My understanding is when Jesus comes again, it is for the final judgement. In Revelations, it speaks of a "1000 year reign" and Satan will be bound for "1000 years". Since Revelations was written symbolically, we must understand what the 1000 years really means.What does the number 1,000 mean in Revelation? 1,000 is 10x10x10. 10 is the number of completeness. After you count from 1 to 10 you start over. 10x10=100. 100x10=1,000. 1,000 is the number of completeness 3 times over so the message here is satan's binding is complete and so is Jesus reign. So, We must realize that the number 1000 is a symbolic number that didn't mean a literal 1000 years. This is My opinion and I do not expect people who believe in a literal 1000 reign to be convinced. I never could get the whole Rapture doctrine but that's just Me I guess.
(Again I apologize for the length of this post, but I don't want to short change the subject)
In my previous post I focused on what "this generation" refers to, and deliberately ignored references to the Rapture, as found in Matthew's account in this discourse in Matthew 24 & 25. This post will focus on the Rapture, as expounded by Jesus in Matthew 24.
Although I consider myself a dispensationalist, I don't necessarily agree with everything that is taught under that umbrella. Several times I have heard dispensationalists claim that you will not find the Rapture in the Gospels because it has to do solely with the church, which didn't exist yet at the time of the events of the Gospels, and therefore the Rapture can only be found in the epistles of Paul. Of course, the quickest rebuttal to that claim is to declare that the Rapture will occur on "such and such day and hour", and the response will inevitably be that "no one knows the day nor the hour", a statement that you find in the Gospels, and, in particular, in Matthew 24.
In describing the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, Paul uses the Greek word παρουσία (parousia=coming or presence) to refer to the event. Interestingly, the only place in the Gospels that you will find the word parousia is in Matthew 24. It is the Greek word that is translated "coming" in Matthew 24:3, 27, 37, and 39 (but not
in Matthew 24:30 where he uses the Greek verb erchomai). Matthew's account of this discourse is also more than twice as long as that of Mark or Luke, and it is the only one that includes the middle part of their three part question asking "what will be the sign of your coming" in Matthew 24:3.
As I outlined above in my previous post, Jesus lays out a very specific sequence of events for the end of the age (the third part of the disciples question):
1. The abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet which occurs in the midst of Daniel's seventieth "week".
2. The great tribulation for those in Judea that follows that abomination of desolation.
3. The Son of Man coming on clouds of heaven with power and great glory immediately
following that great tribulation.
However, Jesus paints a completely opposite scenario for the events that precede His coming (GK=parousia). (I will address the ambiguous passages in Matthew 24:25-28 after I have covered the later usages of parousia).
In Matthew 24:36-38, Jesus states:36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,"
Keep in mind the disciples' question "what will be the sign
of Your coming?" He is addressing that question here. Each subsequent verse is a further explanation of the previous verse. "As the days of Noah were" is a further explanation of what He means by "no one knows", and clarifies that He is referring to His coming (parousia) when he says "no one knows". "As in the days before the flood" is a further explanation of what He means by "as the days of Noah". Too often I have heard this description of "eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage" as being a description of sin. A comparison is then made between the abundance of sin at the time of Noah, and an abundance of sin today. However, that analogy is false. "Eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage" is not a description of sin, but ties back to verse 36. Jesus did not
say "for as in the days before the flood they were gluttonizing and getting drunk, adulterating and fornicating", which would
be a description of sin. So then what is "eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage" describing. It is a description of normal, everyday life, as if the world as you know it is going to continue indefinitely, with no idea that something is about to happen. This is further confirmed by the next verse.39 "and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be."
Not knowing is tied together with eating and drinking, etc. So then, to whom does this description of "eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage" and "not knowing" apply? The answer is in verse 36, "no one knows". This description of the days of Noah applies to everyone
Matthew 24:40-4140 "Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left."
This is a further description of normal, everyday, 1st century, agrarian life. The two men are working in the field, with no idea something is about to happen. The two women are grinding at the mill, with no idea that something is about to happen. Yet there is a difference between them. One is taken, the other is left. But neither one suspects that something is about to happen. Now compare this with the circumstances that Jesus describes as preceding His return on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory in verse 30. You have the abomination of desolation that occurs in the middle of Daniel's seventieth week, the great tribulation that follows and that, with a little simple arithmetic you can determine lasts for three and a half years, and immediately after the tribulation of those days, Jesus returns. Unlike the circumstances He describes as preceding His parousia, you could literally count down the days until His return. Furthermore, what did Jesus say in verse 18 to him who is in the field when this abomination of desolation occurs? He said "flee to the mountains". Why? "For then there will be great tribulation." Immediately after that tribulation, Jesus returns. So then, if this event described in verse 40 where two are in the field and one is taken is synonymous with when Jesus returns in verse 30, when would the two who are in the field have had time to return to the field and resume normal, everyday life? They wouldn't. The answer is, these are two entirely different and opposite events. His parousia must, at the very least, precede the abomination of desolation. From that point on, the two being in the field is not a feasible scenario.
Matthew 24:23-2823 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
In this section, Jesus seems to be needlessly repeating Himself, giving warnings about false christs and false prophets twice. However, in verse 23 He says "Then, if anyone says to you." What does "then" refer to? If you look at the verses before, He is referring to the time of the great tribulation. At that time false christs and false prophets will rise. Now, it stands to reason, if false christs and false prophets will rise during the tribulation, then they will also rise at other times. So, He is not just repeating Himself, but is expanding His warning about false christs and false prophets to cover any time, and gives His reasons to not believe those reports in verses 27 and 28. "For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be"
. Many times I have heard this verse compared to Revelation 1:7 saying "every eye will see Him", the idea being that He is talking about lightning being seen from far away. However, in light of the dichotomy between His parousia and His coming at the end of the age, may I offer a different explanation. How long does it take lightning in the east to flash to the west? At 186,000 miles per second, it is virtually instantaneous. In other words, if they say to ""Look, He is in the desert!", do not go out", because you will not have time to go out and meet Me. And then in verse 28: "wherever the carcass is, there the eagles
(vultures) will be gathered together."
Many times I have heard this claimed to be a reference to Armageddon and Revelation 19:17-18, where the birds of heaven are called to feast on the flesh of kings and captains, etc. Notice, however, that carcass is singular
. There is only one carcass He is referring to, not a mass of people killed at Armageddon. In other words, Jesus is saying that not only will you not have time to go out to meet Me at my parousia, you will not even need to do so. You will be gathered to Me. The similarity between this and Paul's statement in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 about us being caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and especially his admonition in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 "concerning the coming of our Lord, and our gathering together to Him
", is not a coincidence. Having digressed to start to explain to the disciples that looking for a sign of His coming is pointless, Jesus then resumes His narrative of the end of the Tribulation in verse 29. By itself, this interpretation of Matthew 24:26-28 would be tenuous. However, in light of the clear dichotomy that Jesus draws between His parousia and His return at the end of the Tribulation later in the chapter, it is more than feasible.
In summary, a close reading of Matthew 24 paints a picture that is consistent with a dispensationalist view of end times. The parousia of the Lord is when He comes to gather His body (the Church) to Him, with no hint that it is about to occur, and then the focus shifts back to Israel once again. In contrast, His return at the end of the Tribulation is to bring in a new age and establish an earthly kingdom in fulfillment of the promises of God toward Israel, and it is preceded by extremely troublesome times, not normal, everyday life.
When I first studied this out some 25+ years ago, and I realized that parousia is referring only to what is classically called the Rapture, I didn't just stop with Matthew 24 & 25. There are a few instances in the rest of the New Testament where the word parousia is used, that would seem to contradict that distinction. A good example is 2 Thessalonians 2:8-9, which would seem to indicate that the antichrist is destroyed at the coming (parousia) of the Lord. However, I will deal with that objection in a later post if necessary, as it requires an in depth exposition of the grammar and syntax of that passage in the Greek.