Dr. Jack L. Arnold Lesson
EVIDENCE FOR THE
- In the past few weeks, we have been talking a lot
about the parousia or the coming of
Christ. The parousia is Greek and means a coming and a
stay. It is the coming-presence
- It has been suggested that there are two phases to
the parousia. The first phase will be a secret coming of Christ for
His Church before the Tribulation period. This first phase is called the Rapture of the
Church. Christ will come for
the Church but His presence will be in the Tribulation period but behind
the scenes in an invisible sense.
- The second phase of the parousia
will come after the Tribulation.
Christ will make an open, dramatic, visible manifestation of
Himself to all the world. This second phase is called the second advent.
In His second advent, Christ will judge sinful men and will establish
His kingdom over this world.
- An honest question might be, “How can we know that
the parousia will take place?” Well, Christ has anticipated your
question, and He begins in verses 32-41 to give some guarantees and
evidences for both phases of the parousia.
OF THE SECOND ADVENT -- Matthew 24:32-35
- INTRODUCTION: There will be definite signs that will precede the second advent.
In these verses Christ gives three guarantees that all that He has
said about signs in the Tribulation and the second
advent will actually come to pass.
- “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch
is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see
all these things, know that it (he) is near, even at the doors.” -- The first guarantee of the
second advent is the initial putting forth of leaves by the fig tree. When the fig tree shows signs of
leaves, the farmer knows that summer and full bloom is just a few months
off. The fig tree is a symbol
of the nation of Israel. When
Israel as a nation begins to show signs of spiritual life, which will
occur in the Tribulation then the end is
near. So when “these things”
concerning Israel show up in history then that generation will know “it”
is near. What is the
“it?” This may be translated
“he” and refer to the kingdom comes at the second advent of Christ. What then are the “these things?” All the signs that Christ has been
speaking about in Matthew 24 -- 1) the Great
Tribulation; 2) the abomination of desolation (world dictator); 3) Jews
fleeing to the hills; 4) cosmic disturbances before the second advent; 5)
the Shikinah glory and other things.
These signs will be proof that the second advent
is near. NOTE: In 1948, Israel became a nation
and has survived 23 years.
She has not shown any signs of spiritual activity toward Christ,
but Israel’s very existence proves that God will again deal spiritually
- “Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not
pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” -- Now the Lord gives the second guarantee for the
second advent and the preceding signs. What is the meaning of “this generation?” For those Christians who believe
that the Olivet Discourse is prophetic, there are two possible
interpretations of “this generation.” It could be the generation of Jewish-believers who will
be alive when the signs of the second advent
occur in the Tribulation period.
That last generation of Jews shall see the fulfillment of the
signs. However, a better
interpretation is to see “this generation” as the Jewish race or
people. The word “generation”
(genea) primarily means “people,” “race,” “family,” or “kind.” Therefore it is a reference to the
Jewish people or race. The
Jewish race will not pass away until all these signs will be
fulfilled. This is a
remarkable fulfillment of prophecy.
After two thousand years of dispersion, the Jews still continue to
exist as a race. Despite the
long centuries of hardship and cruelty, they have proved to be an
indestructible peo9ple. There
will be a Jewish people alive during the Tribulation period that will see
the fulfillment of the signs preceding the second advent.
- “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall
not pass away.” -- The
third guarantee of the signs and the second advent are the words of Christ
Himself. He who created the
world, who healed the sick and blind and who saves sinners, has said He is
coming again. Christ said,
“My words shall not pass away.”
FOR THE NEARNESS OF THE RAPTURE -- Matthew 24:36-42
- INTRODUCTION: At this point in the Olivet Discourse, there comes a
definite break in thought.
The chronological outline of the complex of events that will occur
in the end time has been completed.
Christ has spoken much about the last phase of His parousia but now apparently chooses to speak about the
first phase which is the Rapture of the Church. Remember, the disciples are a representative
They are Jews
but soon will be part of the Church, so certain sections are directed toward
the Church. NOTE: Some scholars think that this is a
reference to the second advent. However, if the Lord is
not describing His coming for the Church, then we would have no description
from His lips of this tremendous event.
All we would have would be His promise, “I will
come again and take you to myself.
(John 14:3) NOTE: While there are no definite signs that
precede the Rapture of the Church, there are some
evidence that the Rapture may be near.
World conditions may indicate that the Rapture is not too far distant in
God’s prophetic program.
ILLUSTRATION: While there are no signs that precede
the Rapture, the shaping up of world events that will bring the Tribulation
period and ultimately the second advent indicate that
the Rapture may not be too far distant.
It is much like
the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. About a week before Thanksgiving we may see Christmas
decorations being put up in stores and our streets. We know very well that the next event on the calendar is
Thanksgiving but the Christmas decorations indicate that Christmas is not too
far distant. So today we know that
the next event on God’s calendar is the Rapture but we see things happening
today that tell us that the second advent is not too far in the future.
30: 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: 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
- “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the
angels of heaven, but my Father only.” -- Now Christ begins to speak about a phase of His
coming that no one knows when the day and the hour will be. His coming will be completely
unpredictable. Notice verse 42. Our Lord exhorts believers in
Christ to be constantly watching for the return of Christ. Christ coming is imminent and can
occur at any moment and Christians are to be watching for this event. NOTE: Christ must be speaking about the
Rapture or the first phase of the parousia. There are no signs that precede
the Rapture of the Church. It
would be impossible for Jesus to use these words if He were referring to
the second advent in power and great glory, for the second advent will be
preceded by all kinds of signs.
(Matthew 24:29, 30).
An astute Bible student in the Tribulation period will be able to
predict the day and perhaps the hour of the second
advent, but the day Christ is talking about is unpredictable. The believer in the Church is to
be constantly watching for the Rapture, for it can occur at any moment.
ILLUSTRATION: God is absolutely silent about the time
when Christ shall come for His Church.
We must be careful about setting any kind of dates, for this is contrary
to the Bible. Of course, we have
always had radicals who were date-setters and they have without fail been
proven to be wrong. Every so often
you hear of folks who go up on a mountain and wait for the Lord. About two years ago a group of fanatics
sat up on to[ of a building in togas and bare feet
absolutely sure that the Lord would return according to their interpretation of
the Bible. He did not return and
they said they were off 10 years or so and would be back. The whole idea of date-setting
has brought the genuine study of prophecy into bad light.
- “But as the days of Noah were, so shall the coming
(parousia) of the Son of man be.”
Christ begins to compare the days preceding the Flood and
the days preceding the Rapture of the Church. World conditions will be similar and these will be
evidences (not signs) that the Rapture is near, but there will be no way
to predict this event.
- “For as in the days that were before the flood, they
were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day
that Noah entered into the ark.”
A care study of Genesis 6 will show that the world
conditions before the Flood were 1) spiritual apostasy; 2) ignorance of
spiritual truths; 3) corruption of morals and 4) social injustice. But Christ picks out one condition
of pre-flood days to make a comparison to pre-Rapture days. He speaks about materialism
and indifference to God.
- Many Bible teachers try to sensationalize the words
“eating, drinking and marrying” by making them something evil or
immoral. “Eating” refers to
gluttony, “drinking” refers to alcohol and “marrying” and “giving in
marriage” to the sky rocketing divorce rate, but our Lord does not mean
evil things at all.
- In the days of Noah men were carrying on normal
activities (there is nothing wrong with eating, drinking and marrying)
but it was a civilization that had no time for God. Before the Flood men were
engrossed in earthly and materialistic pursuits. They knew about God but did not
want to retain Him in their thoughts. They were totally indifferent to God and His
program. NOTE: Materialism and indifference to
God will be the attitude of the world just prior to the Rapture of the
Church. The present world we
now live in is rapidly moving towards being 1) totally indifferent to God
as He is revealed in the Hold Scriptures. The condition of the world should concern us and
excite us, for we know that the Lord’s return may not be too far
distant. NOTE: Again, these must be conditions
the precede the Rapture of the Church, for during the Tribulation period
there will be too much human suffering for men to carry on consistent
Furthermore, there will be signs that will precede the Second
- “And knew not until the flood came, and took them all
away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” -- The world of Noah’s day had
no sense of coming disaster, Noah preached faithfully for 120 years that
catastrophe was imminent but the people of that day were indifferent to
the Word of God. Noah built
the ark and men must have thought him crazy, for there were no signs of
impending judgment. NOTE: Life went on as usual, 1) men ate
and drank, 2) went to work, 3) rose up to play, 4) lovers strolled hand in
hand and 5) people got married.
The first indication of any impending disaster went by almost
unnoticed, for God took a select company (Noah and his family) and told
them to enter into the ark.
Seven days went by and then it began to rain and the Flood
came. All those who lived in
the world died through drowning, and only Noah and his family were
preserved from the judgment.
They were taken out before the judgment began. NOTE: So in the Rapture Christ will come
quietly for His Church, a select company, and remove them from the
judgments of the Tribulation.
Then the Tribulation will begin. Just as the judgment of the Flood took the pre-Flood
world by surprise, so the judgments of the Tribulation will take the
pre-Rapture world totally unprepared for judgment.
- “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be
taken, and the other left.
Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken,
and the other left.” -- At the
Rapture, the Lord Jesus will be highly selective, distinguishing even
between two people working side by side. When the Rapture occurs, those who have trusted in
Christ will be immediately taken to be with the Lord. However, multitudes will be left
on this earth, proving that they are unbelievers. Those left will face the terrible
judgments of the Tribulation, and if they die without receiving Christ,
they will face the eternal judgments of perdition. NOTE: The work “taken” is paralambano
and means “to take along” or “to take to.” Those believers who are alive at the Rapture will not
have to face physical death.
They shall be swept into the presence of Christ. This will be the day the Church
meets her Lord face to face (I Thess. 4:16, 17).
- When most of us contemplate human existence, we
conclude that we enter life through the door marked “birth”, and we will
leave it by the door marked “death.”
But there is another way that some men will leave this life. Those Christians who are alive
when the Rapture occurs will be transfigured and translated into the
presence of Christ without experiencing physical death.
- The Rapture is only for believers in Jesus
Christ. If the Rapture is
only for believers in Jesus Christ.
If the Rapture were to occur right now, would you be snatched away
to be with Christ or would you be left on this earth to face the horrible
judgments of the Tribulation?
- Christ is coming! Are you ready to meet Him? If you are not, then you must accept Him as your
personal Lord and Savior. The
Rapture is for those who have received Christ and no one else.