One key to understanding fulfilled prophecy is to understand what the Scriptures teach about CLOUDS. The Word of God often uses cosmic symbols, like CLOUDS, to proclaim prophetic truths about His coming in judgment. One of the most popular passages about CLOUDS is recorded by John in the Book of Revelation.
“ 7Behold, He is coming with CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even THEY WHO PIERCED HIM. And all the TRIBES OF THE E4RTH will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. ” (Rev. 1:7).
In the first chapter of the Revelation, John records things which must SHORTLY TARE PLACE (Rev. 1:1). This was written in c.AD 62 while John was imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos. At the time it was written the city of Jerusalem was still standing, which is one proof that it was written before AD 70. After AD 70 Jerusalem was no longer standing.
John said that those first century saints who recognized the importance of what was being said and acted accordingly would be blessed, because THE TIME IS NEAR (Rev. 1:3).
He wrote to the seven churches in Asia Minor, which was a Roman province and part of the Roman Empire in New Testament days. It was the main travel route between Rome in the west and Jerusalem in the east and many Jews (the diaspora) were located there. The Revelation was written with a Jewish mindset using Old Testament language to describe to the Christians (many of whom were Jewish believers in Christ) the soon destruction of Jerusalem at the second coming Parousia of Christ in AD 66-70.
John said that Christ was coming in CLOUDS, and every eye in Jerusalem would see Him. He clarified this by saying that it would take place where those “who had pierced (crucified) Him” would see THE SIGN of His soon coming. All of the Jewish tribes would mourn because of His coming in judgment when they saw the destruction of their city, Jerusalem, being completely destroyed by the Roman armies.
Jesus had prophesied to His disciples thirty years earlier that during their first century generation, THEY would see Jerusalem destroyed, ending the Jewish age. It would occur when they saw the SIGN of His coming in the CLOUDS. (Matt. 24:30, 34; Luke 21:20).
“30 Then the SIGN of the Son of Man will APPEAR IN HEAVEN, and then all the TRIBES OF THE EARTH (Jews) will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matt. 24:30).
Some examples of the Scriptures using CLOUDS to describe the sign of His judgment and strength in dealing with nations are:
“34Ascribe strength to God; His excellence is over Israel, and His STRENGTH IS IN THE CLOUDS.” (Psalm 68:34).
“3He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the wafers, Who makes THE CLOUDS HIS CHARIOT, Who walks on the wings of the wind.” (Psalm 104:3).
“30 In that day they will roar against them like the roaring of the sea. And if one looks to the land’ behold, darkness and sorrow; and THE LIGHT IS DARKENED BY THE CLOUDS.” (Isaiah 5:30).
“13 “Behold, HE SHALL COME UP LIKE CLOUDS, and His chariots like a whirlwind. His horses are swifter than eagles. Woe to us, for WE ARE PLUNDERED!”” (Jer. 4:13).
“3For the day is near, even the DAY OF THE LORD IS NEAR; it will be A DAY OF CLOUDS, the TIME OF THE GENTILES.” (Ezek. 30:3).
“1Blow the trumpet in ZION, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land (Jews) tremble; for the DAY OF THE LORD IS COMING’ for it is AT HAND: 2A day of darkness and gloominess, A DAY OF CLOUDS and thick darkness, like the morning CLOUDS spread over the mountains.” (Joel 2:1-2a).
“3The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and WILL NOT AT ALL ACQUIT THE WICKED. The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and THE CLOUDS are the dust of His feet.” (Nahum 1:3).
“14The GREAT DAY OF THE LORD IS NEAR; it is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the DAY OF THE LORD is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out. 15THAT DAY IS A DAY OF WRATH, a day of trouble and distress’ a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, A DAY OF CLOUDS and thick darkness.” (Zeph. 1:14-15).
To ride on clouds is to rule and conquer: Isaiah 19:1 speaks of the Lord coming on a cloud in judgment into Egypt. See other OT cloud symbolism (not all are listed): Exod. 13:21-22, 14:19-20, 16:10, 19:9, 20:21, 24:16, 33:9, 34:5, 40:34-38; Lev 16:2; Num. 9:15-16, 11:25, 12:5, 16:42; Deut. 5:22; 2 Sam. 22:12; 1 Kings 8:10-12; 2 Chron. 5:13-14; Job 22:14; Psa. 18:11-12, 97:2; 104:3; Isa. 4:5, 19:1; Jer. 10:13, 51:16; Lam. 2:1, 3:44; Ezek. 1:4, 10:3-4, 30:3, 18, 32:7, 38:9, 16; Joel 2:1-11; Nah. 1:3; Zeph. 1:14-15; Zech. 7:14, 9:14. Daniel 7:13 said, “One like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven,” & our Lord adds an explanation of the symbol, “with power and great glory,” (Matt. 24:30). NT cloud symbolism: Matt. 17:5, 24:30, 26:64; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thess. 4:17; Rev. 1:7, 11:12, 14:14.
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 5 Being a Hebrew…Audience Relevance”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 16 Lesson 1 Rev. Dating, Intro Chapters 1 thru 4]