BOOKS: BIBLICAL STUDIES (1500BC-AD70) / EARLY CHRISTIAN PRETERISM (AD50-1000) / FREE ONLINE BOOKS (AD1000-2008)
Clouds of Judgment and Glory
By Allen Baily
"... Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne..." Psa 97:2.
"...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.
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty..." Rev 1:7-8.
"... And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him..." Jude 1:14-15.
Clouds are often portrayed throughout the Scriptures as representing the judgment of God in a way of vengeance and retribution. Sometimes they also represent a hiding (and reappearing) of Himself for a time from and to His people, and sometimes they represent a day of declension and darkness for His people and the nations of earth in His judgments as Lord over all. Sometimes they also represent a cloud of witnesses, as in Heb 12:1.
In this article I would like to show, If God will, that the clouds under consideration seem to my mind to represent the coming of the Lord Jesus in His spiritual manifestation at the end of the Age of the Apostles, which appears to be the same as "the day of the Lord" referred to many times by the Apostles in their writings.
It seems clear that the (second) coming of Christ, or the Hope of Israel was fully manifested at the final consummation of that age, which ended with the literal destruction of ancient Jerusalem and the whole Law economy with it as Christ Himself had clearly foretold to His Disciples in Matt 24 and 25, and other places. Can anyone of (spiritual) intelligence read these two chapters and not see that these predictions were clearly the fullfilling of those stupendous and horrific events that occurred about 66 to 70 AD?
In Dan 9:24-27 it is written:
"...Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate..."
These predictions have been shown by many to be the 490 year period from the issuing of the decree by Cyrus to the destruction of Jerusalem, so the total fulfillment ".. to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy..." must not have been completed until all these things were consumated, which was at the end of that whole economy. Jesus, The True Messiah was cut off in the middle of the last week of this prophecy when he caused the typical oblation and sacrifice to cease by the sacrifice of Himself. After this the gradual overspreading of continuing abominations by the people and the Romans, the nation was fully manifested as being desolate of the presense of God until her final consumation, that literally took place in 70 AD.
".. to make an end of sins.."
As the minister of and to the circumcision, He was cut off in the midst of His days, that His people called to the Gospel glory might obtain a better resurrection than the saints of old had attained under the former economy, that they without the New Testament saints should not be made perfect. John 17:23, Heb 11:40, Heb 12:23.
"...to make reconciliation for iniquity..."
This reconciliation was actually accomplished by the Lord Jesus by the Sacrifice of Himself, and committed the word or good news of this reconciliation unto the Apostles in the Gospel.
"...Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation..." 2 Cor 5:17-19.
"... and to bring in everlasting righteousness..."
Christ appeared once for all time at the end of the world, or the Law Dispensation as the end of the Law for righteousness to all that believed in Him, and perfected forever those that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Him, and called.
This judgment fully manifested the perdition and consummation of the Law Dispensation as the "sign in heaven" spoken of in different places by the Lord Jesus, and identified the kingdom of God coming with power and great glory:
"... For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom..." Matt 16:27-28.
As Jesus has just been speaking of a personal relationship with God, in contradistinction to a mere national one, as gaining the benefits of the whole world of a legal religion, while losing one's own soul and very personal being in comparison to the glory that was to be revealed in the kingdom that was to come, He added these statements that refer to His coming Kingdom when God would would deal with every one on a personal basis without any national distinctions of race, gender or ethnic origins, and where there would be "... Neither Jew nor Greek, neither bond nor free, neither male nor female: but all His children would be one in Him..."
"...And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd..." John 10:16.
"... Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me..." John 17:20-23.
"... God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him..." Acts 10:34-35.
Jesus having fulfilled all the demands of God's Law, and thus put away sin and brought in an everlasting righteousness, ascended on High and gave gifts and rewards to His people according to His Own Eternal Will, as His reward was with
Himself to give unto everyone of them according as their work would be. (not according as their works had been) Gal 3:28,1 Cor 3:13, Rev 22:12.
Because He had saved and called them, "... not according to their works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given them in Christ Jesus before the world began.." 2 Tim 1:9.
This coming of the Lord to Judgment had been spoken of many times by the Prophets and now was being confirmed by Christ at His coming to "judge the quick (alive) and dead - when the tares and the wheat and the sheep and the goats would be separated in this judgment, when Christ would set all nations before Him and thoroughly purge His floor as foretold by Jesus and John the Baptist: Matt 25:31, Luke 3:17. Matt 3:12,
This accords with His coming with His saints to execute judgment: ".. 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.." That is, every eye of that generation that were still living at the time, some of them that were actually present with Him in His fleshly incarnation, and possibly some of those that actually put Him to death, because all this would take place only 35 or 40 years later.
And also in 2 Th 1:7-10:
be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day...""...And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to ...
There must first be a falling away of that economy before the events predicted would take place. This was to be a fearful time for the Apostles and their followers because of the tribulation that would be brought upon that nation and people:
"...Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by...
'...Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition..." 2 Th 2:1-3.
Most of Christendom looks upon this coming as being in a future expectation. But I ask, How could the Holy Apostles have been so much in the dark about this? True, His coming was to be "as a thief in the night" to many, but Paul says to the Thessalonians:
"...But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ..." 1 Th 4:5-9.
Yes, it is true that some had been appointed to wrath and to suffer the judgment of that age, but these brethren had not, even as secular history also proves.
The Apostles were not in darkness upon this subject, but they were fully awake and prepared for their Lord's coming in His Glory and the manifestation of His judgment upon His people and the nations of earth, and His appearance without sin unto salvation; Because now was coming the final fulfillment of Joel's prophecy, and the restitution of all things in the spiritual realm of Christ:
Who else but that present generation could the Apostle have been referring to within this context?
"... Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the vats overflow; for their wickedness is great..."
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel..." Joel 3:13-16, Heb 12:27-28.
This "decision" (of God) represents the manifestation of God's judgment. (Not as Billy Graham once applied it to the sinner's "decision" to "accept" Christ as their "personal" savior) - As an earthly judge may retire to his chambers and then return with his or her judgment upon a case. The events that took place during this age of history thus manifested God's eternal judgment concerning all of these events, which revealed the beginning of the greatest glory shown by God to man that ever has been, or ever shall be again upon earth, to wit, the Appearance and Incarnation of Himself in the form and likeness of human flesh as The son of Man, thereby taking the transgressions of the flesh unto Himself in His Own body upon the tree, raising Himself from the dead by the Power of the Father and thus declaring Himself to be The son of God by the power of His resurrection, sending the Spirit, the Comforter, and returning in the power and glory of the Gospel Dispensation where He has abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. His people were embraced in Him in His resurrection, as they were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, and on such the second death had no power, but they were to reign with him forever as kings and priests unto God:
"...And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
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 1:5-7.
Immediately following this period opened up the full beginning of the Gospel Dispensation that has continued ever since:
"... And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.
Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. 4:1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall...Mal 3 & 4.
I feel that these scriptures also have an experimental application for all time in the experience of God's called people, but I am now attempting to deal with them in an historical way that embraces the consummation of that Age.
"...But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father..." John 15:21-24.
"... And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever..." Dan 12:1-3.
The parallel is found in the words of Christ:
"...Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for 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..." John 5:24-29.
"...Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast..." Isa 26:19-20.
"... And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works..." Rev 20:11-12.
Paul said that he was alive without the Law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and he died. A believer in Jesus is dead to the merit of their own works, but alive unto God through the merit and righteousness of Christ. Rom 7 & 8.
As sinners, we are judged out of the things written in the books of the holy law, and are therefore judged as men in the flesh, but in Christ, we live to God in the Spirit; For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his Own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Rom 8: 3-4.
"...And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other..." Matt 24:29-31.
These angels are the ordinary ministers of the everlasting Gospel, not to make elect ones of God or children of God, but to manifest and call them to the glory of the Gospel Age, being (ministerially) built upon the fully laid foundation of Christ and the Apostles, with Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone:
"... But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ..." 2 Th 2:13-14.
".. 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. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other..." Matt 24:29-31.
The elements of the previous dispensation must give way for a more transcending and glorious kingdom of the Son of God Himself where He now indwells His people by His Own Spirit, and walks in them and dwells in them:
For the day of the Lord has come as a thief in the night, in the which the (old) heavens have passed away with a great noise, the (law) elements have melted with fervent heat, the carnal earth of the old dispensation and the works thereof have been burned up for those who have been brought to the revelation of the New Jerusalem and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant. Heb 12:23-24, 2 Pet 3:10. Remember that Peter (and Paul) wrote these things while Old Jerusalem was yet standing, so he places it in the future tense, as Paul also wrote of her in Gal 4:25-26.
"... For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to (is the same as) Jerusalem which now is, (Old Jerusalem was yet standing) and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above (The New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, as seen in a vision by John on Patmos) is free, which is the mother of us all.." (Who, being called by Grace, are as Isaac was, the true children of promise by faith, and are therefore blessed with faithful Abraham in the promises of God made to him in Christ.) Gal 4:24.-31.
"... And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful..." Rev 21:3-5.
He now walks in them, and is to them a God, and they are to Him a people, having taken out their hard and stony heart of nature, and given them a hard of understanding. This was not physical or corporeal death, which all of the saints must experience; but is the power and fear of death in their body and soul caused by sin; Christ has abolished this death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel, though sin vexes them daily, it no longer has dominion over them, for they are not under the Law, but under the grace of Christ. These tears could not refer to their final state in The Heaven of Immortal Glory, for there will be no tears there to wipe away; but it is during their present pilgrimage below that all (these) things are brought into subjection to His name. They that live in Him shall never die, (John 11:26) because by virtue of His resurrection He has made all things new for them, and because He lives, they live also. (John 14:19) And when He appears, they also appear with Him in glory. (Col 3:4) It is through the daily mortification and crucifion of their mortal flesh unto death with Him, and as partakers with Him in His resurrection that they live. For they are dead, and their life is hid with Him in God. And the life that they now live in the flesh, they live by the faith of Him Who gave Himself for them. So they are no longer debtors to the flesh to seek their life there, for if they live after the flesh, they only find death. (Rom 8:10-13.) With Paul, they reckon not to have attained unto the resurrection of the dead, (Phil 3:10-16) or have reached a plateau of perfection, rather they are made to forget the things that have gone before, and by faith they press on for the mark of the prize of their high calling in Christ Jesus, to know Him in His sufferings as The Son of Man, and to follow on after Him in this experience of His daily resurrection within their dying and mortal bodies of sin and death, to be raised with Him in His Immortal likeness as The Eternal Son of God; for as the sufferings of Christ abound in them, (2 Cor 1:5) so their consolation also aboundeth by Christ, and they are therefore enabled to say with the Apostle,
" O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin... " Rom 7:24-25.
"...But in those days, after that tribulation, (that consumated the Jewish state) the sun shall be darkened, (the glory of national Israel) and the moon (Law) shall not give her light, And the stars (supposed luminaries and greats) of heaven (the old dispensation) shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. -- "...Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain..." (Heb 12:26-27)
"...And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven..." Mark 13:24-27.
"... But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven..." Mark 14:61-62.
As some have pointed out, the high priest well understood Christ's meaning, as Jesus had replied to him that "I am the Son of God just as you said, and you will see me coming in clouds of glory (and judgment) to prove it". But Caiaphas was not able to believe (spiritually) that Jesus was the Son of God, neither did he understand the True Nature of the promised Messiah and Hope of Israel.
"... 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..." Matt 26:63-64.
"...When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 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 stedfastly 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 1:6-11.
When He appears, we also appear with Him in glory and appear with Him without sin unto salvation; That is, beholding Him not as a crucifed and bleeding Sacrifice while He was found in the likeness of sinful flesh, and as He appeared as an offering for sin for His Redeemed and as He appeared in His earthy, fleshy incarnation and resurrection, and Who, as The Son of Man was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of shame and death; but we now see Him as The Triumphant, Ascended, Glorified, Almighty Son Of God, Whom as The Forerunner has ascended unto Heaven itself for us, - that we may now partake of God's Glory through Him, and where He now supplies all of those riches of His Grace in glory that have been stored up in Him from the foundation of the world, but is now made manifest for in and for us - as He Who made Heaven and Earth, and all things therein. These clouds represent His Glory to those who were, and are given to believe in Him and to see His Glory, but on the dark or negative side they represent judgment to those who rejected Him, where they were cast into outer darkness, where there continued to be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, where the fire was not quenched, and the smoke of this judgment ascends up forever.
"...These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father..." John 16:22-28.
"... And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst Come.... "... He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, Come, Lord Jesus... " Rev 22:17-20.
What do YOU think ?
Email PreteristArchive.com's Sole Developer and Curator, Todd Dennis
(todd @ preteristarchive.com)
Opened in 1996