Wednesday, 19 August 2020
Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. Revelation 1:7
John, after giving his greeting and a short doxology, which comprised verses 4-6, now makes a proclamation about the future concerning Christ Jesus. He says, “Behold, He is coming with the clouds.” The idea of coming with the clouds is that of glory, power, and exaltation. The same type of terminology is seen of the Lord, riding on the clouds, in passages like Deuteronomy 33:26, Psalm 68:4, and Isaiah 19:1. As this is speaking of Jesus, it is thus an implied reference to His deity. Specifically, however, John’s words are a clear allusion to Jesus’ own words recorded in the gospels, such as –
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear 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. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:29-31
That, in turn, comes from what was written by the prophet Daniel –
“I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
14 Then 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 the one
Which shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14
Understanding this, John continues with, “and every eye will see Him.” This is seen in the reference of Matthew 24:30 noted already. This terminology, although understandable based on the words, could not be fully grasped until modern times. There is no sense of exclusion, such as “every eye in Jerusalem,” which would then exclude anyone outside of Jerusalem. In other words, it is an all-inclusive statement.
Every eye will view the coming of Christ. But with the world being a globe (yes, the earth is round), and being 24,901 miles in circumference, the thought of every eye actually seeing Christ at His coming would seem otherwise impossible. However, today, every eye can see any event anywhere in the world at the same time. The entire world’s attention will be focused on the coming of Christ in the clouds. Understanding this, John next makes a specific statement, “even they who pierced Him.”
These words would be superfluous unless it is speaking of a specific group of people. In other words, scholars have said that this is a general statement concerning those who have rejected Christ. For example, Vincent’s Word Studies says –
“The expression here refers not to the Jews only, but to all who reject the Son of Man; those who ‘in any age have identified themselves with the Spirit of the Savior’s murderers.’”
This is entirely incorrect. Based on the dispensational model, the rapture will have occurred. Thus, every person on the planet who is left behind will have rejected Christ. Though many will come to Him after the rapture, the majority of the planet will continue in their rejection. Therefore, this is speaking of a particular group within those who have rejected Him. It is a clear and unambiguous reference to Zechariah 12:10 which is referring to the Jewish people –
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”
The words of Zechariah refer to Israel, and it is that passage which John is calling to remembrance for this group. The word translated here as “pierced” is only found elsewhere in John 19:37. There, John is referring to the prophecy of Zechariah – a prophecy directed to Israel. Thus, the fact that this is solely referring to Israel is confirmed by what he next says. By opening the next sentence with “And” it shows that a distinction is made between this group and all other groups on the planet. As he says, “And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him.”
The Jewish nation, Israel, are the people who Christ came to. It is they who rejected Him. Regardless of the fact that the Romans did the actual crucifixion, it was because of Israel’s rejection of Him that it occurred. As it says in Mark 14 –
“Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, ‘Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”
62 Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’” Mark 14:61, 62
This is an important point clearly demonstrating that the words of John of Revelation are not directed only to Israel. They rejected Christ. Rather, the words are directed to the seven Gentile churches who had received Him. Thus, the claim of hyperdispensationalists that the seven letters to the seven churches are written to a Jewish audience are shown to be completely false. John’s clear separation of the categories here demonstrates this.
What is written starting in Revelation 4 is written about Israel, but not to Israel. As a nation, their understanding of the events which will be foretold will come at the end of the tribulation, not at the beginning. It is the church to whom the book is written. That will continue to be seen as the seven letters to the seven churches are evaluated.
For now, the note that “all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him” is also based on Jesus’ words of Matthew 24:30 which are cited above. There will be a difference in mourning, however.
The purpose of the seven years of tribulation is to bring Israel into the New Covenant (see Daniel 9:24-27). When they are shattered as a people, and when there is no hope left for them, they will finally call out to the One they have rejected. When they call to Him as Lord (meaning Yehovah), He will manifest Himself to the world. Jesus says this explicitly –
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Matthew 23:37-39
The mourning of Israel will be one of horror mingled with joy. They will mourn that they had rejected Him for two thousand years, but they will rejoice that He has come to save them. The mourning of the world will be of horror that they had followed the antichrist and that their condemnation is now coming. The few who make it through the tribulation, having rejected the mark of the beast, will be the sheep. They will be separated from the goats. This is referred to by Christ Jesus in Matthew 25:32, 33.
John finishes the verse with, “Even so, Amen.” It is a note of acceptance. Understanding that the world is heading into what will be described in the chapters ahead; grasping the weight of the pain, suffering and death which they record; and contemplating what this means for the future of masses of unredeemed humanity, John acknowledges that it is what is just and right.
Life application: Behold! John’s word today brings excitement to the believer, hope to Israel, and woe to those who have rejected or fought against the truth. Revelation is a book of severe warning of the consequences of rejecting God’s offer of salvation.
This then is not a happy reunion with people who have longed for His return. Instead, it is the King of the universe come to inflict punishment upon those who have rejected Him, aligned themselves against Israel, and have filled up to the highest measure the wrath of God in themselves. The world which has come against their Creator will face Him for judgment.
If you are not in Christ, this will be your lot. Make the choice today to call out to Him for salvation. He has been patient with the world, but someday – probably soon – the time for this dispensation to end will come. Be ready. Be in Christ!
Lord Jesus, we long for Your coming and Your gathering together the faithful of the ages at the rapture. But we understand that for those who are left behind, times of great woe and tragedy are coming. Please make us to be useful tools of bringing the message of salvation now, before that time comes. Your word is written and will come to pass. May we act now! Amen.