BE REAL WITH GOD
Lord, Your people await Your return.
Read MATTHEW 24:26–35
26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.
29 “Immediately after the distress of those days
“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’[a]
30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth[b] will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.[c] 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it[d] is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
a Matthew 24:29 Isaiah 13:10; 34:4
b Matthew 24:30 Or the tribes of the land
c Matthew 24:30 See Daniel 7:13-14.
d Matthew 24:33 Or he
New International Version (NIV)
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“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence” (Dan. 7:13).
Jesus continues to answer the disciples’ earlier question concerning his future coming (3). They are not to be duped by reports of him turning up here or there. Rather, he will come suddenly and sensationally, like lightning. People will flood to him like vultures to a corpse. It is common to interpret verse 29 literally. However, this is standard apocalyptic language for a horrible end-of-the-world situation. Historical interpretation is elusive.
What matters is that now the Son of Man comes gloriously and powerfully in the clouds. In Daniel 7:13 one like a son of man approaches God, but here the Son of Man again comes to earth. He sends his angels to gather his people from the entire world where the Gospel has been proclaimed (cf. 14).
Jesus then turns to an agricultural parable. Ancient Israelites knew that a fig tree’s large hand-shaped leaves open in early spring, signaling the soon arrival of summer. Similarly, the disciples will sense the imminent coming of Christ when “all these things” (33) take place. However, as Jesus warns, they will know neither the day nor the hour (36). Verse 34 includes the perplexing “this generation” (genea), another remark that eludes confident interpretation: is “this generation” his contemporary generation? Does genea mean “race”? If so, what race? Jews or Christians? What are “all these things” in verses 33 and 34?
To concern ourselves with such questions distracts us from what matters—even if heaven and earth are destroyed, God’s word is irrevocable; his promise will come to pass! Jesus is coming again! He has said so. This is our hope.
Meditate on Philippians 3:12–16 and Hebrews 12:1–3. How can you live out these exhortations: to fix our eyes on Jesus and follow him?
Lord, we thank You for the confidence we have at the thought of Your return to earth, that we will be filled with joy and not dread.