THE SIGN OF THY COMING
Matthew 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? 30 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.
The Lord is speaking to four of his disciples (See Mark 13:3), in response to their question concerning his coming, and the end of the world. And what is strongly obvious is that the Lord does not intend to reveal the day, nor the hour. For that knowledge belongs to the Father. Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. And the reason given was that the believers throughout the ages were to concern themselves with watchfulness.
Matthew 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. So you can rest assured that when men set forth any date for his coming, that is exactly when he won’t be coming! We are creatures of procrastination. When given any deadline, we tend to put off any preparation for it until the last minute. Therefore not knowing the times that are only in the Father’s hands, aids the church in her responsibility for holy living.
So, in light of this, what is the sign of the Lord’s coming? Since the church has this event kept secret by the Father, any ‘sign’ would be opposed to the purpose of hiding the time of this event, and would work against the prompting to holiness for the believers. Therefore the sign of his coming IS his coming! Verse thirty, listed above, makes that perfectly clear! For our Lord there states that the appearing of his sign is to “see the Son of man coming!”
For you do realize that the Lord shall only appear in his graciousness to those who are looking for him? Hebrews 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. That is, he shall appear to those expecting him, but without any more provision for the forgiveness of the sin of another single soul. And he shall appear to those expecting him, in order to bring in their full and complete salvation. For he began their salvation in regeneration and shall finish it in glorification! Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: 1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
But we have not been left without a powerful means of keeping our hearts and minds focused upon the responsibility to give account of ourselves at the coming of our great King. And that powerful means is the gospel! 1 Corinthians 1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. We must distance ourselves from the influences of the massive amounts of ‘christian literature’ which tend to set forth ‘signs,’ by the ‘wisdom’ of those opportunists! For we have the gospel! To them it is “the foolishness of preaching;” but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. Consider carefully these following verses concerning this matter.
1 Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
The Holy Spirit within every believer will not tolerate the setting forth of dates, nor the concocting of religious signs, but continuously prompts every believer toward holiness. That is, He prepares each and every true believer to be spiritually ready for the coming presence of the Lord! Listen as he instructs us through his servant Peter concerning the relationship of the last things to holiness. 2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
Now let us seek the Lord’s guidance concerning his second coming by carefully studying his first coming. Luke 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
The first thing we notice is that the shepherds were close by at the Lord’s coming! They were in the same country, and they were keeping watch. The Lord’s true shepherds of the flocks of His righteous sheep have been supplied by the Lord throughout the church age! They too are keeping watch over the souls of those committed them. Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
And these gospel shepherds are always close by. Isaiah 30:20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: 21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
And their spiritual instruction assures us that Christ himself has not left us. Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. A lot of natural things may become extinct, but we shall never run out of the presence of the Lord among his people! For it is He who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; (Rev. 2:1). For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matt. 18:20).
But why appear to these concerned with animal husbandry, and not those concerned with religious practice? True salvation is a matter of experience, not a matter of theory! James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. John 3:21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
The Lord cautioned believers against religious leaders in this matter by this instruction: but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. (Matt. 23:3).
But let us see that the religious gang did have knowledge of this event. For the priest Zacharias, father of John the Baptist, was instructed of this by the angel Gabriel, but refused to believe it. Therefore he was stricken dumb, unable to speak to anyone since he would not speak for God! Luke 1:19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. 20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
Then also, the chief priests and scribes in Jerusalem, at the time of the wise men’s arrival even knew the chapter and verse in the scriptures that told exactly where the Lord was to be born, but still would not accompany them to the presence of Messiah! Matthew 2:4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
Dear Reader, you may be involved in a religious community, but make sure you are so with a personal experience with the Lord Jesus Christ! For religion without the Holy Spirit is that which crucified your Lord!
Then in Luke 2:9, listed above, we see that the heavenly messenger is attended by the glory of God! And what was mankind’s original sin? Every single human has the sin of coming short of God’s glory! Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; But if there be a spiritual messenger among us, he will not deal merely in religious rhetoric, but will be accompanied with the revelation of God’s glory! 1 Corinthians 4:20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
To those who seek for the glory, God will grant eternal life! Romans 2:6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: For these are they who are not just hearers, but are doers of the word! Therefore they received the glory! Romans 2:10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
And seeing the glory of Christ, by the Spirit, and not just contending with the facts about Christ, they are continuously changed from one degree of glory to a higher degree! 2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
And what was the evidence of that glory revealed? – and they were sore afraid. If there is one thing lacking among even truth speaking religionists today, it is a godly fear and reverence for the Lord! We have become so familiar with him, as the saying goes, it has bred contempt! In the Apostle Paul’s description of the lost man as listed in Romans chapter three, he finishes it out with these words: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. (Rom. 3:17, 18).
The church shall never experience her rest, nor be properly edified – built up in the most holy faith – until she again walks in godly fear! Acts 9:31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
And what other evidence was there that these lowly shepherds had heard the effectual voice? Luke 2:15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. When the heavenly messengers were gone, the shepherds followed their lead saying, Let us go! Today, after the preacher has finished his sermon, the impulse is, “Let us go be first in line at the restaurant!”
But as the messengers went back into the presence of the Lord in heaven, so the shepherds would go be in the presence of the Lord Jesus upon earth! And did you notice what they exclaimed as they set out? They didn’t speak of, “this thing which the preacher told us.” But they said, Let us now go … and see this thing … which the Lord hath made known unto us. How long has it been, dear soul, since you felt that you had heard a message from the throne of God, and not just another sermon from the pulpit!
Would to God we were like Elijah at the mouth of the cave. For the strong winds of religious doctrine blow fearfully upon us, but the Lord was not in the wind. Then there are the shakings of the ground-swell of religious excitement over some new thing. But the Lord was not in the earthquake. Then there are the fires of highly enflamed emotional zeal. But the Lord was not in the fire. Then there was “the voice of silent stillness,” resonating within the depths of his soul. Then he, like the seraphim standing in the presence of the Glory, covered his face. If only we could be finished with the effects of the winds, fires and shakings of carnal religion, and hear the voice of God within the depths of our souls, we could then, as these simple shepherds go see this thing which is come to pass. John 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
The unbelieving priest could not speak. The dutiful chief priests and scribes would not go. But of these shepherds we read: And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. (Luke 2:17). And this, even to the encouraging of Mary’s own heart! But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19.
Pastor Gene Breed
January 15, 2015