Posted on 8/13/2017, 7:45:30 PM by grumpa
“Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth [land] will mourn because of Him.”
This passage from Revelation 1:7 is often read by Christians and simply assumed to be a future event. (“Obviously, this hasn’t happened yet!”) Warning: the interpretation of this passage, read casually out of context, may not be as obvious as most Christians suppose. The context offers strong support for the preterist view, which is that this was fulfilled in AD 70 when Jesus “came in judgment” against apostate Israel. It would be helpful, as a prerequisite, to read my other articles including, “When Was Revelation Written” and “Revelation: Its Central Theme Illuminated” in section B at my website:
In understanding this passage, we must grasp the context, where we find several qualifiers. We first note that Revelation is filled with critical time-statements that limit the time of fulfillment of the events therein. There are some 30 passages at the beginning, middle, and end of Revelation that demand an imminent fulfillment soon after the book was written in the 60’s AD. The opening sentence in the book tells us that it is about events that MUST SHORTLY TAKE PLACE. We also see that the time was NEAR, Jesus would come QUICKLY/SOON, and these things were ABOUT TO HAPPEN.
To extend these imminency passages to thousands of years into the future does violence to God’s Word. Since there are over 100 such imminency passages in the New Testament, we have a clear choice. Either (a) Jesus and the writers of the New Testament were false prophets, or (b) Christians have misunderstood what Jesus meant by his Parousia (“Second Coming”). I think the latter is more faithful to Jesus and to Scripture.
The CLOUD language in this verse will jump out at the serious student of prophecy. It is the same language used in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:29-34) where Jesus said all prophecy would be fulfilled in his generation, in conjunction with the destruction of the temple (Matthew 24:2-3; Luke 21:22). Such language is reflective of how God came numerous times in the Old Testament—on clouds of glory—usually in judgment against his enemies. (Examples include Psalm 18:4-15 and Isaiah 19:1-22.) These comings of God were real, even though nobody visually saw Him. By “coming on clouds,” Jesus was emphasizing his own divine authority, as his “coming” would be similar in nature to that of Yahweh.
“Tribes” (also in the Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24:30) can only mean the tribes of Israel—those who pierced Him—so this ties to local Israel in the first century. The word translated as “earth” is the Greek word ge. In other places, it is translated as “land,” thus having a regional connotation (Matthew 9:31; Acts 7:3; etc.). So clearly, the events John foresaw were to be local rather than global.
We should see how the statement, “those who pierced him,” connects to prophecies of Jesus such as in Matthew 26:64 where He tells the Jewish leaders that THEY would see Him coming on clouds of heaven. Given this context, it seems best to understand “seeing” in the sense of revelation rather than literal sight. Isaiah 40: 5 says, “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.” Elsewhere we find the concept of “to look upon” God in the sense of profound earnest regard or to “look to the Messiah as the source of salvation.” See Zechariah 12:10. In a similar way many passages in John’s gospel speak of faith in terms of “seeing” (John 6:40; etc.).