The Olivet Discourse – Coming on the Clouds

06May11

Matt 24:30 Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Now that we have discussed the “sign” of the Son of Man we must now tie this in together with the same Son of Man coming on the clouds of Heaven. If I read this passage on the street corner to 100 people what percentage would state they believe this passage is discussing the Second Coming of Christ?

I thought so!

So, how could be so misunderstood? Has the popular view of eschatology become so ingrained in our minds that there would be no other way to understand this passage? Or could it be that today’s Church has a general lack of any knowledge of the Old Testament?

Uh…that hurt!

Below if the same passage as printed in the New American standard Version of the Bible…

Matt 24:30 30 “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky (Heaven), and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory

Please note that I did not capitalize the section that is bolded out above. that is a technique of the New American Standard to alert the reader that the passage or line in question is reference or quoting from a passage in the Old Testament. This clue will go a long way in determining the most Biblical way to interpret this passage. The Old testament verse in question is found in Daniel 7:13.

Dan 7:13 I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came [up] to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

The direct allusion from Matt 24 to Daniel 7 should create an “a ha” moment in many readers. Jesus is NOT coming down in the clouds but rather He will be seen coming UP to the Ancient of Days to receive His kingdom that will never pass away!

The sign or proof that Son of Man is in Heaven – the destruction of the Temple and city – also proves that he is the one who receives an everlasting kingdom. This Son of Man listed in the Daniel passage is noted to the Old Testament readers as the Son of God! That is why when Jesus made the claim before Caiaphas that He was that Son of Man in Daniel 7 it caused the High Priest to tear His robe and declare blasphemy. Caiaphas saw this declaration not just as another one in the line of false Messiah’s, but also as one who was claiming to be God!

So, this coming in the clouds was an upward motion alluding to the Daniel passage to declare that Jesus was actually the Son of God – the one who would have the reserved right to sit at the right hand of the father and receive a kingdom unto Himself that would never vanish!

A ha?

This understanding will also help a great deal in understanding several other passages we will  deal with below. The first was just dealt with but here is the reference in it’s entirety including the response from Caiaphas.

Matt 26:64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy.

Matt 16:28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

If it is, as I argue, that the proof or sign of the Son of Man coming into His kingdom is the destruction of the Temple and city – as vindication of His acts and prophecy – then there would be those in His midst who would witness this taking place. This makes the verse above easier to understand. there would be those standing near Him who would be alive to see the proof that he was seated at the right hand (Dan 7) and has received His kingdom – or as stated above his coming in His kingdom.

Rev. 1:7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

Even this passage in the beginning of the revelation of Christ points to an understanding of this passage in relation to the Daniel 7 passage. If coming in the clouds refers to the placement of christ in heaven and His vindication by way of the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, then it would makes sense that eyes would see Him (like the sign of the Son of Man in Matt 24), even those who pierced Him (revealing an early fulfillment of this passage) and the tribes of the earth (Israel) would mourn. These should all start coming together for you if I have done my job well.

There are also plenty of other passages where Jesus is shown in this state of being at the right hand of the Father

Hebrews 9:24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

Acts 2:33-36 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God…[36] Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ...

Acts 7:56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

1 Peter 3:22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

Simply put these verses all tie together in these bullets

  • The proof that Jesus is in heaven and has been given His kingdom would be the destruction of the city and temple – the sign is related to the coming
  • This destruction would make the tribes (Israel) mourn
  • Those alive would “see” or understand the truth of His statements and He would be vindicated when His statements were fulfilled in the events of 70AD
  • It is “seen” before the end of “this generation”
  • His coming on the clouds is an upward direction and took place immediately with His ascension but was proved with His vindication against Jerusalem and the temple

One last verse to consider is one that often stumps us and is usually tossed aside as just a side comment by Jesus to throw poor old Peter off.

John 21:18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him,  “Follow me.”

20Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had been reclining at table close to him and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” 23So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”

Most commentators simply argue this is an aside, that Jesus was not stating that John would be around when He returned, but was telling Peter not to worry about John, just worry about himself. But even the passage states that people thought that John wouldn’t die, which isn’t what Jesus said. What Jesus said was that it wasn’t Peter’s concern whether John was alive or not when He would “come back.”

One important fact to note is that John was the ONLY Disciple to live past 70AD. All others were martyred by the middle of the 60’s AD. Now, whether that is what Jesus was referencing or not is not very important, but it shows that quite often we have so placed our preconceived notions into a passage that we have never taken the time to see what really could have been meant by it. This one I find most interesting because the author, John, doesn’t deny that Jesus would come before John dies, he only denied that Jesus said that John would never die. This is an argument from silence, quite true, and most definitely not a hill I would even climb let along die on, but one of the purposes of this blog is to encourage the reader to dig deeper into the passage and how a passage fits within the entire framework of Scripture.

Next we will look at the Biblical uses of the term “coming in the clouds” and how this may tie ion both to the destruction of the city and temple and to the enthronement of Christ in the heavenlies.

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3 Responses to “The Olivet Discourse – Coming on the Clouds”

  1. 1 Yehoshuamyking

    God’s written word is perfect isn’t it D.L.
    I kinda feel sorry for Caiaphas.What it must have been like for him to discover that he had the Son of God put to death…

    This is kinda off subject {so what else is new,right}.I was just thinking about Peter’s sermon Acts chapter 2:22-40…But these verses in particular…

    Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
    Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
    For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
    And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from THIS untoward GENERATION.emphasis added…

    Ah the Grace of God!
    Do you like Charles H. Spurgeon? I have to get a hold of some of his writings again.I tossed them all away,when i or HE thought that he was a calvinist…

    • 2 low5point

      1. I don’t think this off topic at all…in fact it may be more on topic than other comments 🙂 … I think Peter meant exactly that. He was referencing the evil generation at that time because, remember, Peter was speaking to “devout Jews” not gentiles. He also exemplifies the call of the Gospel to all – even those far off.

      On a side note (something I will address later or edit into my Israel/Church post) note that in Romans Paul talks about the one tree, right? The Church DOES NOT replace Israel like Dispensationalist claim Covenantal Theology does, but rather the Church is grafted into Israel! It’s is the reprobate that are cut off, not Israel. God has only ever had one tree, a new tree (the Church) DOES NOT replace the old tree, but rather new branches are grafted in…

      Love Spurgeon

  2. 3 Yehoshuamyking

    Everything is becoming crystal clear now.D.L.

    It is dispensationalism that seeks to usurp Israel [the church] that Gentiles are made ONE with… Ah this is why dispensationalists have two of everything! 2 New Covenants.2 second comings and 2 resurrection of believers separated by time…Since they know that THEY cannot replace Israel,they have to be FIRST…Their pretrib rapture brings them to Christ Jesus FIRST.They also enter God’s coming Kingdom WITH Christ and FIRST…


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