QUESTION: My question to you is about the timing of Christ’s parousia. According to Matt 24:29 “Immediately after the Tribulation”… Verse 30 next states “Then you will see the SIGN of the sun of man”. Here appears the word – “Then.” I believe the Greek word Tote’, indicates the timing is following the tribulation. But also answers the question of the apostles back in verse 3… “What will be the SIGN of your presence”. Notice, they asked for the sign and verse 30 answers the question of what and when.
ANSWER: There are two aspects to Christ’s return. As the Scriptures make plain elsewhere, judgment begins first with the house of God. And the ordering of events outlined in the 24th chapter of Matthew follows that principle. For example, Jesus alerted his followers to take note of specific events leading up to the tribulation; namely, wars, food shortages, pestilences, etc. Taken together those events establish a sign. Then Jesus explained that there will be a disgusting thing standing in a holy place and that when that occurs Christians must flee for their lives. That is a sign too.
Jesus also warned against being deceived by false prophets and false christs, but then said the presence of the Son of man will be like the lightening that lights up the whole sky from east to west and that the eagles will be gathered to the carcass; meaning, that the chosen ones will discern the meaning of events and where Christ is, because he will reveal himself to them. It will not be necessary to go to a specific location, such as the wilderness or the inner rooms.
So, Christ’s presence and its accompanying sign, or signs to be more accurate, will accomplish the final gathering of the chosen ones, at which point the judgment of the nations begins.
But then Jesus spoke of another sign. Not the sign of his presence that his disciples will discern, but “the sign of the Son of man,” which will appear in heaven. The sign of the Son of man apparently appears at the end of the conclusion of the system and will be some heavenly display that will cause the “tribes of the earth” to finally realize they have rejected Christ and are doomed.