HOW DID JESUS COME IN CLOUDS IN 66-70 A.D.?
Immediately 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: 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. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
This is one of the questions I personally had to get the answer for when I was ascertaining whether or not Partial Fulfillment is the valid and correct interpretation of biblical prophecy. In fact, most people seem to ask this question when confronted with partial futurism for the first time. Surely this prophecy was not fulfilled in 70 AD, people assume.
However, upon careful inspection of the rest of the Bible, we will see that He did indeed come in clouds in 66-70 A.D.
First of all, let me add that Jesus said the High Priest in His day would also see this event occur.
But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. 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 .
Some propose this refers to our future when everyone will see Him come, sinners in hell as well as those in earth. However, this makes no sense. To begin with, how will a soul in hell see the Son of man come to earth in clouds? And Jesus also told this man that he would see Jesus sitting on the right hand of power, or on the throne of God. Now, how in the world would the High Priest personally see Jesus sitting on the throne, if Jesus was in Heaven sitting on the throne? That is the only place His throne is to be found! This is not speaking about judgment day when all stand before Him and are judged after they die, either, because Jesus said the same thing to the disciples, and indicated they would not be dead and neither in heaven nor hell, when they would see this event.
For 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. 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.
These men would not taste death before this event occurred. In other words, they would still be alive. And this cannot refer to spiritual life in their spiritual bodies they will receive in the resurrection, because the resurrection of the body is yet future. And these men did already indeed taste death. But Jesus was referring to His coming judgment that arrived in 66-70 A.D.
How is this possible? How can He be said to have come in clouds in 66-70 A.D.?
Many, many times God used the thought of being in clouds when He indicated He would come in judgment against a people. And this is not some mystical interpretation of Scripture akin to witchcraft and gnosticism. HAd we looked elsewhere besides the Bible, itself, to find these references, then it might be said to be “mystical”. However, we are looking to the rest of the Bible to allow the Bible to interpret itself!
David described the time he cried to God when in trouble from his persecutors.
In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.
And look at God’s response:
Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under his feet. And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind. And he made darkness pavilions round about him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies. Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled. The LORD thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice.
God came in judgment against his enemies! David said God came with darkness beneath His feet and thick clouds of the skies were like pavilions or tabernacles around Him. And He rode upon a cherub.
Did David physically see these things? Of course not! But david was inspired of God to describe God’s judgment on his persecutors as a coming in clouds. This was a well-known picture of God in the minds of Old Testament adherents. In fact, the high priest knew very well that Jesus was saying he was God when He informed the priest that the man would see Christ come in clouds! He knew Jesus was telling him that Christ was correct and was Son of God, and would come in judgment to destroy Jerusalem in his day!
Jesus did not use speech that the High Priest was unfamiliar with! He did not speak of a truth exclusively understood by the church to be a time of resurrection 2000 years later. He spoke very familiar words to the High Priest, and the High Priest knew exactly what Jesus was insinuating. And for that reason, the Priest cried, “Blasphemy!”
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. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.
The High Priest recalled these very scriptures I am citing in support of the understanding that coming in clouds referred to God coming in judgment. Jesus was saying He was the God of the Old Testament who came in judgment! Jesus not only informed the man that He was God, but also that Jerusalem would be judged just as she was judged in Old testament times, and that using heathen armies.
The Bible says that God’s presence in clouds implies righteousness and judgment.
Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.
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. O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness , that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?
The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
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, A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung.
This is repeated again and again. And everyone who heard Jesus understood those words as reminiscent of the above references , indicating a coming of God in judgment, including the High Priest! So the Priest cried “Blasphemy” upon hearing that. He did not scratch his head and wonder what on earth Jesus was talking about, which would have been the case had Jesus referred to a coming resurrection of the church 2,000 years afterwards. But Jesus said the High Priest would see this.
Did anyone physically see Jesus coming in clouds? No.
But the destruction of Jerusalem in 66-70 A.D. they did see. And that is what Jesus meant by people seeing Him come in clouds. He meant they would see HIs judgment. His destruction. Coming in clouds was simply synonymous with destruction and wrath of God, therefore they would see the destruction.
But some ask “Did not Jesus physically leave in visible clouds in Acts 1:9?”
Yes, He did.
And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 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.
But the angel was not referring to Matthew 24:31’s reference to Jesus coming in clouds. They physically saw Jesus depart from them in a physical cloud. And this will be the way it is when He returns in our future in the resurrection. The judgment in 70 AD was not including a resurrection of anyone. It was only judgment. Partial Fulfillment as I see it, teaches that Jesus will come again in the resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15 refers to this next coming. This coming is not in judgment with wrath falling all over the world. It is a coming in resurrection power. And Jesus will be seen in clouds, since He abides in this glory. We see Him described as a mighty angel in Revelation 10, clothed with a cloud. Seeing Him in clouds in Matthew 24 is seeing His judgment. However, when He comes in the resurrection for the church, we will physically see Him in clouds.
This resurrection is what Paul spoke about as follows.
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 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.
This is not to be confused with Matthew 24:31. Matthew 24:31 is a coming in judgment in which we do not physically see Jesus, similar to the references to God coming in judgment with clouds in the Old Testament. 1 Thessalonians is speaking about resurrection, and not judgment. And we will physically see Him then.