What was the sign of the Lord’s First Coming? There were actually two.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (NIV)
We are told that the immaculate conception of God’s Son Jesus in the womb of the virgin Mary was a sign of the Second Coming, but who would believe this sign? Only the believers would believe it. Anyone else would mock. That was the first sign, and the second sign was much more visible.
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (NIV)
Whenever you hear a prophet declare ‘see’ you are going to hear of a sign. Zechariah is telling Israel to look for this sign that will announce the coming of the King, that is, the official Coming of the Lord.
So, what we saw at the First Coming of the Lord were two signs, the first for the believers and the second for the unbelievers. Let us now look that at the Second Coming of the Lord.
As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (NIV)
Jesus answered first with what was going to happen in the near future for them, that is, the believers of the Church. Then starting in verse 15 he started telling them what would happen at the mid-point of Daniel’s 70th week.
“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (NIV)
Notice that word ‘see’ again. That word tells us that this is a sign. Now remember that Paul told us in 2 Thessalonians 2 that that sign would be seen by the Church? This ‘abomination that causes desolation’ sign is a sign for the Church and for Israel. It means, for the Church, the imminent return of the Lord with its resultant Rapture, and for Israel it means the beginning of the worst three and a half years of their history—the time of the Beast-man.
The entire passage from Matthew 24:15, through to the end of verse 35, is about Israel and not the Church. The Church is taken right after verse 15, the sign of the ‘abomination that causes desolation’. You can see this in verse 16, ‘let those that are in Judea…’. The Church will not have to flee, because the Church will be gone.
With respect to the Church we don’t see anything until verse 36. The whole passage from Matthew 24:26 through verse 51 is about the Church.
Now for the sign of the Second Coming for Israel.
“Immediately after the distress of those days “ ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
30 “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. (NIV)
This is a pretty big sign! ‘the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ This sign occurs sometime shortly after the end of Daniel’s 70th week. After the Beast-man and his false prophet are captured and thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur many false christs will appear, but Jesus warns those that believe in what is written, not to believe in them. The sign of his Coming will be unmistakable.
As I have said before you must understand to whom does a given prophecy speak. Most of the prophecies are for Israel and not for the Church. People in the Church have tried to make sense of them with respect to the Church and have become confused. This is an easy mistake to make until you understand who the prophecies speak to.
I found it very interesting that there were actually two signs at Jesus’ First Coming and two at his Second. The first for the believers and the second for Israel.