THE SECOND COMING OF THE LORD
“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven” (Matt. xxiv. 30), signifies the appearing then of Divine ‘Truth; a sign denotes an appearing; the Son of Man is the Lord as to Divine Truth. It is this appearing, or this sign, about which the disciples inquired when they said to the Lord, “Tell us when shall these things come to pass, and what is the sign of Thy coming, and of the consummation of the age” (ver. 3). For they knew from the Word that when the age was consummated the Lord would come, and they knew from the Lord that He would come again; and they understood by this that the Lord would come again into the world, not knowing as yet that as often as the church has been vastated, so often the Lord has come. Not that He has come in person, as when by nativity He assumed the Human and made this Divine, but by appearings,—either manifest, as when He appeared to Abraham in Mamre, to Moses in the bush, to the people of Israel on Mount Sinai, and to Joshua when he entered the land of Canaan; or not so manifest, as through the inspirations whereby the Word [was given], and afterwards through the Word. For the Lord is present in the Word; for all things of the Word are from Him and relate to Him, as is evident from what has been so frequently shown before. This is the appearing which is here signified by the sign of the Son of Man, and of which this verse treats. “And then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn,” signifies that all who are in the good of love and in the truth of faith shall be in grief. That mourning has this signification may be seen in Zechariah, chap. xii. verses 10-14; and tribes signify all things of good and truth, or of love and faith, consequently those who are in love and faith. They are called tribes of the earth, because they that are within the church are signified; the earth is the church. “And they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of the heavens, with rower and great glory,” signifies that then the Word shall be revealed as to its internal sense, in which the Lord is. The Son of Man is the Divine Truth which is therein. The clouds are the literal sense power is predicated of the good, and glory of the truth that are therein. This is the coming of the Lord which is here meant; and not that according to the letter He will appear in the clouds. What now follows concerns the establishment of a New Church, which takes place when the old is vastated and rejected. “He shall send forth His angels with a trumpet and a great voice,” signifies election; not that it is effected by visible angels, still less by trumpets and by great voices, but by an influx of holy good and holy truth from the Lord through the angels. Therefore angels in the Word signify something appertaining to the Lord; here things which are from the Lord and concerning the Lord. By a trumpet and a great voice evangelization is signified, as also elsewhere in the Word. “And they shall gather together the elect, from the four winds, from the end of the heavens even to the end of them,” signifies the establishment of a New Church. The elect are they who are in the good of love and faith; the four winds, from which they shall be gathered together, are all states of good and truth; the end of the heavens even to the end of them are the internal and external things of the Church. These things then are what are signified by those words of the Lord. (AC n. 4060)
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