Behold, He Cometh With Clouds!
By Tim McCulfor
In Like Manner. “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” (Acts 1:9-11).
When Jesus ascended to His Father He was taken up into a cloud. When He comes back He will come in like manner: with the clouds! We sing about the unclouded day for which we are longing, but there must come a day of clouds and judgment before that new day dawns!
The Concurrence of the Prophets. “For the day is near, even the day of the LORD is near, a cloudy day; it shall be the time of the heathen (Ezek. 30:3). Consider how Daniel saw visions of this very event: “I 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. 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).
The Putting Down of All Rule and Authority. The Son of man coming with the clouds signals the time when Jesus will “put down all rule and all authority and power” (I Cor. 15:24) receiving everlasting dominion over all people, nations, and languages. Jesus used the same language to identify Himself as the Son of man who would return to judge the earth: “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” (Mt. 24:29-30).
The Judgment of Wicked Men. When the Son of man comes in the clouds of heaven, He will be coming to judge the wicked. It is a time when the heavens are, so to speak, torn apart. Jesus will then be revealed to the world as the One who has been given all power in heaven and in earth (Mt. 28:18) and who has received honor and glory from the Father (II Pet. 1:17). He will also be seen by the world, to their horror, as the One with whom they have to do. Jesus even told Caiaphas, the high priest, that he would see this day. In that day the tables will be turned and Caiaphas will see Jesus coming to sit in judgment upon him.
“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” (Mt. 26:63-64).
Obviously, if Caiaphas will see Jesus coming in the clouds, there will be a resurrection of the dead at that time. This is confirmed by John's writing in the Revelation: “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).
They that had pierced Christ will be raised from their place of torment to see Jesus coming with clouds. In fact, every soul that has ever lived will witness this great coming. And every soul is accountable to this One who will come to judge the quick (living) and the dead (I Pet. 4:5). This will be the cause for great wailing by those who are yet in their sins. This will be the time for reaping the earth.
“And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in Thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for Thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And He that sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle of the earth; and the earth was reaped” (Rev. 14:14-16).
All of these descriptions of Christ coming in the clouds point to a time of judgment for the wicked. But what about the righteous? Where will they be at this time? “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” (I Th. 4:16-17).
His Coming’s Climactic Nature. When Jesus comes in the clouds we will be caught up to meet Him. The righteous dead being raised is here tied to Jesus coming in the clouds and the resurrection. Daniel wrote of the time when those who “sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Dan. 12:2). Paul gave his testimony that there will be “a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust “ (Acts 24:15). And Jesus also witnesses, thus establishing the matter, saying, “the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (Jn. 5:28-29).
There will be one physical resurrection of the wicked and the righteous when Jesus comes in the clouds. It will be as it was in the days of Noah and of Lot when judgment and deliverance came on the same day (Lk. 17:26-30). This view is consistent with Jesus’ description of the sheep and the goats (Mt. 25:31-46), the wheat and the tares (Mt. 13:37-43), and the fish and the net (Mt. 13:47-50). Whatever view of Christ's coming we take must be consistent with this clear teaching of Scripture. --Tim McCulfor