What is the Spiritual Significance of Fasting?

TGP Newsletter – March 8, 2024


A Sister wrote in with a great question regarding fasting. Our response was very short and by no means comprehensive, but as she found these comments helpful, we will share them with everyone else in the hopes that the benefit may be extended.

The Question

Question: I’m trying to understand the spiritual significance of fasting. Not the health benefits but what I would be doing as to God. And help would be appreciated. Sis Ruth Cintron

Our Response

Dear Sis. ________,


Great question! I myself have wondered what the exact purpose of it is, and your question has forced me to finally look into it. So thank you! My time is short, but I’ll share my thoughts, findings, and personal experience.


If we search the Scriptural use of fasting, we find that it relates to focus, determination, humbling/strengthening oneself, and reliance on God. It is a way of communicating our desire and reliance upon God and the spiritual things as compared to the natural things. If you search “fasting” in the Bible, we see that it usually correlates either to A) a show of sincere repentance and sorrow, or B) a show of heartfelt devotion and reliance. In Acts 10:30, we learn that the gentile Cornelius sought the Lord with all of his heart, and a large part of this is shown in his fasting. In seeing the devoutness of Cornelius’s heart, the Lord heard his prayer and sent Peter to teach him the Gospel so that he might be a partaker of it. 


We also see that fasting can be used as a means of purifying and testing oneself spiritually. Christ fasted for 40 days, and it was only then that he began to be heavily tempted by the lust of the flesh to use his newly received spirit-gifts for carnal purposes (creating food, preserving his life, acquiring power for himself, etc). 


As always, Christ should be our prime example. When we see him fasting, we see that he was living out what he and the Old Testament taught, namely that ”man shall not live by bread alone” (Matthew 4:4). It is by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God that man lives, and it was this that gave Christ strength more than any carnal food could offer. We see this in


John 4:31-34 - In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.  (32)  But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.  (33)  Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?  (34)  Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.


The practical effect and the results of this are seen in Matthew 17, for there we see a man possessed of an “unclean spirit” that the disciples tried to cast out. It took a level of focus and faith that the disciples did not yet have. Seeing the man throwing himself about more violently than any that the disciples had ever seen before, their faith wavered and they were unable to cast it out. Yet Christ was able to do it, and he explained the reason why: ”Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21). What did fasting have to do with Christ’s ability to cast it out? Obviously it had nothing to do with nutrition or the lack thereof. Christ had determined for himself that he would serve the Lord, and his commitment to this was on a higher plane than that of his disciples then. He was therefore more firmly planted in his faith and unshaken by the raging man.


As far as spiritual purposes for us goes, it should not be any different. I know that I myself have fasted only once, and it was when a relative of mine was sick with Covid and had to be placed in the acute care unit. We feared for their life, and though they are still unaware of my doing this, I resolved to fast and pray to our Father that He might preserve them. I thought of when David fasted for his child from Bathsheba who the Lord smote:


2 Samuel 12:16David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth.


I wanted to show how dearly I cared for them and trusted in the Lord in that He would be able to heal them, and He did. 


And so, if and when we fast, it should be for this same purpose as Christ and the others in the Bible, summed up in the charter, ”my meat is to do the will of him that sent me”. It should not be to appear unto men as to fast so we look “holy” to them or direct attention to ourselves, but to communicate and show a devotion and reliance upon God for all things necessary. We can be glad that we’re given clear instruction on this and how to fast:


Matthew 6:16-18 - Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.  (17)  But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;  (18)  That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.


There are many other verses one could look at to see in what exact ways fasting was used, but this should suffice as a short summary. I believe that if we do it, we need to ensure that we are doing it for the right purposes and using it as the righteous men and women of old used it. Hopefully this helps to answer your question. 


Bro. Tanner

Will the Judgment be at Mount Sinai?

TGP Newsletter – October 18, 2023


In our last Prophecy Letter about the recent Hamas war, a reader wrote with a question concerning the place where the saints will be judged. As it is an excellent question and one that many might have, I thought it would be beneficial to share the response with others.

The Question

Dear Brother,

These are my thoughts and if anyone can prove this Sinai scenario to me please do.  I am trying to envision Noah, Abraham, David, etc.  going up from Sinai to Israel fighting along the way.  It just doesn’t make sense. And at what point does he stand on Mount Olive for all eyes to see him?

1 Corinthians 14:33 kjv

33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

I have a hard time that many believers speak of our judgement taking place in Mount Sinai.  In secret.  It absolutely makes no sense.  First I would ask you if this is true why would the Israelites be told to stay away from it.

Exodus 19:12-13 kjv

12 And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death:

13 There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.

Seriously, in this day and age how can you gather that many people to Sinai in secret?  And then travel to Israel.  Think about this for one minute.  This judgement is not just for those who died in the last 50 years or for just those who are alive at his coming, but from Adam on up.  That scenario alone makes no sense.

In   Acts 1:9-11kjv

9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

Again in  Revelation 1:7 kjv

 7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

We are told in,

  1 Thessalonians 4:17 kjv

17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

UP, CLOUDS, AIR! How can we not see this makes sense, since when Jesus steps on Mount Olive we are with him in the clouds.

Zechariah 14:4-5 kjv

4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.

5 And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.

Love in Christ, Sister ___________


Our Response

Dear _______,

It's an excellent question! I'll be glad to explain my reasoning for it as best as time will allow.

I believe there are a couple of ways of coming to the conclusion that the judgment will take place at Mount Sinai. I think it’s important to mention that Sinai is in Arabia and not the Sinai peninsula as has been traditionally thought. Galatians 4:25 specifically tells us this: “For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia”.

The first thing I think is worthy of consideration is the last set of verses you mentioned in Zechariah 14. This is undoubtedly the time when Christ will appear to Israel’s salvation. Yet we find that it is not only the Lord Christ that is there, but as it says, “and all the saints with thee” (verse 5). Christ therefore has his immortalized multitude with him at this time, which means we must conclude that the saints have already been gathered, judged, and immortalized. Obadiah 17-21 bears this out as well. These verses describe how Israel destroys Edom and occupies the lands of Edom, the Philistines, the Canaanites, and that of Samaria and Benjamin (vss. 19-20). The last verse shows who executes the judgment on these Gentile nations: “And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the Lord's.” 

The mention of “saviours” is important, for it teaches us two things. Firstly, that the Lord is certainly the cause of Israel's salvation. The Hebrew word for "saviours" in this passage is the same as in

Isaiah 43:3For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.

The Lord is Israel's savior, but note that it is not singular in Obadiah, but plural. By comparing this with the mention of “all the saints” in Zechariah 14, we see that this is the multitudinous Christ that saves Israel.

Now, these verses obviously do not tell us that the judgment is at Sinai, but they do tell us some critical information: Christ has already judged his household by this point. What ties this in with Mount Sinai are the other prophecies that show Christ's progress before he sets his foot on the Mount of Olives. These are primarily Isaiah 63:1-6 and Habakkuk 3.

Tying it to Sinai

With Isaiah 63, we are given a prophecy of Israel's salvation from the perspective of someone in Jerusalem. What's interesting is that it doesn't show Christ appearing directly from the heavens and landing on the Mount of Olives, but as coming from the south. Note the locations that Christ comes from and what he has done in those locations:

Isaiah 63:1-6 – Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.  (2)  Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?  (3)  I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.  (4)  For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.  (5)  And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me.  (6)  And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.

We see that Christ came from Bozrah – the ancient capital of Edom – before he appeared in Israel. This is south of the Mount of Olives, which means that Christ was moving northward to Jerusalem. Now, we must ask: Why is Christ coming from the south? The reason is supplied in the text. He is destroying the armies of Edom along the way. Thus, his apparel is already stained red by the time the Jews lay their eyes upon him. His garments are stained with the blood of Israel’s enemies as he will have trodden them down in his anger (vss. 2-3,6). This is why we say that Christ will destroy the Arab armies along the way to Jerusalem. His garments are already stained at the moment they see him, and they are stained with the blood of Israel’s Arab enemies.

Like the other passage we have considered, this in itself does not teach us that the judgment is at Sinai, but it is an important milestone that points us in that direction. We’re able to trace a line from the Mount of Olives to Bozrah and see the progress of the multitudinous Christ.

Yet we are given more information than this. If we turn to Habakkuk 3, we are given more points to plot on the map:

Habakkuk 3:3-13God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.  (4)  And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power.  (5)  Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet.  (6)  He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting.  (7)  I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble.  (8)  Was the LORD displeased against the rivers? was thine anger against the rivers? was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation?  (9)  Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers.  (10)  The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high.  (11)  The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear.  (12)  Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger.  (13)  Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed; thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck. Selah.

This chapter shows all of the same features as the other two prophecies we have considered: the Lord is going forth “for the salvation of thy people” Israel, and he is destroying their enemies as he travels across the lands. It is therefore easily seen to be in conjunction with those prophecies and refers to the same time period. Yet what’s different about this passage is the locations the Lord is said to visit and come from.

We first note that “God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran.” Teman, while also a literal place, literally means “South” (see Strong's). It's interesting to note that “Teman” here is not an English translation of a Hebrew word, but a transliteration the Hebrew word itself: têmân. When the KJV translators came to this verse, they had to make a choice: “Do we translate it into the English word ‘South’, or do we leave it in the Hebrew form and make it refer to the place?” The passage makes sense with either interpretation, for the city of Teman is south of Jerusalem. What’s more important to our topic is that it is even further south than Bozrah.

But Mount Paran is mentioned as well, and it is from here that “the Holy One” comes. Interestingly, Mount Paran is even further south than Teman! The locations for this are debated, but the best maps I can find show it being on the northeastern-most tip of the Red Sea. But when we find these locations on a map, we find that the point of origin of Christ’s conquest to save Israel keeps getting pushed further and further south of Jerusalem and closer to the Red Sea. If Christ’s first appearance is on the Mount of Olives, this is not what we would expect to find. Yet Habakkuk 3 has more to tell us:

We read of the tents of Cushan and the land of Midian (Habakkuk 3:7). These are confounded and tremble at the Lord’s presence and wrath. This places us directly in the land of Mount Sinai, for it was in the land of Midian that Moses came to Mount Sinai, saw the burning bush, and the Lord said, “When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain(Exodus 3:12 – CP 2:15).

When we plot all of the landmarks given to us in Zechariah 14. Isaiah 63, and Habakkuk 3, the map below is the line of progress we end up with:

We must now ask why. Why is it that the Lord begins his conquest to save Israel in the land of Midian? There must be an answer, for the Lord does nothing without purpose. The only logical answer lies in the fact that it is not Christ alone that saves Israel, but Christ with his saints (Zechariah 14:5, Obadiah 21).

The immortalized saints are with Christ when he sets his feet upon the Mount of Olives, but at what point does he gather and judge them? We have no indication that it is while he is in Teman, Bozrah, or any other location along the way. The logical answer is that he begins his conquest with them at his side, and as we can see from the map, this conquest begins from the region of Mount Sinai. Some believe that Mount Paran is actually another name for Mount Sinai (Deuteronomy 33:2). If this is true, then Habakkuk 3:3 not only tells us that the Lord came from the land of Midian, but from Mount Sinai itself. Either way, it is clear that Christ comes directly from this region. This is one of many reasons that lead us to conclude that the judgment will take place in Sinai.

It's important to mention that what first happened at Sinai long ago makes this location a prime spot for the judgment scene. It is not as if Sinai is a random place where nothing of significance occurred in the past. It was holy ground before Moses even brought the children of Israel to the base of the mountain (Exodus 3:5). It was because it was holy that the children of Israel were commanded not to come near the mount, for their lives would otherwise be at stake (Exodus 19:12-13, 23). It was only when Moses and the elders were called up into the Mount that they were allowed to touch it (Exodus 24:1, 9, 12). The same principle seen with the Ark of the Covenant. It was holy, and they could therefore not touch it of their own accord (Numbers 4:15, 2 Samuel 6:5-7). We must remember that it was at Sinai that Israel met their God, and from then on out, the mount has had great significance in Scripture.

We will not take the time at this moment to delve deeply into each of these subjects, but there are a few items worth mentioning which show Sinai to be a place of significance not only in the past, but also in relation to the return of Christ:

1.     The account of the Exodus

The entire account of the Exodus is a shadow of the Lord’s plan of salvation. After associating themselves with the blood of the Passover lamb and being delivered from Egypt, the Israelites were all commanded to stand before the mount. These Israelites, we know, are a type of all who have come into covenant, and it’s interesting that they were to come before the mount to meet their God and receive His law:


Exodus 19:17-20And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.  (18)  And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.  (19)  And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.  (20)  And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.


The entire account is beautifully rich with symbolism that corresponds to the appearance of Christ to his servants. One thing we wish to point out is how the Lord came down. In Exodus account, we read:


Exodus 19:18And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.


That the Lord came down in fire is itself typical of judgment (Isaiah 66:15, Revelation 1:14). Accordingly, we see the same exact thing in reference to Christ’s return and call to gather his saints for judgment:


Psalms 50:3-5Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.  (4)  He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people.  (5)  Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.


As always, we must ask why. Why did the Lord decide to describe His son’s return to gather his covenanted servants using the same imagery as how the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai? It suggests a correlation between the two events.

2.     The account of Elijah

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah flees from Ahab and Jezebel for fear of death. I recommend reading the entire chapter, but I will cite only one verse here. But where did Elijah flee to for refuge and comfort? He could have gone anywhere, but he headed directly south:


1 Kings 19:8And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.


It is commonly understood that Horeb is another name for Sinai due to the fact that these names are used interchangeably (CP Exodus 3:1, 15, 19:11, Deuteronomy 5:2, 2 Chronicles 5:10). As to why different names are used, it’s possible that one was the Semitic name for the area and the other name was what other tongues called it. It’s also possible that one name referred to the mountain and the other the area, but the reason is not relevant to our subject. What’s important is that they are the same mountain, and it was to this mount that Elijah came to speak with the Lord (1 Kings 19:9-18).


Why is this relevant? While not directly teaching us that Sinai is the place of judgment, it shows the importance placed on the area, particularly in that it was the place which the Lord descended to the earth in power and awe. Elijah experienced a special series of events in this place – something which the passage suggests would not have happened if Elijah would have went to Mount Ebal, Gerizim, or any other mountain that was closer to him. Again, we see a unique emphasis the Lord has placed on Mount Sinai.

3.     The Transfiguration

This is perhaps the most beautiful and direct evidence (beside the map of Christ’s movements to Israel) that suggests that the judgment will be at Mount Sinai. In truth, it is a disservice to deal so quickly upon this subject, but time is short and this answer is running long.


There are three accounts of the transfiguration, and they must all be studied together for the full picture. These are Matthew 16:27-13, Mark 9:1-13, and Luke 9:23-36. It is critical to consider these in light of Christ’s statement to his disciples that “the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” He then immediately says, “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:27-28).


This immediately precedes all accounts of the transfiguration and therefore gives us the context for it. It was said that some of Christ’s disciples would not even taste of death until they were given a vision of Christ returning to judge his household; to “reward every man according to his works”. The coming of Christ is directly related to his judging of his household, for Paul writes to Timothy, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:1).


This is precisely what the transfiguration was: a vision of Christ’s return and judgment of his saints. Thus he charged those privileged disciples, “Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead” (Matthew 17:9). At the moment he gave this instruction, he had yet to offer himself as the perfect sacrifice and thereby set in stone his role in the future age. Had he failed (which we know he would not have), not one person could be raised from the dead. It is for this reason that the disciples were instructed to wait and tell others about the vision until he had been risen from the dead, for then would it all be sealed and those who had died in faith and would later succumb to the sleep of death could be raised (Hebrews 13:20, CP Romans 8:11, 1 Corinthians 6:14, 15:15-18, 2 Corinthians 4:14).


Now, the word “vision” here is horama, and it is the same word used in Acts 9:12, 11:15, and 12:9. In each of these instances, the “vision” was not simply something seen with our eyes, but a miraculous vision given from Divinity. That the transfiguration was a symbol-filled vision of Christ’s return is told to us by Peter himself:


2 Peter 1:16-18For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.  (17)  For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  (18)  And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.


How is this relevant to the judgment being at Sinai? Firstly, it’s important that the vision of Christ coming to judge his saints was given in a high mountain far removed from everything else (Matthew 17:1, Mark 9:2, Luke 9:28). Again, we must ask why? If it were simply to find some privacy, there were certainly many secluded places that would not require six days of travel and the scaling of a mountain. The location must have been important.


The true beauty is seen when we compare these accounts of the transfiguration to that of Moses and the children of Israel at Mount Sinai. We note the clouds, the glory, the giving of a law, and many other corresponding details.  And interestingly, we see two figures talking with him. Who are they? Who other than Moses and Elijah – the two persons who personally ascended Mount Sinai to speak with the Lord! The appearance of these two individuals is beautiful and significant in multiple regards.


Firstly, it leads me to believe that the mount that Christ and his selected disciples scaled was supposed to at least represent Mount Sinai, for I am not certain that they could have reached that are in only six days of normal travel. If this trip was possible in that time frame, I would conclude that Christ took his disciples there.


Secondly, we have two representations in Moses in Elijah. In Moses, we have the Law represented, and in Elijah, the Prophets. Both are here represented giving glory to Christ, testifying of him and speaking of “his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31). They appear in a glorified state, which is another fact which testifies to this being a vision and not an actual event, for we know that Moses and Elijah must first be resurrected, judged, and immortalized before they could be glorified, and none of these things will occur until Christ returns (Luke 9:31, 2 Timothy 4:1).


But I believe that we also have two other classes represented in them: Moses as those who have fallen asleep and Elijah as those who will be “alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:15). Though the burial place of Moses is not known, his death is recorded in Scripture (Deuteronomy 34:5-7). Elijah’s death, on the other hand, is not recorded in Scripture. Though he certainly died, “as it is appointed unto men once to die” (Hebrews 9:27), he was removed from the sight of Israel in such a way that gives the impression that he is still alive (2 Kings 2:11). Therefore, we have both those who have died and those who are alive when Christ returns represented in the transfiguration. As they are both in a glorified state, they have been judged according to the vision.


For the sake of time and space, we must presently leave the remainder of this study of the transfiguration to the reader, and we highly encourage it to be done! It has been one of this writer’s most fruitful and strengthening studies he has so far had the pleasure of carrying out. Compare the transfiguration to what happened at Sinai and a great deal will be seen. To start, for example, compare Exodus 19:16-17, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, and 1 Corinthians 15:52.


I hope this at least partially explains why many believe the judgment will be at Sinai. I’ll begin to wrap up by addressing some of the other passages you had mentioned:

The Other Passages Cited

In relation to your question about being “caught up to meet the Lord in the air”, I will cite an article from the April 1889 Christadelphian Advocate for time’s sake (pgs. 87-88). This writer’s argument is probably more concise than mine would be too! On the subject of 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and “meeting the Lord in the air”, he writes,

“In the physical heavens there are clouds. The physical is used in the Scriptures to represent the spiritual. The Scriptures abound with figurative language. “This language,” says Sir Isaac Newton, “is taken from the analogy between the world natural, and an empire or kingdom, as a world politic. Accordingly, the whole world natural, consisting of heavens and earth, signifies the whole world politic, consisting of thrones, and people, or so much of it as is considered in the prophesy.”

“The apostle Peter speaks of the passing away of the ruling powers of his time and those of the last days of Gentile times, as the passing away of the heavens and the earth. The establishment of the kingdom of God is represented as the creation of “new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness” (II. Pet. iii: 10-13). Now in the heavens natural there are clouds and air, and in the new heavens there will, figuratively speaking, be clouds and air. The latter are clouds or companies of people from whom will descend, as gently descending rain upon the mown grass, the blessings for the nations of the earth under the “new heavens wherein dwelleth righteousness.” Clouds in the heavens natural are formed by the action of the sun upon the morning dew, causing it to ascend into the heavens and holding it in suspension. In the morning of the resurrection “The earth shall cast out the dead” (Is. xxvi: 19), who shall then be as the morning dew to be operated upon by the Sun of righteousness in the “new heavens,” whose action upon the dew will draw it up into the air politic of the kingdom of God. In the words of the text, “We shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air (the air of the new heaven politic), and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

“That clouds represent a company of people will be seen from the following testimonies: “Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou and all thy bands, and many people  with thee”—Ezek. xxxviii: 9. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses,” etc.—Heb. xii:1.”

The meaning of 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is therefore not that we will be lifted into the sky to meet our Master, but that we, as the righteous and immortalized saints, will be elevated to the Spirit nature and made rulers of the new political heavens. I believe this is what is promised in

Isaiah 58:14Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

This promise of ruling the earth is a consistent theme throughout Scripture, and such an interpretation of our subject verse in 1 Thessalonians 4 removes what would otherwise be a contradiction in Scripture. For example, the first chapter of Acts, which you had mentioned, tells us precisely how Christ will return to his servants:

Acts 1:9-11And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.  (10)  And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;  (11)  Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

We are here told that Christ will return in the same manner as he departed. How, then, did he ascend? He ascended from the midst and in the sight of his brethren, and so he must likewise descend in the midst and in the sight of his brethren. It is here that the scenery of Sinai becomes even more fitting, for it makes sense not only in that the Lord descended onto the mount before His people when He brought them out of Egypt, but it was also only the Israelites who saw Him descend. This gets to the “secrecy” aspect of the judgment. Only Christ’s disciples saw him ascend, and so only his disciples will see him descend. Nobody else in Jerusalem saw Christ disappear into the heavens. That privilege belonged only to his brethren. And as the angels have told us that he will descend in the same way, we must conclude that only his brethren will see him descend to the earth. It is clear that Christ will reveal himself to the nations, but when the Scriptures show him doing this, I always find that the saints are there with him.

Regarding whether the nations will know about the judgment or not, I know of no Scriptural evidence that says they will, and if they did, they wouldn’t be able to do anything about it anyways. As they have never associated themselves with the blood of the covenant, the judgment of Christ’s household could not possibly have less bearing on them one way or the other.

Regarding the passage in Revelation 1, I believe the context is critical to understanding the time period it refers to:

Revelation 1:5-7And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,  (6)  And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.  (7)  Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

I think we must first note the tense of verse 6. The part about us being made kings and priests is in the past tense, illustrating that the saints have already been judged by this time. The rest of the passage supports this, for it mentions that “they also which pierced him” shall see him. When will this occur? That event is recorded for us in Zechariah 12 and 13.

Zechariah 12:10And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

See also Zechariah 13:6.

It’s critical to note that this takes place after Christ saves Israel from “the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem” (Zechariah 12:2). And as we saw earlier, Christ has his saints with him at this time. Therefore, the “clouds” that Jesus comes with at this time are his newly immortalized brothers and sisters. If it is not, then we must ask, At what time does he gather us? Will Christ conquer the nations before coming to the bride he has waited 2,000 years to be with? Certainly not (Matthew 25:1-13, John 17:24). I believe we must conclude that Christ’s very first order of business will be to “call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice” (Psalms 50:4-5). As we long for him, so he longs to be with those whom he gave his life to save. What beautiful things await those who love and labor for his return, for “unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:28).


In the One Hope of Israel,

Tanner Hawkins