Christ’s Second Coming
John continues in Rev. 1:7,
7 Behold, He is coming with [meta] the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so, Amen.
The concept of the Messiah “coming with the clouds” is a reference to Dan. 7:13, 14, where the prophet speaks of the time where the nations are judged:
13 I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven, One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. 14 And to Him was given dominion, glory, and a kingdom…
Jesus applied Daniel’s prophecy to Himself at His trial before the Council. When the high priest adjured Jesus to speak the truth (according to the law in Lev. 5:1), Jesus was obligated by law to speak the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Matt. 26:64 says,
64 Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you shall see the Son of Man at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
The high priest, assuming that Jesus was an imposter, tore his robes and sentenced Him to death on a charge of blasphemy (perjury). But John contradicts Caiaphas, asserting that Jesus’ testimony was true. Jesus is indeed the One coming to be presented to the Ancient of Days to receive “dominion, glory, and a kingdom.”
While some may claim that this prophecy was fulfilled when Christ ascended to the throne in heaven, it is my belief that it was fulfilled only partially at that time. Consider Jesus’ parable about the nobleman going into a far country to receive for Himself a kingdom and to return (Luke 19:12). It was one thing to be granted authority, but quite another to receive the kingdom. Taking the kingdom from the usurpers is what Christ must yet do at the time of His second coming.
Herod the Great is a good example of how this principle works. He went to Rome to obtain backing and authorization to be king. Then he returned to take it from Antigonus, his rival. Hence, receiving authorization from a higher power is not the same as actually taking possession of the kingdom. So is it with Christ Himself. He ascended to heaven to receive the kingdom (legally), but He must return to wrest it from the usurpers and physically take possession of it.
The interim kingdom between the two comings of Christ is depicted as a Saul kingdom, ruled by the tribe of Benjamin, rather than of Judah. Hence, Christ not only approached the Ancient of Days to receive a kingdom, but He also comes “with the clouds” to take possession of the earth as the King of kings and Lord of lords. In doing so, He takes dominion over the beast nations, “that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him” (Dan. 7:14).
Every Eye Will See Him
In connection with Christ’s coming in the clouds, Rev. 1:7 continues,
7 … every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so, Amen.
John was paraphrasing Zech. 12:10, which says,
10 And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.
In John’s paraphrase, he equated Christ’s coming with the outpouring of “the Spirit of grace and of supplication.” When John says, “every eye will see Him,” he was commenting on Zechariah’s statement, “they will look on Me.” Zechariah did not say how many of the people would see Him, but John says, “every eye will see Him.”
John specifically includes those who “pierced” Him, i.e., the Jews (not the Romans). John quoted this verse in Zechariah previously in his account of the crucifixion, when he wrote in John 19:35-37,
35 And he who has seen has borne witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. 36 For these things came to pass, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, “Not a bone of Him shall be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”
John was at the foot of the cross when Jesus was crucified. He was an eyewitness. It has become fashionable in recent years to blame the Romans for crucifying Jesus. But Zechariah prophesied that the Jews would pierce Him, and the law itself prophesies that the priests were the ones who would offer the sacrifices. Likewise, in Acts 4:10 Peter speaks to the high priest and his family “by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene whom you crucified.” Later, Stephen said to the high priest in Acts 7:52
52 Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become.
The Bitter Weeping
John continues in Rev. 1:7 to say that “all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him.” He does not say, all the tribes of Israel. His scope is the whole earth, wherein are many tribes of people. This suggests a fulfillment of the Abrahamic call, which was to be a blessing to all the families of the earth (Gen. 12:3). Yet John says specifically that it includes those who pierced Him.
Zechariah’s prophecy tells us that when the Spirit of grace and supplication is poured out, it will cause mourning and bitter weeping. To “look upon” Christ is to recognize Him for who He is. The big lie will then be exposed. That generation will then realize that their first-century religious leaders had lied to them. Matt. 28:11-15 records the nature of that lie, saying,
11 Now while they were on their way, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened [i.e., Jesus’ resurrection]. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and counseled together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.” 15 And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.
When the Jewish people learn how their religious leaders betrayed them, they will weep bitterly as when a first-born son is killed.
There is more to this bitter weeping than some care to acknowledge. Certainly, they will weep and repent for their past rejection of Christ. Yet sin has consequences, especially long-standing hostility against God. Jesus’ parable of the vineyard in Matt. 21:33-41 shows the consequence of killing the Son of the Owner of the vineyard. In fact, Jesus allowed the chief priests and elders to judge themselves. He asked them,
40 “Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?” 41 They said to Him, “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers, who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.”
Jesus’ verdict is given in verses 42-44,
42 Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone; this came about from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? 43 Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it. 44 And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.”
Here Jesus draws upon two distinct prophecies. The first is from Psalm 118:22, 23, where the stone that is rejected becomes the chief corner stone. Jesus is that stone. The second is the stone of Dan. 2:35, where “the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold [kingdoms] were crushed” and “became like the chaff from the summer threshing floors.” The stone (Kingdom of God) then grows until it fills the whole earth.
Jesus gave warning to the Jewish nation that the same stone that was rejected by the Jewish nation was the stone that will grind all the nations—including their nation. “Therefore,” Jesus prophesied, “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.” Who, then, will receive this Kingdom? It is the overcomers—not the whole church, but those who actually produce the fruit of the Spirit that God has desired from the beginning.
Here again it is important to understand the function of the three feast days. Passover brings justification; Pentecost brings sanctification; Tabernacles brings glorification. If believers do not grow through Pentecost, how can they bring forth the fruits at the time of harvest, when Tabernacles is celebrated?
By rejecting the Passover Lamb, the Jews (as a nation) did not even keep the first feast in the manner that God required. When Christ comes “with the clouds,” they will recognize the Lamb of God and “keep” the Passover in the acceptable manner through the New Covenant. However, they will not have time to grow spiritually, and therefore, they will not be qualified to rule in the Kingdom. They will find that the Kingdom of God has been taken from them, and that their physical genealogy does not qualify them as Melchizedek priests.
David’s Return to Jerusalem
When David’s throne was usurped by Absalom (2 Sam. 15:10), David left town by way of the Mount of Olives, where he made a sacrifice (2 Sam. 15:30, 31, 32 KJV). This prophesied of Jesus’ Sacrifice at the same location. Ahithophel, David’s friend, betrayed him, even as Judas later betrayed Jesus. Shimei stoned David (2 Sam. 16:5, 6), even as Jesus too was stoned while on the cross—as all who were accused of blasphemy were treated, aiming for the face. “So His appearance [visage, face] was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men” (Isaiah 52:14).
David spent an unknown amount of time in the wilderness; Jesus ascended to heaven for an unknown amount of time. When David returned to reclaim his throne, it prophesied of the second coming of Christ. The most relevant prophecy in David’s return was the fact that Absalom was killed (2 Sam. 18:14). Absalom, the usurper, did not rule with his father after David’s second coming. So also will the usurpers of Christ’s throne suffer a similar fate.
Matthew records another Kingdom parable that Jesus told in Matt. 22:1-14. A king was giving a wedding feast for his son. Those who were invited refused to attend the wedding. Moreover, they mistreated and killed the messengers (Matt. 22:6). So we read the reaction of the king in Matt. 22:7,
7 But the king was enraged and sent his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and set their city on fire.
The king then sent other messengers into the streets to invite others to the wedding feast. Some of them were not dressed properly in the garments of salvation, and these too were cast out later (Matt. 22:13). The moral of the story is found in verse 14,
14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
In other words, the Jews were called, and the street people were called, but in the end, few were “chosen.” The chosen ones are the remnant of grace, Paul says in Rom. 11:5-7. The rest are “blinded” (KJV) or “hardened” (NASB).
Jerusalem is a Desolate House
In Matthew 23 Jesus gave a series of “woes” about how Jerusalem had “murdered the prophets” (23:31). Knowing that He was about to be crucified, he then said in verse 32, “Fill up then the measure of the guilt of your fathers.”
Matt. 23:35 says that Jerusalem would be held liable for “all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah.” He ends with verses 38 and 39,
38 Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! 39 For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
The desolation of Jerusalem first occurred when the city was destroyed by Babylon in 586 B.C. It was again desolated in 70 A.D. The third major desolation has yet to take place. We know this, because Jeremiah prophesied that the city would be destroyed so completely that it would not be repaired or rebuilt again (Jer. 19:10, 11). He illustrated this by smashing a jar in the valley of Ben-hinnom (or gehenna in Greek).
The Old Jerusalem will not be spared at the last minute, as so many have claimed. Paul says that the earthly Jerusalem is “Hagar” (Gal. 4:25) and represents the Old Covenant (4:24). Jerusalem and her children (Jews) will not be inheritors of the Kingdom but are to be “cast out” (4:30) in favor of the children of the New Covenant—that is, Sarah, or the New Jerusalem (4:26, 28, 31).
Christ will come somewhere around the time of Jerusalem’s destruction—whether before or after, I do not know. When Christ comes, “every eye will see Him,” and all of the tribes of the earth will mourn—some more than others. The Jews will mourn because they were tricked by their religious leaders. They will also mourn because they will see that the Kingdom of God was taken from them. They will mourn because their desire to rule the world as “chosen ones” will elude them. Only the remnant of grace will rule and reign with Christ.
Repentance at that late hour will not change the previous verdicts that Jesus rendered just before He was crucified. It will not change Jeremiah’s prophecy of the utter destruction of Jerusalem. Instead, repentance will give Jews (and all other people) opportunity to become citizens of the New Jerusalem, whereby they may be blessed equally along with all of its citizens.