf. LSJ, p. 1171, νέφος, II. “metaph., also, a cloud of men.”
5 Flavel, p. 208

References

Flavel, John. The Whole Works of the Reverend Mr. John Flavel. Vol. 1. London: Midwinter, 1740.

  • Very interesting stuff, especially about the "clouds". Food for thought. +1 – Ruminator Dec 23 '18 at 2:37
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The material in Matt 24 must be seen in its overall context of Jesus final sermon often called the Synoptic apocalypse which can be summarised as follows:

Sign #1: False Christs and False prophets, Matt 24:5, 23-28 & Luke 21:28) Note that these false christs claim to be the “I AM” (Mark 13:6, Luke 21:8). The deception is also discussed in 2 Thess 2:9-12, specifically about those who refuse to receive the love of the truth. See also Rev 13:13, 14, and 2 Peter 2.

Sign #2: Wars and Rumours of Wars, Matt 24:3-8 Note the parallel with “wars” (Rev 6:3, 4) and “famine” (Rev 6:5, 6).

Sign #3: Persecution of the Saints, Luke 21:12-19, Matt 24:9-13 Note the parallel with “death” etc, (Rev 6:9-11)

Sign #4: Worldwide Gospel preaching, Matt 24:14 Note Jesus’ parallel instruction in Matt 28:19, 20, Acts 1:8, Matt 4:19, Mark 1:17.

Sign #5: Abomination of Desolation, Matt 24:15-22 This is an allusion to the prophecies of Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11, and 2 Thess 2:3-8. The “distress” is parallel to 2 Tim 3:1-5.

Sign #6: Times of the Gentiles, Luke 21:28 This is an allusion to the 1260 days (Dan 7:25, 12:7, Rev 11:2, 3, 12:6, 14, 13:5)

Sign #7: Sun, Moon and Stars, Matt 24:29-31 See also Rev 6:12-14, Isa 13:10, 34:4, Joel 2:31, and 1 Thess 4:16, 17.

Warning Parable #1: Fig Tree, Matt 24:32-35

Warning Parable #2: Noah & Flood, Matt 24:36-41

Warning Parable #3: Thief, Matt 24:42-44

Warning Parable #4: Servant, Matt 24:45-51

Warning Parable #5: Ten Virgins, Matt 25:1-13

Warning Parable #6: Talents, Matt 25:14-30

Warning Parable #7: Sheep and Goats, Matt 25:31-46.
Note the parallel of “eternal punishment” with 2 Thess 1:8-10 and Jude 7, 8.

Thus, I would place Matt 24:30 as part of the sign of Jesus' return. Now, while Jesus' sermon ("Synoptic apocalypse") is primarily about the events before the destruction of the temple, it is clearly also about the end of the world (as per Matt 24:3b, "what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?") Jesus used historical analogies like this Himself when He said, "as it was in the days of Noah..." (Matt 24:37), see also Luke 17:32, "remember lot's wife".

Thus, it appears that Jesus is using the coming distress before the destruction of Jerusalem to teach about distress at the end of the age before His second advent.

  • Thanks for posting all of that. I hope you'll consider that the destruction of Jerusalem is the end of the age because it ended the temple and thus destroyed Israel's covenants with God. – Ruminator Dec 22 '18 at 12:01
  • That is true but not relevant here because they are not germane. The end of the age here is not the destruction of the covenant (which continued with the Christian community acc to Gal) but the resurrection and gathering of the saints as shown above. – user25930 Dec 22 '18 at 13:05
  • Actually in Galatians Paul argues that the then current covenant that Israel had with God was the Torah and that it was bondage and was replaced by the new covenant. [Gal 4:24-26 KJV] 24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. – Ruminator Dec 22 '18 at 13:08
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The context and X-refs help with the time period here:-

NWT Matthew 24:29-31 "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.

Time frame is After the "Great Tribulation" of vss. 21-22 which is Jesus carrying out the removal of the wicked as his work of cleaning up the earth is in progress from his heavenly vantage point, see vs. 31.

X-ref:-

The above is also quote from Joel

NWT Joel 2:31 "The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood Before the coming of the great and awe-inspiring day of Jehovah.

This speaks of some kind of heavenly sign that is seen by people on earth that shows Jesus is at work, also in vs 30:-

This is shown just before "Armageddon" ("awe-inspiring day of Jehovah") starts as in the following verse:-

NWT 30 Then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

In the above "the tribes of the earth beat themselves in grief" once more showing that the people on earth are in great fear as they understand they are about to be adversely judged by Jesus, this is "Armageddon"!

The above " Then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven" will be seen by people on earth so they understand that the events taking place around them are Jesus rendering judgment from heavenly place at "God's right hand" .

NWT 31 And he will send out his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity."

In the above verse Jesus collects the remnant of the "chosen ones" (The Elect) to join him in heaven so they can take part in the last Battle along with Him and the millions of angels as the war against the wicked on earth and remove them all to create a "new earth" now as good as new:-

NWT Psalm 110:1 "Jehovah declared to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand Until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.”"

To answer your question; Jesus will have no need to come back to this earth as he can do all he needs to do from heaven place at God's right hand, as he said at John 14:19 "...the world will see me no more, . . ."!

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You asked: "Isn't this "sign" not the arrival of the son of man at the throne of God?:"

  1. He is already on the throne, at the right hand of God, as Stephen saw Him:

    But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
    -- Acts 7:55-56 (KJV)

  2. Regarding His return, Isaiah says:

    And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again THE SECOND TIME to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
    -- Isaiah 11:11 (KJV)

    and Zechariah says:

    And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for the One, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn
    -- Zechariah 12:10 (KJV)

    4And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
    5And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.
    -- Zechariah 14:4-5 (KJV)

Conclusion

He is already at the right hand of the Father... in heaven. But He returns to Earth to resurrect the dead, gather His saints, and to stand atop of the Mt. of Olives to deliver Jerusalem from the nations that are coming to destroy her.

The verses you mentioned (Luke 19:15,23) are referring to souls that are led to Him at His coming. He gave us salvation, we need to take that and gain others before His return.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Caleb Dec 23 '18 at 5:30

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