I have spoken of this in other posts, but here I want to concentrate solely on this concept as many people are still expecting to literally see God coming in the clouds.
God speaks in parallels at times. He will mention one thing, and in the very next part of the verse say it differently as another thing. When He does this He is equating the first with the second, and one becomes a simile or metaphor for the other which God will later use in prophesy to stand for both meanings.
“Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.” (Psa. 97:2, KJV)
In the poetic parallel example above “clouds and darkness” are equated to ”righteousness and judgment.” When the prophets later used the words “clouds” or “darkness” it was in the context of the coming judgments they were prophesying of destruction and desolation which God pronounced against a nation or city.
Sitting at the right hand of the Father equals judgment. When a king takes his seat on his throne he is sitting to hear matters to be judged.
“13I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (Dan. 7:13-14, KJV)
Coming in the clouds was God’s prophetic judgment language that the people would feel his presence and see the results of the judgment He delivered against them. It did not mean that the people would literally see God in the clouds. The scriptures speak of God traveling in the clouds (Psa. 104:3), of the clouds being the dust of His feet (Nah. 1:3).
7Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth. 8 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.
9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet. 10 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.
11He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. 12At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire.
13The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire. 14Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them.” (Psa. 18: 7-14, KJV)
Clouds and darkness were picture images of coming judgment. In the judgment against Judah and Jerusalem, Jeremiah used this language of God’s chosen lion / destroyer, Nebuchadnezzar.
“7 The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant. ….. 12Even a full wind from those places shall come unto me: now also will I give sentence against them. 13 Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled.” (Jer. 4:7, 13-14, KJV)
”1Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; 2A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.” (Joel 2:1-2, KJV)
This was the judgment prophesied by Joel of the destruction of Jerusalem expressed in the prophetic judgment language of the day of the Lord, and coming in the clouds. Again, the destruction of Judea and Jerusalem by the prophet Zephania –
”That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,” (Zeph. 1:15, KJV)
This is the same judgment language used when Jesus prophesied the destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem in Matt. 24.
”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.” (Matt. 24:30, KJV)
And still again before Caiaphas in Matt. 26:64.
”Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
Sitting on the right hand of power was judgment authority, and stating it with the words from the OT prophets warning of judgment in a day of the Lord as “coming in the clouds of heaven.” Caiaphas became angry because he knew the judgment language of the prophets, but he did not recognize Jesus as the Son of God. Caiaphas then drew the false conclusion that Jesus had blasphemed as he knew that only God was to pronounce judgment. That is why Caiaphas tore his clothes.
The scripture does not mean that Caiaphas would literally see Jesus in the clouds. It is judgment language. “Sitting on the right hand of power” equals “coming in the clouds of heaven” and both of them equals judgment from on high.
Jesus told Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin that he/they were going to see the judgment of God against Jerusalem and that temple. And, as that temple and city were destroyed by the Romans in AD 70, we can know that God’s judgment was carried out just as His Son had prophesied it.
“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.” (Rev. 1:7, KJV)
As every eye included those who pierced Him, then when was this judgment coming going to happen? Revelation was the same judgment which Jesus prophesied before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin in Matt. 26 about the destruction of Jerusalem and that temple, and the very first chapter of the book tells us it was coming shortly (Rev. 1:1).
This is not a future judgment for us. It happened in AD 70 and is well documented by historians. It is, however, an example and serves as a reminder for us of how God deals with unrighteous, disobedient children.
13 thoughts on “Coming In The Clouds – Judgment”
You left out one of my favorite “coming on the clouds” reference from Isaiah Nineteen… The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: And the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, And the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it. And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: And they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; City against city, and kingdom against kingdom. And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; And I will destroy the counsel thereof: And they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, And to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards. And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; And a fierce king shall rule over them, Saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts. (Isa 19:1-4 KJV)
Also to add to your comments on Jesus before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, the verb translated “you will see” is the Greek word ὁράω. It means to see, but not only in the physical sense of seeing. It can also mean, “to be mentally or spiritually perceptive, perceive” (BDAG – see source below) or to understand. So Jesus is saying to them that from now on, you will understand/perceive that I am sitting at the right hand of power and coming in judgment.
Source: Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 720). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Grace and peace to you.
Thank you, Eugene. Isa. 19:1-4 is a good example. Happy to add other supporting scripture, but I try not to be too lengthy.
One additional item – is it that they escaped the persecution of those who tried to blend Christianity with the old Jewish laws and customs?
Since the church was birthed at Pentecost, were there any actual changes that occurred with the church when the new Jerusalem came down out of heaven from God? How did the church functionally change (if at all)? What would have functionally changed for the believers at that time (if anything)? The reason for the questions, is I am trying to understand Romans 8:18-21, where it talks about the anxious longing of the creation waiting eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. I would assume that the ‘revealing of the sons of God’ would have occurred at the revealing of Christ at His return. Is this also referring to the release from the bondage to the old sacrificial covenant with the rules and regulations? How exactly would creation have benefited from this that is was anxiously longing for it? Is the ‘creation’ reference to mankind only, or to all creation (including the earth, etc)?
Also, were these spiritual events that would have not been seen by anyone, or would they have been physical events that all would see (… and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him…)? If this was a physical event that all saw, why don’t we have anything recorded in Josephus or other historians? If it was not a physical event, but simply a spiritual event, then what, other than the removal of the sacrificial system would have functionally changed that shows up all over the New Testament epistles, where it talks about the hope that is to come? Or am I just reading that wrong?
Also, have you ever done (or do you plan to do) a conference or anything like that? My sister and I (as well as my wife) discuss your posts and how they impact our personal study of the word almost every day. We have learned so much, but still have so many questions, so I thought how great it would be with a group of people together discussing the things that you have learned and posted to get a better understanding of things. Just a thought.
I began writing a reply, and kept on writing. So my answer will be a new post, possibly tomorrow. We did some conferences many years ago, and there have been other conferences by Don Preston, William Bell, Daniel Rogers, and a few others until recent years when they were cancelled due to political events. I am happy to answer any and all questions you may have at any time. I also encourage you to watch the videos of the very learned men on this subject who are posting at these links:
You can see past virtual conferences held at Preterist Pilgrim Weekend at Don Preston’s site: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZkW_IMR5-w
In Paul’s epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 12, he writes, “You have come to Mt. Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” Does this mean that the New Jerusalem had already “come down” from heaven before A.D. 70? Did that event happen at Pentecost?
Time of Transition – the spiritual Kingdom was already in place at the cross, ready to be completely established once the earthly temple was removed. But the temple laws had not yet been abolished in AD 60 -65 when Hebrews was written. So everyone that had been baptized / immersed into Christ were already part of the new heaven and earth spiritual kingdom, which is the heavenly Mt Zion of Jesus’ everlasting kingdom, and which the heavenly new Jerusalem is the capital city. Legally, juridically the earthly kingdom at the earthly city was still operating and offering profane animal sacrifices under the old law, and had not yet been annulled (Heb 8:13). That 40 year period from the cross to the destruction of the temple was used to broadcast the gospel of Christ and probate the will of the new covenant / testament of our Lord. Until that temple was destroyed, the old would not be completely taken away (Matt. 5:18), but the new Jerusalem, the new Mt. Zion was being built with every new occupant / saint added to the church daily. We inherit upon the death of the testator, after probate is complete. Full inheritance was waiting for the judgment at AD 70.
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Thank you. I understood that they were not in heaven and that they were in Hades. I think the point that was tripping me up was the phrase in Hebrews 11:5, ‘did not see death’. I thought that in order to be in Hades at that time, a person had to have died. So are you saying that they (Enoch and Elijah) were translated directly to Hades without dying? Since they were considered ‘types’, is that why Hebrews 9:27 clarifies that since Christ has come and fulfilled His purpose, that there will no longer be any deviations or types or shadows required, and therefore going forward all men will be appointed once to die? And if that is the case, then wouldn’t that principle be violated with a supposed ‘rapture’ where live people were taken up in heaven without first experiencing death?
Yes, the idea of a rapture is an idea men devised to answer problems created by the false millenialist teachings of a future “2nd” coming of Christ. It is not taught in scripture s. Most everyone did & does face physical death. God made an exception for Enoch & Elijah. They are the only two we know of from the scriptures that God translated.
To clarify – the process was the same before and after Jesus’ resurrection. Everyone had to face physical death of the carnal body, and then to face judgment at their bodily death – except Enoch & Elijah. Before AD 70, when people died, their souls were moved into the realm of the dead, either in Paradise or Tartarus ( the place of torment). What changed after AD 70 was the holding prison of Hades. Once the destruction of the temple was finished at Jesus’ return in AD 70, God threw Hades into the lake of fire – IOW abolished it. Hades no longer exists. Everyone still goes through the process of physical death, but Rev. 14:13 now applies. Since the destruction of Jerusalem, since Christ took all the souls out of Hades, everyone who dies in the Lord is now transformed at their bodily death – changed in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor 15:51-52), and gathered into heaven to be with all the righteous who have already been gathered home.
Can you please share your thoughts to help me clear up an area of confusion that I have? I believe that Christ presented a spiritual kingdom that is based on our physical bodies being planted and then resurrected in to a new life (the grain of wheat falling in to the ground and dying before it can bear fruit, water baptism, Christ being the first fruits from the dead, our bodies being being sown corruptible and being raised incorruptible, etc). So based on that, Hebrews 9:27 made sense to me that it is appointed once for every man to die, then the judgment. This is why the rapture seemed to be odd to me, that God would violate this spiritual principle. However, I am struggling to answer the question to myself about how Enoch and Elijah fit in to this principle. Hebrews 11:5 clearly says that Enoch did not see death. And then it appears the Elijah was taken up and did not apparently die. Am I misreading these verses, or am I misunderstanding the principle of death and resurrection in the kingdom being both spiritual and then physical?
No, you are not misreading the verses. The problem lies in the false Sunday school lessons we were all exposed to . I go over this misconception in the post Frequent Mistakes – Part VII: The Translation of Enoch & Elijah.
Who was the first to be resurrected from the dead? First fruits (1 Cor. 15:20; Lev. 23:19-20).
” and each in his proper order, a first-fruit Christ, afterwards those who are the Christ’s, in his presence,” (1 Cor. 15:23, YLT) or “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” (KJV)
And, Jesus told the people after the feeding of the 5,000, “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.” (John 6:46) Keep in mind that this event took place before His crucifixion and resurrection.
So, as Christ was the first resurrected from the grave, and as no one had at that time seen the Father except Jesus, then where were Enoch and Elijah before Christ’s resurrection? Contrary to all the Sunday school lessons about being taken to “heaven”, then Enoch and Elijah were not in heaven where God sits on His throne. They were in that section of Hades, the grave, called Paradise; the section for those judged worthy of the kingdom. (Luke 16:20-31) They had been translated / moved to another realm out of the land of the living. When Christ returned at the judgment of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, he separated out all of those that had been held in Hades (Matt. 25:31ff) which included Enoch, Elijah, Daniel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Joel, Amos, Ezekiel, etc, all in their order, their lot (Dan. 12:13). Please read the post about their translation at the right margin.