The Beginning Of Sorrows
In describing the wars and other commotions which were to characterize this age from the very start, the Lord used the expression which calls for special attention, "All these are the beginning of birth-pangs" [Matt. 24:8]. This word pictures to us the present age as one of pains and sorrows such as accompany childbirth. But there is a hopeful character to such pains; for they end up in that which causes joy. This present age is the period of the birthpangs of the new era, which will be the manifestation of the sons of God.
The word "birth-pangs" connects this part of our Lord's prophecy with Paul in Romans 8:22, were the same word occurs in its verb-form: "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." But the verses which precede tell that what the joyful outcome will be, namely, "the manifestation of the sons of God," also called "the adoption," at which time the creation itself also "shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God."
The word "travail-in-birth" is found again in a similar connection in 1 Thessalonians 5:3, where [speaking of the Second Coming] Paul says: "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child." From these and other passages of Scripture we may gather that woes and pains of the sort specified by the Lord in Matthew 24:6-8 will visit the earth with intensified force at the very time of the end [although the frequency of such occurrences throughout the age would prevent them from serving as signs]. The wars and other woes of which the Lord spake were "the beginning of birth-pangs"; and it important to remember that birth-pangs, after the first intense ones, are intermittent until, at the very end, occur the most severe of all. Thus, no doubt, it will be at the end of this present age.
**Editor's note: I am not convinced of this, although Rev. 20:9 may give some support to the idea.**
**Editor's comment: I trust this course has helped put the words of the Lord Jesus in Matt. 24 into perceptive. In our day, quite often, the importance and the horrors of AD 70 are lost and so people search for a different "fulfillment" of this prophecy. If you have not yet taken The Seventy Weeks Of Daniel or The Book Of Revelation, you may want to look into them as additional information on this much misunderstood subject. God bless.**
6. This present age is the period of the ________________ of the new era, which will be the manifestation of the sons of God.
7. In our day, quite often, the importance and the horrors of ____________ are lost and so people search for a different "fulfillment" of this prophecy.
Comings Of Christ
By Glenn Davis
Often when we read or think about the coming of Christ we automatically think of the Second Coming. However, there are several different ways Scripture speaks of Christ coming. We must know the different ways and be willing to examine context to see which kind of coming of Christ is being referred to.
This is not a unique concept. Many things in Scripture have different aspects which lead to problems if we confuse them. Let me give you an example. Most of us are familiar with the three aspects of salvation: I have been saved, I am being saved, and I will yet be saved. All three statements are true, but show different aspects of salvation. I have been saved in that at the Cross my salvation was completely accomplished. I am being saved in that the Holy Spirit is progressively working out all the implications of salvation in my life. And I will yet be saved in that I will experience the fullness of what Christ has done for me at His Second Coming. Scripture refers to all three and confusion sometimes sets in if we don't study the context to see which aspect of salvation a particular verse is talking about.
The same kind of thing happens with the coming of Jesus. Scripture refers to several different kinds of comings of Jesus. Sometimes we are confused if we don't take the time to study which type of coming is being referred to. Let's take a look the different types to show you what I mean.
Types of Christ's Coming
1. Pre-Birth, i.e. before coming as Jesus, sometimes in the Old Testament called the Angel Of The Lord.
"And the Lord went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham..." [Gen. 18:33]
"He answered and said, 'Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." [Dan. 3:25] Also see John 1:1-3.
2. First [physical] Coming - virgin birth - [Matt. 1:18-2:23; Luke 1:1-2:52; John 1:1- 18]
3. Coming with the Kingdom.
"Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." [Matt. 16:28]
This is not the place for a detailed discussion of the Kingdom of God, but Jesus very clearly said that some of His disciples would personally see His coming in this way. [Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:7; Mark 9:1; Luke 21:31]
4. Coming in Judgment.
"And Jesus said, 'I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." [Mark 14:62]
Jesus specifically told the High Priest at His trial, that the High Priest himself would witness Jesus coming in judgment. Jesus comes many times to judge us as individuals, to judge our churches [as we see in Revelation Chapters 2-3], to judge our nations, etc. [Matt. 26:64; 1 Cor. 11:27-32; Jam. 5:7-10]
5. Coming in His Presence.
"Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you..." [John 14:28]
We speak of this kind of coming when we talk about feeling the presence of the Lord in a special way during a church service, our devotions, a time of trouble, or whenever. It is then we have a special sense of His presence [although He is with us all the time]. [John 15:4-7; Rev. 3:20]
6. Second [physical] Coming. Jesus will return physically, visibly at the end of time. [1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; Acts 1:9-11]
As you can see, "comings" three - five are spiritual comings of Christ. That does not make them less real or less important. In fact, the spiritual is more real [i.e. permanent] than the physical. Scripture talks about all these kinds of comings and if we want to avoid confusion we must understand, from context, which coming is being referred to. It is easy to jump, with our Western way of thinking, to preconceived ideas. We need to be careful.
8. There are several different ways Scripture speaks of Christ _____________.
9. Christ's Coming Type 1: _________________
10. Christ's Coming Type 2: ____________________________
11. Christ's Coming Type 3: ____________________________
12. Christ's Coming Type 4: ____________________________
13. Christ's Coming Type 5: ____________________________
14. Christ's Coming Type 6: ____________________________
15. The spiritual is more ______________ [i.e. permanent] than the physical.
Coming With Clouds
Are the references which talk about Jesus "coming with the clouds", always referring to the Second [physical] Coming? Short answer: No. At the Second Coming Jesus will physically return on the clouds - no question -.but that does not mean every mention of a cloud coming is physical.
Clouds are a common Scriptural image for the presence of God, usually in a powerful and majestic way. Sometimes there was a literal cloud showing the presence of God:
"While He was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, 'This is My beloved Son..." [Matt.17:5-6]
Sometimes clouds are a poetic or prophetic image for the presence of God:
"Who layeth the beams of His chambers in the waters: Who maketh the clouds his chariot: Who walketh upon the wings of the wind..." [Ps. 104:3] [Gen. 15:17; Ex. 13:21-22; 14:19-20, 24; Ps. 18:8-14; Is. 19:1; Ez. 32:7-8; Na. 1:2-8; Matt. 24:30; Mark 14:62; Acts 2:19]
Jesus Himself referred to His coming in judgment [Type 4 - spiritual] in exactly this way and what better precedent could we have?
"Jesus saith unto him, '...hereafter, shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.'" [Matt. 26:64 also see Mark 14:62]
Jesus was talking about something the High Priest himself would witness ["shall ye see" - present tense]. Jesus could not have been talking about the Second Coming on physical clouds. In considering Matt. 24 we must remember that Jesus draws heavily on Old Testament prophetic imagery. We should not be surprised that His reference to coming on clouds is a Judgment Coming not the Second Coming.
16. Are the references which talk about Jesus "coming with the clouds", always referring to the Second [physical] Coming? ____________
17. Clouds are a common Scriptural image for the _________________ of God, usually in a powerful and majestic way.
18. Sometimes there was a _____________ cloud showing the presence of God.
19. Sometimes clouds are a poetic or ____________________ image for the presence of God.
20. In considering Matt. 24 we must remember that Jesus draws heavily on Old Testament ____________________ imagery.
Feed Yourself Students
!. Answer all the questions.
2. Do a Subject Study on how the word "Clouds" is used in Scripture.
Return to The Great Tribulation Lessons.