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The Guiding Principle
The best interpreter of the Bible is the Bible itself. The New Testament is the only infallible interpreter of the Old Testament. Therefore, the New Testament writings contain “both the principles and methods of a sound, trustworthy exegesis.” Jesus and His Apostles are our only divinely inspired interpreters to sound prophetic understanding. Where the New Testament speaks to and interprets Old Testament prophecy, it is to be accepted above all other voices. One cannot claim to be a true New Testament believer, while rejecting the plain and clear New Testament interpretation.

Coming of the Son of Man

No Puzzle Chewing Required

But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. [Matt. 10:23]

The coming of the Son of man is thought by many as being equal to the Second Coming of Christ. However, when true investigation is made, we will see that this cannot be the case for three reasons.

The first reason is nowhere in the Bible is such a comparison made. Secondly, the reason no such comparison is made is due to the fact that the phrase “Second Coming of Christ” does not appear in the Bible. It is a term used to represent the second appearance of Christ (Heb. 9:28). The third and final reason they are not equal, is the coming of the Son of man was to occur before the generation then living had passed. The Second Appearing of Christ is not given any time reference in Scripture.

So we must view the “coming of the Son of man,” or its equivalents such as the above verse, on its own merit.

First we need to understand what is meant by the term Son of man.

 

Who and What is the Son of Man

The basis for NT usage of this phrase is found in the Old Testament. In the OT writings, this phrase has two distinct meanings. The first is used of mankind in general, i.e, it signifies man as the offspring of the original man, or “the son of man(Adam)”. It is used in this way most prominently in the book of Ezekiel. It is a title to remind Ezekiel of the frailty of humanity.

The second way in which it is used in the Old Testament is to designate a special Being of great importance in God’s plan. This special Son of man is first mentioned in Psalm 80:17,

17 Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself.

This verse does not give us detailed information about this Son of man except that He is also called “the man of thy right hand.” In Biblical language, the right hand is the hand of strength. Hence, this man of thy right hand is also the Son of man who has been made strong “for thyself,” i.e, for God’s own purposes.

This Son of man/man of thy right hand is generally understood to be a Messianic reference, whether it is first considered as a prayer of David, but ultimately fulfilled in the seed of David, the Messiah Jesus. It is used mostly in the NT where it speaks of Jesus being at the right hand of God (Ps. 110:1). Therefore, Jesus is the man of "thy right hand."

The second place that this special Son of man is found is in Daniel 7.

13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

Daniel saw in one of his visions, one “like the Son of man.” The word ‘like’ is a particle of comparison or similarity. In appearance, this heavenly being appeared as a Son of man or human. This is taken among Christian and Jewish scholars alike to be a reference to the Messiah. This is a vision of the Lord Jesus in His pre-incarnate state. He was the Heavenly Man before He became the Son of man in His earthly estate.

Jn. 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
Jn. 6:62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?

Both of the above verses demonstrate that the Son of man’s original place of being was in Heaven, before He came to earth.

Continuing in the Daniel passage, this Son of man came to the Ancient of days to receive dominion, glory and a kingdom. The Ancient of days is another name for the Almighty God.

When He came to the Ancient of days, he came with the clouds of heaven. The clouds of heaven are variously interpreted. Some interpret them as representing a multitude of angels. Others see in the phrase,
“the majesty, visibility, and swiftness, with which he came to take open possession of his kingdom and glory.” (Gill)

I believe we can safely see in this phrase that the Son of man came to the Ancient of days with the authority and power of heaven at His command. The Kingdom He received was universal and eternal in scope. Universal in that it was to be comprised of “all people, nations, and languages.” Eternal in the fact that it was a Kingdom “which shall not pass away, and . . . which shall not be destroyed.”

We can safely say that the picture we have of the Son of man from Daniel is His being the head of the universal and eternal kingdom of God.

 

Jesus As Son of man

Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of man more than any other title. He uses the title in both ways previously discussed. He uses it to signify His humanity. As the writer of Hebrews says,

14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

As a man could be called a son of Adam, so He also became a partaker of “flesh and blood,” taking on the seed of Abraham. Just as some men have no certain dwelling in this world, so also the Son of man. When a scribe wanted to go home with Jesus, Jesus responded,

Matt. 8:20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

However, most of the instances where He uses the title of Son of man, it is in this special role found in Daniel 7.

When Jesus speaks of the coming of the Son of man, it should be obvious that this coming is unique. How can the Son of man speak of the Son of man coming, when He is already there? He can only be referring to His coming for a special purpose. As stated at the outset of this writing, it is incorrect to equate this coming of the Son of man to what many call the Second Coming. As already noted, the Bible makes no such comparison, mainly due to the fact that the term Second Coming appears nowhere in its pages.

However, it does speak of His appearing a second time (Heb. 9:28). The first appearance was His coming as man to deal with sin. The second time He will bodily appear “unto salvation.” This salvation spoken of here is to bring the ultimate and long awaited salvation/deliverance the saints have longed for.

So we must understand the coming of the Son of man strictly in terms of how the Bible describes it.

 

Coming in the Kingdom

One of the most obvious elements of the coming of the Son of man, is His coming in the Kingdom of God.

Matt. 16:27-28
27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

The above passage points out that which the coming of the Son of man will accomplish, namely, judgment. This judgment is brought by the Son as an expression of His kingdom power and authority. Because He is the true King of Israel, sitting on the throne of his father, David, at the right hand of the Power on High, He has the absolute authority to bring judgment upon those rebelling against His kingdom. The Father has committed all judgment unto the Son of man (Jn. 5:22,27).

This passage also points out the time frame in which this coming was to occur, i.e., within the life time of the disciples. In this one passage, we see three aspects of what the coming of the Son of man entails.

Coming in the Kingdom - not bringing the kingdom, for the kingdom was already in place. He comes “in the kingdom,” i.e., He is coming in the authority and glory of His Kingdom.

Bringing of Judgment - “reward every man according to his works”

Occurring within the life span of the original disciples - “some standing here shall not taste death.”

 

The Coming of the Son of man is Time Restrictive

Everywhere a time element is given concerning the coming of the Son of man, it is said to occur before that current generation expired.

1. “There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”

The occasion of this statement was when Jesus took His disciples to the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, and asked the question, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” After they gave various answers, He asked them, “Whom do you say that I am?” This is the question that every person must answer for themselves. Peter responded, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

It was during this time with the disciples, that Jesus said to them that, “There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” Here Jesus stated that the Son of man would come in His Kingdom before all of his original disciples died.

2. “This generation shall not pass away until all these things be done.”

In the Olivet discourse found in Matthew 24 (also Mark 13 & Luke 21), Jesus is answering the disciples’ questions regarding His comments about the destruction of the temple. Among some of the things He describes, He said,

29 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:
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.

After the tribulation of those days, meaning the days during which the people are in the midst of a great national catastrophe, ending in the destruction of their temple, their city and their way of life, would appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven. All the tribes of the land would mourn and they would see “the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” We will look later at the meaning of the “sign of the Son of man in heaven.”

Regardless of how we may interpret these verses, there is one thing that we cannot doubt. After making these statements about His coming, He then says,

“Matt. 23:34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled”

The generation to whom He was then speaking, would not pass away “till all these things be fulfilled.” What things? Everything He had just previously spoken of. Everything from Matthew 24:4 through Matthew 24:33, would be accomplished before that generation to whom He was speaking passed away.

Regardless of how we understand the “sign of the Son of man” or His coming “in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory,” it had to occur before that generation expired. There is no doubt in that.

3. “ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

After the arrest of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, He was brought before the high priest Caiaphas and the whole council. After several failed attempts to find witnesses against Him that agreed, Caiaphas said,

“I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.”

This was meant to force the truth from Jesus. It is similar to today when someone places their hand on the Bible in court and swears to tell the truth, the whole truth “so help me God.” Caiaphas was requiring Jesus to answer in the absolute truth “by the living God.”

Jesus, who is the Truth, could answer with nothing less. He 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)

You may have heard some advocate that Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah. However, this exchange between Caiaphas and Jesus puts that nonsense to rest. Here and in other places, Jesus clearly admits His identity. When asked if He is the Messiah, the Son of God, He responds, “I am.” This answer is actually much more emphatic in the Greek. This simple phrase, I am, should be translated, I myself am, to the exclusion of anyone else. We should also note that this phrase, “I am,” is also taken as the name of the Almighty (Exodus 3:14). This is important to remember when you come to all the “I am” sayings of Jesus in the Gospel of John. The use of this by Jesus is also another claim to His divine identity.

The answer to their question signifies that He is the long awaited Anointed of God (Messiah/Christ), and because He is, “ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

Remember, Jesus is addressing the whole council, the Great Sanhedrin. He says to them, “You shall see.” The you is plural, so He is addressing the whole council. He is telling the Great Sanhedrin you will see “the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” You might not realize it, but this is a time restrictive statement. The Great Sanhedrin ceased to exist after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. So this meant that the great council would see this coming of the Son of man before the temple and city was destroyed.

It is important to note that in Matthew’s account, Jesus states, “Hereafter ye shall see.” The word “hereafter” means from this point in time forward. Jesus is telling them from the time of His condemnation forward, they shall begin to see the signs and evidences that He has attained to His rightful place at the right hand of Power (Ps. 110:1). The resurrection was the first major sign of this. The ultimate sign would be on public display at the destruction of the temple and the city.

Jesus is telling the council, "I may be presently standing before you bound, beaten, bloodied and not much to look at. However, after this is over you are going to see me and know I am on the throne of my Father and I will come to you in power and judgment. The tables will be turned."

This answer of Jesus was based upon Daniel 7:13 and Ps. 110:1, both of which are Messianic in their purpose. For us to understand Jesus’ answer and the meaning of the coming of the Son of man, we will need to start in OT, the Bible of Jesus and the disciples.

 

Clouds of Heaven

The only place in the OT where we see this phrase, “clouds of heaven” is in the passage of Daniel 7:13. The ancient rabbis understood this to be another name for the Messiah [Anani], “He who comes with clouds.” John Gill remarks,

reference seems to be had to ( Daniel 7:13 ) , where one like unto the son of man is said to come in the clouds of heaven, and which is understood of the Messiah by many, both of the ancient and modern Jews: with whom one of his names is "Anani" {h}, which signifies "clouds".

The basic idea behind the phrase “clouds of heaven” is that of having the authority and power of heaven. We can see that in the prophets, the imagery of clouds carried with them the idea of power and swift judgment.

We already have the image of God’s abiding presence in a cloud by day, while the Israelites journeyed in the wilderness (Ex. 13:21). However, cloud or clouds also symbolize a coming of divine judgment. In Isaiah 19:1, we read,

The burden of Egypt. Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.

This is a pronouncement of judgment against Egypt. We see “the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud and shall come into Egypt.” Do we think that the Lord literally rode on a souped-up cloud down to Egypt? No, it is what is known as prophetic imagery. It is used by the prophets to convey an image into the hearts and minds of his listeners or readers. He is giving us an image our minds can understand. The picture we see here is that the Lord will come to Egypt swiftly in judgment.

Usually God’s judgment upon cities and nation was accomplished through the use of the armies of other nations. In this instance God is using the Assyrians as His army against the Egyptians.

In Isaiah 13, he is prophesying the downfall of Babylon through the armies of the Medes and Persians. This event was still more than one hundred and seventy years into the future from Isaiah. Just as God used the Assyrians against the Egyptians, He will use the Medes and Persians against the Babylonians. This is made evident by the verses that follow,

Isaiah 13:4 The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the Lord of hosts mustereth the host of the battle.
5 They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the Lord, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land.

It is the Lord who is seen as "mustering the host of the battle" against the Babylonians, with His army to destroy the whole land. Just as God was not seen at this battle, but those with eyes to see could see His Hand in the event. So also Jesus was not physically seen at the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, but those with eyes to see could see His mighty power at work in the event.

From the original use of the phrase “Son of man” in Daniel 7, we can surmise that it meant that the Messiah, the Son of man, would come with the power and authority of His heavenly kingdom to execute His judgment. It is also evident that this coming would occur before the present generation passed away. This coming “in power and great glory” would be fulfilled in the destruction of the temple and the city in AD 70.

 

Coming of the Son of Man in Judgment

It has been an accepted thought by many that the coming of the Son of man was fulfilled in AD 70 with the judgment and destruction brought upon the Jewish nation, its temple and city. How do we arrive at such a conclusion? Apart from the fact that this coming was to occur before the current generation in which Jesus was speaking had passed away, we have further evidences in His other sayings.

Matt. 13:40-43 (parable of the tares)

40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

The Parable of the Tares gives us a description of the separation of the wicked from the righteous, or the tares from the wheat in the Kingdom of Christ. This separation was to occur at the “end of this world,” or more correctly, “end of this age.” This phrase “end of the world” is the same wording as is found in Matthew 24:3. This does not refer to the end of the material world, but points to the end of the then current age.

What age did Jesus and the disciples live in? They lived and operated within the age of the Law or the Mosaic Age. This age was symbolized by the temple, with its ongoing sacrifices. Jesus appeared at the “end of the age” (Heb. 9:26).

Matthew twenty-four deals with answering the questions of the disciples regarding the overthrowing of the temple. Therefore, with the temple’s destruction would also come the end of the current age. The end of the Levitical system of sacrifices, the end of the Jewish polity, and the beginning of the Messianic Era.

According to the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, at the end of the then present age, the Son of man would send forth His angels to “gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire.”

What is this “furnace of fire” where all those who offend and do iniquity are cast? Isaiah 31:9 gives us the answer.

Isaiah 31:9 And he shall pass over to his strong hold for fear, and his princes shall be afraid of the ensign, saith the Lord, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem.

The furnace of fire is Jerusalem. This is why Jesus warned His disciples when they saw Jerusalem surrounded by armies, to flee to the mountains without hesitation (Matt. 24:16; Luke 21:20-22). Luke’s passage states this with greater clarity.

Luke 21:20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. 21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. 22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.

Jesus warns His people when you see the city surrounded by armies, depart immediately, for the “days of vengeance” is come. This is exactly what happened. Jerusalem became a furnace of fire for the Jewish nation. Over 1.1 million died during the siege, a huge number of these were slain at the hands of their fellow jews. Almost 100,000 were carried off to the slave markets of Egypt, where many of them could not be sold. This in itself is a fulfillment of prophecy (Deut. 28:68). Josephus records this in his account of the Jewish war, where he speaks of those Jews who deserted to the Romans.

They were all received by the Romans, because Titus himself grew negligent as to his former orders for killing them, and because the very soldiers grew weary of killing them, and because they hoped to get some money by sparing them; for they left only the populace, and sold the rest of the multitude, with their wives and children, and every one of them at a very low price, and that because such as were sold were very many, and the buyers were few. [Wars 6.8.2]
 

Jesus Warned of These Days of Vengeance

According to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus called the time of the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem, “days of vengeance.” This is very strong language coming from the lips of our Lord. The word translated here, vengeance, has several flavors of meaning. The one that make the most sense in this verse is, punishment, meting out of justice.

Knowing that our Lord is fully righteous, He would not exact punishment or dole out justice without first giving warning to the offenders and also giving them space to repent. This is exactly what Jesus did. Days before He sat with the disciples on the mount of Olivet to discuss His comments on the demolition of the temple, He began warning the people and their leaders of a coming reckoning for their rebellion.

Before Jesus departed the temple complex for the last time, He pronounced a series of “Woes” upon the scribes and pharisees. The pronouncement of “Woe!” is an exclamation of grief and warning of coming calamity (Rev. 9:12; 11:14).

After He ended His pronouncements of Woe, He concluded with the following statement.
Matt. 23:34-36

34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Jesus tells those gathered about Him in the temple, that He will send many servants to them (prophets, wise men, scribes) but they will abuse most and kill some. Jesus says, “Upon you may come,” the judgment for all the righteous blood that has been shed upon the earth or land. Then Jesus says, “All these things shall come upon this generation.”

What things? It is clear from what Jesus said it is the judgment for the shedding of all the righteous blood beginning with Abel. We must ask this question. Why would the Lord Jesus hold that current generation responsible for the shedding of all the past righteous’ blood?

There can be no other answer but this. Why were these who were slain considered righteous? If Jesus deemed them righteous, it can only be the righteousness which comes by faith, for as the prophet states, “the just shall live by his faith.” (Hab. 2:4) The phrase “the just” can also be rendered “the righteous.” All the righteous awaited the day of the coming of the Lord’s Messiah. However, He also said of the people in His day,

Matt. 13:15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Jesus told His disciples,

Matt. 13:17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

When “he came unto his own,” the jewish leaders could not see Him by faith, believing the words of the prophets. They wanted signs to validate Jesus' claims. This seemed to be in their nature, for even Paul says, “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom.” Jesus responds to their request, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign.” This is not the last time Jesus pronounced that generation as evil and adulterous.

In Matthew 16, the Pharisees and the Sadducees came to Jesus, desiring that He would show them a sign from heaven. Jesus asks, why can they predict the weather by looking at the sky, but they cannot discern the times in which they live. If they had known the writings of the prophets, they would have known that the times they were living in was the time in which the Messiah was to come. Daniel’s Seventy Weeks prophecy alone make this more than clear. He again says, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign.”

This generation had the benefit of fulfilled prophecy and the voice of the Anointed of God. As the Apostle John wrote,

1Jn. 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

If they had only knew the voice of the prophets and of the Son of God, for many of them it would have turned out better. However, they knew neither. For Jesus said of that generation,

Matt. 13:15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

This stubbornness and blindness of the people extended from their leaders to the whole of the city. This has been the history of how Jerusalem has treated the servants of God. Notice now Jesus has shifted his warnings from the scribes and pharisees to the whole city of Jerusalem. Now it is,

Matt. 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

Jesus warned the Jewish leaders and Jerusalem that their treatment of God’s servants would not go unpunished. Jesus said, “It cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.” (Luke 13:33)

The Parable of the Son’s Marriage
Matthew 22:1-14

Keeping with the same charge, Jesus told this parable. A king made a marriage feast for his son. He sent his servants (the prophets) to bid those invited (Israel) to come to the feast (the gospel). However, they mocked, abused and killed the king’s servants. The king “destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” However, so that the marriage feast would not be without guests, the king sent other servants into the highways and “as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.”

The point of this parable is extremely clear. They rejected God’s invitation to His Son’s wedding feast. It is one thing to refuse an invitation, but to abuse and kill the King’s messengers, is an affront to the King. It was an ancient practice that the one sent with a message, is as the one who sent him (Matt. 10:40; Jn. 13:20). So their treatment of the messengers is an expression of how they would treat the King, if he were actually present. If they killed the king’s messenger, then they would kill the king, which they did.

God’s judgment was to destroy those murderers and burn their city. This he did also. There is a second part of this parable which is equally instructive. It was normal for the one giving the feast to provide special festive garments for the event. In the parable, the king noticed a man without a wedding garment. The king asked, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” The man had no answer. He was bound and cast into outer darkness, which simply means he was cast outside the light of the feast. Having no wedding garment, as far as the king was concerned, meant he was naked. He did not have the covering approved by the king. So also those who are not clothed with Christ, are cast outside the light of the camp of the saints.

The Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen
Matthew 21:33-44

This parable is probably one of the most striking in this line of teaching. Jesus taught that a landowner planted a vineyard, fenced it, dug a winepress and built a tower (see Isaiah 5). He then leased it to some tenant farmers. When the season of fruit came, the landowner sent servants to collect his share of the fruit.

However, when the tenants saw the servants, they beat one, killed one and stoned another. The landowner sent other servants who were treated in the same fashion. He finally sent his son, believing that they would honor the son.

However, when they saw the son coming, they said, “It is the heir. Let us kill him and take his inheritance, then the vineyard will be ours.” So they took the son and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. It is important to notice that these wicked husbandmen recognized the son when he came. They wanted Him dead so that in their minds, his inheritance would be theirs.

Upon hearing how the wicked tenants killed his son also, the landowner “miserably destroyed those men,” and leased his vineyard out to other husbandmen, who would render the landowner his proper fruit.

As in the previous parable of the marriage feast, the application of this parable is obvious. The lesson for those who heard it was clear too. In conclusion, Jesus said to the chief priests and Pharisees,

Matt. 21:43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

They understood that Jesus was speaking these parables against them (v.45). They wanted to arrest Him right then, but they feared the people because they held Jesus to be a prophet.

The warning of this parable was that the kingdom of God would be taken away from natural Israel and given to another nation. What nation was that? That nation was the Israel of God, made up of believing Jews and Gentiles, born from above as new creatures, who have been clothed with Christ Jesus.

This parable warns natural Israel because of their rebellion against God and his Word, they will be destroyed and their place given to another. As stated, that other nation is the Israel of God (Gal. 6:15-16), the Body of Jesus Christ. Is this Replacement Theology? How can it be, when you one Israel is fulfilling the purpose which the other Israel failed in? The Israel being set aside is done so on account of their unbelief and rebellion. These unbelieving branches were broken off on account of unbelief. They may be grafted back into God's Olive Tree (the Israel of God), by faith in Messiah Jesus.

Peter writes to the believing community,
1 Peter 2:9-10 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

The words Peter uses to describe these New Covenant believers comes from the OT designation of Ancient Covenant Israel. Peter calls the Church of Jesus,

  1. A Chosen Generation - Deut. 7:6
  2. A Royal Priesthood - Exodus 19:6
  3. A Holy Nation - Exodus 19:6
  4. A Peculiar People - Deut. 14:2

The Axe Is Laid To The Root
Matthew 3:7-12

In the very beginning of John the Baptist’s ministry, this warning of coming judgment was clear.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

The Pharisees and Sadducees came down from Jerusalem to see what all the excitement was concerning this man who was preaching and baptizing at the Jordan. It had been well over 400 years since Israel had heard the voice of a true prophet.

John called them a “generation of vipers.” This is the same phrase Jesus used in Matthew 23. This can signify several different things. Firstly, as Jesus would state later, they were the spiritual offspring of the Great Serpent, Satan. This is why both John and Jesus told them not to think that their physical descent from Abraham will save them or be of any advantage for them. Secondly, like poisonous snakes, their teachings and doctrines were poison to all who were infected by them (Matt. 16:6).

10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

John was warning them that the time had come for God to weed out the fruitless trees in His vineyard (Jewish nation). Those trees (men) who consistently failed to bring forth righteous fruit, would be cut down and cast into the fire of judgment.

11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

The hand-held fan was used to separate the wheat kernals from its chaff. The separated wheat was gathered into storehouses and the useless chaff was burned up. Here, John is warning these Jewish leaders that a Greater One than him is coming and He will separate the wheat of Israel (believing Israelites) from the chaff which will be reserved for fire (judgment).

John 5:26-27 (Judgement given to Son of man)
26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; 27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.

All the above passages that deal with the then coming judgment upon Judea, Jerusalem, its people and temple, are only a small sampling of the totality of passages that speak to this. I will share one last verse that was spoken by Jesus in His Olivet teaching.

Matt. 24:27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. [cf/w Luke 17:24]

There are two aspect of this verse that are important for us to note. First is the word translated as ‘coming.’ This is the Greek word, parousia. Parousia means presence (See Parousia study). It signifies the presence of one who is already on the scene. The act of coming is complete. Coming signifies motion from point A to B. Parousia signifies that the motion is complete and emphasizes the idea of being present.

This presence of the Son of man is like lightening that comes out of the east and shines even to the west. This means it is seen by all. It is not a hidden presence. Does this mean that He will be seen physically? No, it means His presence or the evidence of his presence will be seen from one end of heaven to the other. This is very similar to what Jesus taught Nicodemus, when He said,

Jn. 3:8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

The Spirit is like the wind. You cannot visibly see the wind but you see its effect and can hear its sound. The coming of the Son of man is not said to be a visible, bodily coming of Jesus, but is noted as being a coming of the Son of man in power and great glory. One of the ways His power and great glory is seen is in the judgment brought upon the Jewish nation, its city and temple.

John Gill remarks concerning this,

“when his coming was as sudden, visible, powerful, and general, to the destruction of that nation, as the lightning that comes from the east, and, in a moment, shines to the west.”

We must note when Gill says, “visible,” he does not mean bodily, or physically. He means as I have just mentioned, that the effects and evidence of His presence is plain to be seen by those who will see. Those who would write off the destruction as being the natural result of war between two armies, will not see the hand of God behind it. However, those who see in the event the judgment of God upon Judea and its people, will visibly see His hand in the destruction.

The Roman General Titus admitted that he would not have been able to eject the Jews from Jerusalem, if God had not been fighting against them also.

"We have certainly had God for our assistant in this war, and it was no other than God who ejected the Jews out of these fortifications; for what could the hands of men or any machines do towards overthrowing these towers?” [Wars 6.9.1]

Lightening and clouds are used to denote the presence of God in judgment.

Nahum 1:3 The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.

The Son of man is said to come with clouds. Here, clouds are the “dust of his feet,” meaning it is symbolic of His presence, or His Parousia.

2Sam. 22:14 The Lord thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice. 15 And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and discomfited them.

Daniel 10:5 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: 6 His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. [cf/w Rev. 1:12-16]