The Inauguration of the Kingdom
"And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Mt. 24:30).
In regard to this verse Gary DeMar says,"There is a cloud motif in Scripture.The reference is found in Daniel 7: 13-14, the passage that Jesus quotes in Matthew 24: 30. Notice that the coming of the Son of Man in Daniel 7 is not 'down' but 'up'! The Son of Man, Jesus, comes up 'with the clouds of heaven' to 'the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him'" [emphasis mine] (DeMar, Last Days Madness, 161).
Gary DeMar says that this happened at His ascension: "At His ascension, Jesus had come up to the Ancient of Days 'with the cloud of heaven' to receive the kingdom of His Father...the fulfillment of the prophecies regarding a descendant of David's throne forever was realized in Jesus, David's Son" [emphasis mine](Ibid., 163,165). He places the date of the Crucifixion and thus His ascension at A.D.70 (Ibid., 327).
However, the Lord Jesus said that the kingdom" would only be "near at hand" by the time when the Lord Jesus would be seen in a cloud:
"And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory...So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is near at hand" (Lk.21:27,31).
Gary DeMar then turns around and places His coming when Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D.70:
"'Jesus came 'in the glory of His Father with His angels' in A.D.70...The crucifiers would see Him coming in judgment...that is, they would 'understand' that His coming would mean wrath on the land" (Ibid., 49,169).
If the kingdom only remains "near at hand" after the "coming of the Son of Man" (which he says occurred in A.D.70) then how can Gary Demar state that that same coming happened at His ascension which occurred forty years earlier?
He says that "One of the first things a Christian must learn in interpreting the Bible is to pay attention to the time texts" (Ibid., 37). But he himself places the inauguration of the kingdom at the ascension of the Lord Jesus, an event which occurred forty years before he says that the "coming" of the Son of Man occurred.
"Coming" or "Going"?
Gary DeMar quotes Harold Fowler to help bolster his case that the "coming" of Matthew 24:30 parallels the "coming" described at Daniel 7:
"In Daniel's vision, coming on the clouds means that the Son of Man was coming onstage, into the scene. It is not a coming toward Daniel or toward earth,but a coming seen from the standpoint of God, since Daniel uses three verbs to indicate this: 'coming...approached...was led to' the Ancient of Days" [emphasis mine](Fowler, The Gospel of Matthew, 4 vols. [Joplin, MO: College Press, 1985], 4: 487).
Harold Fowler says that this coming must be considered from the "standpoint of God". However, at Matthew 24:30 the Lord Jesus was answering His disciple's question, a question that can only be considered from the "standpoint of man":
"And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the age?" (Mt. 24:3).
If we are going to believe this strange idea of Gary DeMar then we must somehow trick our minds into believing that the Lord's disciples asked Him about His "coming" and the Lord answered them by speaking of His "going"!
"Believe Him Not"
The Lord Jesus warned that there would be some people who would attempt to deceive others into believing that He had already come despite the fact that His coming remained in the future:
"And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not" (Mk. 13: 21).
"Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Mt. 24:26,27).
The Lord Jesus compares His coming to "lightning" that "shineth even unto the west", a coming that will be visible. However, Gary DeMar says that the Lord's warning is not a warning at all, but instead "Jesus would come 'just as the lightning comes from the east,' that is, quickly and without warning" (Ibid., 123).
The Lord Jesus repeatedly says to "watch" for His coming:
"Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come...Watch therefore...Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is...Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh" (Mt. 24:42; 25:13; Mk.13:33,35).
"And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch" (Mk.13:37).
Gary DeMar writes, "Jesus told His disciples that they would see a sign that proved He was in heaven, sitting at His Father's right hand (Acts 2: 30-36)" (Ibid., 165).
What is this "sign"? He says that "The 'sign' is that the Son of Man is enthroned 'in heaven' " (Ibid.).
According to his reasoning all of Israel would see a "sign" that proved that He was in heaven, and that "sign" is the Son of Man enthroned in heaven! If we are to believe Gary DeMar then we must believe that all Israel saw the Lord Jesus enthroned in heaven in A.D.70.
All Israel Would Know It
A careful reading of what Gary DeMar is saying reveals that the "sign" is not "that the Son of Man is enthroned in heaven," even though that is what he wrote. Instead, according to him, the "sign" is the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.70. He writes:
"The fulfillment of the prophecies regarding a descendant of David sitting on David's throne forever was realized in Jesus, David's Son (Matt. 1:1; Luke 3:31; Acts 2:22-36). Isn't this similar to what Stephen saw? 'Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God' (Acts 7:56). Stephen saw Jesus enthroned in heaven. All Israel would know it when the temple and holy city came under judgment, a judgment that would take place in their generation. It would take forty years for the rest of Israel to figure it out" [emphasis mine] (Ibid., 165).
According to him "all Israel" would know that the Lord Jesus was enthroned in heaven. However, the Jewish historian Josephus himself saw the destruction of Jerusalem and he never said that he realized that the Lord Jesus was enthroned in heaven. Preterist J. Stuart Russell says that Josephus was "indifferent" to the cause of Jesus:
"...the testimony [of Josephus] does not come from a Christian... but from a Jew - indifferent, if not HOSTILE- to the cause of Jesus" (Russell, The Parousia, 110-111).
If "all Israel" knew that the Lord Jesus was enthroned in heaven then why did Josephus remain ignorant of that fact? If "all Israel" knew that He was enthroned in heaven then surely there would have been some evidence that "all Israel" knew that this was true. In all his reporting on the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.70 Josephus never says anything about the idea that "all Israel" knew that He was enthroned in heaven.
We can see that Gary DeMar is confused in regard to the Scriptures that speak of the inauguration of the kingdom. Therefore we can know that His teaching is not in accord with the teaching of the Scriptures, "for God is not the author of confusion" (1 Cor.14:33).