Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the SIGN OF THE SON OF MAN WILL appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (Mat. 24:29-30)
To recap our last message, we saw the spiritual significance of the darkening of the sun and moon, the falling of the stars and the shaking of the powers of the heavens. These events indicate the passing away of the old heaven with all its luminaries which include the old world of human consciousness, worldly society, and man-made religion. These occurrences are the outcomes of the coming forth of the kingdom of God that supplants the dominion and rule of every man-made order. All ‘lights’ that governed, dictated, inspired and directed our desires, thoughts, understanding and actions will all be darkened when the Light of Christ becomes the only luminary in the heart of men.
As we continue to consider the profound statements of Jesus in our opening text, we read that what follows the darkening of the luminaries is the appearing of THE SIGN OF THE SON OF MAN in heaven. There are numerous interpretations and speculations about what this sign is. Some contend that the sign refers to physical events occurring in Jerusalem or lightning flashing in the sky. Others relate the sign to the physical appearing of Jesus Christ since the same verse mentions Him coming on the clouds. But, let us consider the substance of this sign.
The word ‘sign’ can be misleading as the original Greek word ‘semeion’ is also translated as miracles and wonders throughout scripture. However, the word directly translated means a mark or token. Strong’s defines it as: “that by which a person or a thing is distinguished from others and is known”. Thus, it is an evidence. It is a proof of identity or identifying characteristic. It can refer to an object, quality, event, or person whose presence or occurrence indicates the probable presence or occurrence of something else.
Undoubtedly, the sign is not distinct from the events of the coming of the Son of Man. In fact, the sign of the Son of Man is none other than the presence of Christ Himself coming with clouds in the awesome glory of His majesty. But, it should be clear to all that the clouds referred here are not literal clouds but a corporate expression of Christ in a people – the clouds of witnesses (see The Appearing of Christ part 9 for more on this). This sign of the Son of Man will be so compelling, unique and recognizable that it will be impossible to deny the reality of Christ’s presence. Thus, the appearing of the sign will cause all the tribes of the earth to mourn and to behold the Son of Man.
The appearing of this sign thus speaks of a hidden agenda that has been ordained from before the ages. An agenda that will be revealed at the appointed time to all of the Lord’s people who dwell in the earth realm. So, what is this agenda? It is the manifestation of Christ in His body – the many-membered Christ personified in a first-fruit company of sons.
A purpose paramount in the heart of God in this hour is to bring forth the full stature of Christ in a corporate body. We are now eagerly expecting the fullness of God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven; for the dominion of God’s divine government to take control of the government of this world and for the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham that all nations shall be blessed. But, there is a sign that confirms and yes, propels the fulfillment of all these events. It is the manifestation of the sons of God (Rom. 8:19-21). For, the manifested sons are the sign. They are the signature token and the evidence of the all-encompassing dominion of God’s Christ. When these elect sons of God come forth in the divine authority of the kingdom of God, then will the sign of the Son of Man be visible to all the tribes of the earth.
Dear saint, if you are waiting to see a sign in the sky of a coming Jesus or if you are looking to Jerusalem or to external events; natural disasters, wars, violence… you will not find the Lord there. Even in this lifetime we have witnessed countless floods, earthquakes, fires, tsunamis, wars, genocides, destruction of entire cities and countries, and displacement of millions. So, if these are indeed signs of the coming of Christ, then where is the Lord in all these incidents? Indeed, these events point to the filling to the brim of man’s rebellion and corruption. But, these are not the sign of the Son of Man.
In the days of His flesh, that wicked and adulterous generation was also seeking after a sign and it was given no sign except the sign of the prophet Jonah. But my generation of the Lord’s people also seek after signs but the only sign of any substance it will be given will be the sign of the Son of Man – the embodiment of Christ in His sons.
Consider John the Baptist. Here is a man of whom it is said (by the most reliable of sources) the greatest among those born of a woman. But there he is in the most unlikely of places – in the Judean wilderness declaring the divine agenda of God for the hour. Here is a prophet laboring in the fields of men’s hearts to bring forth Christ into the earth. Jesus asked those gathered: what did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed tossed by the wind (natural events) or a man clothed in fine garments (a man with status, influence and rank)? Of all the seemingly important events that were taking place in the world at that time, who would have known to keep their eyes and ears close to a man clothed in camel’s hair. Yet, this man’s words were marshaling a great event that would shift the course of the world’s history. There in the wilderness was a sign of the coming Messiah. And so it is in this dispensation. As one dear brother has wisely said: “Keep your eye on God’s elect”.
How we need to be sensitive to the voices crying out in the wilderness and to every groan of creation around us. The lies of religion have caused the Lord’s people to look to the skies and to natural disasters for the coming of the Lord, instead of looking within themselves and to their brothers and sisters whom the scriptures refer to as the body of Christ and God’s temple. Will not the Lord come from His holy habitation? Will Christ not come with ten thousands of His saints as a corporate expression in His body? Is this not the divine agenda of God orchestrated from the foundation of the world? So why have the saints rejected this truth? Why have they failed to rightly discern the Lord’s body?
Unlike the ministry of John the Baptist that ushered the man Jesus Christ, the next event in God’s redemptive agenda involves the birthing of Christ (the male Child) in an elect people. The wonderous sign of the Son of Man in heaven of which Jesus spoke is the very birthing of God’s man-child, the appearing upon the earth the overcoming and matured sons of God who have come to the full stature of Christ and who possess within their being the solution to the ills of the earth.
It was this event that John the revelator also saw as a sign in his prophetic vision. “And there appeared a GREAT WONDER (Greek: semeion – SIGN) IN HEAVEN; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: and she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered…and she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to His throne” (Rev. 12:1-2,5). There are many parallels between the sign that John saw and the sign of the Son of Man which Jesus declared. I believe both refer to the same event of the corporate birthing or manifestation of Christ in His sons.
Let us consider the woman. She is arrayed with righteousness having put on the Sun of Righteousness. The moon is under her feet signifying that she has overcome the lifeless routines, pseudo light of outward ceremonies, creeds, and programs of the old order religious system. Thus, this woman represents the true virgin church; the bride of Christ prepared by the Lord to be without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:27). She has a crown of twelve stars upon her head. The stars signify the glory of the Kingdom over the woman. Twelve in biblical numerology is the number of divine government. Thus, the positioning of the stars on her head signifies that her headship is the divine government of God. The mind of Christ has been established in her, both in revelation and experience.
As part of this sign, John also sees a significant event taking place. The woman is with child and the hour of her birthing is near as John sees her crying out in labor pains. Immediately, she gives birth to a male Child. As I read John’s vision, I am reminded of Paul’s words to the Galatians: “my little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19). Like Paul, those who have been betrothed to one husband and who have offered themselves as a chaste virgin to Christ have now been impregnated with the male Child. The Child is now growing within us and He is beginning to show. He is getting heavier. He is demanding more of us. He has become the center of our very existence. We write and read of Him and Him alone. The sole focus our expectation is His birthing. His manifestation is our earnest travail and the deep yearning of our heart.
It interesting to note that a full-term pregnancy normally lasts 40 weeks. The period is divided into three three-month periods or trimesters. These progressive periods have much to convey to us about the spiritual birthing that God has begun in His saints. Forty indicates a period of testing in scripture, while three is the number of divine completion. Today, many of the Lord’s people have yet to complete their first and second trimester. But those who have come into the third day experience; beyond the candlestick realm into the Holy of Holies, are being made ready for the divine birthing of Christ in their being. These are in their third trimester. But, with this has intensified the backaches, nausea, cramps and the discomfort, for the day of the manifestation of the male Child draws close.
Dear beloved, we should be mindful of the place where God has chosen to manifest Himself, for it is there that the sign will appear. Many today see themselves as unworthy to birth Christ and to manifest Him unto creation and so they look to the skies. How often have we sung “have Your way in me”? But, to what extent are we disposed to His way and His will? Rest assured dear saint, if your heart’s desire is to manifest Christ, He who began that good work within you will bring it to completion.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father!