Jehovah`s Witness/Matthew 24:29,30 and the return of our LORD
Thank you Mr Hepburn for your answers. I may not agree with all you say but I understand your reasoning’s. I would like to ask you a question about . Does not that text make a clear statement that Jesus would be seen when he returns, so why do Jehovahs Witnesses insist that he will never be seen again?
Greetings again Gordon
Thank you for your question
is an interesting text. Many have come to the conclusion that it has a literal fulfillment in that it speaks of events leading up to the physical return
of Jesus. We are not dogmatic about these verses. There could well be some form of celestial phenomenon
that will startle frighten, and shock disobedient humans that they will “beat themselves in lamentation.” Many will “become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth the inhabitants of the earth. However we see verse 29 could have a symbolic meaning as well
and is the more likely explanation.
How could it be symbolic? The setting of what Jesus said is important. He “was sitting upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately, saying: “Tell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?” Matt 24:3
. So Jesus had been talking to his disciples who were Jews. Much of what Jesus said had to do with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans in 70 c.e. A great deal of the information pointed to another time of trouble. This time of trouble would point to when Jesus would come as Gods appointed judge and executioner.
As the Jewish apostles listened to Jesus words, what would have come to mind? No doubt they they may have been reminded of prophetic words in the past such as -
"9 Look! The day of Jehovah itself is coming, cruel both with fury and with burning anger, in order to make the land an object of astonishment, and that it may annihilate [the land’s] sinners out of it. 10 For the very stars of the heavens and their constellations of Ke′sil will not flash forth their light; the sun will actually grow dark at its going forth, and the moon itself will not cause its light to shine."
"4 And all those of the army of the heavens must rot away. And the heavens must be rolled up, just like a book scroll; and their army will all shrivel away, just as the leafage shrivels off the vine and like a shriveled [fig] off the fig tree. 5 “For in the heavens my sword will certainly be drenched. Look! Upon E′dom it will descend, and upon the people devoted by me to destruction in justice." . .
"28 On this account the land will mourn, and the heavens above will certainly become dark. It is because I have spoken, I have considered, and I have not felt regret, nor shall I turn back from it."
"20 Will not the day of Jehovah be darkness, and not light; and will it not have gloom, and not brightness? "
Jesus was using words that his apostles would recognize. But what do the stars of the heaven mean. None of the literal stars disappeared in the fulfillment of those prophecies. We understand that the celestial bodies represent the combined political, economic, religious and military powers of the time, the guided and protected a nation. We are not alone in that understanding, nor is it new.
John Gill an English Baptist from the 17th Century in his commentary of Isaiah 13:19
says “by the sun, moon, and stars, may be meant king, queen, and nobles, whose destruction is here prophesied of;
Albert Barnes, an American Presbyterian minister from the 18th century in his commentary of Isaiah 34:5 says “ “The heavenly bodies often represent kings and princes.”
So our understanding of the celestial events of Matthew 24, Mark 13
and Luke 21
more than likely represent the complete destruction of the political, economic, religious and military powers that now come under the control of “the god of this system of things” , Satan, who is “the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit that now operates in the sons of disobedience” ( see 2Co 4:4; John 12:31; Eph 2:1,2
What symbolic meaning could possibly be given to Matthew 24:30
“. 30 And then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
Any understanding of that must fit in with other Bible teachings, because God can not lie (Hebrews 6:18
) and all scripture is to be used in setting matters straight (2 Timothy 3:16
). A basic answer to that is found at Acts 1:9-11
“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight
.10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven
.” (AJKV) Here Luke records for us what the disciples saw as Jesus ascended to heaven. He was caught OUT OF SITE in a cloud. The world in general did not see him go.
Now on a cloudy day, when an aeroplane flies over head, we can not see it, but we knows it is there bt the sign we have. In that case it is not a sign we see with our literal eyes but our eyes of understanding. We know what sort of sound an aeroplane makes or that of a helicopter. So we understand that somewhere up there is one of those machines.
There will be ample signs that the system as we know it has come to an end, and that it will be because Jesus has come as Gods executioner. All mankind alive will know that the destruction that has befallen them is of divine origin.
The cloud is a fitting symbol. In the days of the tabernacle, Gods presence was depicted by a cloud that hung over the most holly (Ex 40:34, 35
“Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”
The Israelites never saw God but they new by the cloud that he was with them.
There is another point that shows that Jesus would not return bodily to earth, and that is the Ransom Price that he paid. His ransom was a once of price. His perfect body with the ability to father a perfect race for the perfect body and the perfect race that Adam lost.
The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.
1 Cor 15 : 21 ,22
“21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
Hebrews 7: 26- 28
“ For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; 27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. 28 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.” - Under the Mosaic law code sin offerings were a regular occurrence. One a year only the high proest could enter the most holly, but Jesus as our high priest now entered the “most holly” (the presence of his God and our God) with the value of his shed blood (Hebrews 9:6.7; 11,12
“6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. 7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: … 11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” (KJV)
His appearance here on earth was a one time event in order to offer that sacrifice Hebrews 9: 24-26
“24 For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the Holy Place yearly with blood not his own; 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once
for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (RSV) Hebrews 10:10
“ And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all”
If Jesus were to return and take up a human body again, he would be taking back the ransom paid. John 6:51
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live forever; and, for a fact, the bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world.” (Having given it, Jesus does not take it back again. He does not thereby deprive mankind of the benefits of the sacrifice of his perfect human life.)
Also note Jesus own words
“A little longer and the world will behold me no more
, but you [Jesus’ faithful apostles] will behold me, because I live and you will live.” ( They, his disciples, could see him because they would be spirit creatures as he is. But the world would not see him again.
What else did the Bible writers say
“He [God] resurrected him [Jesus] from the dead destined no more to return to corruption.” (Human bodies are by nature corruptible – that is can perish. That is why 1 Corinthians 15:42, 44 uses the word “corruption” in parallel construction with “physical body.” Jesus will never again have such a body. “42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption … 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.)
So Jesus was raised as a spirit never to return to this earth, Matthew 24:30 does not teach a physical return, but every one alive will know that he has come as Gods executioner and thus see with their eyes if understanding.