We continue our study with Revelation1:7:
Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.
Just as the Lord ascended into the clouds, He will return through the clouds. No doubt these clouds are literal, but as with virtually everything literal in Scripture, there is also a spiritual significance and message.
Many biblical symbols have different meanings in different situations. This is not meant to confuse seekers of God’s truth, but rather to keep us dependent on His Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. Principles and formulas can be helpful, but they can mislead us if we start to depend on them in place of the Holy Spirit.
A key to understanding the manner in which the Lord will return is found in Acts 1:9-11, when He ascended:
After He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them.
They also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven."
Just as a cloud received Him as He ascended, He will come “the same way” through the clouds when He returns. Again, this is literal but also a revelation of the times He will return in. Since clouds often speak of confusion in Scripture, especially the confusion of nations, we can expect this to be in a similar time. Other prophecies of Scripture corroborate this. Here are just a few:
“Clouds are a hiding place for Him…” (see Job 22:14).
“He made darkness His hiding place, His canopy around Him,
darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies” (Psalm 18:11).
“Clouds and thick darkness surround Him...” (see Psalm 97:2).
"For the day is near, even the day of the Lord is near; it will be a day of clouds, a time for the nations” (Ezekiel 30:3).
“I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming…” (see Daniel 7:13).
“Hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven” (see Matthew 26:64).
As we will see, there is a difference between the “clouds of heaven” and the clouds of the earth. His coming will have both, but we will go deeper into understanding the clouds of heaven later, as these are the ones He has now hidden Himself in.
We should also learn to look for Him in the clouds, or confusion, of nations. There is much more behind the chaos and confusion of nations than earthly politics. Often this is the result of powers of darkness being stirred by what God is doing. They seek to obscure or drown it out, such as the devil’s tactic to drown the church in Revelation 12 with a flood. The point is that when there is a great stirring of nations, we must learn to look for what God is doing.
Another important factor when He ascended was that His faithful followers were “gazing intently” after Him. The same will be true when He returns—His faithful followers will be “gazing intently” at Him. His people have been busy with many things during this age, the good things that He gave His people to do, but at the end it will be all about Jesus.
The focus of His followers’ discussion just before He ascended was the coming of His kingdom, and this will be a focus of His faithful ones when He returns. This message will lead up to the end of the age, just as we will see corroborated in other places in Revelation.
The comment of the two angelic messengers to the disciples is also important, “Why do you stand looking into the sky?” They assure the disciples that He will return again just like they saw Him go, but the implication is, “Don’t you have something else to do now?” They did. Their work was just beginning. It had to begin on the most important foundation—so they returned to Jerusalem where they dedicated themselves to prayer.
This is how He left, and it will be how He returns. The great work of this age began with His people dwelling together in unity as they devoted themselves to prayer, and this is how it will end—His people in unity, praying. Why not get started?