In my most recent segments of my in-depth study of Matthew 16:27-28, I have been showing that Jesus intended to come in the glory of the Father (verse-27) in the same manner that God had come out of heaven and down to earth to judge the nations in the Old Testament. It makes no difference whether one believes the Father is the God of the Old Testament or Jesus was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. No one had ever actually seen God literally come out of heaven to physically and bodily ride on a cloud and judge the nations in the Old Testament. Yet, this is the same manner in which Jesus said he would come in the glory of the Father (Matthew 16:27) to judge every man according to his works (cf. Matthew 26:64).
Earlier, I had shown how God used the Assyrians to judge both Israel (the 10 northern tribes) and Egypt. In this study, however, I’d like to consider how Assyria had come up against the land of Judah in Isaiah:
Behold, the name of the LORD cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire: And his breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err. Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goes with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the mighty One of Israel. And the LORD shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall shew the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones. (Isaiah 30:27-30)
This appears to be saying that the Lord would be seen. He would show lightning down his arm, and with a flame of fire devour his enemies and scatter them with a tempest and with hailstones. Is this what actually occurred? Did the Lord literally and physically (bodily) come? Was there literal fire, a literal tempest or a literal hail storm? No, nothing like this occurred when he saved Jerusalem from Sennacherib, king of Assyria, who came up against Hezekiah, king of Judah:
Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, says the LORD. For I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake. Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. (Isaiah 37:33-37)
Did Isaiah lie? No, he didn’t lie, because the Lord did destroy the Assyrian army. Isaiah used apocalyptic language, filled with metaphor and hyperbole. This type of language was used by all the nations when they recorded their battles. Was it meant to be taken literally? No! no one but modern futurists take such language literally. Modern futurists look for Jesus to literally destroy God’s creation in order to usher in the new heavens and the new earth of 2Peter 3:10-13. Yet, Isaiah used the same kind of language in Isaiah 34:4-5 in order to foretell the destruction of Idumea, which Malachi puts in the past (Malachi 1:2-3). Yet, the heavens didn’t roll up like a scroll, nor were all the stars cast down from the sky.
God came many times in the past. Yet, it was never a literal, physical, bodily coming. He came with his angels, but no one ever actually saw him or his angels. Yet, when Sennacherib woke up after the Lord had come, he found his army of 185,000 men dead all around him. Why, then, do we need to have Jesus come, literally, physically and bodily to Jerusalem to render every man according to his works (Matthew 16:27)? He said he would come in his Kingdom in the lifetimes of some who listened to him that day (Matthew 16:28). Why is it so difficult to realize he came, as he said he would, and judged Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple, using the Roman armies to carry out his will?