Dispensationalism

Error #1 "Son of Man Coming on Clouds."

In Revelation 1:7 one phrase is used that is found in Mathew 24:30, “coming on clouds”. The literal understanding of coming on clouds is found in Acts 1 where Jesus ascended and was taken up into the clouds and the angel promised the Lord would return in like manner, coming in clouds, therefore coming in clouds is the literal approach to accept what is the coming of the son of man. Based on these association it is commonly held then that the Mathew passage is also about the second coming since it is talking about his coming on clouds. If we examine the Mathew 24:30 passage from where Jesus is now also quoting from Daniel 7:13-14 (not from Acts 1) something different appears. “Son of man, coming on clouds” comes from Daniel 7:13

I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.

This coming is a coming to the father in heaven and not a coming down. Cashmere adheres to the same opinion and expresses it’s a universal idea among scholars. He stated, There is almost universal agreement that the term comes from Daniel 7:13-14. The Aramaic “like a human being” became in the LXX “son of man”. Jesus used this term as a label describing his own work, incorporating the content of Daniel 7:13-14 by association. Kazen added to the discussion,

That while the Son of Man is an apocalyptic concept, it was not initially understood in the same ‘eschatological’ sense as in subsequent Christian interpretation of Pauline and post-Pauline ideas of a ‘return’ or ‘second coming’ of Christ. This means that the coming Son of Man for Jesus and his immediate followers had more to do with practice or kingdom ethics than with some end-of the- world sort of millennialism, and that we can expect a shift in emphasis, from ethics to eschatology as traditionally understood, as Jesus came to be identified as the Son of Man in the sense of an individual redeemer figure.

Clouds of heaven is a phrase and term of Judgment. Isaiah19:1 states, “A prophecy against Egypt: See, the LORD rides on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt.” From this imagery, the Preterist accepts the phrase means judgment is coming and we also know when Christ appears the second time it will be to execute judgment. (Against the beast, not Jerusalem Rev 19) In the Daniel 7:13 passage the son of man is not coming down to execute judgment but is ascending to the father and being presented before Him, where He is given authority and dominion and from Him judgment now comes. The context of Daniel 7 is of judgment for the Ancient of Days demonstrated in verse 9-10.

“As I looked, Thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened."

The Judgment described here is of the same wording as Revelation 20 in the Great White Throne when all people stand before him to give an account of things they had done, (not will do ). The coming judgment was executed in A.D. 70 by the Roman army of Titus. In the context of Mathew 24 the son of man is the messiah who they rejected and so in vindication, Judgment comes from Him, Christ the exalted Lord who now sits on a throne and executes his own judgment. (John 5:27, And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man). The phrase “son of man coming on clouds” is never a reference in the gospels to his second coming but of the events of his ascension and exaltation in which he sends judgment. N T Wright echoes this same charge.

"When Jesus speaks of “the son of man coming on the clouds,” he is talking not about the second coming but, in line with the Daniel 7 text he is quoting, about his vindication after suffering. The “coming” is an upward, not a downward, movement. In context, the key texts mean that though Jesus is going to his death, he will be vindicated by events that will take place afterward."

H. Daniel Zacharias in his paper Old Greek Daniel 7:13-14 and Matthew's Son of Man presents the case that the Old Greek completely supports the idea and from the first century church they understood this connection. The evangelist has the Son of Man coming on (not with) the clouds, puts the angels in his charge, and places him on the glorious throne where he judges the nations. All of this coheres with Dan 7 as represented by the Old Greek. N. T. Wright even adds,

The first thing to get clear is that, despite widespread opinion to the contrary, during his earthly ministry Jesus said nothing about his return. I have argued this position at length and in detail in my various books about Jesus."

The disciples barely understood his first message and purpose of his coming, that is to die, in which even Jesus spoke cryptically about it in ways they did not fully understand. A concept of a second coming would have been lost in their current understanding. They expected Christ to establish the throne of his father David in Israel, to rise, and overthrow the Roman empire as in days of old. It was the reason Judas sought to force Jesus hand, he thought he could force the circumstances where Jesus would have to raise up his followers to fight against the Roman armies, he believed the people would join in the rebellion as they all sided with their king just days before in his triumphant entry into Jerusalem .
In Acts 1:6 the disciples asked the question, “…they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus never refuted that position yet confirmed their idea, “He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” Which is the blatant agreement with what they understood, Jesus simply stated ‘it’s not for you to know when.” Which is not a denial of their thinking. Every Jew believed in the promise that a descendant of David would one day sit on the throne of His father in an everlasting kingdom (Luke 1:33; Isa 9:7). The Preterist insists this is just spiritually but the scholar recognizes this is in the spiritual kingdom in heaven and then on earth, as it is in heaven. Again, N T Wright explores the position thoroughly in his book “Surprised by Hope”.

Keeping to the context of Mathew 23:34-36 these events he is describing is all about the judgment that would be on that generation. With this judgment in the mind of Mathew, he begins with the Olivet in chapter 24, speaking of the same judgment as he uses the same phrasing, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” This judgment then had to have taken place in that generation. When we examine history, we know Jerusalem was fully destroyed and the people scattered in A.D. 70. Mathew 24 was completely fulfilled in A.D. 70. Yet the ongoing ramifications of his death and resurrection and the theme of judgment still have a further completion that is tied to his Messianic role. -Excerpt from my Thesis Paper