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In Matt. 24:27-31 we see a description of the second advent of Jesus. Rather than a private return where people will have to go to a secret or secluded place to see him, Jesus will return with power and great glory in the sky and every eye will see him.

Let’s look at this verse by verse.

Matt 24:27 " For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." Lightening is the product of a storm and it is visible bright light. II Thess. 2:8 states that antichrist will be destroyed by "the brightness of his coming". No one will miss this event. The world will have reached its darkest hour and Jesus will come to deliver his people.

Vs. 28 "For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together." The word ‘carcase’ means corpse, dead body, and since the eagles will be gathered to the corpses, this should be seen in the sense of carrion birds. In Rev. 19:17-19 an angel speaks to the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, calling them to the "supper of the great God", to eat the flesh of captains, mighty men, horses, riders, and all men, free and bond, small and great, and Rev. 14:20 states that the blood will flow as deep as the horses bridles for two hundred miles. This absolutely applies to the armies gathered to Armageddon, but the verse also includes "all men, free and bond, small and great".

The obvious question is: since these ‘bond’ and ‘small’ are not ‘mighty men’, how do they get to Armageddon? Jesus explains that matter in vs. 40-41 when he says two shall be in the field, or two shall be grinding at the mill, when one shall be taken and the other left. These two verses are definitely a removal of people, but they are not the rapture: they are a description of the fulfillment of the parable of the wheat and the tares as given by Jesus in Matt. 13:24-30, and which he himself interpreted in Matt. 13:37-43. He clearly stated that at the time of the end the tares would be uprooted first and destroyed, and then the righteous would shine forth in the kingdom. The removal of people in Matt. 13 and Matt. 24 have nothing to do with the rapture of the church.

Vs. 29 gives us the answer to the question raised by the disciples in vs. 3: "what shall be the sign of thy coming." This is the sign of the coming of the Son of man (which is different from the sign of the Son of man). "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken." When these things occur all the world will know that Jesus is on his way.

Vs. 30 says, "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." At that moment, everyone on earth will see the sign of the Son of man. I don’t know what that sign is, but it appears after the sky is darkened and the removal of the wicked.

Everyone on earth, all at the same time, will see the Lord Jesus riding out of heaven. Logistically, if the Lord returned over the land of Israel how could those on the other side of earth see him? I John 1:5 says "God is light." If this is so (and it is), then God would travel at the speed of light, which is, in round numbers, 187,000 miles per second. Jesus will be moving: as lightening in Matt. 24:27; on a horse Rev. 19:11. Traveling at that speed, Jesus would be able to make eight complete circuits around the earth per second. It will be similar to watching an 8 mm movie in the sky. God is even going to dim the lights! Indeed, every eye shall see him!

Vs. 31 "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Here is the fulfillment of the moed of Rosh Hashana. After the destruction of the wicked, the angels are going to gather the elect from the entire the earth (the four winds and from one end of heaven to the other). This gathering is not the rapture because that event will have happened seven years prior to the second advent. The angels are not gathering the previously resurrected/raptured people because they are riding on horses following Jesus when he returns (Zech. 14:5; Rev. 19:14). This is a gathering of the elect worldwide (Dan. 11:4; Zech. 2:6; Jer. 49:36).

The people that are gathered in Matt. 24:31 are those who were born again during the tribulation. The living will remain alive in human bodies, and those who were killed will be resurrected at that time. Rev 20:4-6 says "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." Clearly there will be a resurrection of those who were martyred during the tribulation. The passage states this is the "first resurrection" and blessed is he who has "part in the first resurrection".

Scripture speaks of two resurrections: the resurrection of the just and the resurrection of the damned (Rev. 20:5). Everybody who has ever lived or ever will live gets resurrected. The difference is where each one will spend his eternity: either in a state of total blessing with God or in the lake of fire. Each man must choose. Further, the first resurrection has at least two parts: the resurrection that occurs in conjunction with the rapture, and the resurrection of the tribulation martyrs at the second advent. The resurrection in Rev. 20:4 specifically states that tribulation martyrs will be involved and does not include the saints of the ages, obviously because they will have been resurrected earlier . I think there will also be a third resurrection/rapture at the end of the little season at the end of the millennium: God will need to get the millennial believers off the earth before he destroys it.

Zech. 14:1-8 gives a glorious description of the events of that most unusual day. Zech 14:5b-7 "and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. 6 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: 7 But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light."

As is discussed here there is an error in the Jewish calendar that is currently 7.61 days. The Jewish people are well aware of this error and they believe that it is a sign of the soon coming of Messiah because when he comes he will restore the Sanhedrin and they in turn will correct the calendar. However, I believe that the correction of the Jewish calendar will require an astronomical adjustment, and the ‘one day’ of Zech. 14:7 provides a clue as to how this will be accomplished. The word translated as ‘one’ is the Hebrew word echad and it is defined as: a numeral; properly, united. The word can be used as the number one, but it is also used to describe one bunch of grapes or one congregation, i.e. a larger number which is combined into a single entity. I think it is possible that the ‘one day’ of Zech. 14:7, the day that is neither dark nor light, may extend for a period of several days. The sun and moon will not be giving their light to the earth for that period of time, but they will still be up there in the sky following their usual rotation and orbit. When the lights come back on the calendar will read the very next day, but it is entirely possible that a period of, say, 7.61 days will have actually passed and the calendar will have been adjusted by the King himself. In Deut. 16:1 God gave the command regarding the keeping of the calendar, and in Lev. 23 he outlined a series of appointments he would keep with mankind. Several of those state that they are statutes forever throughout the generations. This would include the millennium.

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