The last symbol I want to address in this brief series is the idea of Jesus coming on the clouds. There are references to the clouds Jesus mock trial prior to His crucifixion, His comments to those who saw Him depart after His resurrection and the broader scriptural context including Daniel and Psalms. First Jesus trial.
63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”
64 Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
65 Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! 66 What do you think?”
They answered and said, “He is deserving of death.” Matthew 26:63–66 (NKJV)
Here Jesus is accused of blasphemy. What did the high priest and others understand from what Jesus said? The answer is in Daniel’s vision and the Psalms.
13 “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 (NKJV)
4 Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Extol Him who rides on the clouds, By His name Yah, And rejoice before Him. Psalm 68:4 (NKJV)
3 He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters, Who makes the clouds His chariot, Who walks on the wings of the wind, Psalm 104:3 (NKJV)
There are other references as well but these serve to illustrate the understanding held by the high priest and others at Jesus trial. When Jesus spoke of coming on the clouds and being at the right hand of power their minds went to Daniel and the Psalms. Yahweh was the one who moved in power in the heavens and the one who held authority. In fact the phrase ‘power’ was a Jewish expression used to avoid pronouncing the sacred name Yahweh. When the heavenly court scene was displayed in Daniel the one being given authority over the earth came on the clouds to demonstrate that He had the power and authority of Yahweh.
So now we look further at what Jesus had to say about Himself and clouds.
29 “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 (NKJV)
9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9–11 (NKJV)
If in our minds eye we see Jesus gently floating down out of heaven on a cloud we are missing Jesus message. Jesus ascended on a cloud, again demonstrating His authority over nature. His return on the clouds of heaven will be both a demonstration of power and judgement. The clouds speak of His deity, power and authority, an everlasting dominion. That is what we need to see as well. I close with two more cloud references from scripture.
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17 (NKJV)
7 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 (NKJV)