Scripture Queries and Answers: Matthew 24:29

Matthew 24:29  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Q. Matt. 24:2929Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: (Matthew 24:29). — Is there any ground to identify the shaking of “the powers of the heavens” (or, as in Mark 13, “the powers that are in the heavens") with the fall of the dragon and his hosts from heaven in Rev. 12? The time does not at all agree. If not, what is meant? C. L.
A. The difficulty suggested as to the date can have no place whatever. Other questions may arise as to the force of words.
In Rev. 12 Satan is cast down, clearly before the last great tribulation, greatly enraged, because he knows he has but a short time, and persecutes the woman for the time, times, and half a time. In the passage in the gospels, where the mark of time seems precise (Matt. 24, Mark 13), the shaking of the powers of the heavens is after the tribulation. That is, the casting down of Satan in Rev. 12 is before, and introductory of, the last tribulation; in Matt. 24 and Mark 13 the shaking of the powers of the heavens is after the tribulation.
Thus, as events, they have nothing to do with one another. In Luke 21 the expression is vague and gives a general ground for what happens.
The inquiry then is simply, without any reference to the fall of Satan from heaven, what these terms mean.
It seems to me that in Luke there is mixed metaphor; in Matthew and Mark it is more in the style of Old Testament prophecy. I have little doubt that the scene will be as mixed as the metaphor—terrible signs actually given (compare Luke 21:1111And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. (Luke 21:11)); and, besides that, an actual disruption of all existing powers, and terror on every heart, with the tumultuous swellings of peoples. Compare Psa. 93 where I do not believe it is mere literal waters. Further, I find in Dan. 8:10 the host and the stars clearly refer to rulers (Jewish priestly rulers) on the earth. Now I do not doubt the shakings and subversion of the future (before the great and terrible day of the Lord) will he much greater and more terrible than what is in Dan. 8; but this gives an inlet into what those expressions mean. I would not confine this tremendous breaking up of existing powers and rule to Jewish ones there, though it is in Dan. 8, because Gentiles and Jews are all mixed up together, the sacrifice taken away, and idolatry come in. But there will be more than a revolution—a subversion and upsetting of all manifested and organic powers. There is an analogous upsetting of all powers in Rev. 11, supposed by the inhabitants of the earth to be the great day of the Lamb's wrath, which it is not, but only a precursor of it. I refer to it to show that such subversions of all constituted powers are so spoken of, without any raising of the question whether Satan is cast down from heaven or not. This is before the trumpets and the vials; the end of the last tribulation comes after it—somewhere at the end of the second woe-trumpet, and then God's judgment by Christ Himself. The beast and the final tribulation are a special subject, besides the general government under which these shakings come; and they are so given in the Apocalypse. The general government of God applies to the nations at large; the beast is in connection with the rejection of Christ and enmity to Him. They go on concurrently, but the latter is a special matter.