The Pre-Millennial Predictions Part 5

Posted in: 2009
By Tom L. Ballinger
Apr 23, 2009 - 9:57:43 AM

Portions of the “Olivet Discourse” in Matthew 24
Part V
Twice in Scripture, the Coming [Parousia] of Jesus Christ is likened to the flashing of lightning. It is, just, not by chance that the Spirit of Truth chose to liken a facet of the “Parousia” of Christ to that of the tremendous natural phenomenon of an electrical storm—the flashing of lightning.
“For as the lightning cometh [flashes] out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming [Parousia] of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:27).
“For as the lightning, that lighteneth [flashes] out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day”                 (Luke 17:24).
The word, “lightning,” was selected by the Spirit of Truth to be used for this particular feature of His “Parousia.”  The Holy Spirit, in describing this particular feature, did not choose to liken His “Parousia” to that of smoke, or hail, or fire, or bands of locusts, or chariots of fire, or thousands of horses, or whirlwinds, or sandstorms as a description of this “Parousia.” He chose the word, LIGHTNING!
The study of this aspect of Matthew Twenty-four has constrained me to expand my understanding of the “Parousia” of the Lord Jesus Christ. It means more than the official Arrival and Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, on earth, ruling the world for one-thousand years. It signifies a prior event before He descends from Heaven with a shout and the catching-away of His saints. This phase of the Parousia of Christ takes place before the voice of the archangel is heard (I Thess. 4:16); yes, it is before the “rapture.”
These two references of His “Parousia” being likened to that of “lightning” flashes are of Olympic significance. They are associated with reports of Him being sighted in various places.  Matthew’s account says that it will be reported that Christ was spotted in the “desert,” or in “secret chambers” (Matt. 24:26). While Luke says, “And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them” (Luke 17:23). Each has the warning to not believe the reports, nor follow those who go looking for Him. There will be great danger for those who disregard these warnings.
These two verses, in which the Holy Spirit likens the “Parousia” of Christ to lightning flashes, are very noteworthy. The Spirit uses the figure of speech of a “Simile” to express this feature, or aspect of His [Parousia] Coming.
Lightning-strikes flash here and there. They can strike in the wilderness, in the city, in the mountains, or in the valleys. As bolts of lightning-strikes or flashes, “so shall also the coming [Parousia] of the Son of man be.” The Spirit of Truth uses a Simile to express this.
A Simile is a figure of speech in which two, essentially, unlike things are compared and are introduced by “like,” or “as.” Here are several simple Similes:
“I am LIKE a green olive tree in the house of God:” (Psalm 52:8).
“I am LIKE a pelican of the wilderness: I am LIKE an owl of the desert” (Psalm 102:6).
“He cometh forth LIKE a flower, and is cut down:” (Job 14:2).
“He lieth in wait secretly AS a lion in his den” (Psalm 10:9).
“Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted AS sheep for the slaughter” (Psalm 44:22).
Whereas, in contrast, an Extended Simile employs “as” and “so” to strengthen and heighten the comparison and to make it clearer.  Several examples will follow.         
“AS an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: SO the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him” (Deut. 32:11-12).
“AS” an eagle …, “SO” the LORD ….
“AS” is a Subordinate Conjunction, and it joins two complete sentences by making one of the sentences, grammatically, less important. The sentence introduced by “AS” is less important than the sentence introduced by “SO.” In this instance, the “As the eagle” sentence is less important than the “So the LORD alone” sentence.
The classic Bible Extended Simile, we believe, is associated with Jonas and the Lord Jesus as found in Matthew 12:40:
“For AS Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; SO shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
The “AS Jonas was …, SO shall the Son of Man be …” fixes Jonah as an exact type of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The “as” and “so,” about Jonah, illustrate another exact TYPE—“For AS Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, SO shall also the Son of man be to this generation.” (Luke 11:30).
Jonah was raised from the state of death and appeared to the Ninevites. They must have, therefore, known of the miracle connected with him; just as “this generation” knew of Christ’s resurrection. Thus, Jonah was an exact TYPE of Jesus Christ being raised from the state of death.
The Comparison of Christ to the Flashes of Lightning
During the Great Tribulation and before its conclusion, there will be reports in and around Jerusalem that Jesus Christ will have been sighted in various places. His Disciples were told not to believe the reports. They were not to follow those who will say, “He is here or there.” It will be brought to their resurrected minds what the Lord Jesus told them on that particular day, as He sat upon the Mount of Olives.
“For AS the lightning cometh [flashes] out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; SO shall also the coming [Presence] of the Son of man be” (Matt. 24:27).
Here, we have another Extended Simile of great magnitude. The “AS” sentence is, grammatically, less important than is the “SO” sentence.  
Keep in mind that the word, “coming,” is “Parousia” which means, either, “arrival” or “presence,” or both. You’ll notice that two versions translate “coming” as “presence.”
“For as the lightning doth come forth from the east, and doth appear unto the west, so shall be also the presence [Parousia] of the Son of Man;” (Young’s Literal Translation).
“For, just as the lightning goeth forth from the east, and shineth unto the west, so, shall be the presence [Parousia] of the Son of Man” (The Emphasized Bible).
What are we to learn from this Simile?
Here is what has been learned. The terrors of persecution in Jerusalem will make immediate leaving, necessary (Rev. 12:6, 14). No time will be available for preparation.  But, the Lord has places prepared for His People to be protected. The armies of the antichrist can march and demonstrate in all of the streets of Jerusalem during this time, but they dare not enter into the wilderness, or the mountains where the Jews are under the protection of God Almighty. While the forces of the antichrist are desecrating the Most Holy Place and massacring many of God’s elect, the Lord Jesus will, miraculously, become present in a multiplicity of places. He will show-up in the wilderness, on the mountains, in the valleys, in the desert, in the caves in Petra, or in the secret chambers. Wherever His elect are in hiding, He will be present for a brief moment to encourage His Own. As it was with the Apostle Paul, His brief presences might be accompanied with “a light from heaven:” (Acts 9:3), with “a great light” (Acts 22:6), or as “a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun,” (Acts 26:13). Could it be, as it was in Paul’s Damascus Road experience, that at the Presence of Christ, there will be unbelieving “hangers-on” who “…saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me” (Acts 22:9).
When He, suddenly and miraculously, flashes as a lightning-strike, He will become present in their midst. Will others think they saw lightning? Or, will they associate the flashes of light with Christ appearing to His saints? Will He be present with His saints and invisible to unbelievers?  Will those who see the glory of Christ’s Personal Presence, during these terrible tribulation times, report that He was in a certain place; thus, spreading rumors? The Disciples were told not to go in search of Him. Why? He will know where they are. And, He will be present with them in due time.
“For as the lightning flashes out of the east, and shines unto the west” is descriptive of Him becoming present with His Jewish saints in and around the environs of Jerusalem during the Great Tribulation. Lightning, as we know, is not just a nighttime phenomenon. Thunderstorms are very active during daylight hours. We can, thus, conclude that a great many of Christ’s flashes of His presence will be seen during daylight. His brief Presences will be to comfort and reinforce the faith of His elect as per Matthew 28:20; “He will be with them until “the consummation of the age” (NIV).
28. “For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.”
Verse 28 has been taught to be some sort of typology. Typology, such as, “the greater light” of Genesis 1:16, is a type of Christ; Isaac was a type of Christ; or Rebecca, a type of the church. This verse has been a source of perplexity for a long time.  As many expositors do or have done, we, too, tried to make “the carcase” be a type of something  and “the eagles” to be a type of something. None of which have been satisfactory. The Companion Bible’s note runs you back to Job 39:30 for a “true interpretation,” where Job says, “Her [the eagle] young ones also suck up blood: and where the slain are, there is she.”
We have resolved that Matthew 24:28 is a simple idiom, not a form of typology. It is much like our idiom—“Where there is smoke, there is fire.” That is to say, where the flash of “lightning” was seen, that is where the Lord’s Presence was, but only, temporarily. He will disappear, only to flash, again, in another place.
The Parousia [Presence] discussed in this column will be prior to the Parousia of Christ, as mentioned in I Thessalonians 4 or II Thessalonians 2, and it will be for the purpose to comfort and reinforce His people’s faith.