“1Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and OUR GATHERING TOGETHER TO HIM, we ask you, 2not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.” (2 Thess.2:1-2).
“12 His winnowing fan is in His hand’ and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and GATHER His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matt 3:12).
The GATHERING of His saints at His second coming Parousia took place in AD 66. God had the wheat and the tares grow together until the time of the harvest. At the end of the Jewish age the tares (unbelieving Israel) were GATHERED TOGETHER in their cities in the Jewish/Roman was as the wrath of God was poured out fulfilling the promised judgments on them for the breaking of their covenant, as commanded in Deuteronomy 28, and promised again to them in their Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32. Their obsolete Old Covenant was brought to a forever end (Heb. 8:13). In the unseen realm, all of the unbelieving dead souls from that time, all the way back to the start of start of creation, were resurrected out of Hades/Sheol and came before the Great White throne of Christ and were judged under the wages of their sin and cast conscious into the eternal Lake of Fire. The wheat (believing Jews and Gentiles) were GATHERED TOGETHER into the heavenly realm of His reunited Kingdom. Both, all of the souls of the faithful believers since back from the start of creation, which were resurrected out of the “Paradise” waiting place of the believers, along with the remaining living saints at the time of the Parousia in AD 66, who were “changed in the twinkling of an eye” into the same unseen realm as the resurrected souls which just came out of Hades/Sheol, to all meet and be gathered together to meet Christ as He descended in the aer (spiritual realm) to consummate final victory over Satan and his evil forces in that unseen spiritual realm (aer) where they reigned.
“30 Let both grow together UNTIL THE HARVEST, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First GATHER TOGETHER THE TARES and bind them in bundles to burn them, but GATHER THE WHEAT into my barn.’” (Matt 13:30).
“4 0Therefore as THE TARES ARE GATHERED AND BURNED IN THE FIRE, so it will be at the END OF THIS AGE. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will GATHER out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42and mil cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 13:40-42).
“6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they GATHER them and THROW THEM INTO THE FIRE, and they are burned.” (John 15:6).
Between AD 30 and AD 70, the forty year “this generation” period of Matthew 24:34, was the transition period for the removal of the obsolete Old Covenant to the consummation of the eternal New Covenant. Christ’s elect Jews (remnant) spoken of in Matt. 24:22, 24 were scattered throughout the Roman Empire, and the gospel needed to go to the four corners of the known world (Oikoumene) of that time in order for all of the OC Hebrews to hear the “message/sign of Jonah” – repent or perish (the reminder to them of so many of their OC prophecies were being quoted throughout witnessing, and evidenced in the NT scripture writings, and they were presented as “about to” come to a fulfilling climax). The elect remnant Jews would “hear and see” and believe in the gospel and come to Christ in repentance, but the majority would not (Matt. 13:11-15; Rom. 11:5, 7).
Jesus told His disciples in AD 30 that those first century Jews would see the SIGN of His second coming Parousia in that generation. This sign would be in the clouds over Jerusalem in AD 66. He would come with power and great glory. The non-believing Jews would MOURN at the wrath of God being poured out on the city and the temple in Jerusalem.
At the end of this 1st century transitional generation Christ came on the clouds with glory and power and judgment “in like manner” (John 5:19, 22) as the Father had come in the past (read: Isa. 64:1-3). Christ was telling all these things to His disciples, with the climaxing signs of His coming (Parousia) seen in the events surrounding the complete destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies. This major visual sign of the surrounding destroying armies, and several other signs the living would see, would be part of the visual confirmation of what was taking place in the unseen spiritual realm. In other words, the visual removal of the physical earthly OC temple/priesthood/system those living would see, would be the epitomized sign of the removal of the Old Heavens and Earth and the consummation of the New Heavens and Earth and eternal Kingdom fully consummated with Christ on His throne in the heavenly unseen realm reigning forevermore over both the seen and unseen realms à heaven and earth reunited (Eph. 1:10) (The fulfilling of Heb. 8:13, 9:8, 28, 10:37, 12:22, 26-29; Dan. 9:24, 12:5-7).
The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple was a SIGN to the Jews that Jesus was active in the heavenly realm as the resurrected Messiah and Son of God. He had fulfilled all of the Old Covenant laws, ceremonies and Feast days. He had done away with the obsolete Old Covenant system. He had consummated the eternal New Covenant and Kingdom. His “true Israel” would forevermore be made up of only true believing Jews and Gentiles (Gal. 3:28-29). A believer (Jew or Gentile), upon their true faith in Christ, are fellow and equal members in the Body of Christ, the living temple of God (Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:4-5).
Paul said: “there is neither Jew nor Greek …for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed (spiritual Israelites), and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal. 3:28-29). (Also see: Col. 3:11, Eph. 2:15-16).
Christ also said He would send His angels to GATHER TOGETHER His deceased elect saints from the outer courts of heaven; and His living elect saints from the farthest part of earth. (Mark 13:27). These would be judged and receive eternal life in the presence of God forever.
“30Then THE SIGN of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then ALL THE TRIBES OF THE EARTH (unbelieving Jews) WILL MOURN, and they will see the Son of Man COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN WITH POWER AND GREAT GLORY. 31And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will GATHER TOGETHER HIS ELECT FROM THE FOUR WINDS，FROM ONE END OF HEAVEN TO THE OTHER.” (Matt. 24:30-31).
The GATHERING of the saints took place in AD 66 when Christ returned at His second coming Parousia. This was the fullness of the prophetic times. His returning (Parousia) consummated His Kingdom, as He raised all of the dead ones/disembodied souls out of their waiting place in Sheol/Hades, changed and raptured the living believers together with them in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor. 15:51-52). All of the Jewish and Gentile believers who had previously physically died, as well as all those believers who were currently alive at the time of this 1st century rapture, were changed and gathered from everywhere within the Oikoumene (from one end of heaven to the other), each was given their new immortal heavenly bodies which were prepared by God (1 Cor. 15:38, 44, 47-50; 2 Cor. 5:1-5), and all were caught up together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the Air, and thus to always be with Him where He was à in the unseen heavenly realm (1 Thess. 4:17).
“1 0that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might GATHER TOGETHER IN ONE ALL THINGS IN CHRIST, BOTH WHICH ARE IN HEAVEN AND WHICH ARE ON EARTH — in Him.” (Eph. 1:10).
The Jewish historian, Josephus (not a Christian) wrote about the signs that the unbelieving Jews saw in the clouds when Christ returned. These signs were during the year before the war began in AD 67. Included in these signs was the rapture of the saints that occurred in May AD 66. A few examples of this are the following:
“Thus there was a STAR RESEMBLING A SWORD, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued for A WHOLE YEAR.” (Wars 184.108.40.2069).
“Thus also, BEFORE THE JEWS’ REBELLION, and BEFORE THOSE COMMOTIONS WHICH PRECEDED THE WAR, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus [Nissan], and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a LIGHT SHONE ROUND THE ALTAR AND THE HOLY HOUSE, that it appeared to be bright day time; which light lasted for half an hour.” (Wars 220.127.116.110).
“So these (signs) publicly declared that THIS SIGNAL FORESHADOWED THE DESOLATION that was coming upon them. Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the twenty-first day of the month Artemisius [Jyar] (May – AD 66), a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sunsetting, CHARIOTS AND TROOPS OF SOLDIERS IN THEIR ARMOR were seen running about AMONG THE CLOUDS, and surrounding of cities. Moreover at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the] temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place they FELT A QUAKING, and HEARD A GREAT NOISE, and after that they HEARD A SOUND as a great multitude, saying: ‘LET US REMOVE HENCE. ’” (Wars 18.104.22.1686-300).
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 7 Lesson 3a2 Matt. 24 Fulfillments”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 7 Lesson 4 Matt. 24:29-31”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 14 Lesson 3 Resurrection: 1 Thess. 4:13-17”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 15 Lesson 3 Matthew 13 Parable of the Tares”]